Tuesday 25 May 2010

C POTY - Chelsea Plant of the Year 2010

An innovation this year at the Chelsea Flower Show is the selection of the Chelsea Plant of the Year by members of RHS committees. To this end exhibitors were invited or cajoled to select new introductions for consideration. The result was that most seem to have chosen specimens that didn't quite make the cut for their exhibits, and these form a very unprepossessing display on an unimaginative stand in the Floral Marquee. This is not Chelsea at its finest.

But there are some good plants among the twenty selected - they are just not shown to good advantage in this format. I liked two in particular, the very bright pink and not too dwarf Gaura lindheimeri 'Ruby Ruby' and the floriferous, long-stemmed Geum 'Totally Tangerine' both from Hardys.

About four o'clock about 100 committee members sat down in a stifling marquee to hear first, Roy Lancaster's selection of six plants of interest in the show (but of course it turned out to be seven), and then to hear a form of hustings, when breeders or growers gave a 90-second presentation on the merits of their plant. This was done with some ingenuity and humour and proved rather enjoyable in a curious way. The promoters then left, and we judged the plants on a show of hands. My choice, the Gaura, came second, but the clear winner was the remarkable yellow and blue-flowered Streptocarpus 'Harlequin Blue' bred and shown by Dibleys of North Wales. When seen on their stand, nicely displayed, it is indeed a magnificent new introduction, and it's clear that in future years the plants for judging for this accolade need to be better presented to both judges and public.

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