There are lots of exciting new plants around now and here’s news of the first ever red rudbeckia. ‘Cherry Brandy’ is the result of fifteen years careful selection at Thompson & Morgan Seeds. Click on the pictures to see larger versions revealing the astonishing colouring. “The colour really is as you see in the picture, red with a darker centre,” T&M’s plant breeder Charles Valins told me. “The colour is quite stable, in shades varying from light to deep red.
“This is a breeding program I finished rather than started. Keith Sangster started about 15 years ago to try and get red out of various bronze flowered rudbeckia selections. He thought the red colour was probably present beneath the bronze shades. Ruthless selection for the reddest plants year after year resulted in the colour breakthrough we just introduced.”
(Keith Sangster, by the way, ran T&M’s British business for many years and started them down the road of breeding their own flowers. He is now Vice Chairman of the RHS Floral Trials Committee.)
‘Cherry Brandy' was been awarded a Fleuroselect Novelty Award after trials all over Europe and very narrowly missed an All America Selections award - it was the highest rated annual but just missed out in a year in which no awards for annuals were given.
This looks like a great plant for mixed borders, reaching 60cm/24in in height, it would make a superb centrepiece in large containers and should also make a great cut flower. T&M already have the excellent double rudbeckia,
‘Cherokee Sunset’, in gold and orange and rusty shades, as well as ‘Chim Chiminee’ in similar shades but with fluted petals. I bet they have red doubles on the way.
Seed of Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ will be available in the 2009 Thompson & Morgan catalogue which will be posted in mid September. You can request a catalogue here. You can also order online from early September. Young plants can be ordered from January 2009.
© Images: Thompson & Morgan (Group) Ltd