Best New Variety - Herbaceous perennials

Winner: Digitalis 'Serendipity', Hillier Nurseries

Digitalis 'Serendipity' - image: Hillier Nurseries
Digitalis 'Serendipity' - image: Hillier Nurseries

Hillier Nurseries kept this one quiet at first. Not even its staff was in on the tricky job of researching and developing the many different varieties of hybrids before hitting on the right one.

Digitalis 'Serendipity' has an orchid-like flower with well-defined split trumpets and bold pink petals that flower long with defined spotting and scalloped edges.

The task of breeding the new foxglove was undertaken by Alan Postill, one of the all-time best plantsmen at Hillier Nurseries, and who this year celebrates his 50th year with the company. His goal was to breed a pink version of another winning orchid foxglove, Digitalis 'Saltwood Summer', launched to high acclaim a few years ago.

Alan came up with something very special and of exceptional elegance, which met a strict list of qualities asked for by customers. These included longevity in the garden, flowers that appear all around the stem and a colour that differs from the traditional purples and whites. It is now one of Hillier Nurseries' top-10 most popular herbaceous perennials, which is some feat.

Digitalis 'Serendipity' was previewed at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2010 but the big push came a year later when the plant became an important part of the company's record-breaking 66th consecutive Gold Medal exhibit at Chelsea. This is fitting for a show that celebrates new ideas and new plants.

Some 8,500 of this particular new plant have now been delivered to garden centres in the UK and Ireland.Marketing included showcasing the flower on the front cover of the Hillier Nurseries plant catalogue, showing samples to trade customers and emailing images to the press.

Promotions paid off big time, securing the plant's best-selling status with almost £30,000 of business, and, of course, ensuring that it became a worthy, sought-after addition to the great British border.

Highly Commended

Digitalis 'Illumination', Thompson & Morgan Young Plants

Dianthus Memories, The Bransford Webbs Plant Company

Landgard is the interface that connects specialist growers with retail customers. We offer our customers a flexible tailor-made service to ensure that supply meets demand and outstanding quality is key.

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