Last summer I visited David and Priscilla Kerley, who are amongst the world's leading petunia breeders. I didn't have to go far, his greenhouses are tucked away behind a tall hedge "somewhere in eastern England" and for some years now they've been creating superb double flowered petunias and some of the finest of all petunias for baskets and other containers.
Their Tumbelina Series is the one you'll probably know, Priscilla is the one almost everyone has grown. It's also a big hit in America, Canada, Japan and New Zealand as well as in the rest of Europe. The great thing about this series is that the flowers don't trail down in long unmanageable curtains - that's great for the balcony boxes on pubs but not your hanging baskets. They tumble neatly rather than produce ever longer and longer trails, the plants hide the basket well, and they're always elegant. The double flowers take bad weather well too and some of the varieties are strongly scented.
New introductions to the Tumbelina Series appear every year and for this season the outstanding newcomer is Susanna, the first lemon yellow double. It's a gorgeous thing - I wanted to smuggle a basket out and take it home! But I think they'd have noticed. Also new for 2009 is Joanna, one of the most fragrant of all and featuring lilac flowers with a dark eye. Both are early to begin flowering, but those flowers just keep on coming.
There are now fifteen different colours in the Tumbelina Series, and you'll find them in plant and garden centres as well as at mail order sources.
You can order Petunia Tumbelina Susanna from Mr Fothergill's and as part of the Frills & Spills Collection from Thompson & Morgan.
You can order Petunia Tumbelina Joanna as part of the Tumbelina Perfume Mixed collection, a collection of the most fragrant Tumbelina double petunias from Mr Fothergills.
You can order Petunia Susanna and Petunia Joanna as part of the Tumbelina Collection from Elm House Nurseries and from Unwins.
Next time here on the New Plants - the British version of the well known Surfinia petunias.