Three-year deal blossoms at Rosemoor – that’s show biz!

RHS gardener Emma McNeill, pictured at RHS Garden Rosemoor, ahead of the Flower Show which starts tomorrow.

RHS Rosemoor fllower show 2017
ROSEMOOR, the Royal Horticultural Society’s iconic garden in North Devon, captured two silver medals in the Visit Devon Tourism Awards for 2017. Now it has gone one better and struck gold – for the next three years.

It has signed a local three-year sponsorship deal with Atkins Ferrie Wealth Management which will become the headline sponsor for the next three Garden Flower Shows in August – the only official RHS flower show in the South West.

But that’s not all. The arrangement also embraces support for four other major gardening attractions in 2019 at Rosemoor, starting with the Spring Flower Festival on 16 and 17 March, then the RHS National Rhododendron Show on 27 and 28 April, followed by the Rose Weekend on 21-23 June.

Finally, the Apple Festival in October wraps up the package.

All this follows on from the successful tie-up that saw the financial company supporting the 2018 Rosemoor Garden Flower Show.

Brokering the partnership, Steve Bowyer, head of site at Rosemoor, says: “I am truly delighted to have the support of AFWM and the three-year deal means that we can invest in the show to increase its size, bring in more exhibits, displays and demonstrations and generally ensure it continues to be a very popular event for all our visitors.”

Keen gardener John Waldie, managing director of AFWM, says: “We have sponsored the Cornwall Garden Society Spring Show for six years and, as we are quickly growing our presence in Devon, working with the RHS is a natural progression for us.

“Sponsoring the Rosemoor flower show in 2018 was a tremendous success and we are looking forward to coming back for the next three years, as well as sponsoring additional events at Rosemoor for 2019.”

He adds: “We have been amazed by the professionalism of the RHS staff at Rosemoor whose attention to detail and excellence is as great as the garden itself.”

The major flower show takes place from 16 to 18 August and is included is normal garden admission, with RHS members going in free.

⏩⏩➡» or call 01805 626810 for further details.

⏩⏩➡» Rosemoor won silver for the large visitor attraction of the year and for venue and business tourism. These add to the silver South West Tourism Excellence award in 2015 and 2016.

⏩⏩➡» Don’t forget Rosemoor Snowdrop Weekend coming up – Saturday and Sunday, 2 and 3 February.

steve & afwm john waldie

⏩⏩➡» Bloom bounty: From top – Horticultural student Emma McNeill with armfuls of dahlias; horticulturist Miriam Petry becomes a lavender lass in the Hot Garden; Steve Bowyer (left) and John Waldie shake hands to seal the deal. Pictures: Courtesy of RHS Rosemoor.


Rhubarb, rhubarb – and here’s a brand new red for the bed

RHUBARB – apparently – is not a fruit but a vegetable. This assertion is made in numerous gardening books, conflicting a US Customs Court ruling in Buffalo, New York State, back in 1947, that Rheum rhabarbarum was most definitely a fruit – so I’m happy with that.

I cannot quite see it as a veg, as rhubarb pies and preserves are always sweetened with sugar for a fruity feel.

So let’s compromise by saying it’s technically a veg but is legally considered a fruit. And who are we to argue with those in Trump-land?

Over here, D T Brown has been at the forefront of rhubarb breeding. They were the first to introduce Livingstone, the original autumn cropping variety several years ago and recently launched Poulton’s Pride which crops for up to ten months of the year.

Now DTB claims to offer one of the sweetest varieties customers can buy.

Poulton’s Red is a brand new challenger, the latest in day-neutral breeding and is their sweetest rhubarb yet. Remarkable in trials for its vigour and deep green leaves, the most eye-catching feature was the bright red, stringless stems – the strongest red the company has ever seen.

rhubarb poulton's red (dtb)

Rhubarb is close to DTB’s hearts and the firm’s exclusive Poulton’s Pride is proving very popular with customers. Named after D T Brown’s hometown of Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire, Poulton’s Pride is British-bred and was first discovered at a grower’s trial a couple of years ago.

A few stems were bought back to cook and taste and DTB was astonished at how deliciously sweet the rosy red-flushed stems were, complete with a totally unique taste with traces of almond, pineapple and banana coming to the fore followed by just a hint of characteristic sharpness.

D T Brown’s general manager Tim Jeffries says: “I was tremendously excited to see such deep red stems in the trials because with rhubarb, generally, the redder the stem the sweeter the taste and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

“The flavour of Poulton’s Red is the sweetest I’ve ever tasted . . . and we’ve tasted quite a few!”

Not only does Poulton’s Pride have a fabulous flavour, it will keep on cropping and cropping because it doesn’t go dormant in summer like other rhubarb varieties. This dormancy has been bred out so gardeners can enjoy harvesting from as early as February – if forced – and continue through to November. And that’s ten months of the year.

Supplied as strong young plants in 9cm pots, unlike normal rhubarbs you’ll even get a small crop this year in late summer to early autumn. Three plants are sufficient to give you a good crop over such a long period.

They are available to buy right now. A 9cm potted plant costs £7.95, but customers can go for three plants for £15.90, saving £7.95. Plants will be delivered from mid-May.

⏩⏩➡» To order plants or request a copy of the Fruit & Vegetables Grower’s Seed & Plant Catalogue 2019, call 0845 3710532 or go to

⏩⏩➡» Never eat or cook the leaves of rhubarb as they are filled with oxalic acid and, as such, are highly toxic.

poulton's pride rhubarb

⏩⏩➡» Supreme sticks: Top – a basket of Poulton’s Red; above – sticks of its close relative, Poulton’s Pride.



Pearl of the Pyrenees: It’s a plant that’s not quite what it seems

STRANGE, isn’t it, how some of the loveliest plants are seldom seen in your average garden simply because they don’t get sufficient air-play?

On these pages recently, I’ve mentioned Chilean gem francoa and the sumptuous alyogyne as being undeservedly ignored. Now comes another delight in the shape of a hardy geranium that’s not really one at all.

That’s because it’s an erodium, a close cousin of the better-known geranium but, in my book, just as desirable, if not more so.

Yet the erodium fan club doesn’t do much drum banging!

Geraniums have a lengthy list of named varieties behind them. Erodiums, though, are relative small fry, with scarcely any hybrids at all, despite there being between 60 and 90 species.

What I love about hardy erodiums is their gorgeous feathery leaves, which most geraniums lack, and their ability to bloom year on year and for weeks on end.

Now here’s a little secret – confession? – which I’ll share. On our way home from a short holiday in the Wye Valley two years ago, we stopped off at Chepstow for a stroll around the town.

After admiring a glorious municipal display of erodiums, I took the liberty of thumbing off one seed pod and quickly despatching it into my pocket.

Seed was sown under glass soon after, two germinated and, by summer 2018, the two plants were in flower, one set of foliage slightly darker than its neighbour.

I’m describing just two species here – Erodiums manescavii and pelargoniflorum – beauties, respectively, from the Pyrenees and Turkey.

Manescavii bears deep lilac-pink flowers with deeper markings over a cascading clump of intricate, ferny foliage, while pelargoniflorum delivers exotic-looking white blooms with purple veins above fragrant, crinkly leaves and with an even longer spell in bloom, often from winter’s end to midsummer.

Seed pods resemble a stork’s bill – hence the genus’s popular name – and, when ripe, seed springs off at speed and can land some distance away.

With erodium being so closely related to geranium, it begs this poser: Is it possible to cross one with the other to produce a . . . gerodium?

Whatever the answer, I shall keep eyes open for them growing wild when I visit the Pyrenees on holiday in May.

⏩⏩➡» You can buy seeds of both erodium species mentioned here from Plant World Seeds of Newton Abbot, Devon ( 01803 872939).

⏩⏩➡» Erodium advice: Plant in any well-drained soil and in a sunny spot. Propagate by division, root cuttings or basal shoots in autumn or sow seeds in spring.

erodium manescavii

erodium manescavii foliage

erodium seedlings

⏩⏩➡» Purple passion: Top – the geranium-like blooms of Erodium manescavii; centre – the distinctive feathery foliage; above – a tray of young erodiums set to flower this summer.