Plants with Impressive LinkedIn Profiles

Penstemon 'Stapleford Gem'

The Award of Garden Merit is one of the highest accolades a plant can officially acquire under the jurisdiction of the Royal Horticultural Society. I always smile at the British understatement in the official explanation:

AGM plants are:

  • Excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions
  • Available
  • Of good constitution
  • Essentially stable in form & colour
  • Reasonably resistant to pests & diseases

Though the wording is restrained (I often wonder how ‘excellent’ crept in there), it’s probably fair to say that AGM is the plant world’s equivalent of an impressive LinkedIn profile. It shows that influential people are willing to vouch for the variety.  Continue reading “Plants with Impressive LinkedIn Profiles”

RHS Tatton Park Flower Show: The Outside-In Shed

The outside view of the Outside-In shed

At first glance, this might seem like quite a normal shed. Yes, there’s a tree growing out of the roof: I’ll give you that. And the fine collection of antique tools does seem to be overspilling in a surprisingly orderly fashion – it’s regimented, even, as if it were intended to be there. And is that just decking, or could it be the wooden floor of the shed, laid around the ground on the outside?

The Outside-In Shed was part of the Garden Hideaway section of the Tatton Park Flower Show. Talking to the designer, Carolin, we learned that a few days earlier it had been a brand new shed, and had been specially distressed for the show. Her term was ‘shabbyed’.

The garden was a 21st century designer’s version of the 17th century poets’ conceit. As The Poetry Foundation puts it:

a poetic conceit is an often unconventional, logically complex, or surprising metaphor whose delights are more intellectual than sensual.

Except that when plants are involved, you’re never that far away from the sensual. The twist was that the inside of the shed had been turned into “a peaceful garden made as a retreat from busy gardening”, to use Carolin’s words.

Peering inside, curious visitors found a hideaway of a different kind from that they might have been expecting: a wooden chair underneath the tree, surrounded by a miniature woodland garden of shade-tolerant plants. Variegated hosta, ferns, thick green moss, foxgloves, alchemilla mollis and carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’’ carpeted the floor, while a musky scented rambling rose, Rosa ‘Snow Goose’ had begun to climb up a trellis fastened to the wall. On another trellis, a young Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine) added its sweet, heady scent to the mix.   Continue reading “RHS Tatton Park Flower Show: The Outside-In Shed”

Young Designers at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show: Coastal Garden

Coastal Retreat

The Royal Horticultural Society is working hard to encourage young talent into the gardening profession and it’s great to see their efforts paying off. The gardens that caught my eye at this year’s RHS Tatton Park Flower Show were created by designers under the age of 28, competing in two newly launched categories that extend the RHS’s influential Young Designer Competition.  Continue reading “Young Designers at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show: Coastal Garden”

Verbascum ‘Caribbean Crush’

Verbascum 'Caribbean Crush'

This summer, you’ll be much more likely to see me out trying to capture different forms of verbascums on my iPhone than to see me playing Pokémon Go.

I added this one, Verbascum ‘Caribbean Crush’, to my virtual collection at the recent RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. The flowers open upwards as the sturdy spire lengthens, starting off a soft, peachy yellow, gradually deepening to a burgundy copper as they age. The effect is of two cultivars in one: very striking.

Continue reading “Verbascum ‘Caribbean Crush’”

RHS Hampton Court’s Plant Marquee: Details

Viola perennis 'Elaine Quin'

Plant breeders are fascinated by details. Me too. At the recent RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, though time was tight, I spent a good hour checking out the displays and selling stands in the Plant Marquee. The ones that caught my eye did so because of the details. Did you notice that each flower of Viola ‘Elaine Quinn’ is a slightly different mix of violet and white with unique speckles and stripes?

Individually each is beautiful, together they give me pause: one minute I like the lighter ones best, the next the darkest ones. My eye alights on one flower then another like a human butterfly.  Continue reading “RHS Hampton Court’s Plant Marquee: Details”

Roses at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Rosa 'A Shropshire Lad'

My sweetheart and I were counting our lucky stars earlier this week to have the chance to preview the wonderful RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. If you follow my blog, you’ll not be surprised that almost my first point of call was to catch up with some of my old buddies who were doing some nervous, last minute petal tweaking (always a massive temptation) on the David Austin display moments before the judges arrived. I didn’t think they had too much to worry about. Continue reading “Roses at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show”