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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

The best pansies – in a new mixture

Posted by Graham Rice on 04 Aug 2008 at 05:29 PM

Last winter there was a huge trial of winter pansies at Wisley. Two hundred and fifty four different entries were grown and many were dazzling in the spring but not so many were consistently good in the winter when they're most needed. And it was for winter flowering that we judged them. The result was only... one AGM - although there are a few more whose awards are being held back until they've been made available to gardeners.

However, there were many varieties that were really excellent - especially in late winter and spring - but not quite good enough for an AGM. So the enterprising people at Thompson & Morgan have put together a mix of eight of them. Let's be clear, these didn't-quite-make-its are not bad plants. In fact to be chosen from the very best out of the other 253 is pretty impressive. And it's great to see the deliberations of the trial judges translated into an attractive new mixture so quickly.

The ‘Winning Formula' blend includes the spectacular ‘Ultima Morpho' in blue with a large whiskered yellow face, the classic pansy look of ‘Supreme Yellow with Blotch' and the smaller flowered but bushy and prolific ‘Panola Yellow and Purple'. Most of the varieties included are available only in this special mix.

Plug plants of pansy ‘Winning Formula' are available from Thompson and Morgan Young Plants. You can order for delivery in September.

And look out for my article on winter pansies in the November issue of The Garden.


Dermot said:

These pansy mixtures, I am afraid they fill me with dread. Some rate among the most nightmarish horticultural tortures yet devised, their colours, brown and white, black and blue, pink and yellow, clashing hideously, their petals usually lolloping to mask any sort of shape the flowers might have had. The end result, planted en bloc, looks as if someone had upturned a litter bin on the flowerbed. Please: can’t the seed companies just list the individual colours and let us choose what we want to grow?

on 16 Aug 2008 at 01:48 AM

bogweevil said:

The seed companies do offer single colours and good garden centres usually stock a few singles. A wide range of single colour seeds are also offered: Seeds-by-size ( and Moles ( offer them in packets small enough to be feasible for home gardeners. Both Ultima and Panola single colours are offered by Seeds by size for example.  Although commercial nurseries and cash and carrys are sniffy about supplying home gardeners with trays of bedding plants they will sell you some if you are happy to take whole large trays and not mess them about by trying to buy five pelargoniums and a fuchsia!

on 20 Aug 2008 at 09:40 AM

Graham Rice said:

Seeds-by-Size ( is certainly a good bet - I'm just waiting to hear which varieties they will be stocking for the coming season. The problem with Moles ( is that although they sell to home gardeners what they sell are grower-size packets - the smallest are 250 seedfs. So, for example, a packet of the excellent 'Ultima Morpho' costs £6.95 plus VAT. Nicky's Nursery ( is also a source of some winter pansies in separate colours.

I will post a list of sourses to accompany my article on winter pansies in the November issue of The Garden.

on 20 Aug 2008 at 04:15 PM

How to space fall pansies | said:

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on 02 Oct 2008 at 11:14 PM