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Cold Spring Brings Unexpected Visitors to the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show


Some plants not normally seen in flower in May are still blooming. A cold, late spring has put summer colours on hold and brings a celebration of spring to the centenary RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by M&G Investments. The late growing season means that plants that would normally have gone over are still in full bloom, and will make an appearance at the world-famous show (21 – 25 May www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea)

Soil temperatures (2oC colder than average) and air temperatures (0.5 oC colder than average) have challenged nurseries to rethink their normal growing practices, and adapt their designs to ensure that the show is bursting with colour next week.

Cold conditions and low light levels have meant that, unusually, Eagle Sweet Peas from Staffordshire will be able to bring a display that includes a number of highly scented, old-fashioned grandiflora sweet peas. ‘Lord Nelson’, ‘Cupani’ and ‘Queen Alexandra’ are just some of the Lathyrus odoratus cultivars that are still in full bloom and will be on display, thanks to the late start to spring.

Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants of Hampshire, which has won 17 Gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, will bring a display of herbaceous perennials. Where last year’s high spring temperatures led to a display with bold, vibrant colours, the plants used this year will be more subtly coloured spring flowers, such as Lamprocapnos (bleeding hearts), Lamium orvala (deadnettle) and Paeonia emodi.

Marking a return to fashion this year, rhododendrons feature prominently at the show in designs including Delancy’s East Village Garden, and Kate Gould’s The Wasteland. In the Great Pavilion, Cornish-based Burncoose Nurseries will bring a display of trees, shrubs and perennials including some unexpected selections of rhododendrons including Rhododendron ‘Percy Wiseman’, R. ‘Halfdan Lem’ and scented R. ‘Lady Alice Fitzwilliam’ and R. formosum var. formosum.

The gardens at the show will also bring some surprises. Apple trees, which normally flower at the end of April in the South of England, are currently in full bloom in the Homebase Garden, designed by Adam Frost. In the M&G Centenary Garden, designed by Roger Platts, a rhododendron that would normally have finished flowering by this time of year, Rhododendron (Loderi Group) ‘Loderi Game Chick’, will be on show. The garden also features a magnificent wisteria and Viburnum plicatum, both of which are flowering later than normal this year.

Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticultural Advisor, says: “Despite the few days of warm weather we had in April, the late start to the spring has meant gardens are about two weeks behind the normal growing season. Cold soil temperatures mean that seeds are slower to germinate and gardeners must delay planting out tender plants. This means that spring flowers have lasted a lot longer than normal, and there’s been a delay in some of the early summer colour, but with a bit of warm weather and sunshine, it won’t be long before the summer-flowering plants burst into bloom.”

Source: HortiTrends News Room