This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Australian Bedding Plants, Chelsea Show Garden and Award Winning Pepper

Lobelia ‘Lightning Blue’

Bedding Plants Australia (BPA), the body to whom gardeners in Australia look for recommendations for seasonal planting for the flower garden, this year have an unfortunate admission to make. "For autumn 2006 BPA was hard pressed to find any new releases which met the strict selection criteria, so we looked back at those cultivars that have been outstanding in years gone by" a spokesman said. "Proven or New, Colourful or Blue – that’s the theme for BPA’s‘Pick of the Bunch’ selections for autumn 2006." Bedding Plants Australia has selected three cultivars of bedding plants which are proven or emerging classics, and which will suit varying tastes. All are suitable for courtyard, garden or outdoor room suggests the organisation.

Lobelia ‘Lightning Blue’ is regarded as one of the best cultivars grown in Australia. It was selected as Flower of the Year for 1993, set new standards for lobelias and is still going strong 13 years later. ‘Lightning Blue’ features masses of flowers in the most vivid dark blue, with a sparkling white eye to every blossom. It creates a striking effect either massed out in beds, trailing from hanging baskets, large pots, or as an edging feature plant.

Antirrhinum 'Jelly Beans'

The Snapdragon, Antirrhinum ‘Jelly Beans’, provides a startling display of blossoms in yellow, carmine, red, white, lilac and white. Some individual plants amongst the mixture will even produce lilac bicoloured flowers. This is a more recent introduction from 2004, and is of medium stature with flower spikes 35-45cms tall. It is ideal for adding height and texture to planting combinations in garden beds, and also looks great in planter boxes and pots. It will bloom up to two weeks earlier than other snapdragons and is excellent as a cut flower. This excellent cultivar will provide colour over many months and in some parts of Australia will flower all year round.

Pansy 'Moonlight Bay'

As part of coming up with suitable recommendations for the autumn season, members of BPA were asked about their favourite pansy. One of the most popular proved to be last season’s release, ‘Moonlight Bay’. This cultivar creates a stunning display when in full flower. The blossoms grade in colour from ivory white to primrose in the centre, to a vibrant purple-blue on the outer petals. The halo effect that this creates, and the shades of colour within different individual flowers, produces a wonderful shimmering effect. This stylish pansy was introduced in 2005. It has proved to flower well through winter, even in the colder states of Australia.

Chelsea Show Gardens Preview
During each of the days running up to the Chelsea Flower Show I am previewing a show garden. Although these are often regarded as garden theatre and not as sustainable under normal gardening conditions, they are often full of interesting and innovative ideas which can be taken, at least in part, and used in our gardens at home.

The MITIE Garden

The garden designer, Jo Penn, says that The MITIE Garden is for our changing climate. Movement and energy is brought into the garden with a striking recycled glass tiled water rill, which curves through the front of the garden. Set with bespoke ceramic fish, which can be glimpsed through the gentle stream of water, the rill flows from a raised pool to a sunken pool and fernery. A soft screen of papyrus reed follows the curve of the rill and offers a transparent sense of enclosure when viewed from the hardwood deck.


Award Winning F1 Pepper
'Carmen' is an All America Selections 2006 award winning sweet pepper. It is an unusual Italian bull's horn type of elongated shape, about 15cm (6ins) long. The fruits are sweetest red, but are also perfectly palatable when green. It is capable of setting fruit over a wide temperature range.

A Fine Petasites
While most Petasites species, although welcome to the early spring bog garden or waterside for their interesting naked blossoms, we are generally not as accommodating of when it comes to their large coarse green leaves which tend to swamp everything else. While Petasites var. palmatus ‘Golden Palms’ cannot be claimed to be wholly well behaved, apart from its very early spring flowers, it does produce quite handsome golden, much-divided leaves. It is distributed by Terra Nova Nurseries Inc. through retailers in North America more.

Starbucks "Grounds for your Garden Scheme" Promoted
As this week is National Compost Week in the UK, the gardening media is highlighting and promoting the scheme from Starbucks called "Grounds for your Garden". Rather than throw away used coffee grounds Starbucks are encouraging its customers to recycle their coffee grounds for the good of their gardens, by offering free coffee grounds in store. For further information in the UK telephone 020 7331 5440.


National Amateur Gardening Show
1st-3rd September
Royal Bath & West of England Society,
The Showground,
Shepton Mallet,
BA4 6QN,
Web-site click here
This show includes the UK National Giant Vegetable Competition and Dazzling Dahlias with the National Dahlia Society - the biggest Dahlia Show in the world.

PS. Apologies to everyone for the non-appearance of the blog yesterday. It was temporarily suspended while it was checked by the host. It apparently gave the appearance to their robots of being a spam blog as I give links to companies and the groups regularly, especially when I mention new plants. The blog has been checked manually and approved. So it should not happen again. Thank you for your patience. It is nice to be on-line again.

Happy Gardening



Today’s Sponsor

Bedding Plants: Bedding Plants Australia
Chelsea Garden: Royal Horticultural Society
New Pepper: All American Selections
Petasites: Terra Nova Nurseries Inc.

If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthy SeedMessenger gardeners’ seed saving and seed exchange blog click here.
and the weekly water gardening blog PondMessenger click here.

To join the GardenMessenger gardening community
click here

To visit the SeedMessenger seed exchange web-site
click here

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