EVERY now and then amid all the releases of new plant varieties one comes along with the real wow factor.
And so it is with Suttons dwarf mulberry bush Matsunaga, which has just won a top industry accolade at the Chelsea Flower Show.
The Chelsea Plant of the Year competition highlights the very best new plants of the year.
From a large and varied entry of plants, made by Great Pavilion exhibitors, committee members selected 20 finalists to be considered for the 2017 Chelsea Plant of the Year.
The range included in this year’s competition featured edibles, seasonal bedding and shrubs, all of which are being exhibited to the public for the first time at this year’s show.
Judges looked for novelty, originality, horticultural excellence and real impact in the specimen entered.
In addition, consideration was given to the wider public appeal and ease of long-term cultivation, which is exactly what Suttons dwarf mulberry bush delivered.
It took more than 40 years for Japanese breeder Mr Matsunaga to create this unique dwarf mulberry bush that is compact with tasty berries, fruiting over a long season — everything the traditional mulberry tree doesn’t do.
Thirty years of hybridising came together ten years ago, and since then the plants have been produced in Japan before coming to Europe, where they have now been propagated in commercial quantities and have been introduced onto the UK market by Suttons.
The first release sold out in just two weeks.
News the little bush had won a top prize was an example of the long arm of coincidence reaching out.
It came just days after I returned from Kefalonia where I filled my face with traditional mulberries growing on an enormous tree on that beautiful Greek isle in its early very green and wild-flowered summer.
Those seedy Grecian fruits were delicious but will probably only be around for a fortnight or so because mulberries tend to ripen all at one time.
On the other hand, the tiny bush not only produces juicy, nutritious seedless fruit that are rarely seen in shops, but its unique compact form (up to just 1.5 metres) makes it ideal for small gardens or even pots on a patio and is incredibly easy to grow.
Fruiting in its first year from June to September, on new and old wood, ensures an extended fruit bounty.
It is self-fertile and requires the minimum of pruning just to keep its shape.
Suttons said it is would take orders now for the next release in September.
Talking of new twists on the old, tiger nuts from Dobies found their way into the RHS taste garden at Chelsea too — just as mine arrived from the seed company and have been planted out in an old recycling bin.
Tiger nuts are, in fact, a tuber from a grass known as yellow nutsedge or Cyperus Esculentus to give it its proper name.
A member of the sedge family, they’ve been cultivated for more than 4,000 years, much loved by the Egyptians.
An easy-to-grow grass, especially fun for children, they will tolerate most soil conditions. They are part of Rob Smith’s Heritage range.
Perfect served raw to eat as a healthy snack, on cereal, add to your baking or morning smoothie or in salads.
They can also be ground into a flour and used in baking.
Dried, which is how I first came across them in my youth, they are part of a work creation programme — for dentists.