Anemone edges in as Chelsea Plant of the Year

Second vote needed to name long-flowering white anemone as winner after three plants dominate committee voting.

Anemone 'Wild Swan' clinched best plant by just three votes - image: HW
Anemone 'Wild Swan' clinched best plant by just three votes - image: HW

A compact white Anemone with blue reverse and a Saxifraga with clouds of white flowers went head to head at this year's Chelsea Plant of the Year contest.

A second vote was required before Anemone 'Wild Swan' was crowned as the outright winner by three votes.

See our PLANT OF THE YEAR FINALISTS GALLERY

Presenting the new perennial, Rosy Hardy of Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants told the RHS plant and trial committee members, gathered on Monday to hear breeders and growers talk about their introductions, that it boasts a long flowering season.

"It starts in May and goes on until autumn, with a big flush of flowers now and more big flushes to September," she added.

Hardy said the plant, bred by Elizabeth MacGregor, will hold particular appeal for small gardens due to its compact habit. It will be available in bulk from Hardy's in the autumn.

Speaking after the vote, Hardy said she was delighted for MacGregor and that the award would "really help the plant".

Saxifraga 'Anneka Hope', bred by Matthew Ruane, was presented by David Rankin of Kevock Garden Plants, from where it will be available.

Rankin told the audience that the plant looks good all year round, featuring a "mound of green foliage" before flowering and "breakthrough" red stems carrying the plant's "froth" of white flowers.

In third place was Verbascum 'Blue Lagoon' bred by and available from Thompson & Morgan. Presenting the plant, director Paul Hansord described its colour break as a "marvellous breakthrough in plant breeding".

The award, in its second year, is presented to the plant that members of the RHS plant committees, sub-committees and trial assessment panels consider to be the best new plant at the show. The top three plants took the lion's share of the representatives' votes this year.

The criteria for the award included innovation, novelty, excellence, impact and public appeal.

For photo gallery of all finalists, see www.HorticultureWeek.co.uk/photos.

New contenders Breeders make case for their plants

Richard Hyde, HW Hyde, on Lilium 'Firebolt'

"We've had dark red lilies for years but they are straggly. This is strong and totally hardy."

David Millais, Millais Nurseries, on Rhododendron 'Rabatz':

"It is quite rare to have bred in a good red (flower), deep-green foliage and the hardiness needed for northern Germany."

Rodger Elliott, royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, on Brachyscome 'Magenta Delight'

"This has been extensively trialled and proved quite exceptional. It doesn't need much water or fertiliser and is long flowering and self-cleaning."

Rex Dibley, Dibleys Nurseries, on Streptocarpus 'Sioned'

"This is from our breeding programme to find yellows and creamy colours. It is compact and flowers easily for eight or nine months."


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