New blooms make Chelsea Flower Show debut
There's a host of exciting new plants being launched this year and making their debut at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which should inspire gardeners to get planting.
New roses, clematis, an array of new perennials and houseplants will all be showcased at the show.
Here are 10 to look out for...
1. Clematis 'Meghan' (ThorncroftClematis.co.uk)
Needless to say, there's been a lot of hype surrounding this deep-red flowered variety, named in celebration of the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry last year.
It's a summer-flowering type bearing flowers in May and June, and again from late-July to September, on the current season's growth.
It grows up to 1.5m (5ft), so is ideal for planting in a container or up an obelisk, but is also at home in the border. To maximise flowering potential, prune annually in February and March.
2. Rosa 'Gabriel Oak' (DavidAustinRoses.co.uk)
You can always rely on David Austin to come up with the goods for scent, colour and reliability and this stunning deep-pink English shrub rose is no exception.
Named after the beloved character of Thomas Hardy's novel Far From The Madding Crowd, it grows to around 4ft and produces large, many petalled rosette blooms, in the style of the Old Roses, with a strong, fruity fragrance. Ideal for the mixed border, pots and containers and the rose border.
For rose lovers who prefer a softer hue, the company is also launching Rosa 'Eustacia Vye', a shrub rose which produces soft apricot-pink blooms and will also tolerate semi-shaded areas.
3. Digitalis 'Firebird' (HardysPlants.co.uk)
This majestic hybrid has adopted the best traits from each of its parents – Digitalis purpurea and canariensis – and has shown to be a robust and vigorous perennial, growing to 120x60cm in dappled shade or sun in any good soil.
It produces 90cm spires of delicious warm reddish-pink coloured flowers, which have deep apricot tones in the throat and classic digitalis freckles on the inside of the flower.
4. Buddleja 'Butterfly Towers Magenta' (Thompson-Morgan.com)
Ever thought of growing buddleja as a hedge? Now you might be able to, with the introduction of this new upright buddleja with a columnar habit, which bears beautiful mauve-purple flowers which are a magnet for butterflies.
It's hardy, easy to grow and requires little maintenance. There's already a buzz around this one, which is hoping to make an appearance at Chelsea.
5. Begonia 'Joyful Blaze' (Dibleys.com)
The foliage on this new houseplant features contrasting, black and glistening red leaves. This tall growing begonia has a bushy habit, is quick-growing and will create a good sized plant within one season. Early autumn brings a flourish of pink flowers.
To obtain the best foliage colour, red leaf varieties should be grown in bright light. While the plants are actively growing, the compost should be kept moist.
Feed with a balanced houseplant fertiliser once a week and take care not to overwater.
6. Clematis 'Sugar Sweet Blue' (ThorncroftClematis.co.uk)
This is an exciting new addition as this large open-flowered clematis is scented, with a rich almond fragrance which is particularly strong in the evening and early morning.
It flowers on new growth of around 3m during April and early May, before most open-flowered clematis come into bloom.
It's best grown in part sun or dappled shade rather than full sun – grow it close to the patio, where the scent can be enjoyed.
7. Salvia 'Amethyst Lips' (HardysPlants.co.uk)
This stunning bi-coloured, rich purple and white flowered, shrubby perennial, is a subtler and perhaps some may say, easier to place, relative of the highly popular Salvia 'Hot Lips'.
Like its famous cousin, Salvia 'Amethyst Lips' flowers throughout June and October and grows to about 100x75cm, and is equally at home in either a mixed border or a large pot, in moist but well drained soil, in full sun.
8. Rudbeckia 'Savannah Mixed' (Thompson-Morgan.com)
Thompson & Morgan is hoping these new summer stunners will be on show at Chelsea this year. The colour-changing coneflowers open in shades of lime and yellow-green in early summer and, as the flowers age, they darken to deep autumnal shades of wine-red, burnt orange and green.
These annuals, which grow to 50cm tall, are ideal for creating an accent in beds and borders, as well as attracting insects to the garden. Plant them en masse for the best effect.
9. Dianthus 'Cherry Burst' (HardysPlants.co.uk)
Of a new generation of single flowered, full hardy Pinks, these are shorter in stem, growing to just 15cm high, making them perfect for the border or a pot.
Flowering continuously from May to September, 'Cherry Burst' has interesting chocolate coloured buds which open to a deep maroon eye, bleeding out to a lighter pink border over compact grey/green foliage. This hard-working little pink also has a delicious sweet perfume.
10. Streptocarpus 'Lemon Sorbet' (Dibleys.com)
The brightest, zingiest streptocarpus so far – the open face of these flowers sparkles in the sunshine. This variety is extremely floriferous, with months of continuous blooms and grows between 17cm and 22cm.
Pot them in a good quality potting compost and shade them for a few days, then within a few weeks they should begin flowering. Water regularly from either above or below when the plant needs it. Make sure you don't overwater, though – they only need watering when the compost feels dry to the touch.
They are happiest in bright light but not full sunlight, as too much sun can burn the leaves and fade the flowers.