Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Chelsea Flower Show names Mahonia Plant of the Year

With so many widely varied species of plants and flowers to choose from, it can be very difficult to commit to a manageable number to grow. 

Nowhere is this truer than in a greenhouse, where the individual has a much greater degree of control over the environment. Indeed, this gives them the ability to grow plants out of season – or even in climates where they would normally struggle for survival. 

However, looking to major industry events that are taking place all over the world is one way of finding inspiration – as well as ensuring your green space is on trend! 

The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the key events on the global gardening calendar – and it brings green-fingered enthusiasts, gardening professionals and celebrities alike flocking from all over the world to see what's at the very cutting-edge of the industry. 

Hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) on the other side of the Atlantic in the UK, every year it names a particularly appealing flower Plant of the Year – and the 2013 crown went to a subspecies of Mahonia eurybracteata – ganpinensis, which has been colloquially dubbed Soft Caress. 

The foliage of this plant is unusual in that it is delicate and ferny, which has the effect of softening borders. 

It is grown by the Dutch nursery Van Son & Koot and was sourced by Javado. Speaking about the victory, partner at the firm Chris Campbell said: "We are delighted to have spotted a winner, as plant supplier we are always looking to excite our customers with new plants.

"I spotted the Mahonia last summer and knew at once that this would be a great plant for our garden centres," he continued, adding: "We work very closely with our growers to ensure top-quality plants every time."

Mahonias are a genus of around 70 different species of evergreen shrubs and are closely related to the Berberis genus. Its name honors a botanist from the US – Bernard McMahon. 

He acted as one of the stewards of the plant collections from the Lewis and Clark expedition – and introduced the Mahonia from materials collected by that excursion. The plants are known for their ornamental, often spiny, evergreen foliage, yellow flowers and they have become very popular as garden shrubs. 

The Clematis Lemon Dream won second place at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, followed by Tropaeolum Fruit Salad in third spot.