Grower set to cap new Chelsea plant-winner production

The disparity between new commercial glasshouse plants and less widely available new varieties was highlighted at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show plant of the year awards, as Clematis chiisanensis 'Amber' won best plant - with 1,000 available this year, 5,000 in 2017 and then 20,000 in 2018.

1.Clematis chiisanensis 'Amber' , 2.Geum 'Scarlet Tempest’, 3.Calendula Power Daisy Sunny, 4. Pinetops’ Lillium ‘Perfect Joy’ - images: HW
1.Clematis chiisanensis 'Amber' , 2.Geum 'Scarlet Tempest’, 3.Calendula Power Daisy Sunny, 4. Pinetops’ Lillium ‘Perfect Joy’ - images: HW

The Dutch-bred yellow double is exclusive to Taylors Clematis. The clematis was bred by Marco and Bianca de Wit, grown by Stolwijk and royalty managed by Plantipp.

Plantipp's Peter van Rijssen said: "In the beginning, not everybody wants to commit to a variety unless it wins a prize like this. Not everyone takes the risk. I prefer when producing a new variety to have 5,000-10,000 plants."

Stolwijk's Gerard Stolwijk said he has sold them all to Taylors. Winning the award was "wonderful but we don't go into hundreds of thousands", he added. "People will be after them. I'll treble the production but that will be it, we'll stay at 10,000-20,000 a year."

Next year Stolwijk will have Clematis 'Susie Lou' launched by Taylors at Chelsea. Stolwijk also had Cook's Garden Centres display Photinia 'Pink Crispy' on the long list at this year's show, with 50,000 available in August.

Third place was Kerley's Calendula Power Daisy Sunny, which has 100,000 available in 2017, while shortlisted Petunia NightSky, from Ball Colegrave and bred by Selecta has 400,000.

Pinetops' Lillium 'Perfect Joy' is being sold by Dutch distributors, with interest from US retail giant Walmart, while Double H's Phalaenopsis 'Sunny Smell' is part of a 1.5 million annual production sold to supermarkets by the Hampshire grower.

Second place went to Geum 'Scarlet Tempest' displayed by Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants and bred by Elizabeth MacGregor, who bred 2011 winner Anemone 'White Swan', which had only 200 available on launch. Pinetops' Stuart Paton said: "The Dutch are going to sell it all around the word for us."

Ball Colegrave's Stuart Lowen said: "If you are going to be Chelsea plant of the year it should definitely be widely available in saleable quantities. There's nothing more disappointing than not being able to get one." Plantipp's Peter van Rijssen said he is looking for a licensee in the UK.

Double H's Guy Grimshaw said the phalaenopsis is the first scented variety of the UK's most popular houseplant widely available. At Chelsea, Double H had a stand promoting its public-facing website Thompson & Morgan's Egg & Chips is another mass-market plant.

Taylors Clematis owner Chris Cocks said he has 1,000 plants available via mail order at £15 each this year and 5,000 for next year. Breeder Marco de Wit found the seedling in a batch of Clematis 'Lovechild'.

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