IMAGINE a rose, a rhododendron or a peony being christened Crapaudine. Not very flattering, I’m sure you’ll agree, and a name, surely, to prove the ultimate customer turn-off.
But what about a beetroot? Not the most elegant of veg, they are nonetheless loved by many – myself among them – for adding another colour to salads and for their health-giving properties.
The essential with beetroot, of course, is to avoid spilling the juice down your brand new white shirt or across the pale blue table cloth! Eradication is one of life’s near-impossibilities.
⏩⏩➡» Beautiful beetroot? Introducing Crapaudine, all set to grace your salads.
Among the many additions to the Chiltern Seeds’ newest catalogue is one of the oddest looking beets I’ve known.
More closely shaped like a carrot, Crapaudine gets its name from the French word for toad – crapaud – and, like our amphibious friends, it has a tough, rough skin resembling tree bark the root, but once you peel back the root you’ll discover beautifully rich-coloured, dark flesh and a superior flavour favoured by chefs.
Chiltern, perhaps unsurprisingly, wonder why Crapaudine is not more widely grown. It is possibly one of the oldest beets of all and Chiltern reassure us by saying: “It tastes better than it looks.”
Crapaudine: Remember that name but be careful how you say it!
As always, the Chiltern handbooks – one for flowers, one for veg – fall into the difficult-to-put-down category.
With combined total of more than 200 pages, the detail is thorough and informative, whether your interests are annuals, perennials, shrubs, cut flowers, meadow, pond and woodland mixtures or green manuring plants, as well as a bounteous assortment of veg, with many like our friend Crapaudine featured in comedy pose.
In this 43rd edition, there are no fewer than 230 newcomers alongside hundreds of tried and trusted varieties, so being spoiled for choice is routine down Chiltern way.
Among debutantes that caught my eye:
Echinacea Paradiso Mix: Superb, brightly coloured daisies for mid-summer to autumn blooms in pink, yellow, white, rusty-orange and dark red, some with contrasting cones. 2½ft.
Antirrhinum Madame Butterfly Dark Red: A real dazzler of an award-winning snapdragon in the recently introduced double series. Flowers are long-lasting and look like double azaleas, reflecting their alternative name, azalea snapdragon. 2½ft.
Delphinium consolida Salmon Beauty: This is larkspur, the annual delph, so no second season unless you sow more seed. Tall spires of unusual salmony-pink, papery flowers, maybe to grown alongside Splish Splash, a fun and distinctive newbie with white blooms splashed purple and pink. 4ft.
Papaver rhoeas Bridal Silk: A huge Chiltern choice in poppies, this one is among the most elegant, bearing in summer silken flowers of pure sparkling white. 2ft.
Next year Chiltern will be supporting two worthy charities. They will donate £1.50 from every packet of Antirrhinum majus Ruby sold to the charity Thrive which celebrates its 40th – ruby – anniversary.
Chiltern are also supporting a new venture in 2019 – Life at Number 27 (http://www.lifeatno27.com).
Annabelle Padwick, the inspirational founder – and an ambassador for Thrive – is launching a non-profit organisation which aims to use gardening and grow-you-own as an alternative therapy for mental health illnesses.
The firm are donating 50p from each packet sold of five different vegetables – beetroot Boston, carrot Sugarsnax, pea Alderman, salad rocket Astra and tomato Black Cherry.
⏩⏩➡» www.chilternseeds.co.uk/01491 824675
⏩⏩➡» Fabulous flowers: Top – Echinacea Paradiso Mix; above left – Antirrhinum Madame Butterfly; centre – Larkspur Salmon Beauty; right – Poppy Bridal Silk.
⏩⏩➡» Front to back: The Chiltern Seeds 2019 catalogue featuring Digitalis Pam’s Choice and chilli Etna which will live up to its name for heat so mind how you eat!