It’s not only ideas for planting your own garden that blossom when you visit garden shows - it’s ideas about the accessories, tools and trinkets you see along the way, too.
The main horticultural event of the year, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, is no exception. Once again this year, on Tuesday May 20, they will be announcing their Chelsea Garden Product of the Year, showcasing the must-have new products for gardeners, covering everything from crop protection to environmentally friendly furniture.
Launched in 2011 to recognise the best new garden products on the market, the event is judged by an expert panel of garden journalists, industry buyers and business entrepreneurs, taking into account innovation, visual appeal, functionality, quality, value for money and environmental sustainability.
From a sneak peek at the 17 shortlisted products, here are some of the most practical and affordable contenders.
If you have a problem protecting tender crops against insects including flea beetle, look out for Tendamesh (£9.99 for 4m x 2.1m, www.agralan.co.uk), a lightweight mesh which does the job brilliantly.
Avoid back-breaking bulb planting with Burgon & Balls’s Stainless Long Handled Bulb Planter (RRP £29.95, www.burgonandball.com), which slices through soil with ease thanks to its sharp, angled blade. It has a stainless steel head for effective rust resistance with an FSC certified ash handle for comfort and long life.
For stylish outdoor living, Gaze Burvill craftsmen have created a superbly comfortable outdoor bar stool from sustainably forested oak, with curve and contour shaping giving unrivalled ergonomic performance, and an elegant, light, modern look. The A La Carte bar stool is priced £720, available from www.gazeburvill.com.
Harrod Horticultural is shortlisted for its new Stormproof Vegetable Cage, which features ingenious new ‘Frame Saver Clips’ to save frameworks from hurricanes and snow while keeping plants protected. They also allow exceptionally easy plant access. Kits from £49, www.harrodhorticultural.com.
After all the rain we had this winter, some gardeners might have wondered if they’d ever need to use a hosepipe again. But if you do, the new Pico Reel, a pint-sized version from Hozelock (RRP £29.99, www.hozelock.com) , is just the job for watering small garden spaces. Compact, lightweight and easy to rewind, it can be manoeuvred with ease and comes ready to use with fittings and spray gun.
If you don’t want to damage your outdoor walls, Plant Prop may be the answer. It is great for holding plants against a wall without the need for nails, screws or any other accessories and is particularly useful in courtyard or small gardens. £10 for a pack of three, www.plantsupports.co.uk.
Gentle lighting is achieved with the Napoli Solar Garden Light (£24.99, www.solartechnology.co.uk) , whose lithium-ion battery is charged from an internal solar panel to give an impressive 2.4m downward light pool, plus an upward soft accent.
If sustainability is your thing, invest in some Twool Rope, ideal for tying in trees and large shrubs or for a plethora of other uses. It’s made from twool twine, a British wool alternative to imported jute twine and is outstanding in strength, stretch and breaking load. From £3.50 to £21, www.twool.co.uk.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by M&G Investments, runs from May 20-24 in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. For details go to www.rhs.org.uk
Best of the Bunch — Azalea
Late spring just wouldn’t be the same without the burst of vivid colour from azaleas, whether purple, red, vibrant pinks or cool creams. Plant them in ericaceous compost in pots and they shouldn’t let you down, or try them in borders with acid soil in partial shade to provide some vivid colours amid other evergreens and perennials. Azaleas are usually grouped in with rhododendrons and are really just smaller versions of them, although azaleas generally have smaller leaves and daintier flowers. Japanese azaleas grow 60cm-1.2m (2-4ft) high with sheets of bell-shaped flowers in May. Good varieties include ‘Hino-mayo’, which are deep pink, and ‘Orange Beauty’. They shouldn’t need pruning , but you can layer branches in the autumn to increase your stock.
Good Enough To Eat — Coping With Codling Moth
There’s nothing worse than proudly plucking an apple or pear off your own tree, then tucking into it to find a maggot. Maggoty apples in late summer may be caused by codling moth, a small white caterpillar that feeds at the core and tunnels through the side or the eye end of the ripening fruit when it’s fully developed. If this has happened to your crop, set some pheromone traps, which detect when adult codling moths are active and likely to be laying eggs. The trap, an open sided box containing a sticky sheet onto which a pheromone pellet is placed to attract male moths inside, needs to be hung in the tree this month and left there until August. By monitoring when codling moths are active you can then treat the tree with appropriate insecticide such as bifenthrin, as you need to kill the young caterpillars before they bore into fruits.