Welcome to the first blog post from Project Nurture, aka Hannah Hobbs! We’re well into the show season for the gardening world now, and Hampton Court, one of the most prestigious of the year, has just passed. I was lucky enough to be able to go, and now I bring you my top 5 favourite plants from the show. The inspirational Hampton Court Flower Show is a great place to pick up choice plants, see unique planting combinations, and find out the fresh planting trends and ideas for your own space at home.
Graceful and elegant Agapanthus ‘Twister’, an evergreen in mild winters, has stunning bicolour flowers which change from a strong violet-blue in the throat, to cool white on the petal edges. With flowerheads growing to 50cm, it’s ideal for a pot or a feature plant in the middle of a border. Team it with graceful grasses, such as Stipa tenuissima, and other sun loving perennials like Achillea and Leucanthemum. Exhibited by Lands End Nurseries and available from a limited number of suppliers nationwide.
Eryngiums, bold and architectural perennials, featured in many of the show gardens this year. It’s a brilliant plant for dry, sunny locations, and adds a sense of the seaside with its heavily pointed foliage and, on many cultivars, vibrant blue tones. It’s also great for coastal planting, as it doesn’t mind the salty sea air. Eryngium ‘Big Blue’ is photographed here in Sarah Morgan’s entry for Feel-Good Front Gardens competition. Eryngiums are widely available; my favourites to look out for are Eryngium ‘Big Blue’, Eryngium ‘Blue Star’, or Eryngium varifolium.
Bringing a real sense of warmer climes, the delicate and architectural Dicksonia antarctica, or tree fern, is a wonderful addition to a sheltered semi-shaded garden. While it requires a little protection at the crown over winter, it is well worth the effort when spring comes and the new fronds slowly uncurl to reveal their majesty. Dicksonia were popular with designers again this year, highlighting the warming climate of the UK in being able to succeed with more tender plants. Here photographed in the gold medal Bowel Disease UK garden, designed by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer. Make sure you source from a reputable supplier which only sells specimens sustainably sourced and tagged with the Australian Department of Sustainability and Environment label.
Quirky and fun, this little fella is like the naughty child at the school parade. While other Alliums are typically displayed with military precision to highlight their uniform height and symmetrical spheres of flower, this Allium ‘Green Drops’ defies them all. It is hardly a new plant, being a selected seedling from our wild leek ancestor, allium ampeloprasum var. babingtonii, yet it still has a worthy place in my top 5 this year. It bears small flower heads in clusters with an occasional individual flower shooting wildly above its neighbours. Exhibited at Hampton Court by W.S. Warmenhoven nurseries.
Last but not least is this stunning Delphinium ‘Princess Caroline’ from Burncoose Nurseries. A herbaceous perennial bearing tall flower spikes of the most unusual salmon pink blooms, it is a real eye catcher. As it grows to only around a metre high, is is easily accommodated in a border. ‘Princess Caroline’ was first introduced at Chelsea in 1994, but it is currently still only available from Burncoose Nurseries (www.burncoose.co.uk).