Botany behind the new plants in Hillier Chelsea 2017 garden

Malus x purpurea ‘Crimson Cascade’ – photo: Hillier Nurseries

Malus x purpurea ‘Crimson Cascade’ – photo: Hillier Nurseries

“A remarkable new tree discovered by a retired chemist, an outstanding new form of blue Corydalis and an undervalued Lilium are three of the plant highlights that will be on display at the Hillier show garden for the 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show”, explains UK based Hillier Nurseries in a preview of this show which will be held May 23-27 in London. The company will present Malus x purpurea ‘Crimson Cascade’, Lilium formosanum var. pricei and Corydalis ‘Porcelain Blue’.
‘A brand-new variety of Malus’
The first of these, Malus x purpurea ‘Crimson Cascade’, is new and exclusive to Hillier Nurseries, courtesy of Dr. Alan Warwick, a retired Yorkshire- based chemist. Dr. Warwick, described by Hillier as an enthusiastic gardener, contacted the nursery in 2014. He had been growing Malus ‘Aldenhamensis’ in his garden and had, 10 years prior, grown some seedlings from its fruits. He had noticed one of these exhibited a weeping habit in clear contrast to the upright form of the parent tree. He contacted Hillier to help establish if this was a unique trait. Hillier identified this was indeed a brand-new variety of Malus, which was given the name Malus x purpurea ‘Crimson Cascade’. Hillier began to propagate using the grafting technique. This has resulted in the commercial production of the new ‘Crimson Cascade’ in time for its launch at Chelsea 2017.
Gracefully arching weeping habit
According to Hillier ‘Crimson Cascade’ is a handsome small tree that can reach a height of 4.5 metres. It has a gracefully arching weeping habit that gives rise to purplish foliage in spring that is accompanied by vibrant crimson single or semi-double flowers. In later summer to autumn, the foliage turns bronze-green and is accompanied by attractive reddish-purple fruits.
Discovery was a complete accident
Discussing the new Malus, Dr. Warwick commented: “My nature as a scientist is very inquisitive, but this discovery was a complete accident. To think, hundreds of Malus are produced every year and this one turned out to be different. I am absolutely delighted to see it unveiled at the Chelsea Flower Show. I’m 87 and love to think I’m leaving something for posterity.”

Lilium formosanum var. pricei – photo: Hillier Nurseries

Lilium formosanum var. pricei – photo: Hillier Nurseries

Another plant highlight that Hillier will be featuring in its Chelsea 2017 garden, is Lilium formosanum var. pricei. This Lilium species is according to the company rarely available for sale. “Probably due to being tricky to commercially produce. It is, however, a great performer in gardens and one Hillier believes should enjoy greater popularity.” Lilium formosanum var. pricei is a more compact and hardier form than straight Lilium formosanum. It has large trumpet-shaped flowers of around 8 to 15cm in length and can grow to a height of 45cm. “This small Lilium looks stunning in ornamental containers or in raised beds, and its striking appearance and delightful fragrance is set to be a showstopper at the Chelsea Flower Show in May.”

Corydalis ‘Porcelain Blue’ - photo: Hillier Nurseries

Corydalis ‘Porcelain Blue’ – photo: Hillier Nurseries

Hillier Nurseries have been collecting and testing a large range of Corydalis species since 2005 to determine their garden worthiness, growing them in close proximity. Corydalis are loved by pollinators, so it was only a matter of time before natural hybridisation occurred. One particular new variety, Corydalis ‘Porcelain Blue’ stood out the most to Hillier, with its beautiful blue flowers and sweet honey-like scent. Following 10 years of observation by the Hillier Research and Development team, it has been found that ‘Porcelain Blue’ produces flowers for the majority of the year, typically only falling dormant in late winter, exceeding all expectations for the new variety.
“Corydalis ‘Porcelain Blue’ is a surprisingly robust garden plant, despite its fragile appearance. It thrives in a number of situations, from sun to partial shade, and sits perfectly in beds and borders. It has attractive, soft bluey-green foliage and bears flowering stems of a delicate light-to-mid blue.”
CAST 2017
Corydalis ‘Porcelain Blue’ already has been introduced to the North American market by US royalty management agency PlantHaven International. The agency showed this Corydalis at the recently held California Soring Trials 2017 [read more…]