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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

New verbascum from Great Dixter

Posted by Graham Rice on 01 Jul 2008 at 08:10 AM

Judging the verbascum trial at Wisley recently, a splendid new introduction caught my eye.

Many of the plants in the trial had died during the winter – sadly, many are not as hardy as we’re led to believe and this trial has proved the point  – but a new variety from the garden at Great Dixter was outstanding, both in its hardiness and its impact. And unlike some, the arching green basal foliage was in excellent condition and tall upright spikes of bright but cool yellow were well packed with flowers.

Called ‘Christo’s Yellow Lightning’, it was found in Eastern Turkey when Christo (the late Christopher Lloyd) was on a trip with Dixter head gardener Fergus Garret and tulip expert Anna Pavord. They came across a man leading an elderly donkey as it laboured feebly along a rocky path loaded down with a towering load of verbascum stems. Christo asked Fergus (who speaks Turkish) to ask the man the name of the donkey – and it turned out the donkey was named Lightning.  So it was natural that the verbascum that came from the trip was called ‘Christo’s Yellow Lightning’. And it looks as if it’s on the way to an Award of Garden Merit.

Verbascum ‘Christo’s Yellow Lightning’ is too new to be in the latest RHS Plant Finder but it’s available from the nursery at Great Dixter.


Digger said:

What a wonderful story, do you think the verbascum would be fully hardy in Lancashire?

on 02 Jul 2008 at 06:57 PM

Graham Rice said:

I don't see why not. It's hardy at Great Dixter on their clay so it would certainly be with a try in Lancashire. Good drainage always helps, of course.

on 12 Jul 2008 at 09:31 AM