As a writer I'm often anchored to my desk even on the most tempting spring days. Such days are enlivened every year by the arrival of the latest edition of The RHS Plant Finder – perhaps the most important garden book ever published.
Let’s recap. The RHS Plant Finder does two different but related things. Firstly, it tells us where we can buy more than 72,000 garden plants. Every tree, shrub, climber, perennial, alpine and greenhouse plant that's available as well as listing it's nursery source. It's simple and invaluable.
But none of this would be possible if the names of the plants weren't regularised –and that’s the other half of the superb job that the RHS does with this book. This is the most up-to-date record of correct names for garden plants – and it’s updated every year. As it says on the back: 'Never use an old edition.' It will be out of date.
There are two important new features of this edition. Firstly, vegetables awarded the coveted RHS Award of Garden Merit are included for the first time in their own section. And the book itself is printed on whiter and noticeably thinner paper so it’s less bulky and much more pleasant to handle.
I usually mention the new plant that is stocked by the most nurseries. This year the honour goes to Verbascum 'Firedance' (above), launched by Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants at Chelsea last year, it has dusky red flowers and a darker, purplish centre. Eleven nurseries offer it.
In second place, stocked by nine nurseries, is last year’s Chelsea Plant Of The Year winner, Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum Kilimanjaro Sunrise ('Jww5').
And there are almost 3,400 other new plants included this year, from Abelia to Zosima. Take your pick!