A hydrangea that made its world debut at Chelsea took the top spot to be named 2014 RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year.
Hydrangea macrophylla MISS SAORI (‘H20-2’) was bred in Kyoto by young plantsman Ryoji Irie and named for his fiancé who has since become his wife.
It’s a striking double-flowered, mophead cultivar with each floret having deep rose margins softening to white centres and wavy edges. The blooms are long-lasting, produced in June and on first year wood. Their appeal is further heightened by dark foliage. Plants thrive in full sun or semi-shade, suit border or container growing and can also be used as a cut flower.
It was entered by Hillier Nurseries & Garden Centres, which also won its 69th consecutive Gold medal at Chelsea in this its 150th anniversary year.
Selected garden centres will have stock from 2015, but a limited supply will be available later on this year. Plants can be seen at the show on the Hillier stand and the Chelsea Plant of the Year stand in the Great Pavilion.
Second place went to Iris ‘Domino Noir’, bred by Richard Cayeux on his nursery in France. For 20 years Richard has been breeding towards a true black and white cultivar and after several generations of crosses has succeeded with I. ‘Domino Noir’. It has black falls, white standards with a hint of lavender and gold beards. Plants enjoy full sun and well-drained soil. Cut stems can be seen on the Cayeux stand in the Great Pavilion.
Taking third place was the hardy Gerbera GARVINEA SWEET GLOW, with its bright orange blooms measuring up to 8cm across. This hardy form blooms from spring to late autumn with each plant able to produce up to 70 flowers. SWEET GLOW and two other new colours, the yellow SWEET HONEY and pink SWEET SIXTEEN can be seen on the Scotts Miracle-Gro stand in the Great Pavilion.
The winners were selected by members of RHS Plant Committees, from more than 40 entrants. Displayed in the Great Pavilion (GPA16), the finalists represented most plant groups from seasonal bedding through to houseplants and climbers.
The shortlisted plants were:
WINNER: Hydrangea macrophylla MISS SAORI ('H20-2') entered by Hillier Nurseries & Garden Centres, Hampshire
Unusual double-petalled flowers give a lacy appearance to this new shrub. Its deep rose margins soften into white centres. Burgundy foliage adds interest in autumn and it makes a good cut flower. (Bred by Ryoji Irie).
Aeonium ‘Du Rozzen’ entered by Trewidden Nursery, Cornwall
A UK-bred, dark multi-branching hybrid which, unlike many others, keeps its colour in winter. Drought tolerant and low maintenance, ideal for containers and smaller gardens.
Alstroemeria INCA SMILE ('Koncasmile') entered by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
A short-growing cultivar with extra-large flowers standing well above neat foliage and produced profusely through the season. Has great impact in borders or containers. (Bred by Könst Alstroemeria BV).
Begonia FRAGRANT FALLS IMPROVED SERIES 'Apricot Nectar’ entered by The Mind’s Eye Garden - RNIB
Double rosebud shaped, two-tone light apricot flowers are fragrant, the scent intensity increasing with the amount of petals. Excellent trailing habit and flowers all summer long. (Bred by Charles Valin, Thompson & Morgan).
Clematis 'Maria Skłodowska Curie' entered by Thorncroft Clematis, Norfolk
A free-flowering climber with white double/semi-double flowers that gain a greenish hue in cool weather. It has a strong growth habit and is frost hardy. Named for the Polish scientist known to all as Marie Curie. (Bred by Szczepan Marczynski).
Eryngium 'Neptune's Gold' entered by Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants, Hampshire
A perennial with an interesting combination of golden foliage and flower bracts with the electric blue flowers and stems of traditional sea hollies. Excellent in mixed borders. (Bred by Neil Alcock).
Gaura 'Freefolk Rosy’ entered by Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Hampshire
A variegated sport of G. lindheimeri ROSYJANE (‘Harrosy’). Cream, green and purple leaves are complemented by picotee pink and white flowers. Great impact when grown with grasses.
Gerbera GARVINEA SWEET GLOW (Garvinea Sweet Series) entered by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
Garvinea 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. (Bred by Florist Holland BV).
Helianthus annuus ‘Ms Mars’ entered by South West in Bloom
A sunflower with a dwarf, bushy habit and deep rosy-purple flowers with creamy-yellow tips and purple foliage. Ideal for pots and containers.(Bred by Burpee Europe).
Iris 'Domino Noir' entered by Iris Cayeux, France
Twenty years of breeding work has paid off and resulted in a plant with striking flowers exhibiting black falls, white standards with a hint of lavender and gold beards.
Lavandula × intermedia 'Heavenly Scent' (Heavenly Series) entered by Downderry Nursery, Kent
Purple flowers from July-August have broad corollas making it excellent for wildlife especially honeybees. It is one of three cultivars in a revolutionary range bred to be short, late-flowering and with a good scent - a previously unavailable combination.
Lilium martagon 'Jennifer Evans' entered by H W Hyde, Ruscombe
This is a strong growing clone of L. martagon which is hardy, easy to establish and long lived. Bright pink flowers from mid-June onwards. (Bred by Ieuan Evans).
Narcissus 'Georgie Boy' entered by Walkers Bulbs @ Taylors, Lincolnshire
Propagated for 20 years with proven hardiness and garden suitability. Named to celebrate the birth of Prince George. Sales support the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
Nemesia PINK LAGOON 'Penpink' (Maritana Series) entered by Penhow Nurseries, Monmouthshire
This is the first pure pink complete petal and flower - other Nemesia have coloured centre eyes. Strong plant that flowers for more than seven months from early spring to late autumn.
Petunia BLACK NIGHT ('PE11037') entered by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
The world's first double black petunia. Sterile, so it doesn't set seed and flowers continuously throughout the summer. A contemporary addition to the garden. (Bred by Charles Valin, Thompson & Morgan).
Streptocarpus 'Supernova' entered by Dibleys Nurseries, Ruthin
Early-flowering tender perennial smothered in blooms for at least six months. Flowers are lavender and inky-pink-purple with dark lines on all the lobes. Grow on an east- or west-facing windowsill and water moderately.
Tomato 'Indigo Rose' entered by South West in Bloom
Bred using genetic material from wild tomatoes, the antioxidant anthocyanin, believed to be beneficial to health, was found to be naturally present. Stunning black fruits ripen to purple. (Bred by Jim Myers – Oregon State Uiversity).
Trollius 'Dancing Flame' entered by Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Hampshire
Large, orange flowers produced more freely than other forms, are prettily arranged with the fringe of inner petals appearing to glow. Upright habit and good for bog gardens. (Bred by Fairweathers Nursery, Hampshire).
Viola 'Floella' entered by Victorian Violas, Lincoln
Fragrant flowers have mauve, crepe petals and a striking deep golden eye. Floriferous from April to September and equally effective in borders or containers.
Zantedeschia 'Memories' entered by Brighter Blooms, Preston
Compact grower with almost black flowers and unusual purple/green leaves and stems. Popular in bouquets and flower arrangements. Grow in a sunny, sheltered site; protect from frost. (Bred by Sande Group BV).