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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

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Stunning new sunflowers

Posted by Graham Rice on 09 Apr 2009 at 08:48 AM

Sunflower 'Starburst Lemon Aura'. Image: ©SeedsenseSunflowers are fast becoming one of our most popular annuals - for borders, for cutting, for containers, for being big and beautiful, and for wildlife. At the forefront of the creation of new sunflower varieties is Norfolk breeder Peter Denney. Some of his varieties are available through the familiar seed companies but all his varieties, all thirty of them, including his very latest introductions, are available to the home gardeners only through Seed N Grow, whose range of sweet peas from Keith Hammett I featured last time.

Peter's varieties cover the full range: single and double plus some with more unusual flower forms; familiar sunny colours and less common rich and pastel shades; short bushy types and tall single-stemmed varieties. Many are pollen free so don't stain the furniture when cut for the house.

Sunflower 'Double Dandy'. Image: ©Seedsense‘Double Dandy' is a well branched, dwarf double red just 60cm/2ft high which is ideal for containers or borders in small gardens. ‘Golden Cheer', naturally branching, is a green-eyed double reaching 1.8m/6ft which is ideal for the back of the border or for cutting. ‘Stella Gold', with its whirlygig flowers of slender petals is bred for cutting and grows up on single stems.

Sunflower 'Stella Gold'. Image: ©Seedsense
I was also taken with the three pollen-free varieties in his Starburst Series reaching 90cm-1.2m/3-4ft.

‘Starburst Lemon Aura' and ‘Starburst Lemon Éclair' are two fully double lemon varieties, ‘Starburst Lemon Aura' has a rich chocolate eye while ‘Starburst Lemon Éclair' has a lovely green eye. Both are tall enough to cut yet not so tall as to only be suitable for the back of the border; they integrate well.

The very latest in the series is ‘Starburst Blaze' with anemone-centered, or crested, red flowers with a slight lemon tint on well branched plants. Excellent for cut flowers and borders, ‘Starburst Blaze' is also early to flower. 

It's not too late to sow them, but don't leave it too long.

More of Peter Denney's new sunflower introductions are on the way, check back at the Seed N Grow website.

Order sunflower ‘Double Dandy' from Seed N Grow

Order sunflower ‘Golden Cheer' from Seed N Grow
Order sunflower ‘Stella Gold' from Seed N Grow
Order sunflower ‘Starburst Lemon Aura' from Seed N Grow
Order sunflower ‘Starburst Lemon Éclair' from Seed N Grow
Order sunflower ‘Starburst Blaze' from Seed N Grow

Check out all Peter Denney’s sunflowers at Seed N Grow



Jenny Woods said:

You should work on commission! I have just had to buy some Moonshadow sunflowers and Mamma Mia and Mother of Pearl Sweet Peas. I'll let you know if they live up to expectation...

on 11 Apr 2009 at 07:28 PM

Graham Rice said:

No no! No commission! I just want to to tell you about the most exciting new introductions.

And yes, please let me know how your sunflowers turn out.

on 20 Apr 2009 at 08:31 PM