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Graham Rice

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

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Last round up - Ginkgos, ferns, milkweeds and more

Posted by Graham Rice on 13 Jul 2008 at 11:17 AM

The Hampton Court show is over… the work begins on restoring the turf to its natural state. I’ve been hunting out interesting plants all week and all through the floral marquees there are plants to catch the eye. Many never feature in the TV coverage or in other write-ups so now let’s round up some more of the most interesting.

At the front of the Desert to Jungle exhibit I spotted an unusual Solanum. Growing for its large, boldly marked foliage – and, with a bit of luck, its hairy white fruits – Solanum quitoense reaches 4-6ft and, when I grew it, made a dramatic summer foliage plant in a tropical style border. And if you grow it in a pot you can move it into protection for the winter and so have an even more impressive specimen the following year.

A species of Crocosmia never seen before in Britain was on show on the exhibit staged by Cornwall’s Trecanna Nursery. From 9,000+ft on Table Mountain in South Africa, the orange-flowered Crocosmia pearsii is unusual in being only 18in high and flowering very early – qualities which nursery owner Mark Wash is already working to add to the new varieties he has on the way.

The Big Plant Nursery had two interesting ferns on show. The pale young growth of Blechnum fluviatale are covered in rusty hairs and the long narrow fronds are upright at first, eventually becoming almost horizontal. It appreciates very moist soil, will take a little sun but prefers shade and is hardy down to about -7C. Blechnum gibbum ‘Silver Lady’ has upright fronds emerging from a tight crown, the slender parallel-sided divisions are a pale, slightly yellowish silvery green and have a bright fresh look. In three or four years it will develop a short trunk like a miniature tree fern and will take -4C. They also showed some rare forms of Ginkgo biloba, the maidenhair tree, growing in terracotta pots.

A yellow scutellaria I’d not seen before caught my eye on the Hopleys Plants stand. With bright yellow, snapdragon-like flowers and a trailing habit, Scutellaria havanensis was lovely snaking across gravel and would be ideal tumbling out of a raised bed.

Jacques Amand always shows an intriguing collection of  plants and this year the range ran from the tall slender spikes of Eremurus to some fascinating arisaemas. The striped flowers of Arisaema fargesii and the speckled foliage of A. elephas were especially appealing.

Finally, over in the Plant Heritage marquee we saw the beginning of a new enthusiasm for Asclepias on the stand from National Collection holder Barry Clarke. Amongst the best of all plants for attracting butterflies, as well as the fiery, though very vigorous, A. syriacus, I was especially taken with the pastel lavender flowers of A. sullivantii.

So many exhibits, so many great plants. That’s it for another show.

* It struck me that exhibitors could do themselves a favour by issuing press releases to help garden writers and TV researchers find the interesting plants. Very few exhibitors seem to have done so and there’s a story on every stand. The RHS even provides a guide on how to write a press release, one on how to contact the press and a range of other info on how to publicise exhibits and plants. And of course, if nurseries are introducing new plants, I may be able to feature them on my RHS New Plants blog. Nurseries can email me about them by clicking here.


Ranjeet said:

I have been to Hampton court palace in London during my Business tour.When i visited Hampton court, there was some Flower shows due to which I was restricted from entering the court.Not an issue I had a wonderful time outside the court with few other visitors.After asking few people outside Hampton court, i came to know that its "Hampton court Flower show". Sad Didn't got chance to see the show.

If you are from London, Help me to verify this content.<a href ="">Hampton Court Palace</a> They says there is boat service in summer.But i didn't find any such service there.

on 19 Oct 2010 at 05:49 AM