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Chelsea 2011 by Lila Das Gupta

Chelsea 2011 by Lila Das Gupta
Posted on 25/05/11 | Posted by Lila Das Gupta

Another excellent Chelsea Flower Show with some interesting gardens – my favourites this year: Cleve West’s Daily Telegraph Garden and Diarmuid Gavin’s  Irish Sky Garden. 

As usual I was out with my camera and notebook taking down some of the best new plants around.  

My star of the show was Dianthus ‘Cruentus’  seen in Cleve West’s elegant garden for the Daily Telegraph.   Not new as such, but new to me! This much commented on dianthus has crimson-scarlet flowers held on upright stems, giving an almost lollipop effect.  It makes an arresting focal point in a border mixed with other colours.

‘Rhododendron’ Yakushimanum is a compact, May flowering  variety used by designer Tom Hoblyn  in his HomeBase garden, to great effect.  He’s mixed them with tree ferns creating a surprisingly exotic effect.   (I lost one of three tree ferns in my garden last winter due to the harsh weather and my reprehensible failure to protect them, so this Rhododendron is destined to take its place in my garden)   R. ‘Yakushimanum’ comes in different colours, and as with all Rhododendrons prefers ericaceous/acidic soil .

Hyde Lilies have always been a favourite of mine.  I love the drama of their dark, Asiatic lilies (‘Dimention’ and ‘Ebony’ are two exceptional maroon varieties). ‘Firebolt’ is said to be an improved version.  The deep orangey-red colour is one I will definitely be trying in pots next year. Hyde recommend using a little lime in the soil for Asiatic lilies, they also sell specialist fertilizer. 

Hydrangea Avant Garde (Hedi) from the Hydrangea Breeders’ Association was a sight to behold. The flower head is about as big as your head.  Over the top?  Of course, that’s why I loved it!

Saxifraga ‘Anneka Hope’ from Kevock Garden Plants also attracted my attention. This alpine plant looked very happy in a pot and had impressive plumes of white flowers.  If you don’t fancy a rockery a terracotta seed pan is a great alternative and shows these plants off to best effect.

Top Tip:  With so little rain, your tree fern (Dicksonia Antartica) may well be struggling to get enough water.  Tree ferns take in more water through their trunks, than from roots in the ground.  Under normal circumstances they live in rain-forest like conditions.  Help your tree fern out by using a spray pump to mist the trunks once or twice a week. In an area of hard water use rainwater where possible.

What a great insight into the plants at Chelsea from Lila! I can testify to her last point about Dicksonia Antartica, mine are not looking as happy as last year - The Fat Gardener

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