Michael Perry on the future of plants and gardening

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July is here, and so far it’s a scorcher! No more wondering where summer is… it’s slap bang in front of you!

Of course, make sure you keep yourself cool, but also make sure you keep your plants cool… watering in the heat of the day isn’t just exhausting for you, but it isn’t actually that efficient. Give your plants an early morning soak to keep them cooler through the day, and avoid evaporation.

Containers will always dry out quicker, as there’s less volume of soil than in the ground, so keep them topped up, either by placing saucers beneath them, or using upturned bottles to create reservoirs. Avoid watering in a spray from above too, as this can waste so much water. Far better to get that moisture directly to the surface of the soil.

So, what have I been up to? Well, as usual, I’ve had a busy few weeks, and have been giving my passport a bit of wear, with short trips to France, Holland and… err… Norfolk.

Let’s chat briefly about France first, where I visited the most magical place called Les Jardins d’Etretat. This garden was created by a famous French actress and nestles on the side of some of the most beautiful cliffs in Europe.

But, the gardens are particularly famous for the super cool elastomeric sculptures, depicting a range of intriguing facial expressions! Which one’s your favourite? Check out the short video tour below:

I’ve also been getting back to nature in the wilds of Norfolk, as me and my partner attended a wedding in the forest. Rather than book into the local hotel, we opted for ‘glamping’, which was super cool! It seemed like luxury, with a comfy bed and all the amenities, but I must confess I kinda missed the room service and en suite…!

But, the one trip you’ll all want to hear the most about is my one to Holland, where I got ‘behind the scenes’ with more than 20 plant breeders, and discovered which plants and styles will be ruling our gardens in the very near future…

Are you ready to see the future of plants and gardening?

The ‘Flower Trials’ are a yearly event, where almost 60 companies display their very best plants, in order to show retailers what they can offer. They don’t just show the coolest new plants, but also ways to display them in retail stores, in catalogues and on television and online.

I really enjoyed my four day tour, and picked up a few pointers on what could be looking good in our gardens next season. Let me know what you think of my findings, and whether you’ll be making space in your garden for some of them?

1. 3-in-1 is better than one…

Many breeders are starting to develop ready-made mixes for your baskets and containers, but they aren’t just any mixes, they are very carefully trialled and considered.

What breeders are looking for are plants of equal growing habits, so you don’t get them jostling for attention. There’s nothing worse than planting up a mixed basket in June to find it’s only yellow Bidens by the end of August, having suffocated all the other plants!

2. Busy Lizzies are back!

A few years ago, Busy Lizzies almost become extinct, thanks to a strain of downy mildew that took hold across Europe. This airborne fungus caused plants to ‘melt’, and the only way to avoid it was to grow plants in containers and areas with clear airflow. But, that meant we couldn’t use Busy Lizzies in those difficult shady corners anymore, where they had previously been so handy!

Breeders have been selecting for stronger, mildew-tolerant plants of that old favourite, the Busy Lizzie! And, boy, I hope we can bring these to QVC UK! Watch this space!

3. Bright and tropical is still on-trend

I keep saying this week after week on air, but tropical style is really in vogue right now, with bright colours and tropical accessories popping up in gardens and on patios up and down the country!

This year, the star of the Flower Trials was Osteospermum ‘Purple Sun’, another fine plant that I hope to bring to QVC UK! The colours are mind-blowing, with purple centres and rich yellow petals. It’s a tough cookie too, like all Osteospermum it’s drought-tolerant and flowers its heart out!

There were also plenty of flamingoes to be seen around the trials this year, another example of fashion and plants crossing paths I think!

4. Hydrangeas are cool again!

Ok, Ok, perhaps they always were cool to you! But, we must admit it, Hydrangeas have had a bit of a bad rep in recent years and were seen as old-fashioned.

However, new breeding work is giving us more colours, patterns and shapes than ever! I particularly love the new ‘popcorn’ flowered varieties with tightly curled blossoms, although I’m also partial to the bicolours, with lipstick-smudged edges!

If your Hydrangea appetite is feeling ready to play, then look out for the Plant of the Month during July, it’s Hydrangea ‘Koria’, with lacy blooms, plus you get a choice of two different colours! This must be the UK’s favourite shrub, for sure!

5. Faux plants are okay!

For many years, I have been fighting the corner for faux plants, and championed using them in conjunction with real plantings. They can really help people with allergies or those who can’t garden the way they want to.

During the trials, there was strong acknowledgement that faux plants can work alongside de facto, and the awesome displays at the orchid houses really showed this!

 

That’s it from me this week. Let me know what you thought in the comments below… have any of these exciting new plants and trends taken your fancy?

1 Comment

  1. Margaret Rees July 1, 2018 at 7:29 pm -  Reply

    The garden centres in my town of Usk was selling the 3 in 1 plants this year and it made it a lot easier as the plants that were chosen in each pot matched beautifully together.I hope they will continue to sell them next year.

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