What is Virtual Chelsea? A Guide to THE Gardening Event of 2020

Flowers and foliage

Update: although the week is over, you can catch up with the highlights of Virtual Chelsea online.

As The RHS Chelsea Flower Show had to be cancelled this year, Virtual Chelsea is the Royal Horticulture Societies’ morale boosting invitation to every gardener to immerse themselves in gardening online instead.

So, to ‘visit’ the Chelsea Flower Show in 2020, you don’t need a ticket, your most comfy shoes, to book a hotel or fly to England, and you won’t need to jostle with the crowds for the best view. RHS experts have curated a wide variety of special gardening features to share online during the week when the Chelsea Flower Show would normally be taking place.

If you love gardening, you’ll love¬†Virtual Chelsea, whether your garden is massive, small or just few houseplants indoors or on a windowsill. We can look forward to demonstrations from the potting bench, to insights from award winning designers and celebrity florists, to virtual tours of private gardens and leading nurseries, and to spending time with plants people who specialise in many of our favourite plants. Horticulture experts will host daily lunchtime Q&A sessions to help us navigate some of the many gardening pitfalls so our fingers can get a little greener. Continue reading “What is Virtual Chelsea? A Guide to THE Gardening Event of 2020”

Lunaria (Honesty)

A clump of white Honesty with lavender buds
I believe this is Lunaria rediviva – perennial honesty.

I’m not 100% sure if this is perennial honesty or the transitory kind, but I’d guess the former. Giveaways would include the seed heads which are pointed ovals rather than the classic coin shape, and the lower leaves which are heart shaped. Continue reading “Lunaria (Honesty)”

Variations on a Theme: Forget-me-not, Heartleaf or Green Alkanet?

Why is it that we like to identify plants? To check whether it is safe or to eat or not, perhaps, or as a first step in working out how to buy one. To check if it is generally regarded by tastemakers as a weed or as a fit plant for a garden. But there’s also a great satisfaction in being able to name a plant just because we can. We feel closer to things we can name.

In April and early May, walking through fields and woods and peeking into gardens, we’ll often see plants with tiny, blue flowers that lift our spirits. They can be solitary, but more often, they are spreading.

Their pure blue flowers are classic forget-me-not style, the simplest of flower shapes with a starry look. Tiny, open flowers about as big as our smallest fingernail contain five rounded petals around a yellow, orange or white centre. But is it a forget-me-not? Perhaps it is, perhaps not.

Myosotis (forget-me-not) with a few pink flowers
Myosotis (true forget-me-not) with a few pink flowers

Continue reading “Variations on a Theme: Forget-me-not, Heartleaf or Green Alkanet?”

Green Flowers: Sanicula epipactis

Sanicula epipactis - a woodland plant with yellow flowers and a collar of green bracts

The word ‘verdant’ seems designed for this herbaceous perennial woodlander. Not quite all green, it has yellow flowers that emerge in winter and persist for some time amongst a mound of leaves. Beth Chatto’s website calls Sanicula epipactis ‘an endearing little plant’; I’ll add that the flowers form a cheerful congregation.

They are tiny, clustered ankle high in button-sized domes, surrounded by a collar of lime green bracts. Later, leaves push up between them, gradually unfurling as their stems lengthen. Continue reading “Green Flowers: Sanicula epipactis”