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Chelsea Newsletter

Welcome to our Chelsea special where we share what we loved about the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show ... and help you achieve that Chelsea sparkle in your own garden.


Despite a dreary grey day on Monday the Chelsea Flower Show preview managed to lift the spirits and showed that British gardening is definitely alive and kicking! Glorious planting with lots of native plants and wonderful design really showed off how good we are at gardening.
But it wasn’t just us Brits that showed off our horticultural skills... the show also proved that gardening is an international passion. Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Fleming's was awarded Best Show Garden at the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show; while the best Artisan Garden went to the Japanese garden, An Alcove (Tokonoma) Garden. Both were lushly planted with relaxing spaces and mature trees despite the differences in size between the two sites.
As usual it wasn’t only the gardens that captured the imagination.
The Great Pavilion was a treasure trove of colourful plants and oodles of inspiration. And even the contractors’ stands boasted eye-catching displays including some silvery sword-leaved Astelias that would grace any patio!
If we get some sunshine the flowers that were yet to open at the show when we went on Monday should be sparkling... but whatever the weather there’s plenty of Chelsea inspiration to be had!
Enjoy!

Winning plant combinations
The superb show gardens featured many of our best -loved plants such as soft grasses and hardy geraniums. Designers teamed them with a froth of aquilegias and ground cover plants and tall accent plants such salvias and blue irises to create some gorgeous gardens.
Traditional gardeners were pleased to see roses mingled with lavenders or formal hedging; and clipped box was everywhere as was black-stemmed cow parsley –Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing. Wild planting has never been more fashionable! And there were plenty of fruit trees and vegetables mixed in with the ornamentals.
That set us thinking about how to get some Chelsea designer planting into a small garden and we’ve put together a brilliant plant collection that will transform a bare plot into your very own Chelsea garden!

 

Instant Chelsea with an inspired plant collection
Recreate the magic of Chelsea in your own garden with our planting tips and suggestions!
The mood: Soft planting with a formal edge and grasses weaving in among the plants.
Key colours: Moody mauves and shades of blue, pink and silver were recurring themes in many of the show gardens.
Must have Chelsea plants: Include species Irises, Grasses, Hardy Geraniums, Salvias, Roses, Aquilegias, Anthriscus, Peonies, fruit trees and formal evergreens.

Unwins ‘Instant Chelsea Garden’ planting list;
-Stipa tenuissima x3, Iris setosa canadensis x3,
-Salvia nemerosa ‘Ostfriesland’x1, Salvia Amistad x1
-Geranium wallichianum ‘Buxton’s Variety’x1, Rosa ‘Iceberg’x1
Follow these easy steps to a successful designer display
Site: Improve the soil before planting if necessary and dig over to remove weeds. These plants will also do well in a deep raised bed.
If you only have a small space these plants can all be planted in containers- they’ll get too big for the container after a year or two but they can then be transplanted into open ground or into larger containers.
Planting tips: Plant the rose at the back of the plot and the hardy geranium in front of it. Hardy geraniums will add a swirl of leaves and blue flowers around the rose’s bare legs as the plants grow. Iceberg is one of the best garden roses with a long flowering season, it’s often still in bloom well into December if you deadhead regularly.
Add the salvias one either side or in a staggered line; they’ll make sturdy clumps of scented leaves and tall spikes of dark purple (Amistad) and blue (Ostfriesland) flowers. Interplant with the grasses for an informal partnering that is bang on trend and utterly enchanting!
Double up with the quantities if you want to ‘repeat plant’, this is also sometimes called wallpaper planting because it has a definite repeated pattern that adds a great rhythm to the border. The more grasses you weave through the scheme the more modern it looks, but you can also plant them in a row for a more formal style...
Spacing: Leave at least 20 cms between the salvias, geranium and rose. Space grasses at least 10cm apart. Plants will come back every year and can be divided or moved as they mature.

 

Planting partners
Visitors to the show were also voting for their favourite plant from the last 100 years -choices include some of our favourite plants such as Rosa Iceberg, Hardy Geranium Rozanne, Erysimum Bowles’s Mauve, Heuchera Palace Purple, and Russell Lupins. All these plants combine brilliantly; the heucheras make a carpet of colour and the lupins and roses add enough height to make the planting interesting.
Shrubs and trees weren’t left out -there were choice varieties of Pieris and Rhododendrons and as well as being on the top ten plants list they were also used in many of the gardens.
Pieris added that blaze of new foliage colour to schemes and the rhododendrons and azaleas shone out... even in this dull weather! Cornus Eddies White Wonder also featured.
House plants weren’t forgotten either with splendid streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue earning its place on the list. This plant won the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year award in 2010.
Visit the show or go on the RHS website to see the full list. The winning plant will be announced on Saturday 25th May.

NEW Clematis to celebrate 60 years of the Samaritans
Guernsey-based Raymond Evison Clematis exhibited some exciting new hybrid cultivars of clematis and his stand won a well deserved Gold Medal. We are very excited to be able to offer his latest introduction Samaritan Jo ...but Hurry...we have very limited stock!
Introduced at Chelsea this week Clematis Samaritan Jo (‘Evipo075’) is beautiful long-flowering clematis with distinctively edged petals on blooms that, very unusually, have six or more pointed sepals.
This gorgeous clematis celebrates 60 years of The Samaritans charity and their service to the community. The Samaritans received their first call in November 1953 and since then staff at volunteer centres all over the British Isles and the Channel Islands have been a lifeline to individuals who may be contemplating suicide. The charity helps callers to talk through their problems.

 

Astelia Chathamica
This silvery spiky plant was in pots all over the show. Brightening up stands and adding architectural interest to plant displays. Astelias have magnificent silvery sword-shaped leaves that look amazing when they are contrasted with dark phormiums or airy verbena bonariensis. It’s a hardy plant in sheltered gardens though some frost protection is advisable in cold parts of the UK. Astelias also make wonderful pot plants for the conservatory, which is probably why so many exhibitors chose it for adding the wow factor to their stands!

 

Chelsea Show Tips and Inspiration

Inspiring fruit and veg
All the gardens were interesting but one garden really caught our eye; it was truly inspirational.
The Homebase Garden ‘Sowing the Seeds of Change, designed by Adam Frost and in association with the Alzheimer’s Society, it was the sort of garden most of us would simply love to own.
It won a well deserved Gold Medal for the brilliant combination of flowers, fruit, vegetables and inspired hard landscaping. We’ve come away with lots of great ideas for adding fruit trees and vegetables to the garden while still having a really lovely place to enjoy as well as work!
Peas and beans scrambled up canes and weren’t tucked away out of sight-they proudly took centre stage in the design. Fabulous brassicas such as tall Kale Cavolo Nero and strange rounded Khol Rabi rubbed shoulders with roses and salvias to make the perfect growers paradise.

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Aquilegias sparkled
Shrugging off difficult growing conditions is second nature to aquilegias; they bloom naturally at this time of year so lots of the designers used them in their gardens. They add some sparkle and lightness to the planting schemes. Long spurred or short they have a real old-fashioned charm and they are at their best when other flowers are just getting into their stride. Some self seed while others are less keen to spread themselves about. But they fit in with any garden style and they’ll spring up wherever they’re happy. Don’t try to divide aquilegias, they are tap rooted so can’t easily be split. Sow seed or buy plants –you’ll never regret having them in the garden.

 


Welcome bursts of colour
If moody blues and pastels aren’t your style there were some welcome bursts of colour. Marigolds were given a starring role in Herbert Smith Freehills Garden for Wateraid one of the Artisan gardens on Serpentine Walk. (Love them or hate them, and we love them!) Marigolds will lift the greyest day and cheer you up as well as surviving drought and torrential rain alike.
Listed as tagetes, marigolds and calendula, all are vital for pollinating insects and great for vibrant planting.

 

A question of taste? Bedding plants were also teamed with grasses for an amazing installation that really divided opinion... Packed with plants as diverse as eryngium and gaillardia, was it bold, brash and in questionable taste? Or was it a glorious antidote to all the very sophisticated designs that sat close by? The jury’s out but see what you think!

Talking of taste...gnomes were finally allowed in for this Chelsea centenary year!! They seemed very chuffed to be let in...

 

Australian influence
The Trailfinders Garden was packed with exotic plants from the southern hemisphere and dominated by a wonderful sculpture that towered over the exhibit. The planting was immaculate and made you realise how much we have to learn about plants from the southern hemisphere. Lots of them we grow here as conservatory plants so it was good to see them in a garden setting.

The Aussies certainly know how to put on a show...think of their Olympics opening ceremony and you’ll know where the idea for those dancing wheelbarrows in front of their ‘Best in Show’ winning garden came from. It was tempting to push one of the barrows off and fill it with choice plants from the pavilion!

 

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