The winner of the Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year award for 2011 was announced earlier this week. Members of all the RHS specialist plant committees chose the winner from the finalists nominated by the RHS Plants Advisory Committee, I listed the twenty finalists here a few days ago. The winner was a lovely new hardy perennial, Anemone ‘Wild Swan’.
Reaching about 16-18in/40-45cm high, and blooming from May to November, each pure white flower is shaded and banded with blue on the backs. The result is that, in morning and evening when the flowers nod and half close, the blue backs are revealed, then for the rest of the day the 2-3in/5-7.5cm pure white flowers open wide.
It grows best in partial shade in humus-rich soil where it would look lovely in a drift after earlier flowering shade plants have passed their peak.
‘Wild Swan’ was selected from a group of seedlings derived from five or six different parents which included Anemone rupicola. The precise parentage is difficult to pin down but involves both early and late flowering types. ‘Wild Swan’ was chosen as the pick of a small group of seedlings by Elizabeth MacGregor at her nursery in Kirkcudbright, between Dumfries and Stranraer in south west Scotland, where it has been on trial for ten years.
Anemone ‘Wild Swan’ is available for delivery next year from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, who entered the pant for the Chelsea Plant of the Year award, from Elizabeth MacGregor’s nursery, and also from Hayloft Plants.