At our ‘Spring’ by Hillier garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, a certain number of plants – and gardening extras – really caught the interest of visitors to our Chelsea Flower Show stand. From statement trees to stand-out perennials, discover what was in the Chelsea ‘Most Wanted’ list this year.
1. Calycanthus × raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’
Absolutely the most talked about plant on our exhibit was Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’ – also know as Sinocalycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’ (the names are synonymous).
It is a beautiful, light-scented, medium-sized shrub with glossy green leaves and wine-coloured flowers with a cream centre. It produces flowers in early summer, lasting for many weeks into late summer. The leaves then turn butter-yellow in autumn before falling.
Availability: Limited volumes currently available from Hillier Garden Centres in a 3-litre pot. Sold as Sinocalycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’.
2. Ilex crenata ‘Dark Green’
Ilex crenata ‘Dark Green’ as a clipped ball, creating a focal point in the herbaceous border
Ilex crenata ‘Dark Green’ as a low hedge, framing the front of the border
Ilex crenata ‘Dark Green’ is a great topiary plant and a good alternative to traditional Box, which sadly suffers from box blight. The dense, glossy, dark green foliage makes it easy to clip into shape and if you plant ready-clipped it just needs a once or twice-yearly trim with a pair of shears. Use these to create a structured backdrop to your herbaceous border.
Use these to create a structured backdrop to your herbaceous border. At our Chelsea show garden, they were seen in multiple spots, both as clipped balls and also as low-lying hedges.
Availability: Available now from Hillier Garden Centres.
3. Corydalis ‘Porcelain Blue’
Brand new for Chelsea 2017 and exclusively available in the UK from Hillier Garden Centres, the striking Corydalis ‘Porcelain Blue’ made an impression with its vivid blue colouring, used in several spots throughout our exhibit.
It is a surprisingly robust garden plant, despite its fragile appearance. It produces flowers for the majority of the year, typically only falling dormant in late winter. This Corydalis thrives in a number of situations, from full sun to partial shade, and sits perfectly in beds and borders. It has a sweet honey-like scent, attractive, soft blue-green foliage and bears flowering stems of a delicate light-to-mid blue.
Availability: Available early July 2017 from Hillier Garden Centres.
4. West Country Lupins
Lupinus ‘Persian Slipper’
Lupinus ‘Desert Sun’ (pale yellow) and Lupinus ‘Towering Inferno’ (pinkish-red)
Throughout our Chelsea garden, visitors could observe the imposing spikes of a variety of Lupins reaching towards the pavilion ceiling. Many of these were West Country Lupins, a variety bred to offer more vigorous growth and bigger flower spikes than other Lupins.
Like other lupins, they are able to produce their own nutrients from the air and feed them back into the soil so will do well in any soil situation given decent drainage. The best flower colour will be seen in a sunny site, but these plants will also thrive in partial shade.
Availability: Available in limited volumes from Hillier Garden Centres.
5. Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’
Another shrub commanding a lot of attention was the silver-leaved Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’, which was used to provide a beautiful foil for the vibrant reds and purples of Rhododendron varieties.
Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’ is a superb medium to large shrub with silver foliage, especially when young, which makes it perfect as a backdrop for many other kinds of planting. The flowers are small and acid-yellow, fragrant and are borne abundantly from early summer. It is tolerant of all soil types except shallow chalk and happy in sun or partial shade.
Availability: Available from Hillier Garden Centres as a 2-litre pot.
6. Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam)
We had plenty of questions about our cubed Carpinus betulus trees, better known as Hornbeam, which stood strikingly in the front left and right borders of our exhibit.
Hornbeam is just at home in a smaller garden as it is in a vast Chelsea exhibit. It is an excellent choice for formal hedging, pleaching and – if you lack space for the larger tree – can be used as a trimmed tree.
Similar in appearance to Beech, it holds its foliage longer in the winter and tolerates poor soils and exposed conditions much better.
If you are interested in purchasing any of these Chelsea ‘Most Wanted’, we recommend contacting your local Hillier Garden Centre to confirm availability.