Hartside Nursery Garden of Cumbria are regular exhibitors at Tatton, showing a range of choice alpine and woodland plants. This year the emphasis was on Roscoea, charming and hardy members of the ginger family with exotic looking flowers and foliage seldom reaching more than 2ft (60cm). Among those gracing the circular stand were Roscoea ‘Harvington Imperial' with large red blooms shot with purple, a striking blue-leaved selection of purple-flowered R. cautleyoides and diminutive but appealing R. alpina. Woodland ferns provided a delightful foil for the planting.
Vegetable seed specialists W. Robinson and Son had a display that really stood out from the crowd, filled with an impressive range of immaculate, expertly grown produce. Around a central arch was displayed tomato ‘Red Currant’ with its tiny red fruits, while other highlights include unusual-looking chilli ‘Friar’s Hat’, huge onion ‘Mammoth Improved’, pea ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ and tomato ‘Jubilee’ with large bright yellow fruit.
Craig House Cacti provided a really well-staged exhibit this year with cacti and succulents displayed in a semi-domestic setting, many plants on shelves and grown in a range of ornamental containers to show how these popular plants might best fit into the home. Among those to stand out were a pair of cascading forest cacti; Rhipsalis baccifera (also known as Rhipsalis cassytha) and Rhipsalis boliviana (also known as Lepismium bolivianum) - both ideal for an indoor hanging basket, unusual Cereus ‘Spiralis’ and bizzare Huernia thureti with its carrion-like flowers.
The circular display from Hooksgreen Herbs added a lovely cool fresh note to the Floral Marquee, at a time where intense colours often predominate. Masses of different mints and sages mingled with less familiar herbs and medicinal plants such as silvery southernwood (Artemisia) and interesting marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis). At the front of the stand were several different selections of thyme, such as charming Thymus ‘Silver Posie’.
Some stupendous hostas were displayed by specialist grower Brookfield Plants. Among those on a particularly luscious exhibit were a large plant of ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ with undulating glaucous foliage, fairly new ‘Let's Twist Again’ (see photo, bottom left), a curious selection with contorted leaves edged in cream, lovely ‘Ghost Spirit’ with blue leaves patterned with green and cream, in places the cream overlaid with a green mist-like markings. The highlight, however, was a huge plant of noble ‘Victory’ – as yet the largest variegated hosta.
A dazzling range of Bougainvillea was displayed by Westdale Nurseries. These showy tender climbers are often seen around the Mediterranean but can also make good plants for a conservatory, with their dazzling displays of papery bracts. Stand-out selections included ‘Pedro’, with tomato-red bracts, ‘Sunset’ in pinkish-orange, vibrant ‘Golden Tango’ with strong yellow heads, and vibrant purple cultivars, the colour of their bracts emphasised by the white true flowers.
Morton Nurseries provided a most impressive exhibit on its circular stand, which featured a diverse range of plant material. Among the shrubs were superb Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’, a relatively new deciduous plant with masses of 8cm burgundy-red magnolia-like flowers, petals edged in yellow, and unusual Buddleja × weyeriana ‘Sungold’ with flower heads of purple-tinged yellow. Also outstanding was Romneya coulteri - the so-called 'tree poppy' - with its huge white-petalled flowers, each with a boss of golden anthers in the centre.
Holden Clough Nursery regularly exhibit at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show and are growers of a range of excellent, mostly herbaceous plants, including astilbes, achilleas, coreopsis and many more. Crocosmia are a speciality and featured on their lovely stand; enjoy C. ‘Scarlatti’ with dazzling panicles of striking, starry flowers (top right of photo).