Giraffe sunflowers and other garden surprises for 2015

With truffle trees and pure white wild strawberries, we've got a sensational gardening year to look forward to.
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What's hot for 2015? The plot-to-plate link grows ever stronger. Truffle trees from Seeds of Italy, £60 a pair, prefer free-draining soil, so start digging over the clay for fragrant shavings in years to come.

The focus is on novel veg varieties this year, such as the sweeter-than-sugar liquorice plant, mustard from seed bred by Colman's and white wild strawberries to grow in a window box. These seeds are all from botanist James Wong's Homegrown Revolution range for Suttons, which is championing the world's first fully blight-resistant tomato, the very welcome Crimson Crush. Suttons also celebrates the sunflower with 14 new varieties that include possibly the world's tallest, Giraffe, purported to reach 15ft, as well as one that might be more relevant to small-space Londoners, the Suntastic Yellow, a mere babe at one foot tops.

Highlights at the Chelsea Flower Show this summer include Dan Pearson's return after a 10-year absence with a garden for Laurent-Perrier that is inspired by the Chatsworth Estate; Jo Thompson's sylvan retreat with natural swimming pool and writing room for M&G Investments, and Matthew Wilson's town garden for the Royal Bank of Canada. This self-sustaining plot has its own reservoir for watering plants, a "floating" deck, pomegranate trees and a boundary hedge of guava, which Wilson assures will produce delicious edible flowers, if not fruit, in our favoured urban microclimate.

Chelsea Fringe will stretch the London flower show to a full three weeks and is going global for 2015, with hubs confirmed in Vienna and Slovenia while director Tim Richardson is in negotations with Milan, Melbourne and Miami. If you have a flowery event to share closer to home, sign up at

We're finally getting the message that plant diversity in our gardens is what best brings in the wildlife, so expect to see a shift towards shrubs, trees and climbers, which provide a full range of habitats and feeding stations. Green walls are another way to create refuge for wildlife, but note the scientific conclusion of the RHS boffins: "Green walls often require special engineered structures and planting pockets for the plants to grow. A much easier and cheaper solution, which offers the same benefits, comes from growing climbers — just check the brickwork is sound first."

At a time when a third of UK homes have traded plants for parking spaces, and more people have paved patios than trees in their back gardens, we gardeners have a real responsibility to help lessen the increased risk of flooding. The new 10-part series of Great British Garden Revival, starting this week on BBC2, is designed to pull us away from paving and back into planted gardens, with 11 presenters championing their personal faves from cherry blossom to peonies and even, from brave Christine Walkden and Carol Klein respectively, carnations and conifers. There is also an increasing demand for Britishgrown plants, and Londoners will be able to source special plants from outof-town nurseries at Grow London's three-day garden event in June on Hampstead Heath, as well as the Secret Sunday farmers' markets at the Royal Horticultural Halls.

Scented shrubs: get inspired by the Winter Walk at RHS Wisley

The RHS is investing a whopping £100 million in the future of horticulture over the next 10 years, which includes a new centre of excellence at Wisley and the UK's largest pollinator-friendly perennial meadow at Hyde Hall in Essex, where designer Xa Tollemache will create an inspirational garden with edibles of the future, including chickpeas, lima beans, yams and tomatillos. If that lot doesn't get your horticultural juices flowing, visit the newly completed Winter Walk at Wisley this weekend, and see scarlet stems, silvered bark and sculptural trees reflected in the ornamental lake, as well as a vibrant berry bed, scented daphnes and winterflowering iris. Just a few weeks later, these will be followed by the spectacular flowering of over 100,000 crocuses on the main lawn that are guaranteed to see in spring, sensationally. 

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