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Which plants were favoured by garden designers at this years’ RHS Tatton show?

The eighteenth RHS Tatton Flower Show was, by all accounts, an unprecedented success. The sun shone, for once, the crowds gathered in their masses and the gardens and flower displays dazzled. But what colours were the show’s most popular colours and which plants were favoured by garden designers and landscape architects? Well, here are Ladybrook Nursery’s thoughts on the North West’s premier gardening and plant show. Here are just a few of the things that caught our eye.

Colours

As was the case at RHS Chelsea, garden designers and plant growers definitely favoured muted rustic colours. So there was plenty of bronze planting on display and an abundance of green foliage. Yet like Chelsea again, many garden designers interspersed the autumn backdrop with splashes of bold, bright colouring. Orange and red definitely found favour and glowed through the subtle undertones of the underplanting.

Plants

Meconopsis

Meconopsis, part of the poppy family, proved to be one of the plants of choice in this years’ show gardens. Both the Welsh poppy, Meconopsis cambric, and the Himalayan blue poppy, Meconopsis betonicifolia prominently featured in many of the show gardens. Similar in shape and structure to true poppies, Meconopsis are identifiable by their long and thin seedheads, as opposed to the ‘pepper pot’ seedheads typical of true poppies.

Meconopsis is a genus of plants in the poppy family, the most common of which grown in Britain are the Welsh poppy, Meconopsis cambrica, and the Himalayan blue poppy, Meconopsis betonicifolia. The flowers are a similar shape and structure to true poppies, but they can be identified as Meconopsis by their seedheads. Rather than ‘pepper pot’ seedheads typical of true poppies, Meconopsis seedheads are thin and long.

Meconopsis betonicifolia is a spectacular plant which bears bowl-shaped blue flowers with yellow centres. It flowers freely from late spring to early summer. Best grown in most neutral to acid soil in full sun to partial shade, the Himalayan poppy is a real crowd pleaser. Although the plant is recognised as being fully hardy, it can also be difficult to grow.

Potentilla

There were plenty of Potentillas on show this year. This garden perennial variety, also known as the cinquefoil, produces flowers in a wide variety of colours and will complement any mixed border, regardless of the colour scheme. Cinquefoil are grown for their attractive five-petal cup-shaped, colourful flowers, and flower profusely spring right through to autumn. The flowers are produced either singly or more often in clusters. Perennial Potentillas are very easy to grow, and thrive in full sun with good drainage. Most will thrive in any type of poor to average soil, but some of the rarer cultivars prefer more humus-rich soil.

Agapanthus

Agapanthus, the African lily, featured in many of the show gardens and it’s obvious to see why when you see them in their full glory. No wonder it’s one of is one of our favourite summer-flowering perennial plants. They are grown primarily for their spectacular flowers which can be white, pink, blue or purple, though our preference is generally for white flowered variety, Aganpanthus. umbellatus albus.

Originating in Southern Africa, Agapanthus have fleshy, rhizomatous rootstocks and are available in both deciduous and evergreen varieties. Although they are generally half-hardy to fully-hardy, they will need some winter protection. The evergreen varieties are generally the more- tender.

Agapanthus thrives in fertile, moisture-retentive but well-drained soil in a sunny garden position. They will grow in most soils regardless of the pH, with the exception of Aganpanthus. africanus which prefers an acid soil. Avoid planting in shade as the plants will tend to grow poorly or sacrifice flowers for foliage. Water the plants frequently during the flowering season, but sparingly in winter.

Prone to waterlogging and cold in winter months, Agapanthus can still be grown in containers. Protect container-grown plants with a thick dry mulch of sand or straw and over-winter in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.

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