Cold May mornings bring on shortage of signature irises

RHS Chelsea Flower Show's signature irises will be in short supply this year as the coldest May mornings for more than a decade left growers in turmoil with plants refusing to flower in time for the event, which starts on 24 May.

According to the BBC Weather Centre, 11-12 May was the coldest May night since 1996, with temperatures dropping to -6 degsC in the Scottish Highlands, -4 degsC in Wales and 0 degsC in London.

Somerset grower Kelways owner David Root, who is growing for 12 designers including Thomas Hoblyn, Philippa Pearson, Sue Hayward and Peter Dowle as well as his own stand, said there will be far fewer irises at the show than normal. The iris and peony specialist has been exhibiting at Chelsea for a century.

Root added: "We know we will not have so many irises this year because they have not grown well enough. The cold weather has upset them and we've not had any flower spikes. But our tree peonies will be the best ever. It's swings and roundabouts.

"Tender English perennials are flowering very late and more exotic plants like Euphorbia, olives and Echiums are flowering very early. Chelsea is always a challenge and I've been doing it for 19 years. I thought I'd faced all of them and then you get a new one."

Shropshire-based Claire Austin Hardy Plants owner Claire Austin added: "The weather has been quite adverse this year. We have had to put plants back in the glasshouse. Every year Chelsea is a drama. It is very difficult with irises. The older varieties can be particularly difficult."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Sargent's solutions - regulations and legislative requirements underline the professional status of landscape contractors and gardeners

Sargent's solutions - regulations and legislative requirements underline the professional status of landscape contractors and gardeners

Regulations benefit individual gardeners and landscapers as well as the wider industry, Alan Sargent explains.



Customers do not often know about the different leaf colours and shapes offered by hollies, Miranda Kimberley reports.



These heralds of spring are highly suited to being planted in tree circles, grass and rock gardens, says Miranda Kimberley.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Horticulture Week Top 50 Landscape and maintenance contractors

See our exclusive ranking of landscape and maintenance contractors by annual turnover. 

Industry Data

An exclusive report for HW subscribers revealing the key development trends, clients and locations for 2017.


Free to subscribers, the essential guide for professional plant buyers

Download your copy

Products & Kit Resources