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Ring in the new: plants for 2022 | Gardening advice

December 26, 2021


In the winter break, away from the everyday craziness of my normal work schedule, one of my favourite annual rituals is to delve through the latest batch of seed catalogues. To me there is something so therapeutic about the escape of planning for a summer ahead, of colour and life, curled up safely away from the cold on the sofa. With so many beautiful and unusual new introductions on the horizon for 2022, here are four that have really caught my eye.

As someone with a bit of an obsession for trialling out tomato varieties old and new, when I got wind of a novel, dwarf variety with good flavour, I had to investigate further. Growing to only around 70cm high, ‘Patio Plum’ has a really compact, stocky growth habit with curious crinkled leaves that look a bit like a savoy cabbage, which makes it far more visually striking than its rather boring name suggests. Unlike essentially all other varieties, this doesn’t produce side shoots, which we normally need to spend ages pruning out, and also offers a very respectable yield of fruit with a classic, rich tomato flavour.

If it is perennials you are after, Festuca ‘Sunrise’ to me is a real show-stopper. This deep green variety that flushes into a range of sunrise hues when it flowers in the summer, and intensifies as the leaf tips then join the show in the cooler months, creates a stunning graduated ombre effect. They are a great choice for any bright spot with well-drained soil.

Small wonder: ‘Little Miss Figgy’ is a super dwarf cultivar that never gets much taller than waist height.
Small wonder: ‘Little Miss Figgy’ is a super dwarf cultivar that never gets much taller than waist height. Photograph: imagebroker/Alamy

Truly blue flowers are actually incredibly rare in nature, and that’s because the compounds used to create this hue are metabolically tricky to make. Some garden designers, I have heard, will ask job candidates to list 20 blue flowers as the ultimate test of plant knowledge, and Corydalis ‘Blue Heron’ is as blue as they get. With electric azure flowers erupting each spring over soft, ferny foliage, this looks like it is a CGI species lifted from the scenes of Avatar. It’s a perfect plant of dappled shade that will stop visitors in their tracks in the early summer.

Finally, if fruit and veg is your passion, might I offer a new fig variety that is really worth investigating further. ‘Little Miss Figgy’ is a super dwarf cultivar that at around 90cm never gets much taller than waist height. With finely divided, snowflake-like leaves, on plants that are hardy to at least -15C and suitable for pot culture, it seems to have everything. One small caveat: I have yet to try their flavour, but frankly anything would be better than the watery ‘Brown Turkey’ that currently dominates the market.

Follow James on Twitter @Botanygeek

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