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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Chelsea Plant of the Year: The runners up

Posted by Graham Rice on 31 May 2011 at 12:47 PM

Chelsea, Plant of the Year,Saxifraga,Verbascum. Image ©Carol Sheppard/RHS.The Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year award for 2011 went to Anemone 'Wild Swan', which I looked at here last time. Now, let's take a look at the two runners up. In second place, close behind Anemone 'Wild Swan', the members of the RHS plant committees voted for Saxifraga 'Anneka Hope' (above left, click to enlarge) entered by Kevock Garden Plants, based south of Edinburgh.

'Anneka Hope' is an encrusted or silver saxifrage, so called because its silver rosettes are encrusted with deposits of lime. To botanists, it belongs to the section Ligulatae. The mass of huge sprays of white flowers above neat green rosettes edged in silver is very impressive, especially as the flowers are held on red stems. The plant was at its peak for the show.

Reaching about 12in/30cm in height, it thrives in gritty, well-drained soil, especially with some added limestone, and is ideal in a raised bed.

'Anneka Hope' was raised by Matthew Ruane of Brynhyffryd Nursery and is a selection from his range of hybrids derived mainly from S. callosa and S. longifolia and one of a number of plants raised by Matthew Ruane marketed by Kevock Garden Plants. It is named after the granddaughter of Stella and David Rankin who run Kevock Garden Plants.

Saxifraga 'Anneka Hope' will be available from Kevock Garden Plants when sufficient stocks have been built up.

In third place came Verbascum  'Blue Lagoon', which I wrote up here on the RHS New Plants blog back in January.

'Blue Lagoon' is the first genuinely blue garden verbascum, with spikes of small bright blue flowers on noticeably upright plants about 75cm/30in in height. It's the result of some creative plant breeding and expert propagation under the eye of Thompson & Morgan’s plant breeder Charles Valin, who has created so many interesting new plants in recent years.

Verbascum  'Blue Lagoon' is available from Thompson & Morgan. Thank you to Carol Sheppard of the RHS for the pictures.

Look out for details of more Chelsea Plant of the Year finalists here over the next few weeks, and for more extensive information about all the Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year finalists in the September issue of the RHS magazine, The Plantsman.

Thank you to Carol Sheppard of the RHS for the pictures.


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