Best plant competition set for Chelsea introduction

The RHS is introducing a Chelsea Flower Show best plant competition. The Plantsman's Conference & Chelsea 2010 Plant of the Year will showcase new plants and highlight the expertise of RHS plant committees and panels.

The award is for new plants, species not in cultivation, plants new to the UK and new selections and hybrids. Plants must not have been shown at consumer shows before.

The RHS has asked exhibitors to put forward plants, with 20 to be shortlisted by the Plants Advisory Committee on 23 May. In addition, Roy Lancaster will pick his selection of five or six plants.

RHS committee and panel members will view the plants on the morning of 24 May. On Monday afternoon, the Plantsman's Conference will take place in the North Front Meeting Rooms, chaired by Nigel Colborn. Lancaster will open the event and share his top choices with the audience.

Each speaker, whether committee member/exhibitor or breeder, will have 90 seconds to put their case forward for why the new plant is so good, interesting, different and exciting.

Committee/panel members will vote for Chelsea 2010 Plant of the Year. The plants will also be available to view in the Great Pavilion.

Exhibitor Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants co-owner Rosy Hardy said: "The initial assessment will be done by the plant advisory board and then turned into a list of 20 plants from which the committees will choose, so it sounds reasonable to me. The fact that all the plants will be put in one area with all the information for the general public should make it worthwhile."

- See Chelsea preview, p23-24.

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