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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

Best new pansies and violas

Posted by Graham Rice on 25 Oct 2008 at 04:35 PM

Sometimes, it's just not as easy as it should be to get hold of the best new varieties. This was especially true following last winter's trial of winter flowering pansies, when a number of the top performers had their Awards of Garden Merit held back because they were too difficult, or impossible, for gardeners to buy.

I've written about the winter pansies in the November issue of The Garden and you can read my supplemental thoughts on buying seed, seedlings and plugs of winter pansies here and thoughts on making some of the best plants from the trial available in a mixture here.

But I also wanted to guide your attention to two seed companies who usually list the best of the new varieties but for various reasons are sometimes overlooked.

Moles Seeds are focused on the commercial grower but unlike most seed companies targeting the professional market, they also sell to home gardeners. Their list of both pansies and violas is vast with impressive availability of separate colours and with almost every variety illustrated in colour. Amongst others, they list those in the Ultima Series which did well in the trial and they usually have all the best new introductions.

The downside is that their smallest packet size contains more seeds, and costs more, than home gardeners are used to. Also, their website is a little - how shall we say, idiosyncratic - pansies under Annuals and violas under Perennials, for example. The Search function also needs improvement but the site features new introductions across a wide range of seed-raised plants.


Seeds-by-Size is a smaller operation which also lists a vast range and in spite of the fact that the website is relatively old-fashioned, in many ways it's easier to use. But there are no pictures and while gardeners will be comfortable with many of the prices, some are at the commercial grower level. But the range is even more impressive than that at Moles and includes the Nature Series ('Nature White' in the picture), in my view the best performers in the recent trial and, as far as I know, not available anywhere else at present.

So why not check out these two less familiar seed companies, for pansies violas and other plants, and also those others listed here at the end of my web-only thoughts on buying seed, seedlings and plugs of winter pansies.


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