All the beautiful gardens at Hampton Court will have disappeared now, the only evidence they were ever there will be some slightly yellow but soggy grass, some trampled areas from the thousands of feet that have passed by and some slightly perturbed bees looking for the flowers that they were sure were there yesterday!
If you didn’t get a chance to visit heres a look at which plants caught my eye both in the gardens and the floral marquee
Firstly out in the gardens, there are always a few plants it seems that every designer includes. Last year it was a very popular dark purple, almost black Agapanthus and Achillea cassis in various scarlets and pink forms. This year it seems the must have plants for Hampton were …
calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage wine’
Aka: Carolina allspice or sweetshrub
Named after the student who created the cross, Richard Hartlage. The plants parents are Sinocalycanthus chinensis (Chinese species) with Calycanthus floridus (U.S. species) in 1991 at the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University.
It prefers growing in a slightly shady position to get the best performance from it. Lightly prune for shape directly after flowering.
I think I saw this on about 5 gardens around the showground and on at least 1 display in the marquee and I’m now in love with it!
Senecio candicans ‘Angel Wings’
I saw this a few times last year but this year it was in literally EVERY garden! Understandable, its a striking plant. A relatively new introduction with the aid of micro-propping supplies have been bulked up to epic proportions. Its drought tolerant, handy given this years weather, and really doesn’t care what type of soil you have so long as its not sitting in a bog garden.
Its beautiful silver, felted leaves are its real selling point and also give you the clue it prefers full sun.
I always spend ages in here as this is the place you’ll see the new, the old favourites and sometimes some stunning rarities
Dibleys always have an excellent display of Streptocarpus and as houseplants go you really cant fault them. They don’t mind indirect light, in fact they prefer a slightly darker corner. If given a feed they will flower almost continuously. Easy to propagate either through division or for the more adventurous spirit through leaf cuttings!
Going through old pics of their display from previous years I see I have photographed this particular variety multiple times so its obviously one im drawn to and at present I only have 1 Strep in my collection I might have to remedy that… although it does have to be said my dad has far more success with them than I do, I think I neglect them a bit too much!
Going with the tender plant theme another house plant I love beyond words (but have little success with if im honest, I think I love them too much) are the Zantendeschias from Brighter Blooms.
There are 2 main types of Zantendeschia, the taller, hardy types with predominantly white flowers and the tender, shorter varieties with coloured blooms like these below. All will form a rhizome and I think this is where ive mistakenly given up on mine in the past as they have gone dormant and ive thought ive killed them, its also possible ive overwatered them and the rhizome rotted off. Now I know a bit more about them im inclined to try again!
They are happiest at an optimum temp of 25 °C, with growth being suppressed once daily average temperatures persist at 28 °C.
This chap, Zantendeschia ‘Memories’ with the almost black spathe and purple tinted leaf caught my eye, I think it has rehmannii parentage but happy to be corrected by others that know better.
and this one with a gentler pastel tinted tone Zantendeschia ‘Picasso’
My last selection on the tender side is this absolute beauty of a monster! This was part of the actual display so would take a while to grow to this size but its not unachievable for those of you who have a conservatory to overwinter it in, or you could just keep several small versions on the go by propagating from it on a regular basis.
Echiveria ‘Red sea monster’ certainly lives up to its name, looking distinctly Kraken like rearing out of its pot with red edged, wavy, margined succulent leaves and at such a size!! What a stunner!
In fact the whole display of cacti and succulents from Southfield Nursery was a bit special, some of the slower growing varieties being older than me.
Moving onto the hardier plants for your garden I do find myself looking not just for colour but also for scent, a rule of thumb with most scented plants is their flowers will be less showy but there are always exceptions to this rule! These 2 dainty offerings are not overstated on size, in fact elegant is how I would describe them but the scent was heavenly! In our droughty summer they would also perform with very little intervention needed.
Calmazag Nursery had a stunning display of Dianthus but the scent from these two was sublime! D. ‘silver star’ had a slightly larger semi double flower with a raspberry eye, whilst D. ‘Stargazer had a wonderful open flower with a deep purple almost black eye.
Perhaps Leucanthemums are seen as an old fashioned flower? If they are I don’t care. They are reliable, trouble free and just carry on flowering forever! They always remind me of my mum too which is nice, she used them a lot in flower arranging. Recently I’ve been seeing some doubles and semi doubles for sale which adds a whole new dimension to them. This one, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Christine Hagemamm’ I spotted on the Hardy’s plants stall. I just love its frilly, frothy centre!
Hardy’s has always been a great source of inspiration for me *Fan girl Klaxon!* ever since I got into gardening it was always their stall I lingered at longest and asked the most questions at… and often spent the most money at! Both Rosy and Rob have always been exceptionally gracious with their time and patient of me being annoying as have all their staff. I’ve always found something that draws me so its little wonder that the next few plants I spotted on my list are featured on their display.
Campanula ‘Pink octopus’ is an adorable bonkers little plant, not a new introduction but its one ive liked for a few years now. Unlike most campanulas where the petals are fused into a bell shape these are held separately and flare outwards in a pastel shade of raspberry pink, great for ground cover in a shady area.
This next one is just insanity though!
Plantago major ‘Rosularis’ on talking to Rob I discovered this is not a new plant rather just one I’ve never seen! How I’ve missed this I’m not sure but hey, always learning! Its of the same family as the common plantain, which is often considered a weed due to its abundantly fertile habit. This is also the reason the plantagenet family chose it as their symbol. As a general rule I’m not keen on green flowers, they feel a bit pointless to me but I may change my mind after seeing this ruffled spire of loveliness!
Next up are the Salvias and if you want to see them in all their glory the Dyson’s nursery stand is where to head for. William has brought out a couple of new varieties this year despite having an awful winter by all accounts!
‘So cool pale blue’ and ‘So cool purple’ are lovely little short shrubby salvia varieties, excellent for pots and front of the border.
Now as much as I love Salvias I admit I’m finding it really hard to like this one, over the last few years we’ve seen a number of new Salvias launched ‘Love and wishes’, ‘Embers wish’ and ‘Wendys wish’ being just 3 in the series. This year sees the launch of S. ‘Wishes and kisses’ and for me it falls very short of the mark (sorry). Maybe because the last few releases have been SO special I’m now spoilt? Its flower colour is insipid, none of the vibrancy I expect from a salvia and the calyx colour jars badly with the flower. I’m sure someone out there will love it, many in fact, but I’m not a fan.
And this is not a new release but an easy to grow bedder S. splendens ‘Go-Go purple’ is a real showstopper in my book! Big flowers, rich colouring, held high above vibrant green foliage, what’s not to love!
A nutty little Allium for you all now, I saw this being used a few times around the place and also at GLEE last year.
Allium ‘Forelock’ has the most unusual appearance, a tight ball of maroon flowers tipped white which gives a frosted look to the flower head, with a Mohican style effect sprouting from the top!
Reaching half a metre tall these guys are sure to add interest to your borders!
Last but by no means least!
If you’re looking for something both weird and wonderful look no further than Plantbase UK. Specialising in that something a bit out of the ordinary Graeme’s nursery is a treasure trove of the unusual.
This fabulous single leaf belongs to Sauromatum venosum, a voodoo Lilly which produces an amazing, if somewhat pungent flower every other year. If you have a shady spot that needs a wow factor this is just perfect for you!
Tell me what caught your eye this year!