Every January there is a massive horticultural trade show in Essen, northern Germany. It fills 11 halls and you can find everything there from greenhouses and potting machines to compost and 3m high trees. New bedding varieties? Hall 1 or 2. A 100-year-old bonsai pine? Oh yes, that will be Hall 6.
We try to go to this show each year in order to see what’s new and try to work out what the new trends are, because what we see there in January will start to filter into the UK over the coming year. Some of the plants and sundries will arrive almost immediately, because UK buyers know this is the show to go to if you want to be the first to stock something new.
Walking around, you are surrounded by people from all corners of the globe. Japan, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, USA, Canada, South America, the Middle East, Russia and all of Europe are there, some to buy and others to sell. Literally hundreds of students attend, taking notes and samples in equal measure. The universal language is horticulture: a love of plants and the business of selling them and everything that goes with them.
There were lots of interesting new plants this year, from tiny succulents to larger shrubs and conifers. The award winners included:
Xerochrysum bracteatum Granvia® Gold (Bedding & Balcony Plant Category). This strawflower is an improved form of the old Helichrysum we used to dry and use indoors over winter. Eye-catching bright yellow flowers.
Primula hybrid BELARINA ‘Candy Frost’ (Spring Bloomer Category) is a winter-hardy form of primula with pretty two-coloured flowers.
Euphorbia pulcherrima ‘Christmas Mouse’® (Flowering House Plant Category) is a new twist on the traditional Christmas poinsettia because the leaves and red bracts are rounded like mouse ears, instead of pointed.
Blechnum brasiliense ‘Copper Crisp’ (Green House Plant Category) is a stunning large houseplant for a green, jungle feeling. The new leaves are bronze-copper coloured and open into firm, deeply-cut fronds.
Pyracantha coccinea ‘Red Star’ (Woody Plants Category) is a striking new form of the familiar fire thorn, with fewer thorns than we are used to and big red berries. Pyracanthas generally performed very well during the dry summer of 2018 and look set for increased popularity.
Sempervivum Chick Charms® ‘Gold Nugget’ (Perennials Category) is a succulent with golden leaf colour tipped red in winter. An easy beginner plant for the patio or balcony (Main Image).
Vitex trifolia ‘Purpurea’ x Vitex agnus-astus First Editions® ‘Flip Side’ (Tub Plants Category) is a mouthful of a plant name, but worth growing for the wildlife in your garden, as bees love the flowers. Flowers well into autumn.
Mandevilla Sundaville® MiMi Yello (Special Prize Winner) has flowers of a beautiful bright apricot, an unusual colour break amongst the usual reds and pinks of this group. Compact and tolerant of a sunny spot, but needs protection over winter.
Next time: Trends and sundries from IPM Essen
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