Posts Tagged ‘rhs’

RHS Award Winner: Lovely Lavatera

January 26th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Lavatera 'Silver Cup'

Back in 1978 the very first Silver Medal was awarded by Fleuroselect, the across-Europe flower seed awards organisation that trials new varieties in 20+ countries and gives awards to the very best. It went to Lavatera ‘Silver Cup’ (it wasn’t until 1989 that the first Gold Medals were awarded).

But here’s the thing. Forty years after it received its Fleuroselect Silver Medal, ‘Silver Cup’ is still going strong. Not only is it still around, but it received the RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1996 and still retains both that and its Fleuroselect award. And it’s a star of the new RHS range of award-winning flowers from Mr F.

I rated it so highly that I put ‘Silver Cup’ on the front cover of my first book about annuals back in 1986. Here’s what I said then:
“It is a hardy annual to sow in spring or autumn which grows to about 2ft (60cm) making bushy plants branching from low down if thinned to about 15in (38cm).

“The flowers are stunning. Big, soft pink, open bells up to 2in (5cm) across with dark veins, they appear from mid-June to the autumn. Lavateras like sunshine and any soil which is reasonably fertile and well-drained. The only problem is that in hot dry summers they tend to give up flowering rather early in the season leaving a singularly unattractive clump of dead twigs. So soil that retains a little moisture helps. Ruthless thinning at the seedling stage will encourage branching low down to give a succession of flowers.”

And then I wrote: “‘Silver Cup’ is ideal in the favourite pink, blue and silver schemes with tall or short ageratum, silver foliage cinerarias and pyrethrums, and maybe white petunias and Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria’.”

The advice still stands. Even after all these years Lavatera ‘Silver Cup’ is still a star.

  • Please take a look at my article on RHS award-winning dogwoods for winter twigs in this week’s Amateur Gardening magazine – print edition only.

RHS award winners: Essential climbers

January 5th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Ipomoea 'Heavenly Blue' and Mina lobata

The new collaboration between Mr F and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) features seeds of flowers and veggies that have been awarded the prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM). I discussed these new ranges briefly here last year but I thought, as seed sowing season approaches, I’d take a closer look at some of the floral highlights. And the ipomoeas are especially interesting.

There are two AGM ipomoeas in the Mr F catalogue and, at first sight, they look completely unrelated.

Mina lobata (above right) features in the RHS range and, although long known by that name, it’s now been recognised as so similar to ipomoeas that it needs to be classified as one: so it’s now known, botanically, as Ipomoea lobata.

Fiery orange buds are held along arching stems, maturing to yellow and then cream but even as they pass their peak the new flare and the flowers stay tubular. It makes a great deal of growth, reaches 1-8-2.4m depending on the richness of the soil and the watering, and needs stout support. It flowers for months. Sow in frost free conditions from April.

The closely related Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’ (above left) is also an AGM variety but has been listed for years so is not in the new RHS range. It’s very different, with large flared sky blue flowers that open early in the day and close by afternoon – which is why it’s called morning glory. It reaches the same height as Mina lobata but its growth is less bushy and dense. It’s one of the most beautiful of garden climbers, no garden should be without it.

Just to emphasise how varied the ipomoeas are, Mr F also lists two special varieties of sweet potato grown for their coloured foliage; they’re ideal in sunny containers and trail neatly. These foliage varieties of Ipomoea batatas do not have AGMs – but I suspect this is only because the RHS has not yet held a trial.

I think these varied ipomoeas deserve a try, don’t you? I’ll be growing them all this year.

Mr Fothergill’s customers salute the Chelsea Pensioner’s Poppy Victoria Cross

April 8th, 2014 | News | 0 Comments

Mr Fothergill’s campaign to raise funds for the work of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War (2014) has undoubtedly struck a chord both with its retail stockists and their customers.

Chelsea Pensioners with Poppy Victoria CrossThere are 1,000 stockists of the counter-top display units of fund-raising Poppy Victoria Cross around the UK, including Homebase and many leading garden centres.  And with a pledge of 25p to the Royal Hospital Chelsea’s charity from every packet of 250 seeds priced at £1.85, a sum of £11,000 has already been raised just a few weeks after the initiative’s launch.

“The support our campaign has received both from our stockists and from gardeners has been quite remarkable,” says Mr Fothergill’s product manager David Turner.

“We have had to reprint packets and display units to keep up with demand from our retailers.  It is great to know our customers are backing the work of the Royal Hospital Chelsea Appeal”.

Poppy Victoria Cross is remarkable for the bold white ‘cross’ it bears across its single red flowers, which are borne through the summer.  Easy to grow and quick to flower from a spring sowing, this form of Papaver somniferum is ideal for informal borders and cottage garden settings.  Its distinctive ‘pepper-pot’ seedheads are also useful in dried arrangements when flowering ends.

Established in 1682 by Charles II to provide a safe home for military veterans ‘broken by age or war’, the Christopher Wren-designed Royal Hospital admitted its first pensioners in 1692.  The scarlet tunics and black tricornes of its residents and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show held in the Royal Hospital grounds every May are equally well known and respected around the world.

The Royal Hospital’s fund-raising manager Kate Marsh explained “Donations from the sale of Mr Fothergill’s Victoria Cross Poppy will enable us to improve the facilities and living conditions of the Chelsea Pensioners as well as helping us to secure a future for those young soldiers serving in the British Army today”