Emily, Flowers, Gardening, How To, Planting, Plants

Our Favourite Award of Garden Merit Plants

Following our visit to the 2021 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, we couldn’t help but feel inspired by the mesmerising show gardens, floral installations, and the many unique varieties seen. Being the very first show to run in September, the planting schemes and chosen plants were wonderfully autumnal. We saw dozens of Dahlias in a myriad of colours and sizes, while the roses were still in impressive bloom. The sun even helped add final flourishes to many displays, where foliage plants such as Hostas developed flowers at the very last moment! 

In this blog, we have picked out our favourite Chelsea plants for you, which each proudly carry the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Award of Garden Merit’. 

What is the Award of Garden Merit?

The Award of Garden Merit is a prestigious award granted by the Royal Horticultural Society. First introduced in 1922, this award will not be given to just any variety as it entails a particular criterion, which we break down below:

  • Is this plant not overly susceptible to pests or disease?
  • Is this plant of good constitution?
  • Does this plant grow well in average growing conditions?
  • Is this plant excellent for decoration and general use in the garden?
  • Is this plant unlikely to be subject to reversion? (Reversion is where a plant ‘reverts’ back to a form more similar to one of its parentage. This can be problematic if the cultivar was bred to have improved qualities, such as a resistance to a particular disease).

The trials which determine whether a plant is worthy of this award can last one or more years, with the list of AGM plants being amended annually. This long list will be updated to include new varieties, while others can be removed. Why not read on to see our very own list containing our favourite Award of Garden Merit plants?


Clematis ‘Mayleen’

A highlight from Chelsea was the Clematis display, where many different varieties were trained up obelisks and pergolas to form tall structures of delicate blossom.

Flowering from late spring to midsummer, Clematis montana ‘Mayleen’ will grace your garden with its abundant, dusky pink blooms. One of the most fragrant varieties of Clematis, why not plant Mayleen near a doorway to easily appreciate the unique almond scent? 

A standout feature of this Clematis is the characterful, gold-tinged leaves (which are present from springtime onwards!). Interestingly, it was the autumnal leaves (which weren’t excluded to autumn), that won Cercis canadensis ‘Eternal Flame’  Plant of the Year 2021, so colourful foliage couldn’t be anymore on trend.


Rosa ‘Amber Queen’ (Floribunda Rose)


At the heart of pavilion resided the rose display, which showcased a wide selection of burgeoning blooms. These ranged from the coral red petals of  ‘I am Macmillan‘ (left), to the resplendent, Geum-like flowers seen on ‘Simple Peach’. 

Repeat flowering, Rosa ‘Amber Queen’ is a perfect choice if you are into warmer colours. Its delightful amber blooms will illuminate your garden even on the rainiest of days. The foliage is dark and glossy, which looks lovely on a dewy morning too. First introduced in 1984, Amber Queen is excellent for pots too. 


Malus domestica ‘James Grieve’ (Apple)

With its fruits showcased in the pavilion too, ‘James Grieve’ couldn’t be a more appropriate favourite. A long established variety, this apple tree produces a heavy crop of golden orange fruits. Their flavour is acidic at first, but mellows out as autumn approaches.

Easy to grow, James Grieve also offers a beautiful show of blossom in spring, which will prove very appealing to pollinators. Infact, it has been granted the RHS Plants for Pollinators logo for this very reason!

Camellia x williamsii ‘Anticipation’ 

While a little less seen at Chelsea, Camellias will always be one of our most loved shrubs. A hardy specimen, ‘Anticipation’ boasts ruffled, hot pink flowers which are comparable to those seen on a Peony. Evergreen, this Camellia will brighten up your garden when nothing else may seem to bloom.

‘Anticipation’ is ideal for the less experienced gardener, but make sure to provide ericaceous soil for a flourishing plant.


Magnolia ‘Susan’

Our final chosen winner is Magnolia ‘Susan’, and this is for very good reason. It’s reddish purple, goblet-shaped flowers are a site to behold in spring, while the upright form of this tree will add everlasting charm to your landscape. A highly appealing feature of this specimen is that it flowers relatively early in its life. Paired with its slow growing habit, Susan makes an excellent focal point for the smaller sized garden.

Did you like the varieties we shared? This blog contains merely a snippet of the Award of Garden Merit plants we sell. To browse hundreds of others, why not visit our website?