Chelsea Flower Show includes a mushroom in its plant of the year shortlist for first time

chelsea flower show includes a mushroom in its plant of the year shortlist for first time

The mushroom is thought to be found only in the British Isles and was discovered on an ash tree near Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s plant of the year award has included a mushroom in its shortlist for the first time, despite it being a fungi rather than a plant.

The tarragon oyster mushroom was put forward by growers the Caley Brothers, who have created what is believed to be the first ready-grow variety.

The mushroom is thought to be found only in the British Isles and was originally discovered on an ash tree in ancient woodlands around Richmond Castle in North Yorkshire.

The RHS plant of the year list celebrates new plants that are brought to the show and is judged by the charity’s expert committees.

Emma Allen, the head of horticultural relations at the RHS, said the charity had been willing to bend the rules to bring the fungi into the plant competition, and had anticipated some pushback from members.

“Whilst not strictly a plant because it’s from a completely different kingdom, it is an edible crop,” she said. “We put it in there and wondered how it would do, and actually people did vote for it.”

The inclusion of the mushroom follows the Caley Brothers’ first appearance at the exhibitors hall at the show last year.

“They are definitely bringing fungi and mushrooms to everyone, which is good,” she said.

Lorraine Caley, who set up the Caley brothers with her sister Jodie in 2018, said the pair were excited to “bring mushrooms into the conversation” with its appearance on the shortlist.

chelsea flower show includes a mushroom in its plant of the year shortlist for first time

This year's overall plant of the year winner is the Prunus (Starlight), a winter and spring flowering ornamental cherry - TIM GRAHAM/GETTY

“There’s a lot of unknown[s] about mushrooms,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who assume mushrooms need the dark and the damp to grow, and none of ours do, especially an oyster mushroom.”

The sisters set up the company after moving to a plant-based diet and said the oyster tarragon mushroom was an ideal alternative to meat.

“It has a natural aroma of tarragon and flavour of tarragon both as it’s growing and once it’s been harvested and cooked,” said Ms Caley. “Mushrooms are a very good, protein-packed, vitamin-B packed meat alternative.”

The inclusion of the mushroom on the shortlist comes as the RHS seeks to increase its sustainability credentials, and reach new audiences.

All shows at this year’s event have undergone a green audit, making for more environmentally friendly swaps.

The exhibitors hall will also for the first time include a wildflower seller, reflecting the growing popularity of more naturalistic planting.

Kent Wildflower Seeds say their mission is to educate gardeners that they do not need to ‘rewild’ their whole gardens to benefit from the biodiversity gains wildflowers bring.

This year’s overall plant of the year winner is the Prunus (Starlight), a winter and spring flowering ornamental cherry, which features unusual pure white star-shaped flowers.

The announcement comes ahead of the start of the Chelsea Flower Show on Monday, when the King and Queen will be welcomed to site, alongside the Duke and Duchess of Gloucestershire.

Winning show gardens will be announced on Tuesday, when the event is opened to RHS members, before it is open to the general public on Thursday and Friday.

The show will feature the first ever garden designed by children, as well as a new children’s  prize category, as the event seeks to reach younger audiences.

chelsea flower show includes a mushroom in its plant of the year shortlist for first time

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