“It’s amazing what you can find lying around in the nooks and crannies of the seed store!” Alan Sparks of Takii Seed.
A lucky discovery in a back room has been exhibited at RHS Chelsea this year and is Thompson & Morgan’s ‘Flower of the Year’. Stunning Nasturtium ‘Crimson Emperor’ featured in the RHS Chelsea Show garden of acclaimed landscape and garden designer, Thomas Hoblyn, who won a Silver Gilt Medal and the People’s Choice award for his Chelsea garden this year.
Even before ‘Crimson Emperor’ had made its debut at RHS Chelsea, Thompson & Morgan had chosen this extraordinary nasturtium for its Flower of the Year. Its amazing colour and unusual habit are what make it so special. The consistent rich crimson colour that gives this variety its name is rarely seen, whilst the plant’s habit is less trailing and more lax and bushy, making spectacular spreading ground cover.
The story behind the development of ‘Crimson Emperor’’ is an interesting one. In about 2003, Alan Sparks, of seed breeders Takii, found an old box of seed selections in a back room. The box belonged to the late Kees Sahin, renowned Dutch seed breeder and plantsman. The selections had been taken from so-called ‘rogues’ from the production fields of a previous nasturtium variety, ‘Scarlet Emperor’. They had been ‘selfcrossed’ in the greenhouse and subsequently forgotten. Alan sowed the seeds and grew 4 or 5 much darker red plants which he then used to carry on with his selection.
He says, “It took a few years for them to regain their vigour and climbing habit, but it was clear from the beginning that the colour was much darker red than the standard varieties.”