Did you know there is a – mostly – secret location in the heart of Oxfordshire, where you can see tonnes of new flowers? However, I have to tell you, it’s only for the trade, because this is the location where buyers and growers visit to select the plants that we will grow in our gardens in the future.
So, here’s a whole load of shiny new plants to get your juices flowing. You need to be patient though, some aren’t ready until the spring, and some might be a little bit later than that… Us gardeners have patience as a major skill though, right??
Vinca is like the Busy Lizzie that never was.. If we go back a few years, as mildew took hold of traditional Busy Lizzies up and down the land, Vinca was primed as their successor.
However, English summers are neither warm nor reliable enough for Vinca to stay happy.. So it never became what it could’ve been. However, there are some pretty unique varieties coming through. Iridescent, fizzy blooms that you’ll love.
If a Dahlia could ever look like a water lily, then this is it! It’s as good as any watercolour painting hanging in the reception of a dentist surgery.
It’s almost the pink shade of those fluorescent pens you had as a kid! Part of the very successful waves of new patio dahlia, which don’t need staking, we can’t guarantee they’re earwig proof though..
If I was still writing catalogues, I would call this “lavender blue”.. after all, we don’t have a royal blue, and probably never will. But, gosh, what a colour. I thank Instagram for making Dahlias popular again, I thought it would never happen!
Gazania are drought tolerant, but they really do need the sun to flower well. Cloudy days can make them a little bit flower-shy.. however the silver sheen foliage more than makes up for it! Despite being seed-raised, I am astounded at the size of the plants in the ‘Kiss Series’ too! Go plant them into the backyard of a garden sob, why don’t you!
Hmm, if my eyes don’t deceive me, this looks like a true red leaf Heuchera, so far they’re been just a bit purple. I can’t wait to get my hands on this, imagine the ways you could play with that red… pass me the Coreopsis!
I’ve had some cracking Heuchera in my garden this year, and when they flower, it’s a frothy sensation! Don’t limit yourself though, they are perfect pot mixers too.
What the wow! Truly bonsai tomato, you’ll barely need to side-shoot the plants. Alas, the fruits were still green, so I cannot give you an accurate taste experience….yet!
If you don’t know the rosebud Busy Lizzies, then where have you been?? Now a safer bet for gardens, since the mildewy days, these are a real show-off for pots and baskets. To be honest, if someone gave me the choice of single or double flowered, I’d go for the layered doubles every time. So there you go!
Flipping heck, Argyranthemum will be running scared! Leucanthemum have had a right change-up. with some new patio types offering a long blooming season, and very distinctive flowers. Carefree plants, just as at home in a chunky patio container as it is the border.
Non-stop is such a well-known brand, and they do exactly what it says on the tin.. non-stop blooming. But, until now, there wasn’t a trailing one. ‘Joy’ now has 3 or 4 colours, and is from the very best of Begonias, Benary. Cor blimey, I’d plant this red one up on it’s own, it’ll cope with shade much better than Balcon Geraniums would too!
I was fan-girling over ‘Porcelain Blue’ recently, but this is a whole lot more blue! Like a kinky little flowering fern, Corydalis are the unsung border heroes, with a penchant for shady corners. Intermittent blooming from spring to summer, but don’t let the delicate looks deceive you. These are right old hard nuts!
This Dahlia needs no words! I want to say it looks 3-dimensional, but of course it does, it is a real flower! A tall one, you’ll need to armed with bamboo canes before you plant! I love the scalloped blooms, in fiery red-orange, with a golden scooped edge! Pretty darn sexy.
‘Apricot Shades’ Begonias seem to be a UK favourite, mainly cos they can cope with the rubbish (usually) English summers. They also love a shady spot, and don’t need dead-heading. Hurrah! This new colour is coming soon.
I don’t really approve of the name of this one, it’s ‘Hippy Chick’, but I think ‘Seashells’ would suit it much better. Don’t worry, I’ve already been bending the ear of the breeder on it! I reckon this could be the next ‘Queen of Hearts’, which was the most mainstream Petunia since ‘Night Sky’, which was the most mainstream Petunia since ‘Surfinia’, and so on..
You love it, don’t you? You’d plant it into a little pot and place it on the tabletop when you next have a BBQ won’t you? Yeah, you will! Lovely mini Petunias.
Blueberry and banana, makes a good – if not attractive – smoothie in real life. Keep them fresh though, and you get this effect. It’s one of those plants that you can see from yards away!
Somehow, Calibrachoa never quite caught on yet. I wonder if it’s because you don’t know how to say it… sounds silly, but I think it makes a big difference. You go to the garden centre and you could accidentally ask for a cam belt, who knows!
My 10 year old self would not have imagined how Coleus would reach the mainstream how they have. They have another name these days, but I don’t waste too much time trying to remember it.
Robust, patchwork colours, wind tolerant, English summer proof- they have it all. They have flowers too, bet you didn’t know that?? They’re blue!
Roses in baskets?? Wow! This succulent plant is mega tough, and ultra drought tolerant, but so far I’ve found they can be flower shy in dull summers. Perhaps I need to give this one a try! The silky flowers are just like the bedding you were to shy to order on that dodgy website recently…
Now here’s a Buddleja that will behave itself! Short, branched, not too fertile- it will stay where you put it. Neatly called ‘Prince Charming’, after me, I’m sure of it! Attracts tonnes of butterflies, has a mysterious (aka musky) fragrance, and flowers it’s heart out. You can accidentally cut it back too, and it’ll love you for it. You couldn’t do that to a Hydrangea!
You want yellow in your border, but some yellows are, y’know, too ‘yellow’. Wouldn’t a lovely butter yellow like this work much better? You need to put pressure on the buyers though, apparently this GORGEOUS Gaillardia hasn’t been selected for sale, yet.
Gaillardias are total sun lovers, and the colour range has slowly increased, and even boasts some shimmering almost-pink shades too.
Ugh. I love this so much! Have to have it.
So, Michael, why did you leave this until almost last?? WHAT A PLANT. It’s a RED Delphinium, blimey. Now, those in the know will recognise ‘Princess Caroline’, one of the first mythical red Delphi. But they weren’t such strong plants, and not quite as hardy.
But, this. THIS! This is really something. It is said to be strong, and trouble-free. Imagine the colour palette against the blues and purples?? Swoon.
It would be easy to walk past this one, but look very carefully. Each floret is actually a swirl, quite different to the usual delphinium ‘bee’. Give it to me already.
Whoever put this mix together needs a medal. Red and purple with yellow and orange is such a tonic. Cape Daisies are easy-peasy, the worst thing you can do is over-water them! They love the sun the most though.
Zinnia come a long way. My Nana and I used to grow them from seed, but they were always quite late summer bloomers. ‘Zesty’ is ace, and the blooms are super chunky. I love that!
Bees and butterflies love them. So next time someone tells you bedding plants aren’t good for wildlife, go tell them to pinch a bunch of nettles!
Sneaky trick, harvest Agastache micro-greens as a dessert garnish, for a little sweet tang! But, you’ll want to keep some to grow on, of course, especially when they look like this!
The plants also emit a noise, as they’re usually full of buzzing bees!!
Ethereal, these are a world away from traditional Sweet Williams. Lovely long stems for cutting, you’ll get a whole bunch from a single stem. Not tooo much fragrance, but you’ll be too distracted by the flower form to even notice!
Dahlias that don’t look like Dahlias, part 25.
This absolutely beaut needs a name. I say ‘Cosmopolitan’, but Nat at Happy Plants says ‘Stardust’. What do you say, though??
And, finally, a plant that I think deserves more acclaim. Like a hybrid between a Lupin and a Delphinium, these are the ideal cottage garden bedding plant. Give them a try.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour. Keep an eye out for some of the varieties in garden centres next spring, in mail order catalogues, and on the QVC shopping channel.
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.