Skip navigation.

Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Recent Comments

  • A new shasta dasisy - in yellow

    Graham Rice on 25 Jun 2008 at 10:34 AM

    Shasta daisies, Leucanthemum x superbum, have never been the most fashionable of plants but they're tough, dependable and those masses of brilliant white daisies make real impact. They're good for cutting, too.

    In recent years the trend has been to reduce their height, ‘Snow Lady' can flower at just 25cm, but this year's newcomer is rather different. The plant reaches about 45cm, the flowers are large - and they're yellow. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

    I know, there've been yellow shasta daisies before but in Broadway Lights (‘Leumayel') the flowers open a really bright yellow then become creamier as they age and eventually white. The flowers last well and so for much of their long season the plant carries a pleasing harmony of all three shades. What's more, ‘Broadway Lights' develops quickly so it produces plenty of flower in its first season in the garden. It looks well worth trying.

    Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Broadway Lights' is available from these the RHS Plant Centre at Wisley, Gardening Express and Avondale Nursery.


  • Recent developments in border phlox

    Graham Rice on 21 Jun 2008 at 02:33 AM

    I have a piece in the Daily Telegraph newspaper today on recent developments in border phlox (Phlox paniculata). You can read it here.

    I know this blog is about new plants but you might also be interested to know that my profile of the most influential writer on vegetables of our times - Joy Larkcom - is also  available online. You can read it here


  • New coleus in garden centres

    Graham Rice on 18 Jun 2008 at 12:00 PM

    Coleus are enjoying a dramatic resurgence. Favourites in Victorian times both for indoor use and as summer bedders, as interest in formal bedding declined and fewer people kept heated greenhouses… well, interest waned. Even when container growing became so popular it took a while for gardeners to realise what spectacular container plants they are.

    In this year’s RHS Plant Finder there are forty five new coleus (although some are re-introductions) and most of these newcomers are listed by Horn’s Garden Centre who, unfortunately do sell not by mail order. However, in garden centres this summer expect to find some splendid new varieties.

    The Kong Series is well named. These are big powerful plants with large leaves making a dramatic impact. ‘Kong Green’ (click on the image above) is new this year, its bold green leaf blazed with a creamy white flash. 


  • Happy Single dahlias

    Graham Rice on 12 Jun 2008 at 05:39 PM

    Last summer, while losing my mobile phone in the luxuriant dahlia trial (and finding it again the next day) I realised that some visitors, overwhelmed by the flamboyant exhibition types, may have missed some of the best new dahlias of recent years.

    The Happy Series. which includes the dramatic Happy Single Juliet ('HS Juliet'), is not intended for exhibitors but is great in the garden. Ideal for large containers, for mixed borders and for brilliant summer seasonal displays, each of the eight single-flowered varieties produces a prolific display of often bicoloured flowers set against foliage in tomes reminiscent of ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ leaves.

    Reaching 50-75cm high and with flowers 10-12cm across, the proportions are just right and the plants are more versatile than most other dark-leaded dahlias. True, there are some short, seed-raised types with dark leaves but they usually come only in mixtures and the flower colours can be a rather murky.

    Raised by Aad Verwer in The Netherlands, Aad is also the creator of the dwarf double Gallery Series of dahlias, the tall Karma Series, bred specially for cutting, and many other fine dahlias.

    New this year are Happy Single Romeo (‘HS Romeo’), in rich red, and Happy Single Wink (‘HS Wink’), in lilac with a red ring round the eye. Next year look out for Happy Single Princess (‘HS Princess’) with pure white flowers set against dark foliage – that will be worth waiting for.

    The RHS Plant Finder mail order nursery stocking the widest range of this series, including the two newest, is Southon Plants but look out for them in garden centres around the country


  • Article on RHS trials in Daily Telegraph

    Graham Rice on 06 Jun 2008 at 03:34 PM

    I've written an artice about the RHS trials for tomorrow's Daily Telegraph (7June). It's available to read online now. Click on the image on the left for a taste of it, click here to read it on the Daily Telegraph website.


  • Now, even more amazing new coreopsis!

    Graham Rice on 05 Jun 2008 at 05:01 PM

    Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post about ‘Jethro Tull’, the tough new perennial coreopsis with fluted petals, come news of an astonishing array of new coreopsis which are on the way from across the Atlantic.

    Click on the picture to see a much enlarged exclusive image of twenty five new coreopsis varieties which are expected to be introduced here over the next few years.

    Included in this picture are the Big Bang Series. Unlike ‘Limerock Ruby’ and many other recent coreopsis in unusual colours, varieties in the Big Bang Series are tough as nails and excellent hardy perennials even in climates far colder than ours – they’re hardy down to -20C. They were bred by Darrell Probst, well known as a pioneer breeder of epimediums, in Massachusetts where it’s far far colder than here.

    Their background is complicated. The plants in this series are hybrids involving eight different species and have been eight years in the making. They produce a long succession of flowers, on relatively tall plants, around 30in/75cm, with foliage between that of C. verticillata and C. grandiflora in shape.

    The first in the series, ‘Full Moon’ (pale yellow), should be on sale here in Britain before too long. If any nurseries are planning to sell them, or anyone spots them on sale, please post a comment below. For the next, ‘Redshift’ (cream with a red ring round the eye), we'll have to wait till next year.

    For more on these, and other new coreopsis, take a look at my Transatlantic Plantsman blog


  • Coreopsis with fluted petals

    Graham Rice on 04 Jun 2008 at 04:26 PM

    In the last couple of years, a number of perennial coreopsis with fluted petals have arrived at nurseries. The fluted petals are formed when individual rays of the daisy-like flowers roll inwards at the edges and join to form a tube. This feature is also seen in a number of other members of the daisy family from the annual Cosmos ‘Sea Shells’ to the perennial Gaillardia ‘Fanfare’.

    The first of the coreopsis with fluted petals was C. auriculata ‘Zamfir’ (although the Plant Finder spells the name 'Zamphir'), introduced in the USA in 1991 and here in 2005. This sport of C. auriculata has bright yellow flowers, but I found that while some flowers had fluted petals some did not. The result was annoyingly unpredictable – and rather messy. ‘Zamfir’ was raised by ItSaul Plants in Georgia, the same nursery that has brought us, more recently, a number of new hybrid echinaceas in new colours. ‘Zamfir’ is available from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.

    ‘Pinwheel’ is a paler form, bred in Oregon, and introduced here last year. The petals are usually only fluted to about half the length, so revealing an appealing contrast between the paler inside of the flute and the slightly darker outside. However, I’ve not found this overwinters as reliably as some other coreopsis although it makes a fine summer container plant. ‘Pinwheel’ is available from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries