Your guide to new plants and ranges on display at this year's Four Oaks Trade Show

A wide variety of new plants from across Europe will be showcased at this year's show. Matthew Appleby looks ahead to some of the highlights.

Dryopteris ‘Jurassic Gold’ is a UK-bred fern - image: Seiont Nurseries
Dryopteris ‘Jurassic Gold’ is a UK-bred fern - image: Seiont Nurseries

As ever, this year’s Four Oaks Trade Show in Cheshire features impressive, large displays of specimen plants and mature stock sourced from across the UK and the continent.

The 2019 range from Earley Ornamentals includes seed- and cutting-raised choices for spring, summer and autumn flowering. Freefall XL and Pansy Premier are new in pansies, while the Earley Super Bloomers collection includes Earley’s SunPatiens range.

Owner Simon Earley says nurseries are growing bigger bedding in bigger pots, with a move towards more instant plants and bigger plugs for late spring and early summer. Demographical changes and the poor March of 2018 are behind this, he explains, adding: "Customers don’t want to grow it, they want to own it — to have something doing the job for them."

Ball Colegrave has new introductions in Argyranthemum, begonia, Calibrachoa, dahlia, geranium, osteospermum, petunia, salvia, ‘Trixi’ and verbena.

Newey is launching a combined website at that enables ordering, searching for products, viewing of orders and delivery notes and downloading availability lists. The company is also introducing a tree buyer’s guide. Featured plants include Bellis ‘Bam Bam’, Lomandra ‘White Sands’, Echinacea ‘Delicious Nougat’, Anisodontea ‘Elegans Princess’, Impatiens ‘Wild Romance Blush Pink’, Carex Evercolor Everglow, Nandina ‘Twilight’ and Geranium ‘Bloomtime’.

Richard Harnett of Kernock Park Plants says the Saltash-based supplier of plugs and liners is "always enthusiastic" about the Four Oaks Trade Show. "We regard it as the major show of the year." Kernock is displaying new product for the 2019-20 season after a "healthy" 2018. Its highlights for 2019 include 80 new varieties such as Proven Winners Salvia Rockin’ ‘Deep Purple’ and Nemesia ‘Pink Lemonade’. Old favourite Plectranthus Mona Lavender is back, while Heuchera ‘Forever Red’ is new.

Salvia Rockin 'Deep Purple' - image: Kernock Park Plants

The new Salvia Rockin’ series — ‘Deep Purple’ and ‘Fuchsia’ — are more compact, free-branching, more grower-friendly versions of the ever popular guaranitica forms such as ‘Amistad’. "Think of them
as ‘premium annuals’," says Harnett. "They are brilliant for containers and front to middle of the border, and will provide brilliant colour all summer long."

Kernock’s other new petunias include ‘Vista Fuchsia’ and ‘Purple Cream’. There are perennials
galore, from alpines to hardy and herbaceous types. Beschornaria ‘Flamingo Glow’ is a yucca-type variegated plant. Harnett adds: "Nowadays we select our heuchera from 50ft. If they’re not good enough to set themselves apart from other heuchera at that distance, then they don’t make the grade." Kernock has also introduced ‘Forever Red’ and ‘Champagne’ as well as its Heucherella ‘Leapfrog’.

Diervilla ‘Diva’ is the main launch from Seiont Nurseries with Van Vliet New Plants. It is a "great new purple form with lots of bee-friendly yellow flowers", says Seiont’s Neil Alcock. There is also an "amazing" new UK-bred hardy fern, Dryopteris ‘Jurassic Gold’, launching with Genesis Plant Marketing.

"It has fantastic rose/bronze new fronds in spring to early summer which age to a golden frond and is perfectly hardy," says Alcock. "I am particularly pleased to see a new hardy fern development as they are increasing in popularity and there hasn’t been much work on new ferns — apart from my Blechnum ‘Volcano’ of course."

For 2019, he would like to have more plants ready earlier and, even after the slow start to 2018, he plans to increase production by 5% in 2019 after upping it by 10% in 2018. Over the past three years, production has risen by 50% at the North Wales nursery. Launches in 2018 include Dreaming buddlieas and Fox series heucheras.

Alpha Plants is exhibiting 40 varieties of salvia plugs, including shrub, perennial and annual types. Alpha is also introducing hardy, perennial Victorian Violas, bred over a 10-year period by Rob Chapman and winning nine RHS gold medals.

Pentland Plants is entering Dianthus ‘Peach Party’ into the new plant awards at the Four Oaks Trade Show. A new variety from Selecta-One breeding, it is a hardy dianthus suitable for various pot sizes and has a long flowering period of up to 10 weeks. The next flush of flowers follows a few weeks later. An abundance of attractive, small, apricot-coloured flowers are produced in spring. In summer, these flowers develop a strong red eye that contrasts nicely against the lighter apricot edge.

John Richards: ‘Strawberries & Cream’- image: John Richards Nurseries

Floranova is showcasing Celosia ‘Bright Sparks’, Geranium ‘Reach Out’, F1 ivy leaf geraniums and pansy Freefall XL.

Genesis Plant Marketing has a range of new introductions from its UK breeders, focusing on a group of six new nemesia colours that will come onto the market. Commercial director Nigel Judd says these are bred for good, strong garden performance, contrasting bicolour flowers, scent and good cutting production potential.

There will be two new additions to the three Penstemon Pentastic series over 2019 and 2020, starting with Pentastic Blush. Forming a well-branched plant with one pinch, the Pentastics are programmable to flower from April to October.

Carpinus ‘Rockhampton Red’, already introduced for the garden and landscape market, is also at the show, aimed this time at sales being developed into the hedging market. The advantage of this over other hornbeam is its beautiful red and orange autumn leaves.

Botanics International has new Elsner Pac introductions to the Flower Fairy line of zonal geraniums, including red Splash. Also from Elsner Pac is the addition of ‘Vera Apricot’ to the hanging verbena line.

Hishtil is launching Thymus ‘Cascata Lemonade’, a vigorous hanging, scented variety. Also from Hishtil is Lavender Meerio and Dianthus ‘Double Lace’. Florist Holland is showing new Garvineas Sweet Sunset and Sweet Love.

Heuchara 'Forever Red' - image: Kernock Park Plants

Finished plants

In finished plants, John Richards Nurseries is promoting Lonicera periclymenum ‘Strawberries & Cream’. The grower says this exclusive plant’s characteristics include a compact habit, strong fragrance and disease resistance.

Chapel Cottage Plants is celebrating 30 years of trading in 2019. David and Ann Green and son Nicholas now produce 4.5 million hardy perennials a year. There are 900 varieties. Centaurea ‘Amethyst Dream’, Persicaria ‘Darjeeling Red’, Achillea ‘Strawberry Seduction’ and Calendula PowerDaisy Sunny are among featured plants.

Infinity Christmas Trees is a new consortium of British growers, based at Bridgend farm in Ledbury and
run by David Brown and Rory Lane. The Christmas tree market is also represented by companies including Altitude 500, Cadeby Tree Trust, Bolton, FCTP, Fillingham, Forest Fresh, GO & ML Jones, Jakins, Lloyd Forestry, Snowbird and Strawson.

Fairweather’s Nursery has a new allium and eryngium range as well as its 30-plus variety range of agapanthus including the new ‘Ever Sapphire’ and ‘Fireworks’. The nursery also grows more than 90 different lavenders.

David Austin Roses is showing new varieties such as ‘Emily Brontë’ and ‘Mill on the Floss’. Beaver Plants is exhibiting aquatic plants and its Lifestyle Plants brand.

Thompson & Morgan is exhibiting Calendula officinalis ‘Crown Orange’, Tropaeolum majus ‘Orchid Flame’, Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Cupcakes Blush’ and Cosmos atrosangineus ‘Chocolate Brownie’.

Dianthus 'Peach Party' for pots - image: Pentland Plants

Channel Island Plants (CIP) is showing Kerley & Co’s Petunia Designer and Tumbelina new breeding. This year, CIP is introducing Petunia Designer ‘Buzz Purple’. Brier/Cohen’s new breeding from CIP for 2018 includes Nemesia Honey Dark Yellow, a new colour, compact and ideal for pot production, and Lobularia Awesome Bicolour Dark Purple White, a new colour in this highly scented variety. Ideal cool-grown for early-season pot and basket production, Petunia Happy Giant Pink Mix is an unusual novelty with huge pink flowers and a white wash running through it.

Suntory/MNP Flowers have a number of new introductions including Argyranthemum Grandaisy — a new series introduced from Suntory breeders.

Volmary introductions for 2018 in the Powerliner range include Heuchera ‘Apple Crisp’, Malva ‘Blue Vein’, Anemone Fantasy Series and Salvia ‘Sky Blue’. Bare-root perennial and herb production has increased, while 2019 will see the introduction of a new lupin Tower series, available in nine colours.

Van Vliet New Plants is launching Hebe ‘Tiptop’, Hebe ‘Matty Brown’ and Hebe ‘Joan Mac’.

New from Belgian young plants company Denis Plants is Saxifraga ‘Gelbes Monster’, Saxifraga ‘Shiranami’, Panicum ‘Oxblood Autumn’, Helleborus ‘Winter Passion’, Bergenia ‘Kerstin’ and Bergenia ‘Carina’.

Exhibiting for a third time at Four Oaks, Plant Iberia is an established business with 12 years of experience supplying wholesalers and nurseries with hedging and aromatics. It is showcasing 25-litre specimen hedging, cherry laurel, Portuguese laurel and Griselinia litoralis. New to its range for 2018-19 are Choisya ternata ‘White Dazzler’, Ilex crenata ‘Luxus Spire’, Ilex crenata ‘Caroline Upright’ and Griselinia ‘Green Horizon’. The company also supplies evergreen specimens and exotics such as palms, along with ferns, olives, camellias and conifers.

Giorgio Tesi group from Pistoia in Italy is displaying young plants up to large specimens, including geometric shapes, street trees and garden centre and supermarket plants. The group has new MPS class A certification and works with CNR Institute for Plant Protection on disease-resistant cypress and elm.

Diervilla ‘Diva’ - image: Seiont Nurseries

Garden bonsai

Japanese Hort Business is a fairly new firm that imports Niwaki garden bonsai from Japan. It is a 50/50 public-private partnership, supply and maintenance company backed by the Japanese government.

Italian co-operative Flor-Coop is exhibiting acer, euonymus, hydrangea, kalmia, magnolia, Osmanthus, pieris, Sciadopitys verticillata, Vaccinium, Azalea mollis, wisteria, ilex, Leucothoe, nandina, Photinia, Phyncospermum, skimmia and viburnum.

Consorzio Ortovivaisti Pistoiesi is another co-operative of Italian producers, cultivating an area of 80ha. Their whole production is sold exclusively through Consorzio, which reduces prices and shortens the supply chain, supplying container and root balls to garden centres, landscape professionals, architects and local authorities.

Covili Franco, also from Italy, is at Four Oaks again — continuing a 20-year run of exhibiting — with a large selection of specimens.

Stervinou is an ericaceous and unusual shrub nursery in France, specialising in camellias, restios, proteas and bromeliads. Camellia ‘Midnight Variegated’, Camellia ‘Sweet Olive’, Magnolia ‘Fairy White’, Roscoea ‘Spice Island’ and Disylium ‘Blue Cascade’ are featured plants.

JD van de Bijl of the Netherlands is showing trees such as Globe Robinia and Prunus cerastifera ‘Nigra’ from its 400 varieties.

Galardi Piante of Italy is at Four Oaks for the first time, with a range from three to 1,500 litres that includes bamboos, conifers, climbers, espaliers, shrubs, topiary art and trees.

Andre Briant Jeunes Plants of France is showing Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Ball’, ‘Golden Ball’ and ‘Golf Ball’ as well as Choisya ternata Scented Gem ‘Lissbrid’ from Liss Forest Nurseries, Nandia domestica ‘Twilight’ and Weigela × All Summer Peach ‘Slingpink’.

Jan Nieuwesteeg Nurseries of the Netherlands is displaying its range of large flowering rhododendron hybrids in a variety of containers. 

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