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Last updated: May 19, 2012 12:16 am

Chelsea’s best

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A selection of plants and products from this year’s show
Tetra shed
Tetra shed, prices from £15,000 for the basic model. Shed working has risen from minority obsession to a genuine phenomenon in recent years. With more home workers needing space, and the sluggish housing market impeding the opportunity to buy more space by moving, there are now dozens of garden offices on the market. The Tetra shed is intriguing thanks to its modular construction. Additional components can be added to turn a two-person office into a guest room, en-suite bedroom, exhibition space and so on, right up to classrooms or even multiple occupancy office suites. Its angular, high-tech appearance is dramatic; think matt black Apollo re-entry capsule meets crash-landed Stealth Bomber.
Macmillan Hunter sundials
Macmillan Hunter sundials, from £2,500. Given the technical wizardry involved in producing a high-quality watch, there is something wonderfully idiosyncratic about the idea of a precision sundial. Designer Alastair Hunter has put his engineering experience in aerospace, energy and agriculture into bespoke sundials and sundial sculptures made from steel and brass, each one hand-built to order in Scotland – sunshine not included.
Rosa ‘Heathcliff’
Rosa ‘Heathcliff’, prices between £15 and £19 for potted plants. David Austin traditionally uses Chelsea to launch its latest English shrub roses. Rosa “Heathcliff” has the characteristics of an old rose; deeply cupped crimson blooms with the classic fragrance of sandalwood and tea but, unlike old roses, it has the benefits of repeat flowering throughout summer and improved disease resistance, all in a compact plant of around 1m x 1m. Bare root plants are available next winter/spring.
Bronze Snail
Bronze Snail by Paul Amey, £12,500. This snail may have a diameter of 70cm but it is guaranteed not to harm any of your plants. On show at Gaze Burvill stand,
Osteospermum 'In the Pink'
Osteospermum ‘In the Pink’, £4.95. This new Osteospermum, bred by Fairweather’s Nursery, has been proven hardy to -10C, so should be tough enough for early spring or late autumn frosts. The flowers are single, lilac pink and with regular deadheading will keep going with abundant blooms from June until October. This should be a great plant for patio containers, and the flower colour should go well with terracotta. As with all Osteospermum, full sun or just the slightest of shade is ideal.
Leaf collection sack
Leaf collection sack, with plastic scoopers(not shown), £15, additional sacks from £2. It may seem indecent to start thinking of autumn when spring is hardly done but we all know it will arrive and with it a flurry of fallen leaves needing to be cleared. What then, though? Once gathered the leaves can be put into sacks like the one above. The genius here is that the sack keeps the leaves together and yet exposes them to the elements, which help to decompose the contents into wonderful, soil enriching leaf litter.
Choisya x dewitteana 'Aztec Gold'
Choisya x dewitteana ‘Aztec Gold’, £11.99. Thirty years ago a parent of this plant was launched at Chelsea: Choisya “Aztec Pearl”. It has become a favourite – perhaps too much of a favourite – of landscape planting schemes. “Aztec Gold” has the same slender foliage as its parent but in gold rather than green. It produces white, almond-scented flowers in spring to early summer and again in autumn, in a compact plant of 1.2m x 1.2m.
Poolboy Beanbag
Poolboy Beanbag, £195. Outdoor Beanbag is launching a world first: a beanbag that can be used on land and on water. It is made from a waterproof fabric and comes equipped with a patented mesh to enable water to drain away. Its aquatic capabilities also mean it can be left out in the garden regardless of the weather. Perfect for those long hot summer days when all you can muster is the energy to roll from the patio to the pool.
John Deere Tango mower
John Deere Tango mower, price around £2,000. Robot mowers – or autonomous mowers as the makers prefer – have been around for some time. And while a self-propelled, self-starting mower may appeal to hands-off gardeners, there has always been a suspicion that their price doesn’t justify the raggedy cut they tend to deliver, nor the lack of stripes in the lawn. And surely a well-tended sward is a rite of passage? John Deere will be hoping the latest revision of its Tango mower, the E5, which starts and runs automatically within a wire boundary (installed by the dealer) will encourage us to pull up a deckchair instead.
Geranium 'Rise and Shine'
Geranium ‘Rise and Shine’, £7.99. Online plant nursery Crocus is a Chelsea fixture, building at least two show gardens each year, many of which have achieved the highest accolade of best show garden along with numerous gold medals. Geranium “Rise and Shine” is one of a slew of new plants to feature from summer 2012, a vibrant blue with conspicuous white centre and long flowering season.
Iris 'Piste Noir'
Iris ‘Piste Noir’, price around €17. For sheer joyous voluptuousness it’s hard to beat bearded irises. They may be relatively brief in flower but who cares – these are surely the sexiest plants on the planet. Cayeux Iris is launching several new bearded iris at the show. “Piste Noir” is a tall bearded at 90cm, has great depth of colour, black-violet falls and bluish-white standards, flowering mid to late season.
Petal Pod
Petal Pod, from £600. The Petal Pod is either a case of avant-garde brilliance or left-field craziness. A steel sculpture loosely in the shape of an open flower, it can be modified to a variety of purposes including a wireless lighting or speaker system, water feature or container garden. They are hand-made to order in various colours and finishes, including a jubilee edition featuring 3,000 Swarovski crystals.
Ornate Garden rotating sphere lounger
Ornate Garden rotating sphere lounger, from £7,495. Smaller than a garden office but significantly more spacious than the average garden lounger, this is more of a covered dining area than a piece of garden furniture. The near spherical form is achieved with the use of glulam (glued laminated) timber beams, which can be formed into the sleek, regular shape. As the name implies, the lounger is designed to rotate so it can track the sun – or indeed the shade. This isn’t quite as innovative as it sounds – George Bernard Shaw’s writing shack did exactly the same thing but perhaps not quite as stylishly.

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