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Chelsea Plant of The Year – 2013 Winners - Graham Rice

On the Monday afternoon of the Chelsea Flower Show, this year’s award for the best new plant at the show, the Chelsea Plant of The Year, was announced – Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ (above. The runners-up were Clematis 'Lemon Dream' and Tropaeolum 'Fruit Salad'.

I wrote about Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ here on the RHS New Plants blog back in September last year. It’s outstanding in combining the long attractive spikes of fragrant yellow flowers, and the blue-black berries that follow, with slender, soft and spine-free foliage. It also makes a more maneagable plant than many mahonias, and its slightly silvered evergreen foliage is attractive in a container or border all year round.

You can order Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ from Crocus, and also from Gardening Express.

In second place came Clematis 'Lemon Dream'. Unique in having large, fragrant double flowers in pale lemon, the most prolific flush of bloom on this self-clinging alpine clematis is in late spring with a second flush later. Needing little or no pruning, and it’s easy to grow.

You can order Clematis 'Lemon Dream' from Thorncroft Clematis.

The plant voted into third place is very different, a nasturtium. Tropaeolum ‘Fruit Salad’ (below) took twelve years to develop after a customer passed a plant with serrated petals to Thompson & Morgan. The result is the first bicoloured nasturtum with serrated petals. And it’s also sterile so it flowers continuously for a long season on bushy, slightly trailing plants.

You can order Tropaeolum ‘Fruit Salad’ from Thompson & Morgan.

Demand for all three of these plants is high so, although orders can be placed now, delivery of some plants may be delayed while stock is built up.


Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

Source: RHS My Garden - Chelsea Plant of The Year – 2013 Winners - Graham Rice