Master plant breeder, Charles Valin, head of Thompson & Morgan’s award-winning plant breeding programme, gives his top picks for 2017. Charles’ plant breeding accomplishments include the world’s first white bidens, the first properly dwarf buddleia, the first intensely scented trailing violas and the first ever bright blue verbascum.
1. Strawberry ‘Just add Cream’.
I’ve got high hopes for this fabulous new strawberry variety bred by us here at T&M. I’m confident that the exceptional flavour and aroma will make it the new favourite of chefs and gardeners alike.
2. Lily ‘Corsage’.
This stunning lily dates from 1961, but is still among the most elegant Asiatic Hybrids ever created. Each soft pink flower has delicate spots and a subtle eyeliner edge. It is also pollen-less, so there is no danger of staining if you use it as a cut flower and it is safe for cats.
3. Petunia ‘Mini Rosebud Romantic’.
Like a miniature version of the classic double petunia, this lovely variety is ideal if you don’t like dead heading petunias due to their stickiness – this one is absolutely non-stick!
4. Coreopsis ‘Sunkiss’.
The brightest yellow flowers and largest central blotching of any C. grandiflora type to date. This is a breakthrough in seed-raised coreopsis, allowing it to be better priced compared to traditional cutting-raised young plants. Combines well with other plants.
5. Dianthus ‘Dynasty’.
A double-flowered, more elegant version of the classic Sweet William, ‘Dynasty’ is perennial and perfect for cottage gardens. It has a lovely fragrance too and makes a fabulous cut flower.
6. Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’.
This variety has been around for a while, but I think it’s still the best performing Alstroemeria for the garden. The contrasting bronze foliage and never-ending blooms are hard to beat!
7. Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’.
This plant is a gardeners’ dream: it has nice glaucous blue evergreen foliage, flowers for nine+ months of the year and its strong Narcissus fragrance wafts quite a distance even on the dullest of winter days.
8. Wasabi Rocket.
This popular salad green has even more of a kick than the traditional rocket and it’s much easier to grow than the real Japanese Wasabi plant in our climate. Just what sushi lovers have been waiting for!
9. Pepper Padron.
I have personally tried this one in Spain. It is served gilled as tapas and has become a sort of edible version of Russian roulette: they are so tasty and mild, so you tuck in confidently, thinking they’ll all be the same, but roughly 1 in 10 of them is devilishly hot! This is bound to be a favourite with chilli fans.
10. Scabious Kudos.
In my opinion, this is the best performing Scabious around; it just flowers and flowers and flowers. It performs equally well in the garden and in containers. Kudos is also a Mecca for bees and butterflies which we all need to attract to our gardens.
Sonia works at Thompson & Morgan in the role of press and communications officer. She is a self-proclaimed ‘reluctant’ gardener and is generally amazed if anything flourishes in her garden. Sonia has a ‘hands off’ approach to gardening and believes that this helps to encourage bees, butterflies and other wildlife. (That’s her excuse anyway!)