The RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year Award was first presented in 2010 to promote the continuing work of breeders and nurseries in producing improved new plants. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year Award celebrates and recognises the exciting and diverse range of new plants which are launched at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show each year.
Every year, for the past eight years, exhibitors at Chelsea have been invited to submit their new plant introductions for consideration and assessment by the Chairs of the RHS Plant Committees, the RHS Director of Horticulture, and the Curators of the RHS Gardens.
RHS Chelsea Plant of The Year 2017 – The Selection Process
On the Sunday before the RHS Chelsea Flower Show opens, a shortlist of the top twenty plants are selected from all those entered into the competition by the Royal Horticultural Society’s panel of experts, which includes the RHS Plant Committee Chairs, and the RHS Garden Curators.
Then on Monday – the day before the RHS Chelsea Flower Show opens to the public, the finals are held, when the RHS Plant Committee and forum members vote to decide the finalists and the winner of the prestigious accolade of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year.
The judges make an assessment of the level of innovation, appeal, excellence and impact that each of the new plants offer, and cast their votes accordingly. The assessment process and judging criteria ensures that the plant to which this prestigious award is bestowed is something very special indeed, often offering a unique or new feature to the gardener in the cultivar or genus that is presented. The RHS Chelsea Plant Of The Year Award is a wonderful showcase of the advances in plant breeding and of the exciting new plants that are available for gardeners to purchase. The 20 shortlisted plants are now, or will shortly be, available to order, pre-order or purchase online and from selected nurseries and garden centres.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the most prestigious of all the Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Shows, this the perfect venue and occasion to showcase the most exciting new plant introductions to a world-wide audience. Visitors to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show can see all of the 20 shortlisted plants, including the finalists and winner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year Award, in the Grand Pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which is held in May in London every year. Here’s a look at the top twenty shortlisted plants, including the finalists, and the winner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year Award 2017:
RHS Chelsea Plant of The Year 2017 – The Shortlisted Plants
Begonia ‘Silver Spirit’
Begonia ‘Silver Spirit’ was bred by Lynne Dibley from Dibleys Nurseries. This fast growing Begonia has strong stems and a bushy, shrubby habit. This Begonia grows to 1.5-2ft( 50-60cm) in height. Begonia ‘Silver Spirit’ produces very dramatic, striking foliage – the large, silver leaves have pink and maroon markings around the veining at their centres, and a maroon picotee edge. Although the foliage resembles that of Begonia rex, there are no genetics from Begonia rex in the genes of Begonia ‘Silver Spirit’.
Begonia ‘Silver Spirit’ is an adaptable plant, it can be grown as a houseplant indoors, or planted outside during the warmer months to be grown as a summer bedding plant, where Begonia ‘Silver Spirit’ will certainly create an impact!
Begonia ‘Silver Spirit’ is a tender plant – plant outside after the danger of frost has passed, and bring indoors before the first frosts arrive.
Betula pendula FASTIGIATA JOES (‘Jolep 1’)
Betula pendula FASTIGIATA JOES (‘Jolep 1’), presented by the Horticultural Trades Association, has been described as a breakthrough plant in tree selection, producing a tall – 16.5ft (5m) or more, yet very narrow tree, which produces upright growth, which will grow no wider than 3ft (1m).
As Betula pendula FASTIGIATA JOES (‘Jolep 1’) ages the tree’s beauty becomes more pronounced; this birch develops a chalky white coloured bark when it’s four or five years old.
Betula pendula FASTIGIATA JOES (‘Jolep 1’) is a great tree for small gardens. This easy to grow tree requires no pruning, it produces catkins in springtime, while the foliage turns a buttery yellow colour before falling in autumn.
Betula pendula FASTIGIATA JOES (‘Jolep 1’) is described as being more resistant to leaf rust than most other birch cultivars. This new birch cultivar is hardy, and grows well in most soils.
Chilli Pepper ‘Dragon’s Breath’
This new Chilli Pepper ‘Dragon’s Breath’ from Tom Smith Plants has been registered with the Guinness World Records, as it’s claimed to be the hottest chilli in the world, with a rating of 2.48m SHU!
It’s thought that compounds produced by this chilli pepper may offer an anaesthetic, numbing effect, which may help patients with an allergy to traditional anaesthetic.
Chilli Pepper ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is unsuitable for outdoor cultivation in the UK, as the plant requires a constant temperature, but it can be grown successfully inside a conservatory, greenhouse, or on a warm and sunny windowsill.
Clematis ‘Taiga’, presented by Thorncroft Clematis, was bred in Japan in 2007. This new clematis cultivar was named ‘Taiga’, meaning big river, as the purple-blue and white flowers bloom profusely, and resemble the flow of water from a great river, with white-capped waves.
Clematis ‘Taiga’ is a hardy and free flowering clematis, flowering from summer to autumn, it can be grown in containers or planted out directly in the garden.
Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Cupcakes Blush’ (Cupcakes Series)
In 2007, an American customer sent Thompson & Morgan a mutated Cosmos plant whose flower petals were all fused together – the flowers on this Cosmos plant formed a single cup. This plant’s flowers were very different in their appearance to any Cosmos seen before.
Thompson & Morgan grew and reselected this plant over the following five years to develop the semi double flowered Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Cupcakes’. In the years that followed further breeding and re-selections at Thompson & Morgan produced this new cultivar, Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Cupcakes Blush’, which is distinct from other Cosmos, including those in the current Cupcakes Series, as the flowers of Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Cupcakes Blush’ open as semi double white blooms, which then over the course of a few days age to a soft pink colour.
The pretty flowers of Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Cupcakes Blush’ are crinkled – they really do resemble cupcake cases. The blooms are popular with bees and other pollinating insects.
Digitalis ‘Lemoncello’, presented by The Botanic Nursery, is a new biennial foxglove which produces lemon-yellow coloured flowers all around each flower stem. This hardy foxglove produces secondary flowering stems, which help to extend the plant’s flowering period.
Digitalis ‘Lemoncello’ will come true from seed. This biennial foxglove grows well in sunshine or dappled shade.
Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Snowberry’
Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Snowberry’, presented by D’Arcy & Everest, is hardy down to about -25C. This is a repeat flowering alpine, which will bloom from March until June, and then again in September.
When grown in semi-shaded areas, Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Snowberry’ produces flowers which feature pink veins through the flowers, when the plants are grown in full sunshine the veins are bleached out by the brighter light. The flowers of this new alpine plant produce a sweet citrus fragrance.
Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Snowberry’ is a new alpine plant which will make a lovely new addition to container, rock, and alpine gardens. Plant in well-drained soil, in dappled shade.
Leontopodium nivale subsp. alpinum Blossom of Snow (‘Berghman’)
Presented by Harperley Hall Farm Nurseries, this new edelweiss, Leontopodium nivale subsp. alpinum Blossom of Snow (‘Berghman’), was bred by Herman Berghman, a Belgian florist, who was unable to source long-stemmed edelweiss plants that produced tall enough flowers to be useful in arrangements. Herman Berghman spent the next ten years breeding a new edelweiss cultivar that met these requirements, and produced long stemmed edelweiss flowers with a good vase life.
When established, Leontopodium nivale subsp. alpinum Blossom of Snow (‘Berghman’), is hardy down to -30C. Leontopodium nivale subsp. alpinum Blossom of Snow (‘Berghman’), is a clump forming plant which will spread as far as 50cm wide. Leontopodium nivale subsp. alpinum Blossom of Snow (‘Berghman’), thrives when grown as a container plant, when planted in a rockery, or in a border in well drained soil.
Leontopodium nivale subsp. alpinum Blossom of Snow (‘Berghman’) produces velvety flowers in summer. After dead heading, the plant flowers again in autumn.
Presented by H.W.Hyde & Son, and developed from Lilium ‘Kushi Maya’, Lilium ‘Yin’ is the result of eight years of breeding to develop a hybrid lily cultivar which grows in all free-draining soils – either acid or alkaline.
Lilium ‘Yin’ produces magnificent flowers which are white with maroon centres. This new lily is easy to grow, the bulbs increase and divide readily.
Malus x purpurea ‘Crimson Cascade’
Dr Alan Warwick, a keen amateur gardener, found that one of the Malus × purpurea ‘Aldenhamensis’ plants he had grown from seed displayed a weeping habit, contrasting with the naturally upright habit of the parent plant. Dr Warwick took the tree to Hillier Nurseries who confirmed that this was indeed a new cultivar.
Malus x purpurea ‘Crimson Cascade’ produces dark pink coloured flowers. The flowers are followed by deep purple crabapples which are 2cm size, and are said to be good in jam or crabapple jellies. The foliage is purple-toned in spring, the leaves age to a bronze colour in summer, and change colour again in autumn, when the leaves display tones of red before falling.
Malus x purpurea ‘Crimson Cascade’ is said to grow up to 13 – 14ft (4-4.5m) after twenty-five years, this is a tree with a weeping habit, which would suit a small garden.
Pelargonium ‘Rushmoor Amazon’ (Rushmoor River Series)
Bred by Steven Pollard, and presented by Fibrex Nurseries, Pelargonium ‘Rushmoor Amazon’ displays a new colour break within the genus, producing yellow coloured flowers which display peach markings on their petals.
Pelargonium ‘Rushmoor Amazon’ produces long stemmed flowers that last for up to two weeks in a vase. This new Zonartic Pelargonium can be grown in conservatories, or as a summer container plant where its long lasting flowers can be enjoyed throughout the summer.
Rosa ‘James L. Austin’ (‘Auspike’)
Rosa ‘James L. Austin’ produces very beautiful, deep cerise coloured blooms which make a vibrant and cheerful addition to the garden. The flowers of Rosa ‘James L. Austin’ are comprised of over one hundred rose petals, which are arranged into attractive rosettes.
I enjoyed the fragrance of Rosa ‘James L. Austin’. I would describe this new rose’s fragrance as light to medium in strength with the beautiful perfume of a tea rose with fragrance notes of raspberry.
Rosarian, Michael Marriott of David Austin Roses describes Rosa ‘James L. Austin’ as an incredibly healthy rose which is very versatile, being equally at home when grown in a large container, in a cottage style garden or in formal border, this new rose also makes a fantastic hedging plant.
Rosa ‘James L. Austin’ grows to 3.5 ft (1m) tall, and 2ft (60cm) wide. This rose has an upright, bushy habit, and is described as being very versatile, being equally at home when grown in a formal border, a large pot, in a cottage style garden, or when grown as a hedging plant.
Rosa ‘James L. Austin’ is an English Old Rose Hybrid, which was bred and named in honour of David Austin Senior’s son, the brother of David Austin Junior. 10% from the sale of each Rosa ‘James L. Austin’ will be donated to two Parkinson’s charities – 5% will be donated to Parkinson’s UK, and 5% to Cure Parkinson’s Trust.
Rosa ‘Papworth’s Pride’ (‘Beamelon’)
Bred during Peter Beales Roses‘ 2011 seedling programme, Rosa ‘Papworth’s Pride’ stood out as a dusky-toned, red rose with healthy, bronze coloured foliage and robust growth.
One of Peter Beales new Modern Classic roses, Rosa ‘Papworth’s Pride’ produces large, cupped, open flowers which are attractive to bees and other pollinating insects. The blooms that this new rose produces are truly beautiful, their large size and bowl shape look similar in appearance to peonies, the dusky tones of the red petals are very attractive.
Rosa ‘Papworth’s Pride’ has an open habit, it can be grown in full sunshine, or in a semi shade position. Rosa ‘Papworth’s Pride’ grows to 5ft (1.5m) in height, it can be grown in the border or as a container plant.
The blooms of Rosa ‘Papworth’s Pride’ are described as being sweetly scented. I was sadly unable to get close enough to this new rose to take in its fragrance.
Fragaria x ananassa – Strawberry ‘Just Add Cream’ (‘Tmstr14pnk’)
Strawberry ‘Just Add Cream’, presented by the Horticultural Trades Association,is the culmination of eight years of breeding work by Thompson & Morgan, with flavour as the top quality, or priority, that they were breeding for.
Thompson & Morgan’s breeder Charles Valin crossed together the strawberries he felt were the very best flavoured of the old-fashioned varieties, and then re-crossed the best results from these older varieties with modern bearers. I cannot confirm any information on the taste of this strawberry, as I have not yet tasted it myself.
Strawberry ‘Just Add Cream’ produces pretty pink flowers from May until the frosts arrive in autumn. Strawberries are compact plants which can be grown in containers as well as directly in the garden. This strawberry cultivar is said to produce more fruit per plant and less runners than older strawberry cultivars.
Sweet Pepper ‘Popti’
Presented by Pennard Plants, Sweet Pepper ‘Popti’ is a new dwarf pepper which grows to about 18″ or 2ft (60cm tall). This new sweet pepper is described as being very healthy, offering resistance to Tobacco Mosaic Virus, Pepino Mosaic Virus, Tobacco Etch Virus, Potato virus Y, and Phytophthora capsici.
Sweet Pepper ‘Popti’ produces small-sized green peppers that are about half the size of shop bought peppers which eventually ripen to red. This new sweet pepper cultivar grows well in containers as well as planted directly in the garden or allotment.
Zantedeschia ‘Dubai Nights’
Zantedeschia ‘Dubai Nights’ produces very rich, dark purple coloured flowers which are outlined with a cream margin. This new Zantedeschia from Brighter Blooms produces large, olive-green coloured leaves, which are very thoroughly speckled with white.
Position Zantedeschia ‘Dubai Nights’ in a warm and sheltered sunny spot in well-drained soil. This Zantedeschia can be grown successfully in containers, allow the compost to dry out before the next watering.
Zantedeschia ‘Eyeliner’ is a new Zantedeschia cultivar, also from Brighter Blooms, which produces the darkest purple and orange-red coloured, long stemmed blooms, which make dramatic cut flowers.
Zantedeschia ‘Eyeliner’ was so called as the flowers the plant produces have a very narrow band of yellow along the outer rim of the newly opened blooms. This yellow margin develops into a broader band of red as the flower ages.
Plant Zantedeschia ‘Eyeliner’ in a warm and sheltered, sunny spot in well-drained soil or compost. This Zantedeschia can be grown successfully in containers, allow the compost to dry out before the next watering.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year 2017 – The Finalists!
In Third Place:
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Petit Orange’ (HibisQs Petit Series)
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Petit Orange’ (HibisQs Petit Series) is a new, smaller sized Hibiscus cultivar presented by Scotts Miracle-Gro, which will flower on a sunny window sill from May until Christmas time. The dark coloured foliage contrasts with the vibrant orange of the exotic looking blooms.
Although the flowers of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Petit Orange’ (HibisQs Petit Series) are smaller than those produced by the more usually Hibiscus plants, the blooms produced by this new cultivar are much longer lasting, and are produced in abundance!
In Second Place:
Salvia nemorosa ‘Crystal Blue’
Salvia nemorosa ‘Crystal Blue’ was discovered in Michigan in a field of Salvia, by Jerry Van Der Kolk. This Salvia nemorosa‘s pale, lilac-blue flowers stood out as being different and rather beautiful, so this hardy perennial was grown on and developed for sale. This new Salvia was displayed at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show by Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants.
The beautiful pastel blue coloured flowers of Salvia nemorosa ‘Crystal Blue’ are popular with bees and butterflies. This new Salvia flowers from July through to September.
Plant Salvia nemorosa ‘Crystal Blue’ in a sunny spot in well drained soil. Salvia nemorosa ‘Crystal Blue’ is fully hardy and grows to 18 inches (45cm) in height and 2ft (60cm) wide. The plant has a neat, tidy, upright habit.
The winner of the RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year 2017 is………..
Morus rotundiloba – Mulberry ‘Charlotte Russe’ (‘Matsunaga’)
In his early forties, Hajime Matsunaga, a Japanese plant breeder, started a breeding programme to breed a dwarf mulberry. Mr Matsunaga’s dream was realised at 89 years of age, when he grew Morus rotundiloba ‘Charlotte Russe’, which is currently available from Suttons.
Mulberries are traditionally known as large, spreading trees, which take years to bear fruit. Most people have heard of the mulberry tree, but comparatively few have tasted their delicious fruit due to its soft, squishy form – mulberries are easily damaged, and are too soft to pick and transport for sale. Old Mulberries trees also have a short season, ripening over two or three weeks during the summer time.
Mulberry ‘Charlotte Russe’ differs from other mulberries – this is a truly dwarf form of mulberry, which can be grown in a small garden. This hybrid mulberry tree is self-fertile, and fruits on both old and new wood, producing fruit in its first year of growth which is quite remarkable! The fruit of this new mulberry develops and ripens over a long period, ripening from late May through until September, the fruit is described as delicious but as I have yet to taste the fruit, I am unable to confirm this, or to give any more details of its flavour.
Mulberry ‘Charlotte Russe’ is described as hardy, but it is still advisable to protect plants during late frosts, especially young plants which are more susceptible. Mulberry ‘Charlotte Russe’ can be grown in a large container or planted directly in the soil, where it will grow to 5ft (1.5m) tall.
Other articles that may interest you………..
To read about the shortlisted plants, including the finalists and winner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year 2016, please click here.
To read about the shortlisted plants, including the finalists and winner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year 2015, please click here.