April flowers bloom in May for Chelsea show

Mike Clare
Mike Clare
Have your say

Suffolk’s award winners at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week are old hands but were showing plants they have never shown there before.

But it was not because Potash Nursery of Cow Green, Bacton and Harvey’s Garden Plants of Great Green, Thurston, were trying something new, it was because that late spring had held back many plant species that would normally have been past their best now.

Roger Harvey

Roger Harvey

In spite of a difficult spring both nurseries won silver-gilt awards, though Harvey’s won gold last year.

Sarah Clare at Potash Nursery, whose silver-guilt was their ninth in a row, said: “Some of the plants up there were intended for shows at the beginning of April, but they’ve only just come into bloom.”

She and husband Mike specialise in fuchsias and pelargoniums but their Chelsea display is usually mostly fuchsias. But Sarah said: “We usually have mostly fuchsias but have had to use more pelargoniums. Last year, with the bad spring, we had about three-quarters fuchsias but this year it was more like 50:50.

“It’s been such a strange spring but at least we managed to get a display up there.”

Roger Harvey specialises in shade loving plants, such as hellebores.

“They held very well this year, being cool, but we still had to warm some things up because they weren’t coming on,” he said. “You’d bring things out of the cold store expecting them to come into bloom and they didn’t because it was too cold.

“We’ve used a lot of plants this year that we’ve not used before because they’re still in flowere when they wouldn’t normally be. Dicentra spectabilis are usually well over by the time we come to Chelsea but this year they’re in full slower.”

But he said he could see difficulties other exhibitors faced with some flowers, including irises and delphiniums in short supply.

On Friday, the professionals will be joined by the young gardeners from Ickworth Park Primary School who had been selected to grow plants for the Miracle Gro Schools Garden. They were given compost and seeds and had to submit photographs of the plants they grew.

Teacher Jayne Cook said: “We were delighted to hear that our tomatoes have been chosen for the show garden. Last week a van arrived to pick them up, together with labels designed by the children.”

Four adults and four children will be manning the garden, talking to visitors, during the day.