Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Giraffe Sunflowers and Other Surprises; with Truffle Trees and Pure White Wild Strawberries, We've Got a Sensational Gardening Year to Look Forward To

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Giraffe Sunflowers and Other Surprises; with Truffle Trees and Pure White Wild Strawberries, We've Got a Sensational Gardening Year to Look Forward To

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

WHAT'S hot for 2015? The plot-to-plate link grows ever stronger. Truffle trees from Seeds of Italy, PS60 a pair, prefer free-draining soil, so start digging over the clay for fragrant shavings in years to come.

The focus is on novel veg varieties this year, such as the sweeter-than-sugar liquorice plant, mustard from seed bred by Colman's and white wild strawberries to grow in a window box. These seeds are all from botanist James Wong's Homegrown Revolution range for Suttons, which is championing the world's first fully blight-resistant tomato, the very welcome Crimson Crush. Suttons also celebrates the sunflower with 14 new varieties that include possibly the world's tallest, Giraffe, purported to reach 15ft, as well as one that might be more relevant to small-space Londoners, the Suntastic Yellow, a mere babe at one foot tops.

Highlights at the Chelsea Flower Show this summer include Dan Pearson's return after a 10-year absence with a garden for Laurent-Perrier that is inspired by the Chatsworth Estate; Jo Thompson's sylvan retreat with natural swimming pool and writing room for M&G Investments, and Matthew Wilson's town garden for the Royal Bank of Canada. This self-sustaining plot has its own reservoir for watering plants, a "floating" deck, pomegranate trees and a boundary hedge of guava, which Wilson assures will produce delicious edible flowers, if not fruit, in our favoured urban microclimate.

Chelsea Fringe will stretch the London flower show to a full three weeks and is going global for 2015, with hubs confirmed in Vienna and Slovenia while director Tim Richardson is in negotations with Milan, Melbourne and Miami. If you have a flowery event to share closer to home, sign up at chelseafringe.com.

We're finally getting the message that plant diversity in our gardens is what best brings in the wildlife, so expect to see a shift towards shrubs, trees and climbers, which provide a full range of habitats and feeding stations. Green walls are another way to create refuge for wildlife, but note the scientific conclusion of the RHS boffins: "Green walls often require special engineered structures and planting pockets for the plants to grow. …

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