'Soft Caress' mahonia is great for containers. Here it's used as a focal point where two paths meet. Photo: Roger Foley. Garden design: Scott Brinitzer, Arlington, VA.

When the most prestigious flower show in the world names its Plant of the Year, Grumpy takes notice. He takes even more notice when that plant happens to belong to our Southern Living Plant Collection. The winner? 'Soft Caress' mahonia.

The flower show I'm talking about is the Chelsea Flower Show put on in London each spring by the Royal Horticultural Society. Chelsea represents cutting-edge gardening at its most mind-blowing. The people who run it give their children Latin names. ("Finish your bread and Marmite, Tulipa, so you can go play with your cousin, Macrocephala.") They think about plants 24/7, 365 days a year, which is why when you go to the show, you see hundreds of spectacular scenes like this one.

emThis spring bulb display at Chelsea was no doubt inspired by Grumpy's own garden. Photo: RHS Images./em

And out of all of the most exciting new plants in the world, which one did the RHS pick as its top new plant for 2013? Southern Living's 'Soft Caress' mahonia. Woo-hoo!!!!

Why Did 'Soft Caress' Win? No, it wasn't because Grumpy and royalty go hand-in-hand. And it wasn't because Grumpy bravely flew shotgun for Prince Harry during his recent stint in the Royal Air Force. It was because 'Soft Caress' mahonia combines many attributes sought after by intelligent and tasteful gardeners today.

'Soft Caress' is evergreen, compact (about 3 feet tall and wide), and easy to grow. It needs little pruning and is hardy to about 0 degrees. It likes part sun or shade. Candles of bright yellow flowers stand atop the deep green leaves in winter. And unlike the prickly foliage possessed by other forms of mahonia (aka "grape-holly"), that of 'Soft Caress' is spineless, soft, and feathery. It reminds you of bamboo.

em'Soft Caress' combines with cast-iron plant and purple oxalis in Linda Guy's Charleston, SC garden. Photo by Steve Bender./em

'Soft Caress' does beautifully in both containers and borders. Try combining its finely textured foliage with that of coarse, large-leafed plants like hosta, hydrangea, Japanese aucuba, heuchera, or cast-iron plant. Your design skill will be so acclaimed that the RHS is bound to give you a free ticket to next year's show!

Where to Find a 'Soft Caress' No, not there. Get your mind out of the gutter. You can procure 'Soft Caress' mahonia at better garden centers near you. Click here to see which garden centers nearby carry our Southern Living Plant Collection. Jolly good!