2010 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year
Late on Press Day – Monday 24 May - a mass of the gardening media and Royal Horticultural Society Judges, crammed into a hot, meeting room to decide on Plant of the Year, Chelsea 2010. The air was tense in anticipation.
Warm up act, Roy Lancaster, set the tone with his infectious brand of horticultural enthusiasm, delighting the audience with stories about his own selection of showstoppers. Aware of the prize at stake, the delegates who waited to champion their plants, shuffled nervously in their seats.
Chairman, Nigel Colborn, spoke and the room became quiet, first with a case for the defence and ninety seconds from victory, Andy McIndoe, supported Digitalis ‘Serendipity’, extolling its beauty and horticultural merit.
Then, up stepped garden columnist, Peter Seabrook, who became animated on behalf of an aubergine, followed by…Peter Seabrook, then, Peter Seabrook! Eventually, this horticultural heavyweight supported five plants, his flow interrupted only by several ladies in support of treasures, like soft pink Lilium ‘Chelsea’, Gaura lindheimeri ‘Ruby Ruby’, a couple of exotic Nepenthes, and snazzy little bicolor Streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue’, awash with blue and yellow flowers.
One keynote case, came from Jon Whiteley, of Winchester Growers, who was momentarily transformed into the namesake of tangerine Dahlia ‘Ian Hislop’, with his inclusion, of more references to Private Eye, than many thought possible in 90 seconds.
Finally, the room finally fell silent. The plants’ representatives left the room and the voting began. It didn’t look good for the early runners, ‘Ruby Ruby’ bucked the trend, almost notching double figures, before Nigel Colborn’s voice boomed out ‘Streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue’, submitted by Dibley’s Nurseries’, at this, a host of hands shot up and the room burst into a hubbub of excited approval - it was a winner by a massive margin. Streptocarpus, a trendy, plant? This award may be just the start!!
Winner: Streptocarpus 'Harlequin Blue'
Raised by Lynne Dibley and exhibited here for the first time. The first flat-flowering bi-colour streptocarpus, with yellow on the lower petals making a striking contrast to the baby-blue upper petals. A compact plant with masses of flowers. Available from: Dibleys Nurseries, as plug plants, by mail order. Dibleys Nurseries (GPG 17)
Second: Gaura lindheimeri 'Ruby Ruby'
Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants have been working with Gaura breeding for the last six years. Initially with 'Chiffon' then 'Rosyjane', now on this line comes 'Ruby Ruby'. It is a continuing breeding programme using G. lindheimeri in open pollination and with judicial selection. Available from: Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants (GPF 16)
Third: Cypripedium flavum
A hardy lady's slipper orchid, Cypripedium flavum is found in China but these are mostly yellow flowered with reflexed sepals and petals. White flowers are very uncommon and superior. Plants can be grown in a pot or planted in the garden; they require partial shade, good drainage and moisture in summer. Available from McBeans Ltd (GPE 24).
Download the shortlisted plants (pdf)