Following a 90 second pitch by Chris Campbell, a representative of Javado Plants on behalf of Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres, the vivid colours and qualities of the Hydrangea macrophylla Miss Saori ('H20-2') were enough to take first place.
Features include deep rose margins which soften into white centres and unusual double-petalled flowers giving the bloom a lacy appearance. Burgundy foliage adds interest in autumn and it stands as a good cut flower overall. Miss Saori flowers on first year wood and reaches 1m x 1m. Hardiness is to -18 degrees.
Breeder Ryoji Irie won gold at the HTA National Plant Show with his Hydrangea Love in 2013. Javado will distribute the plant to customers, with loyal garden centres first, from 2015.
Taking second place was Iris 'Domino Noir' from Cayeux Iris, the result of several generations of crosses which have resulted in a stunning iris with unique "truly black" falls, white standards with only a hint of lavender and gold beards.
Gerbera Garvinea Sweet Glow (Garvinea Sweet Series) from The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, took third place with just one vote in it. The Garvinea range is robust, weather- and disease-resistant. The Garvinea Sweet series offers super-sized flowers in bright colours continuously from early spring until the first frost.
The votes were cast by members of the RHS specialist plant committees and voting was chaired by RHS Council member Dennis Espley.
The RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year was created to recognise the most inspiring new plant at the Chelsea Flower Show.
A shortlist of 20 plants was chosen by a panel including plant committee chairs and RHS garden curators from over 40 plants entered by Floral and Garden exhibitors.