RHS Flower Show: Malvern.
by Drucilla James
At Malvern, we begin our valedictions to the year’s gardening events. But the array of pinks, oranges, bronzes, deep purples and reds that the nurseries have on offer, means we can all go out in a blaze of autumn colour at this fag-end of the season.
Michaelmas daisies are the quintessential flowers of autumn named as they are after Michaelmas Day on 29th September and with their peak season for flowering being September and October. Old Court Nurseries are the National Plant Collection holders of these autumn-flowering asters and their stand is a confection of feathery stems and pink, purple and white flowers almost like cut-paper fringes.
A favourite with its dense lilac blooms was one of the New York Aster varieties, ideal for containers, Aster novi-belgii ‘Gulliver’
For brightening up the small city garden, Old Court Nurseries recommend small-flowered aster varieties like Aster ericoides f. prostrate ‘Snow Flurry’ which has masses of tiny white flowers on prostrate arching sprays and would look great falling over a dry stone wall or from a planter, or Asters lateriflorus ‘Prince’’ or “Lady in Black” whose pale starry flowers make a great contrast with their bronze-purple tinted foliage and stems.
The Plantagogo stand- another National Plant Collection holder – is densely packed with multi-coloured and variously edged and trimmed heucheras. Our pick was Heuchera ‘Caramel’ with its bright stand-out foliage, a wonderful pale toffee- colour curling to reveal deep red undersides.
Alpine troughs are great for small city spaces – providing the opportunity to create jewel-like mini-gardens for year-round interest. D’Arcy & Everest particularly commend Calceolaria integrifolia ‘Kentish Hero’ with its swollen orange lip-shaped flowers for the late summer/autumn season. If you keep taking off the dead flowers this is a plant that will just keep on flowering. It looks particularly well framed here by Diascia ‘Denim Blue’
The nursery also recommend their Sempervivens mixed colour collection for this time of year.
Hayloft Plants’ stand is splendid with prairie planting of Verbena, Astrantia, Echinacea, and Kniphofia seen through grasses. Anenome hupehensis ‘Splendens’ was our choice here with its showy almost china-like pink lipstick flowers and bright yellow stamens above maple-shaped leaves. This nursery recommends these windflowers as ‘essential ingredients of the late summer garden’ that will carry on blooming from July to November. This particular example is well-suited to sun or partial shade, untroubled by pests and will thrive in any soil.
Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants has similarly eye-catching mixed planting; the boldest bloom is Echinacea purpurea ‘Fatal Attraction’ with its stout purple stems, cone deepening in colour from gold to purple and its skirt of incredibly bright magenta petals. A favourite of bees and butterflies, this plant will bloom from July through autumn and still provide interest in winter with its seed heads.
And if you want a deep glowing red, then one of the first things to catch the eye as you enter the show, is the aptly-named Allium ‘Red Mohican’ with its stand-up crest of wine-red flowers tipped with cream, exhibited by Jacques Amand International.
And to achieve an even deeper red effect, there are the appropriately blood-red carnivorous plants, Sarracenia x courtii, from Hampshire Carnivorous Plants.
So although the gardening element in this show is smaller than in the events of high summer, there is still plenty of interest in this last hurrah. And when sated with autumn planting there is the largest vegetable competition to enjoy.