Innovative Mahonia is named Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year 2013

Innovative Mahonia from Southern Living Plant Collection and Sunset Western Garden Collection is named Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year 2013

‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia takes top honors at Chelsea Flower Show

Loxley, AL – May 28, 2012 – ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia, a plant bred by Ozzie Johnson of ItSaul Plants is the 2013 Plant of the Year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London, England. 

Introduced to retail garden centers by the Southern Living Plant Collection and the Sunset Western Garden Collection, the compact, evergreen ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia is a truly unique take on the traditional mahonia. Gardeners know the common mahonia that has thick, pointed, waxy leaves with sticky thorns.  ‘Soft Caress’ is distinctly different with soft, feathery leaves and no spines, and is perfect for containers on porches or shady landscapes. In early winter, bright-yellow flowers stand atop the slender, bamboo-like foliage like fingers of light. ‘Soft Caress’ has become an indispensable foundation plant for partial to full shade landscapes.

The Royal Horticulture Society Chelsea Flower Show is the most famous garden show in the United Kingdom, possibly the world.  The event is celebrating its 100th year at the Royal Hospital location and is attended by more than 150,000 visitors each year.

Soft Caress breeder Ozzie Johnson has traveled extensively for the past 30 years collecting rare plant seed from Asia to grow and use for breeding in his garden in Metro Atlanta.  He joined Richard and Robert Saul and Karen Stever in 1997 to form ItSaul Plants, a breeding company located in Alpharetta, Ga.

Genus Mahonia                    

Species eurybracteata                       

Variety ‘Soft Caress’                        

Plant Patent #20183                        

USDA Zone 7-9                                

Habit Compact, evergreen foliage                 

Bloom time Late fall, early winter

Bloom Color Yellow

Ave Size 3 ft H x 3.5 ft W

Exposure: Part sun to shade 

About Southern Living® Plant Collection

The Southern Living® Plant Collection is a series of innovative plants selected for their ability to solve specific landscape challenges and to excel in Southern gardens. Their beauty and performance is the result of years of plant evaluations and research. The collection is the result of a partnership between Plant Development Services, Inc. and Southern Living® magazine to bring high-performing plants suitable for Southern gardens to the market. Visit to learn more.

About the Sunset Western Garden Collection™

Sunset—the West’s most trusted source of gardening information for more than 115 years—introduced the Sunset Western Garden Collection in partnership with Plant Development Services, Inc., in 2012. The first live plant collection to focus exclusively on top performing plants for the Western gardener, the plants offered are low maintenance, water-wise and uniquely suited for the Western landscape. 


Media Contact:

Corrina Murray | Plant Development Services, introducers of the Southern Living Plant Collection and the Sunset Western Garden Collection | [email protected], 251-964-6778

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