A cold, late spring has put summer colours on hold and brings a celebration of spring to the centenary RHS Chelsea Flower Show. 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 this week.
Colder than average soil and air temperatures have challenged nurseries to rethink their normal growing practices and adapt their designs to ensure the show is fully of colour this week.
Cold conditions and low light levels have meant that, unusually, Eagle Sweet Peas from Staffordshire will be displaying a number of highly scented, old-fashioned grandiflora sweet peas. ‘Lord Nelson’, ‘Cupani’ and ‘Queen Alexandra’ are just some of the Lathyrus odoartus 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 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, will showcase a collection 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 Bleeding Hearts and Deadnettle.
Making 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.
Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticultural Advisor, says “Despite the few days of warm weather we had in April, the late start to 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. As a result, spring flowers have lasted a lot longer than usual.”
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