The Blackberry Garden Plant of the Year Award 2022

Now in its nineth year, yes it is time for the Blackberry Garden Plant of the Year Award 2022.  The shortlisted contestants are nervously side-eyeing each other, who will it be this year?  

Where will her subjective eye fall and choose with no reliable criteria the winner? Well my dears, buckle up, its time to find out which plant from my garden takes the crown.  As Ru-Paul would say: "Good luck and don't f*** it up".

The shortlist

First up this very pretty Grevillea victoriea which I bought on my first plant buying trip after the first lock down in 2020.  Many of my plants have associations with them and this is a strong memory attached to this shrub.  It is also a very beautiful shrub and despite its exotic look, is really quite robust (well I say quite robust, I think the recent cold snap will have tested it, but so far so good....).  It currently lives in a pot by the back door and seems quite happy.  Not a winner this time, but it is a constant joy.
Next on the shortlist is Cyclamen coum.  Such a delicate small beautiful Spring flower.  They wander around the garden as their sweetly coated seeds are moved about by ants.  Whilst I love a snowdrop, there is something about a cyclamen that makes my heart sing. 
Another Spring favourite is Fritllaria Imperialis, the Crown Imperial.  I planted these in the first Autumn I lived at Blackberry Cottage.  They have slowly grown in number (very slowly).  Some years the slugs and lily beetles decimate them before they have a chance to flower, but on a good year (often a cold Spring helps) they flower beautifully.  I have a smug moment whenever I see them in flower.  A good runner up this year.
Another runner up that promotes smugness is the perenial sweet pea - Lathyrus latifolius 'Rosea'.  I grew these from seed last year and this year they have flowered really well.  I wonder as I write this if the Blackberry Garden Plant of the Year Award is in reality 'which plant is Alison feeling most smug about award?'  Could be.....  anyhoo, not a winner this time but next year who knows....
The Abutilon vitifolium has been a favourite in the garden since I bought it whilst attending the 2017 Garden Museum Literary Festival at Boughton House.  I am now having that 'crikey five years ago' moment.  I bought the original plant there and grew several seedlings from seed (smug - yes indeed).  It is an early flowerer and has these most wonderful mauve flowers followed by wonderful seed heads.  Maybe this one should win?  But no, not this time.
Next on the shortlist is Illicium simonsii.  I always say this is my favourite 'whim' purchase which I bought around ten years ago from Crug Farm Nursery.  Crug is far too close to Portmeirion so I do 'have' to drop in from time to time (on saying this I don't think I have been for a few years, must remedy this......  This is a great shrub, related to the Star Anise plant and has very similar looking seedheads but  I believe these ones are poisonnous.  It flowers early in the year and is tough as old boots.  A great shrub, but not a winner this time.
Next on the short list and always a favourite is Pelagonium sidoides.  Such a deep red and such a pretty fragile looking flower, yet this is a pelagonium I have kept alive for several years.  (Gosh this really is just me feeling smug, I feel I should apologise and yet I continue.).  
Of course there does have to be a rose on the list, and the 2023 'Rose of the Year' Peach Melba is deserving to be the rose on the list.  I was lucky enough to be given one of these roses and I really do consider myself lucky.  She is a climbing rose but does not get above 2m in height and has the most wonderful scent.  I have her planted into the garden and she has settled in well.  I expect great things from her next year.  Not a winner this year but who knows what the new year will bring.

Now I get to annouce the winner.  Bearing in mind there is no objective judging criteria, this is a purely subjective award I do use one 'tell' to give me a clue what I have been loving most in my garden this past year and that is how often I photograph something.  



The winner of the Blackberry Garden Plant of the Year Award 2022 goes to....
Ipomoea 'Alba', or Tropical White Morning Glory, which is an annual climbing plant that this year I grew twineing through my Gertrude Jekyll Rose by the front door.
I planted her with some Ipomoea Lobata (or Hakuna matata as it is often referred to) and they did eventually overwhelm poor Gertrude.  Gertrude was cut back heavily a couple of times this year so has not had the best of years.
This white Morning Glory, or 'posh bindweed' as I have called it, attracted pollinators well but was very slow to start flowering this year.  I began to wonder if she would ever really get going.  The drought was the main issue, I tried to keep her well watered but it was a challenge.
It was a challenge worth persisting with and whilst now she is a tangle of dead stems killed by the recent frosts, she was a delight when in flower.  A worthy winner.

Previous winners can be found here  

I am excited for next year already......

Take care and be kind.

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  1. What a fabulous winning flower! The rose is gorgeous and are always winners in my mind, but ooh, the Ipomoea flowers look so delicate.

    1. Thanks, I could easily pick a rose every year for this as I do love them so much, which I think then disadvantages them. I tell myself 'it can't be a rose, that's too obvious'; but this Peach Melba rose really is outstanding so it had to have a place in the list and must be a contender for 2023

  2. Congratulations on your win, posh bindweed!


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