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Chelsea Plant of the Year 2017 & new releases



May 26, 2017

Mulberry Charlotte Russe. Peter van Rijssen

The Chelsea Flower Show has announced its Plant of the Year for 2017 amongst a list of impressive contenders.

A fast-fruiting dwarf mulberry that has been years in the making has taken out top honours at this years Chelsea Flower Show.

The work of renowned breeder, 89 YO Hajime Matsunaga, mulberry ‘Charlotte Russe’ featured in the Great Pavilion and Chris Evans Taste Garden and is sure to be a hit with backyard and patio food gardeners alike.

Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year, Mulberry ‘Charlotte Russe’


Growing to only 1.5m tall, it is a fast-maturing variety, bearing in as little as a year, producing fruit for four months from June to September and would be a prolific and compact addition to gardens of all shapes and sizes.  ‘Charlotte Russe’ pipped several other edibles on this year’s Plant of the Year list to take out the top prize, beating strong contenders strawberry ‘Just Add Cream’ and cucumber ‘Merlin’.

Strawberry ‘Just Add Cream’


Strawberry ‘Just Add Cream’ is an early strawberry with fantastic flavour. It holds its own as an ornamental strawberry, with a long succession of attractive flowers that are a magnet for pollinators, followed by months of fruit right up until the first frost.

Cucumber ‘Merlin’


Cucumber ‘Merlin’ is being billed s a breeding breakthrough, producing only female flowers that go on to form fruit without pollination – no male flowers are born at all. Being a parthenocarpic variety, its fruit not only develop sans fertilisation but the fruit produced isn’t seed-bearing – no more hollowing out of cucumber seeds for those who find they upset their stomach.

Salvia ‘Chrystal Blue’


Amongst the list of new release ornamentals, Salvia ‘Chrystal Blue’ was awarded runner up and its neat, compact habit topped with light sky-blue flowers sees it deserving of second place.  Spreading to 45cm and flowering at 60cm high, it’s sure to be a hit addition to borders around the country, garnering celebrity-worthy attention.

Rosa ‘Dame Judi Dench’

Actress Judi Dench poses with the “Dame Judi Dench” rose named after her on the David Austin Roses exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower show in London Monday May 22, 2017.
RHS / Luke MacGregor


Speaking of celebrities, a new rose in this year’s list has been named after Dame Judi Dench. The eponymous rose is yet another David Austin, with rich apricot blooms and a fresh tea fragrance.  Whether your a fan of The Shipping News or any of the late Bond films, this one’s a certainty for inclusion in any rose garden.

Pelargonium ‘Tall Dark and Handsome’ series.


This year’s list also sees an exciting release of a new series of pelargoniums. Aptly name the ‘Tall Dark and Handsome’ series, they’re the result of breeding a program to combine vigorous cutting-raised climbing pelargoniums with the dark foliage of seed-raised zonal varieties.  Growing to 1.8m and coming in three colours, ‘Pink,’ ‘Orange,’ and ‘Speckled Coral,’ the dark leaves provide a wonderful backdrop to the vivid flowers, making it a great novelty in the garden.

Cosmos ‘Cupcake Blush’


Another novelty released this year is Cosmos ‘Cupcake Blush’. Unlike classic cosmos varieties, ‘Cupcake Blush’ has fused petals, giving a tulip-like appearance the flower, especially when viewed from side on.  It’s a semi-hardy annual that does well in the heat and soundly withstands drought conditions.  The flowers begin white, fading to a slight blush within a few days.  A very pretty, tough annual that pollinators and beneficial insect will appreciate, as well as your gardening friends!

For a full list of Chelsea Plant of the Year finalists see their website.

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