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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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  • ALL the new plants at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 29 May 2009 at 09:15 PM

    Cordyline 'Southern Splendour'. Image: RHSFor the very last post in my coverage of the new plants seen at the Chelsea Flower Show this year, here's my final list. It contains an amazing one hundred and twelvr (yes, 112) new plants.

    I've taken all the announcements in the press releases with a bucket of salt, poked around the show for a few days, talked to lots of people, done some checking and come up with this list. Some great new plants this year, many of them discussed in the previous posts here starting on 1 May. If I hear of more, or discover that any are not new after all, I'll amend this list so it will always be the most up-to-date version.

    (Sorry, life's just too short to put in all the italics for the botanical names!


  • What does “new”, mean? – Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 25 May 2009 at 07:42 AM

    In the run up to the Chelsea Flower Show and for the last week since I took my first look at the show as it was being set up, I've been blogging about the new plants. Thirty four posts in all, plus eight in the run up to the show. But here's the thing: what do we mean by "new", exactly?

    Streptocarpus gardenii - white form. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comFor the purposes of this series of Chelsea posts, a new plant is one that has not been available before or seen before. The RHS Plant Finder is a very helpful reference in this respect.

    It's true that discussing a plant like the white form of Streptocarpus gardenii on the City of Durban stand is more interesting than useful as it will be some years before it's available to gardeners to buy. But having only recently been discovered in the wild there's no disputing that it's new. By contrast, you could order the new roses at the show itself although for them too it was a first sighting.

    A rather less rigid definition of new, a definition which serves nurseries' marketing and sales effort more than accuracy, covers a plant which a nursery may have on display for the first time or in its catalogue for the first time - even though other nurseries have been selling it for a while or even for many years.


  • Caueux Irises - New at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 24 May 2009 at 02:29 PM

    Iris 'Coeur d'Or'. Image: ©RHSThe world famous French iris nursery Cayeux has been showing irises at the Chelsea Flower Show for a few years ago. But, up till now, their exhibits have been disappointing.They grow their show plants in England and this year, for the first time, their irises were grown for the show by Woottens of Wenhaston in Suffolk - and the quality has improved noticeably.

    As you'll see from my report on the Cayeux new 2009 introductions, they planned to have three new irises, all raised by Richard Cayeux, at the show. In the event, not all were open by opening day, but one of them looked spectacular.

    ‘Coeur d'Or', on a prominent corner of the exhibit, stopped people in their tracks. It really is a dramatic plant. The ruffled upright standards are pure white, the ruffled falls are the same pure shade but with a bold true blue edge with the white seeping into the blue. Then, in the throat of the flower, a golden flash - hence the name.

    Derived from the similar but much paler ‘Elegant', which features a lavender edge, this is a good grower, with healthy foliage and just so dramatic. I'm told 'Nuits de Noces' and 'Bel Avenir' opened later in the week.

    Plants can be ordered direct from Cayeux Irises or from their British agent, Viv Marsh Postal Plants


  • Graeme Iddon - New at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 24 May 2009 at 01:10 PM

    I was surprised by the wealth of attractive but unfamiliar chrysanthemums on the Chelsea Flower Show display staged by Graeme Iddon. A lovely colour-coordinated display featuring what for gardeners are unfamiliar chrysanths, they should prove easy to grow and valuable cut flowers.

    These are all bred as commercial cut flowers, so you may have seen them in bouquets before now, but I've not seen plants on sale anywhere.

    Chrysanthemum 'Dance' with Eryngium ‘Supernova Starlight'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comIn particular I was impressed by ‘Dance', a cross involving an older variety, ‘Augusta', made by Yoder Brothers, one of the world's leading chrysanthemum breeders in California. The result is a dramatic spoon type - that is with the lower part of each petal rolled into a tube and the tip flattened out to reveal the colour. The result is a dramatic white centred vivid pink flower. It was shown arranged with Eryngium ‘Supernova Starlight', another newcomer. Impressive newcomer seen as a cut flower but not as plants at the moment.

    Other chrysanths on show that I'd never seen before, and I admired most of them on Graeme Iddon's Silver Medal winning display I have to say, include ‘Anastasia Pink Improved', ‘Artistry Pink Improved', ‘Asenka Splendid', ‘Bacardi Pearl', ‘Biarritz', ‘Le Man', ‘Pink Lollipop', ‘Posh Pink', ‘Regan Improved' and ‘Santini Pink'.


  • Harkness Roses - More New at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 24 May 2009 at 09:49 AM

    There show's over, and a great show it was, sell-off was late yesterday afternoon - but news of new plants keeps on coming. Just so you know... three more batches of newcomers and then a long list of every one.

    Now, there are more new roses from Harkness Roses than from anyone else. I took a look at their spectacular Persian Mystery series a few days ago, but there are more - four more, in fact. All four have interesting connections.

    Rose Equity (‘Harplayer’). Image: ©RHSIn support of the Equity Benevolent Fund, the celebrities were out in force to support Equity (‘Harplayer'), the rose whose sales will support actors with financial hardship or special needs. A classic Floribunda rose, clusters of unusually pretty buds open to sprays of up to seven pink, beautifully fragrant, slightly ruffled blooms with peachy overtones. They're likely to be more vivid pink when not specially encouraged to flower for the show. Equity (‘Harplayer') is prolific with a long season and is good in mixed borders, as a low hedge or in more traditional rose beds


  • Hillier Nurseries - New at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 23 May 2009 at 06:00 PM

    Winners of sixty four Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medals, and famous for introducing new plants since the inception of the nursery in 1864, Hillier Nurseries have introduced a grand total of more than 230 new varieties over the years - with two more this year.

    Cordyline 'Sunrise'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comPride of place go to two dramatic new multicoloured cordylines, ‘Southern Splendour', which I discussed before the show opened, and ‘Sunrise' - both are members of the Kaleidoscope Series and there are more to come in this range.

    ‘Sunrise' is a more relaxed in the way it holds its foliage than the relatively upright ‘Southern Splendour'. Each leaf has a rather creamy central stripe along the leaf with stripes of vivid pink and bronze shades. The whole effect is not only of a more arching plant, but also of cleaner lines in its stripes. ‘Southern Splendour' also has a pinker colouration.

    Grow ‘Sunrise' is a container and choose companion plants according to taste - bright impatiens, cool grey foliage, many heucheras would tone in well.

    Cordylines are relatively drought tolerant, so if you're depending on this feature be sure to choose companion plantings with similar tolerances


  • Penhow Nurseries - New at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 23 May 2009 at 01:45 PM

    Diascia 'Little Dazzler'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThe exhibits staged by Penhow Nurseries (no website) at the Chelsea Flower Show are always simple and dramatic and always feature just two South African genera - Diascia and Nemesia. This year they won their sixth Gold medal in the ten years they've been at Chelsea and also launched a new Diascia.

    The latest in their series of dwarf diascias, ‘Little Dazzler' is a delightful two-tone pink with the flowers crowded so tightly on the plant that the foliage is all but invisible. It's the latest in a series which also includes ‘Little Dancer' (flowers change from lilac to pink), ‘Little Dreamer' (orange pink), ‘Little Drifter' (coral pink), ‘Little Maiden' (pink/white bicolour) and ‘Little Tango' (orange).

    In some sources, ‘Little Dazzler' is listed as white but the plants I admired at the show were very definitely an intriguing two-tone terracotta pink and ideal for containers and the frost of the border in full sun.

    Clip the plants over if flowering starts to decline, soak them well - perhaps with a little liquid feed added - and they'll soon be flowering again strongly. The whole series is intended as summer seasonal plants but they may survive mild winters with good drainage .

    ‘Little Dazzler' was raised by Jimmy Jones who, with his wife Lyn, runs Penhow Nurseries in Wales.

    You can order Diascia ‘Little Dazzler at the show, buy it in good garden centres but it's too late for mail order this season.



  • Peter Beales Roses – More New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 23 May 2009 at 12:51 PM

    All the attention on the Peter Beales Roses display has been on his new rose ‘Highgrove' and the Queen's visit to the exhibit on Monday. But he has two other new roses this year and both, perhaps unexpectedly, are Hybrid Teas.

    Rose 'Grosvenor House'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comWith classic Hybrid Tea flowers on a more shrub like plant, ‘Grosvenor House' is rich gold with the flowers paling harmoniously to a much paler, primrose shade at the edges. ‘Grosvenor House' also has three other valuable features. It's neat in growth, just 90cmx90cm/3ftx3ft, so is deal in a small garden, towards the front of a large border, or in a container. It flowers right through the season, which makes it especially valuable in a tub or large pot. And don't forget its wonderful scent.

    Like ‘Highgrove', ‘Grosvenor House' was bred by the late Colin Horner, past President of the Royal National Rose Society, whose roses have been on trial with Peter Beales at Attenborough in Norfolk for some years.

    ‘Grosvenor House' is named to celebrate the complete refurbishment of the Grosvenor House Hotel in its 80th anniversary year


  • Broadleigh Gardens – New at Chelsea

    Graham Rice on 23 May 2009 at 07:04 AM

    I wrote up the bright new bicoloured Pacific Coast Iris from Broadleigh Gardens, ‘Broadleigh Fenella', before the show. Then when I talked to Christine Skelmersdale, who runs Broadleigh, down at the show I found that she had two unexpected new introductions that she was showing at the Chelsea Flower Show for the first time.

    Iris 'Broadleigh Eleanor'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThe first was another of her long and seemingly ever improving series of Pacific Coast Irises that carry the Broadleigh prefix.

    ‘Broadleigh Eleanor' is a delicious, good-enough-to-eat mulberry purple with a sparkling yellow flash in the throat. The buds are a lovely deep shade while the foliage is also very dark. Earlier than most in the series, the flowers at the show had been held back and were the last of the season while ‘Broadleigh Fenella' was showing the first flowers of the season


  • The Sun - New at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 22 May 2009 at 01:03 PM

    Digitalis 'Candy Mountain'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comEvery year Peter Seabrook of The Sun arranges for some new plants to be at the Chelsea Flower Show. Mostly, instead of rare and esoteric wonders of wild places or flights of the plant breeders imagination these are practical garden centre plants, often for patios and small gardens - plants you'll find in your local garden centre soon. He had a great collection this year on The Sun's quartet of gardens in the Great Pavilion entitled Gardens for All Ages.

    Two new foxgloves stand out. I wrote up Digitalis ‘Pam's Split' before the show but there was also Digitalis ‘Candy  Mountain'. It's impressive, but frankly I'm not sure I like it. The vivid pink, boldly speckled flowers are huge and flared, they're closely packed all round the stem in very full spikes - and they face upwards! It's certainly dramatic, I'm just not it retains that natural foxglove elegance.

    Dianthus 'Passion'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comAlso featured are a range of garden pinks including Dianthus ‘Passion' reaching just 25cm/10in with neat rounded flowers in rich velvety red - and of course there's the scent. Raised by Whetman Pinks, famed the world over for their new varieties, they say themselves that they think ‘Passion' is one of their very best introductions.

    Finally we also got an advance look at a new runner bean. I've often grown ‘Painted Lady' for its pretty red and white bicoloured flowers but been disappointed in the crop. ‘St George' has the same appealing flowers but a crops far more heavily and tastes better


  • Thorncroft Clematis – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 22 May 2009 at 12:16 PM

    Clematis 'Gojogawa'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comGetting clematis ready for the Chelsea Flower Show can be tricky. The later flowering types in particular can be hard to encourage into flower in May and of course at the same time there's also the need to keep the early ones at their peak.

    Thorncroft Clematis had earmarked a number of newcomers for Chelsea - some of them made it, some didn't and one of the newcomers they didn't plan to include surprised them by opening just in time.

    I wrote about ‘Geoffrey Tolver' before the show and there it is looking especially sultry. The other new introductions on their impressive Gold Medal winning exhibit are 'Gojogawa' and ‘Temptation'.

    'Gojogawa' is an unusual shape and an unusual colour. The slender pink petals have a pale central stripe matched well by its creamy cluster of stamens and are carried in two or three layers with the addition of a few slender creamy petal fragments in the centre. The effect is delightful. Raised in Japan by Hiroshi Takeuch, 'Gojogawa' is named after a river in Iwakura City, Japan. It flowers in May and June and again in August and September, reaching 1.8-2.4m/6-8ft.

    Clematis 'Temptation'. Image: ©‘Temptation' was the surprise performer for the show. Its sultry red petals surround a bold mass of smaller petals creating an anemone centre. This form is typical of early flowers in May and June, later blooms in August and September tend to be single. Raised in Holland by renowned clematis breeder Wim Snoeijer it reaches only 1-1.5m/3-4.5ft so is ideal for small gardens and containers.

    You can order all three clematis at the show or order ‘Geoffrey Tolver', 'Gojogawa' and ‘Temptation' from the Thorncroft Clematis website.


  • Eagle Sweet Peas – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 22 May 2009 at 11:15 AM

    Sweet pea 'Geoff Hughes’. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThe Eagle Sweet Peas display is a little oasis of tradition and calm in the Great Pavilion of the Chelsea Flower Show, their lovely Silver-Gilt Medal winning display showing off old favourites as well as three bright new introductions.

    I wrote about ‘Leominster Boy' before the Show, but they also had ‘Geoff Hughes' and ‘Keira Madeline' and both are exceptions to the normal run of sweet peas.

    ‘Geoff Hughes' is white with bright orange flecks and streaks. Excellent for shows and a fine garden variety, it's named for the actor Geoffrey Hughes, known for his roles in Heartbeat, Keeping up Appearances, The Royle Family and Coronation Street.

    Sweet pea 'Kiera Madeline’. Image: ©‘Kiera Madeline' is named for the six year old neice of Derek Heathcote who runs Eagle Sweet Peas. The colour is rich cream and each flower is bordered with a hazy zone of rose pink - the effect is delightful. ‘Kiera Madeline' is also blessed with a strong fragrance.

    All three varietes were raised at the nursery by Derek, who started Eagle Sweet Peas after being made redundant from the motor industry nearly twenty years ago.

    You can order seed of these varieties at the show or, in due course, from the Eagle Sweet Peas website.


  • Kelways - New at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 22 May 2009 at 10:07 AM

    The Kelways peony tradition goes back a long way. Founded in 1851, Kelways have introduced more peonies than any other British nursery - by a long way - and perhaps more peonies than any nursery in the world. This year on the Silver Medal winning display at the Chelsea Flower Show they had a new tree peony, Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Shintenchi'.

    Tree peony ‘Shintenchi’. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comDavid Root of Kelways explained that they have a friend who searches Japan for new tree peonies. "Many good plants are found in old gardens or nurseries," he explained, "and although some will have been named in the dim and distant past their names are long lost. The best are rescued and grafted on to new rootstocks so they can again be made available.'

    ‘Shintenchi' is a blowsy pink semi-double tree peony, pale rose pink in bud then becoming richer and with bold reddish flecks on the mature flowers. The flowers are set against attractive pale, slightly greyish foliage. And it's lightly scented - altogether a lovely plant.

  • W S Warmenhoven - New at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 22 May 2009 at 08:37 AM

    Allium 'Purple Rain'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThere are five ways of finding new plants at the Chelsea Flower Show apart, of course, from just looking at each and every exhibit.

    * Some exhibitors make a point of sending out a press release in advance of the show announcing their new varieties. That's great.
    * Some nurseries put out a press release once they arrive at the Show, and that's very helpful.
    * I get tips from friends and colleagues and also from a few readers of this blog which is a great help.
    * Of course, I also talk to the exhibitors, asking them what they have on show that's new.
    * Then once or twice I just found myself walking past an exhibit and saying to myself: I haven't seen those before.

    And that's how it was with the alliums, the ornamental onions, from W S Warmenhoven. I was walking by on my way to another exhibit and, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something a little different. In fact, quite a number of things that were a little different.

    The one that really took my eye was ‘Purple Rain' which looked to be a hybrid between the familiar drumstick alliums we expect to see on the W S Warmenhoven stand and Allium christophii, the huge-flowered species that looks like an exploding firework. It had the same look as A. christophii, but with smaller, denser heads and with purple buds instead of the green buds of A. christophii. Really good.

    Then I saw the 20cm/8in flower heads of ‘Atlas', crowded with pale steely purple flowers; pretty impressive. What was also striking about ‘Atlas' was the enormously stout stems, about 2.5cm/1in across at the base and only narrowing into the flower head which makes ‘Atlas' an especially robust cut flower. By contrast the stems of ‘Venus' are long and slender with purplish streaks and support the 10cm/4in heads of white eyed purple flowers.

    Allium stipitatum 'Mont Blanc'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThere was also a new white, A. stipitatum ‘Mont Blanc' with slender green stems topped with very densely heads crowded with white flowers.

    Al in all, four very impressive newcomers and you can order these alliums at the show or they will be available in due course on the W S Warmenhoven website.


  • Winchester Growers – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 21 May 2009 at 10:08 PM

    Dahlia 'Joe Swift'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comDid you see the piece about the Winchester Growers dahlia exhibit on BBC Two's nightly programme on the Chelsea Flower Show tonight? Not much about the display itself, just a few words with a deservedly thrilled John Wheatcroft who put it all together, some superficial discussion about eating dahlias and a bit of banter about the new dahlia named for presenter Joe Swift.

    I bumped into Joe at the President's Lunch on Monday - this is the lunch for judges, members of the governing Council of the Royal Horticultural Society and other notables - and he told me how pleased he was to have a dahlia carry his name. "It's ultimate accolade, really, isn't it," he said, still slightly stunned. "Such an honour to have a plant named for you." But why did no one mention the lovely sweet pea ‘Alan Titchmarsh'? Anyway...

    Dahlia ‘Joe Swift' is a gorgeous plant, with rich dark foliage setting off white flowers with a subtle network of veins and hint of pink as the flowers age. I was especially taken with the slight ripple to the petals which gives the plant real style.

    ‘Joe Swift' was bred by John Wheatcroft using ‘Magenta Star', which he mentioned in his BBC TV interview, as one of the parent plants and the spoecies D. sorensii as the other.

    But from the very same batch of seedlings, from the same cross, from the sameDahlia 'Perfect Partner'. Image: © seed pod came ‘Perfect Partner', the second new dahlia on display. Again, dark foliage. But with white flowers boldly stained in magenta pink towards the tips.

    The final newcomer on the display was hidden away in the greenhouse because the two plants had just a single flower on each - ‘Revive'. There are two stories attached to this variety.

    First, it was raised by Keith Hammett, from New Zealand, one of the world's leading creators of new dahlia varieties and recipient of the 2009 Cory Cup, from the Royal Horticultural Society, for his work in plant breeding. You can see the vivid colouring of the plant - it really is spectacular.Dahlia 'Revive'. Image: ©

    Second, it's named for the potting compost, Revive, in which all the dahlias on the display were grown. And Revive is not only made from composted green waste, but also supports Britain in Bloom.

    These three impressive dahlias contributed to this display from Winchester Growers, holders of the National Dahlia Collection, receiving the ultimate prize of the President's Award for the best display in the Great Pavilion. Pretty impressive for a first exhibit at Chelsea! Dahlias this good in May? Must deserve an award.

    You will soon be able to order these new varieties from the National Dahlia Collection website from Winchester Growers.


  • Harkness Roses - New at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 21 May 2009 at 08:38 AM

    Harkness Roses is one of those grand old rose nurseries that seem to have been around for ever - 130 years, actually - and since 1959 they've been breeding new varieties. Ever since I started going to the Chelsea Flower Show, many years ago, they've used the show to launch their newcomers and this year they have an especially interesting crop.

    Rose Persian Mystery (‘Hartroy’). Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThis year, the stars are undoubtedly their Persian Mystery series - Persian Mystery (‘Hartroy'), The Sun and the Heart (‘Hartyre') and Alissar, Princess of Phoenicia (‘Hardison') - with new blood from a species formerly called Hulthemia persica. Now known correctly as Rosa persica, this species brings new qualities including resistance to the extremes of heat, drought and cold plus, in terms of flower colour, bold crimson marks at the base of the petals.

    It began back in 1967 when rose breeder Alec Cocker suggested to Jack Harkness, who started rose breeding at Harkness, that it would be interesting to use this rare species to create modern roses. Ten years later he introduced three such varieties, but these were much closer to Rosa persica than familiar garden roses.

    Now Harkness have three newcomers with all the repeat blooming, easy-to-grow qualities of modern roses but with the best of Rosa persica added.

    When Persian Mystery (‘Hartroy') starts to open its pink buds they look like those of other roses, but as the flower opens the rich maroon stain at the base of the petal is revealed. With excellent garden qualities it also has a good scent.Rose The Sun and the Heart (‘Hartyre’). Image: ©

    The Sun and the Heart (‘Hartyre') is neat in growth, 60cm/2ft, bushy and very free flowering its many-petalled yellow flowers stained crimson at their hearts. It has a good scent and its modest growth looks to give it wide potential in the garden, including containers.

    Rose Alissar, Princess of Phoenicia (‘Hardison’). Image: ©GardenPhotos.comAlissar, Princess of Phoenicia (‘Hardison') has fewer petals, more of a semi-double flower, opening cream then becoming more pink and opening to show off the vivid two tone centre of the fragrant flower. In growth this more like a shrub rose and also easy and dependable in the garden.

    You can order these exciting new roses at the show or from the Harkness Roses website. It's forty two years since Alec Cocker and Jack Harkness first discussed this project, these three new roses prove they had the right idea.

    I'll tell you about the other Hardness roses launched at the show before the Show closes.


  • Downderry Nursery – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 21 May 2009 at 07:09 AM

    New lavenders seem to be popping up from all over the world. For years we had the old favourites like ‘Hidcote' and ‘Munstead' and now there seem to be flurries of newcomers every year.

    Lavender 'Flaming Purple'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comDownderry Nursery in Kent have been at the forefront of this revival and along with Gold Medal winning exhibits here at the Chelsea Flower Show and also at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show they've raised and introduced many fine new varieties. This is year they have ‘Flaming Purple'.

    Dr Simon Charlesworth, one of the world's leading experts on lavender who runs Downderry Nursery, told me about it


  • Bloms Bulbs – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 20 May 2009 at 10:24 PM

    Tulip 'Drumline'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comBloms Bulbs are Chelsea Flower Show veterans. The company was founded in 1860, since 1948 Bloms have been at Chelsea and this year they won their fifty ninth Gold Medal. Their tulips are always a star attraction and this year they introduced six sparkling new varieties.

    I especially liked two doubles. ‘Drumline', in red tones with a white edge to the petals, was dramatic on a raised stand while ‘Danceline', although perhaps not the most perfect specimens on the display, looked special with its raspberry red streaks at the tips of its white petals making up an attractive double flower.

    Oddly, their newcomers were not always in prominent positions. Tulip 'Grand Perfection'. Image: ©‘Grand Perfection', a lovely mid season tulip in bright yellow with vivid red flames, was tucked away amongst the support for other varieties. I just couldn't crop the white metal supports out of the picture.

    ‘Green Star' was also a little tricky to spot, but this lily-flowered Viridiflora type in white and green certainly deserved attention. It would be superb towering over clouds of blue forget-me-nots as would Tulip 'White Touché. Image: ©‘White Touché', a pure white double with green flames holding its flowers, I noticed, on lovely olive green stems.

    Finally in the Bloms sextet for the 2009 Chelsea came ‘Cosmic Dancer'. A short variety for exposed gardens and containers in a lovely soft pink and ideal with short white forget-me-nots.

    Six great new tulips. They can be ordered at the Show and will be available on the Bloms Bulbs website in due course.



  • Culm View Nursery – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 20 May 2009 at 09:33 PM

    Primula japonica 'Cherry Blossom'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comCulm View Nursery is small nursery in the Blackdown Hills of Devon specialising in perennials and yesterday I stumbled across an interesting new primula they have on show at the Chelsea Flower Show this week.

    Primula japonica ‘Cherry Blossom' is a darker form of the more familiar ‘Apple Blossom' with the same elegant upright candelabras of flowers but each flower opens dark pink then becomes paler but eventually developing a two tone pink colouring with an altogether richer look. It turned up in a batch of seedlings of ‘Apple Blossom', from seed sown in 2007, was selected when it flowered in 2008 and was then split into several plants which are now on show here at Chelsea.

    Of course because of their pin and thrum flower structure, intended to ensure cross pollination, seed from a single special individual primula rarely comes true. So ‘Cherry Blossom' has been propagated by division and it made a very impressive planting on their Silver Gilt Medal winning display in the Great Pavilion.

    Primula japonica ‘Cherry Blossom' is not yet available from the nursery, but will be listed on the Culm View Nursery website in a few years when enough stock has been propagated. In the meantime, they have other excellent primulas available.



  • Dibleys Nursery – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 20 May 2009 at 09:16 PM

    Streptocarpus 'Lucy'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comI featured two new Streptocarpus introductions from Dibleys Nursery here on the RHS New Plants blog last week in the run up to the Chelsea Flower Show, now here at the show I came across another which was a late addition to the display.

    ‘Lucy' a rich deep magenta pink, plum pink you might say, and has flat flowers which show of their colour. Each flower has a very dark throat and on the boundary between the flared flower and its throat there's a white zone with dark streaks and yellow flashes and is the latest in an impressive line created by Lynne Dibley. She told me how she creates her new varieties.

    "I hand pollinate the plants using parents I've chosen with the aim of creating plants with the features I'm looking for," she explained. "I grow several thousand seedlings each year - I've just thrown away a thousand plants this last week. It's important to select only the very best and throw out the rest.

    "It's interesting," she said, "that in Europe people are looking for neat and compact plants while in America they like a bigger and blowsier plants. So I have to breed both."

    Streptocarpus ‘Lucy' can be ordered at the show and will be available from the Dibleys website soon.


  • Harvey's Garden Plants - New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 20 May 2009 at 10:52 AM

    Erythronium 'Harvington Wild Salmon'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThe Harvey's Garden Plants stand at Chelsea always features some of the most appeling shade loving plants around and the plants Roger Harvey has chosen for this year's Gold Medal winning exhibit are a blend of choice but familiar favourites, intriguing rarities and one impressive genuine newcomer.

    Erythronium ‘Harvington Wild Salmon' is a hybrid erythronium with good flowers, good foliage and an unusual adaptability in the garden. The flowers are true salmon pink and the foliage is as more like a good form of Arum italicum than an erythronium in dark green with bold maroon blotches and silver. It also features an intriguing wave to the leaf edges.

    "The other thing," Roger Harvey told me, "is that unlike the pink flowered E. revolutum it doesn't need acid soil, so it can be grown in a much wider range of conditions. It's also vigorous, with the vigour of the pure white ‘Harvington Snow Goose'."

    ‘Harvington Wild Salmon' is a thought to be a hybrid between E. revolutum and E. californicum. It was raised by Hugh Nunn whose excellent Harvington hellebores are often seen in nurseries and garden centres.

    You can order Erythronium ‘Harvington Wild Salmon' at the show or from the Harvey's Garden Plants catalogue.



  • Avon Bulbs – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 19 May 2009 at 07:46 PM

    Camassia ‘Avon’s Stellar Hybrids’ - purple. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comAvon Bulbs, the renowned bulb specialists from Somerset, are not one of those nurseries which comes out with a vast flurry of new varieties year after year. Their customers are more focused on choice plants, and good garden plants, rather than novelties - or that's what Chris Ireland-Jones, who runs Avon Bulbs, has told me more than once.

    But every year or two they introduce something a little bit special and at this year's Chelsea Flower Show they seem to  have done it again. This year they have a lovely mixture of camassias, in a wide range of colours, which they've developed on the nursery. They call them ‘Avon's Stellar Hybrids'.

    They're derived from Camassia leitchtlinii subsp. leitchtlinii (also known simply as ‘Alba'), some double flowered forms they've had on the nursery for some time and also some special forms they've received from North America. With careful hand pollination, and thoughtful selection they've been improving the range of colours for quite a few years. Camassia ‘Avon’s Stellar Hybrids’ - pink. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThe mixture features purple, dark blue, pale blue, electric blue, lilac pink, almost rose pink, a bicolour of blue and almost pink, white with a faint blush, pale lavender with the petals darker at the tips, plus an unusual greenish lavender and cream shade to which it's impossible to give a simple name - a wonderful mix.

    On a busy nursery they don't always have time to carry out as much hand pollination as they'd like so one trick they have is to force one colour (let's not give the game away entirely by saying which) so that it flowers three weeks before the others and then let the bees do the pollinating. Saves work, but with only one colour in flower there's no contamination from other shades. The result is an impressively wide ranging mixture of colours.

    In fact one noted plantsman, Phil Clayton of the RHS magazine The Garden, said to me on Sunday that these were the best thing he'd seen all day.

    You can order Camassia ‘Avon's Stellar Hybrids' at the show or order on the Avon Bulbs website.



  • David Austin Roses – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 19 May 2009 at 05:52 PM

    Rose Lady of Shalott (‘Ausnyson’). Image: ©RHSEvery year, David Austin (Great Pavilion, C22) introduces a collection of his new roses at the Chelsea Flower Show. In case you've been in tight seclusion for the last twenty five years, David Austin's English Roses are, basically, long flowering roses in the old style: they mostly have the flower form and fragrance of the classic old shrub roses but instead of flowering for two weeks in June they flower all summer.

    New this year at the Chelsea Flower Show are four varieties, the lovely Kew Gardens (‘Ausfence') I wrote up a couple of weeks ago in advance of the show but there are three other newcomers well worth growing.

    The smallest of the three, at just 1.2m/4ft, is Lady of Shalott (‘Ausnyson'). I loved the form and the colour of this new rose. Rich amber in bud, as the flowers mature they develop an elegant bowl shape, each petal tending towards pink on the upper side and gold on the back. It's a lovely combination. And David assures us that this is one of the toughest and most disease resistant he's ever created.

    Also new at Rose The Wedgwood Rose (‘Ausjosiah’). Image: ©RHSChelsea is The Wedgwood Rose (‘Ausjosiah') with large, exquisitely shaped blooms in classic rose pink and with darker tones towards the base of the petals. I thought it had a noticeably fruity scent and it's also said to be almost completely free of disease. It's vigorous, reaching 1.5m/5ft, or can be grown as a climber on a fence, arch or pergola where it will reach about 3m/10ft.

    Finally in this year's collection is Tam O'Shanter (‘Auscerise'). Its widely open sprays of flowers are filled with carmine buds opening to vivid cerise pink flowers in the familiar old rose style with ruffled petals and open centres carrying a light fruity scent. They're held on vigorous arching growth on plants up to 1.8m/6ft high.

    This looks to be an especially good collection from David Austin, you can order plants at the show, or from the David Austin Roses website.


  • H. W. Hyde and Sons – New for Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 19 May 2009 at 05:08 PM

    Lilium 'Flashpoint'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comSome gardeners find lilies difficult to grow. But according to Richard Hyde of H. W. Hyde & Son (Great Pavilion, G21), whose lilies won a Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show this week, it's simple - just give them the right soil. All like good drainage, but some like acid soil and some like alkaline soil. It's that simple.

    And looking over the exhibit this morning I found that in addition to the easy-to-grow double ‘Candy Floss', which I wrote about before the show began, they have quite a range of other new varieties on show. Unlike ‘Candy floss', they're all singles - and, I have to say, all the better for it. I just like the clean look - especially when the flowers are as large as these.

    Picking up Richard's mention of soil, ‘Flashpoint', for example, insists on alkaline soil but what a stunning flower! Huge blooms in deep sultry red with a neat cream edging - in a container by the front door they'd be stupendous. ‘Gizmo', in pure white with a green heart, is also good on limey soil.

    Lilium 'Starburst'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comFor acid soil - and either soil is easy to achieve in a pot simply by using the appropriate compost - there's ‘Bacardi' in deep red, ‘Dark Sensation' in red with a white edge, ‘Frankfurt' in deep yellow. ‘Jetamie' in rose pink, and ‘Joop' in yellow. ‘Starburst', as you can see from the picture, is especially dramatic with large white flowers, each petal with a central yellow flash which turns to red towards the tip and with an attractive delicate spotting.

    Richard Hyde, who put the Gold Medal winning exhibit together told me: "When looking for new lilies to introduce I like to choose those which are attractively marked - in the rest of Europe they prefer plain colours, but British gardeners like intensively marked flowers. And I also look for a good strong stem and tolerance of virus diseases."

    These new varieties can be ordered at the show or will be available on the H. W. Hyde & Son website after Richard has had a day's rest at the end of the show! 

  • City of Durban – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 19 May 2009 at 12:59 PM

    Streptocarpus gardenii - white form. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comOn the City of Durban exhibit in the Great Pavilion (B6) at the Chelsea Flower Show, Lynne Dibley pointed out a new form of a wild Streptocarpus species which she and her husband had collected in South Africa.

    Streptocarpus gardenii usually has red stems holding very pale blue flowers with a green throat and a few striking purple streaks on the lip. But in a wooded ravine high in the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa in January 2008 they found a white form. In fact it's white with the same green throat and the same red stems - and also the same long narrow leaves.

    Having been found so recently, the plant is still being assessed but coming from high the mountains, at about 900m/3000ft, this white form of S. gardenii may well prove harder than many streptocarpus - although often it's not the cold which kills them in Britain but wet soil late in the winter.

    This white form of S. gardenii is not yet for sale but other species are available on the Dibleys website.



  • Raymond Evison Clematis – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 19 May 2009 at 09:51 AM

    Clematis Fleuri (‘Evipo0421’). Image: ©RHSAnother Gold Medal for Raymond Evison's clematis here at the Chelsea Flower Show- "the best stand we've ever done," he told me - and four excellent new varieties. I wrote about ‘Diana's Delight' before the show and of the other three Fleuri (‘Evipo0421') stood out for me.

    Reaching just 1.2-1.8m/4-6ft in height, it's ideal in small gardens, for containers and around patios. The velvety purple, 12.5-15cm/5-6in single flowers feature a reddish central stripe; the colour is very intense, plants produce masses of flowers in early and mid summer and the flowers are carried right up the stem.

    Clematis Ooh La La™ (‘Evipo041’). Image: ©RHSRaymond's other Chelsea introductions this year are Ooh La LaTM (‘Evipo041') in rose pink, each 10-12.5cm/4-5in flower with a vivid central strip to each petal in early to midsummer. Clematis ChevalierTM (‘Evipo040') flowers in early and mid-summer then again in late summer and early autumn, the rather starry mid blue flowers open in velvety purple and develop a twist to the petals as they age.

    All these new clematis - and all the thirty seven Raymond Evison has introduced - are the fruits of his breeding programme at his nursery in Guernsey. "Every year we make about 2,500 controlled crosses between selected parent plants," he explained. "These produce about 25-35,000 seeds and from them we usually grow on about 6-8,000 seedlings. After a year we select the best 200 to grow on for more assessment and eight to ten years later we may finally introduce up to about ten. Most of these will be garden plants but we also create varieties intended as pot plants.

    "For the garden I'm looking for good compact growth, flowers all along the stem and good colours but there are still some colours that I haven't yet perfected. I'm still looking for a true red and a true blue but they have to have same good garden qualities as our other varieties. And yellow of course - we're on the way to a good yellow, but it will be a while yet."

    All these new clematis can be ordered at the show, will soon be widely available in good garden centres or can be ordered from the Raymond Evison Clematis website where you'll also find lists of stockists.


  • Peter Beales Roses – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 18 May 2009 at 09:13 PM

    Rose 'Highgrove'. Image: ©RHSNew roses are always a big thing at the Chelsea Flower Show, but gone are the days of eight or ten rose nurseries all vying for our attention. Things have changed, there are just three rose nurseries this ear, the new roses are more varied and, it has to be said, often more interesting.

    Peter Beales began as an enthusiast for old roses and he remains Britain’s leading authority. But he and his daughter Amanda have also been raising and introducing new roses – this year they have three.

    ‘Highgrove’, launched at Chelsea this evening by Prince Charles whose home is commemorated in the name, is a climbing rose in an old fashioned style. The Prince was in need of a rose to climb over the new Oak Pavilion that replaced an old cedar which had come to the end of its days; it had become diseased and so was removed. He approached Peter Beales for a suggestion and the match was made.

    Raised originally by the late Colin Horner, a past president of the Royal National Rose Society, ‘Highgrove’ produces full clusters of crimson purple flowers set against glossy, dark green foliage. It has a light citrus scent and, although a climber, is not so vigorous as to be difficult in small gardens. In fact it can also be grown as a large shrub.

    You can order the new rose ‘Highgrove’ at  the show or, soon, online at the Peter Beales website. A percentage of the sale price of every rose is donated to the Prince's Charities Foundation.

    Earlier this evening, Her Majesty the Queen was shown the rose, and the impressive exhibit staged by Peter Beales Roses, by Peter Beales who founded the nursery some thirty years ago.

  • Hippopottering Nursery - New at Chelsea '09

    Graham Rice on 18 May 2009 at 04:46 PM

    Acer palmatum ‘Ruubi inju’. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThe quiet elegance of the maples shown by Hippopottering Nursery (Great Pavilion, F21) is a welcome relief after so many brilliant colours in the Great Pavilion. For these garden-sized maples, it’s the elegant habit of the shrub and the detail in the shape and pattern in the foliage which is their appeal. They have two new varieties here at the Chelsea Flower Show this year.

    Acer palmatum ‘Ruubi inju’ (Japanese for red ribbons) is a very unusual maple. The leaves open in bright orange and steadily become more purplish but as they mature they also develop a twist in each division of the leaf revealing the green undersides. It’s a feature that repays close attention. The twenty year old plant on the exhibit is about 1.2m/5ft tall and as much across and makes a very elegant plant.

    Most cut-leaved maples are forms of A. palmatum but ‘Harvest Moon’, the other newcomer on Hippopottering Nursery, is a cut-leaved form of the Japanese maple, Acer japonicum. The fresh green foliage is repeatedly dissected, so it’s very lacy, and held on contrasting red stems. Then, in the autumn, the whole plant develops fantastic autumn colour. Again, it reaches about 1.2m/5ft tall and about the same in its spread so is an ideal specimen in a small garden.

    You can order both these new maples at the show, and they’ll soon be listed on the Hippopottering Nursery website.


  • Blackmore and Langdon – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 18 May 2009 at 04:22 PM

    Begonia 'Millie'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comBlackmore and Langdon have been exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show longer than almost anyone with a host of Gold Medals and still their success continues.

    They are now well known for bringing together two slightly unlikely specialities - delphiniums and begonias and they've become truly expert in showing these two groups together. And at this year's show they have a gorgeous new begonia -‘Millie'.

    "This plant was first identified as a winner way back in 1993," Nick Langdon told me, "but it's taken us all these years to build up enough stock for it to be introduced. We can't propagate these begonias in the laboratory by tissue culture because sometimes the flowers suffer from colour run, the colour just isn't stable. So we propagate them by cuttings in the traditional way and during that time we've been using it as a parent to raise more new varieties."

    So what's so special about ‘Millie' that it's worth waiting all this time? The large, but very elegant flowers are a soft coral pink with the addition of a delightful ruffle to the petals which gives them real style.

    Look out for Begonia ‘Millie' soon on the Blackmore and Langdon website.



  • Westcountry Nurseries – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 17 May 2009 at 09:04 PM

    Lupinus 'Beefeater'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comFor many years Woodfield Nurseries staged impressive stands of lupins against the side of the Great Pavilion at the Chelsea Flower Show, the vibrant ranks of colour standing out from far away. Now Westcountry Nurseries (Great Pavilion, G27) are carrying on this fine tradition with their own exhibits and also carrying on the tradition of creating new varieties. This year Sarah Conibear, who runs Westcountry Nurseries, has what looks to be the best red lupin we've seen so far - ‘Beefeater'.

    From purple tinted buds, long spikes of scarlet flowers pack the stem and each has a small orange flash in the throat creating bright spark of colour. The foliage is strong and deep green.

    "I always look for plants where the flowers are well packed along the stem, so the stem doesn't show between them, and for good healthy green foliage," Sarah told me. "And there's another other crucial feature; I like plants where the bottom flowers on the spike are still looking good when the flowers at the top open. And of course they all have good scent."

    You can order the new ‘Beefeater' lupin at the show or from the Westcountry Nurseries website where you'll also find more new varieties which were not at the show.



  • Big Plant Nursery – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 17 May 2009 at 08:51 PM

    Ginkgo biloba 'Pixie'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThe Big Plant Nursery has what is perhaps an unexpected new plant on its Chelsea Flower Show exhibit (Great Pavilion, E18) this year - a dwarf ginkgo. Gingko biloba ‘Pixie' is exactly that. In fact, Barrie Jordon of The Big Plant Nursery told me, it's like a natural bonsai of a ginkgo.

    "‘Pixie' branches when it's young then only grows about 7.5cm/3in a year so it remains a small and elegant plant. The leaves are also a particularly dark green shade and are more clearly marked with veins than most ginkgos. Another interesting feature," he told me, "is the fact that the leaves are not just split into two lobes as they are in most ginkgos, each lobe is split again to create a multilobed leaf."

    And ‘Pixie' is a great plant for containers. "Like other gingkos, ‘Pixie' is an excellent plant to grow in a pot and ginkgos never get pot bound. They seem to know when their roots reach the edge of the pit and instead of just spiralling round and round as most plants do they seem to stop growing. The top growth just puts out leaves and hardly grows. Then, if you put the plant in the ground it starts growing normally."

    ‘Pixie', though, is special in that it always stays dwarf. The original plant was found as a seedling on the nursery by now-retired propagator Ian Fitzroy. All ginkgo varieties are grafted on to ordinary Ginkgo biloba seedlings which The Big Plant Nursery raise themselves and Ian spotted this odd one out in a long row of otherwise more or less identical plants. "It was his passion for ginkgos that got us all under the spell," said Barrie.

    You can order Ginkgo biloba ‘Pixie' here at the Show, or online soon on the ginkgo pages at The Big Plant Nursery website.



  • Hart's Nursery – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 17 May 2009 at 04:40 PM

    Lilium 'Melissimo'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comAmongst the luscious lilies on the display on the Hart's Nursery exhibit (Great Pavilion, C1) are two varieties which are so new that stock of bulbs is still being built up - but it's great to see them at the show in an early preview.

    ‘Melissimo' is amazing. An Oriental lily with absolutely huge white flowers which much be 30cm/12in across edged in purple to create a delightful picotee this would be spectacular in a pot.

    ‘Hyde Park' is a vivid orange Longiflorum Asiatic hybrid and others of this type it's lime tolerant and easy to grow in most borders or in pots as long as the soil is well-drained.

    Lilium 'Hyde Park'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comLorraine Hart, who runs Hart's Nursery, told me: "We can show the flowers here at Chelsea to give people a look at what's coming along in a couple of years time, but it takes time for stock of bulbs to bulk up and we only sell top size bulbs. We also have to make sure that the plants are easy to grow and flower well."

    Keep a watch on the Hart's Nursery website for news on when these varieties will be available.


  • Chrysanthemums Direct – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 17 May 2009 at 04:11 PM

    Chrysanthemum 'Tim Wonnacott'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comMartyn Flint has recently made a dramatic transition from growing alpines in Susex to growing chrysanthemums in Cheshire and at his first Chelsea Flower Show with Chrysanthemums Direct (Great Pavilion, C27) he has a splendid new variety on show.

    ‘Tim Wonnacott' is new anemone-centred chrysanthemum in a bright vibrant yellow. It's an all-year-round spray chrysanth which is ideal to grow outside in pot and then as it comes into flower in November - yes, November - it just needs a little protection from the frost to protect the flowers. In a front porch it's ideal and brings visitors a sunny welcome.

    It can be grown naturally as a spray, or the side buds can be removed to allow the lead flower to become larger; the picture shows both types on display here at Chelsea.

    Named for the bow-tied presenter of BBC TV's Bargain Hunt, who's a friend of Martyn Flint, Tim asked that 20p from the sale of each plant be donated to St Catherine's Hospice in Crawley in West Sussex.

    Now, how about that move from alpines to chrysanthemums? For more than twenty years Martyn worked at Ingwersen's the world famous alpine nursery. When it closed, he made the transition to growing chrysanthemums.

    You can order Chrysanthemum ‘Tim Wonnacott' at the show or online at the Chrysanthemums Direct website.



  • Hardy Plant Society – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 16 May 2009 at 08:41 PM

    Geranium phaeum 'Mottisfont Rose'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comChelsea exhibits from The Hardy Plant Society are always fascinating with so many unusual plants grown by members of the Society brought together on one intriguing exhibit. Two new plants on their exhibit (Grand Pavilion, E12) stand out this year.

    Geranium phaeum ‘Mottisfont Rose' is a new form of a very familiar species. Found in the world famous rose garden at Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire by two Hardy Plant Society members, its attractively rounded flowers are mauve pink with a distinct white eye. As stock is bulked up, it will be avalable from Birchwood Plants in Hampshire, the nursery run by the two members who found the plant.

    Actaea pachypoda 'Pewter and Pearls'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comFrom member Kevin Hughes, who also runs his own nursery as well as the plant centre at Heale House in Wiltshire, comes the first silver leaved Actaea. This is one of the American woodland species, A. pachypoda, which usually features neatly toothed, rose-like leaves, puffs of creamy flowers and then white berries. This form features foliage with a distinct silvery sheen adding a whole new level of sophistication to this invaluable woodlander and bringing a little light into shady places. It's been named, very aptly, ‘Pewter and Pearls'. In due course it will be available from Kevin Hughes's Plants nursery near Salisbury.

    Also on the stand is Geranium sylvaticum ‘Hilary, also featured on the exhibit from Hardys Cottage Garden Plants.


  • Hardys Cottage Garden Plants – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 16 May 2009 at 07:41 PM

    Adenophora triphylla Albiflora Group and Silene dioica 'Firefly'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comFirst stop for many Chelsea visitors - and for me too now that I'm actually down at the showground as everything's coming together - is Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants (Grand Pavilion, F13) where plants are so thoughtfully arranged that the total is always greater than the sum of even such beautifully grown specimens. This year Rob and Rosy Hardy have four newcomers.

    Adenophora triphylla Albaflora Group is tall, 1.2-1.5m/4-5ft and elegant plant, with lilac tinted white bells hung delicately along the stem rather like a wild foxglove. The foliage is a dark rich green and the bell-shaped flowers, with five points around the rim, open pure white and develop lilac tinges as they age with a clear dark rim to each flower.

    This was a seedling found on the nursery at Hardys Cottage Garden Plants, and for the back of the perennial border or amongst shrubs this looks to be a valuable addition.

    Geranium sylvaticum 'Hilary'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThere may already be far more hardy geraniums than we actually need, but Geranium sylvaticum ‘Hilary' looks to be a cut above the rest. Another plant raised on the nursery, its flared single flowers are pale pink, darkest as they first open, with darker pink veins. A hybrid between the usual blue form and the white form, the cross produced five pinkish seedlings and this was chosen as the pick of the bunch.

    The plant is also featured on the Hardy Plant Society exhibit (Grand Pavilion, E12) and when it was clear that plants would be ready for the show - it needed a name. Rosy Hardy and the HPS were talking it over with Hilary Ditchmore, the invaluable nursery manager at Hardys whose been with them since just after Chelsea in 1993, and the answer was obvious - Geranium sylvaticum ‘Hilary'

    Hardy's also have Silene dioica ‘Firefly', a new double form of the familiar red campion. It features arching sprays of unusually vivid, magenta pink flowers packed with petals, is very prolific and even lasts well in water to spark up cottage style arrangements.

    Finally, Hardys also have their new Scabiosa africana ‘Jocelyn' which I wrote up here three months ago.

    Look out for them all as they appear on the Hardys Cottage Garden Plants website.


  • Lily ‘Candy Floss’ – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 14 May 2009 at 02:18 PM

    Lily 'Candy Floss'. Image: ©H. W. Hyde and SonThe lilies from H. W. Hyde and Son are always a spectacle. At the Harrogate Spring Show they won a Gold Medal this year and Best in Show last year plus a Gold Medal at last year's Chelsea Flower Show.

    This year they have one very special lily on show, a new double flowered Oriental Hybrid that's cut above other recent doubles.

    "Up until now all double Orientals have been 'Miss Lucy' types," Richard Hyde told me. "These are hard to grow, have poor weak foliage and the flowers tend to burn in sunlight. Plus, if that isn't enough, the bulbs are very susceptible to rotting.

    "Often at shows visitors ask what they're doing wrong. They tend to go away much happier when we explain that even we find them very difficult to grow.

    "'Candy Floss' is from a totally different breeding line. It produces big healthy bulbs, very healthy foliage and extremely strong stems with up to fifteen flowers on each.

    "On our display we hope to have plants of both, side by side, you will be amazed at the difference!"

    Well, need I say more?! Be sure to see ‘Candy Floss' on the H. W. Hyde and Son stand in the Great Pavilion (G21) where you can order bulbs, look out for it in the BBC TV coverage or you can order online.



  • Clematis ‘Geoffrey Tolver’ – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 13 May 2009 at 11:23 AM

    Clematis 'Geoffrey Tolver'. Image: ©Thorncroft Clematis NurseryThis year Thorncroft Clematis Nursery in Norfolk celebrates twenty years of clematis sales to gardeners. To mark the occasion, at the Chelsea Flower Show next week (stand F6 in the Great Pavilion) they're launching a splendid new variety named for one of the founders of the nursery. ‘Geoffrey Tolver' is named for the father of Ruth Gooch, who now runs Thorncroft with husband John and son Peter. So what sort of a clematis is it?

    The 6.5-9cm/2.5-3.5in flowers are deep reddish purple with a soft velvety sheen and an intriguing feature of each bloom is the cluster of stamens in the centre: with purple anthers held on white filaments (stalks) the result is a purple-tipped white cone which unfurls to reveal the two-tone, purple-tipped white stamens.

    ‘Geoffrey Tolver' has blood of both climbing clematis and herbaceous perennial clematis in its background: it's a cross between C. florida and C. x durandii, the latter itself being a cross between C. lanuginosa and the herbaceous C. integrifolia. The result is a plant reaching only 2-2.5m/6-8ft in height, scrambling rather than clinging and flowering from June to September. It can be cut back hard each spring to keep it to a manageable size, and it's ideal for large containers or to train through shrubs.

    They'll have other new clematis on the Chelsea exhibit, check back here for details next week.

    You can order Clematis ‘Geoffrey Tolver' at the show, or order from the Thorncroft Clematis website. And you also check out the history of Thorncroft Clematis Nursery.



  • Streptocarpus - New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 11 May 2009 at 03:27 PM

    Streptocarpus 'Hannah'. Image ©DibleysOne of the much anticipated highlights of the Floral Pavilion at the Chelsea Flower Show is always the stand from Dibleys featuring mainly Streptocarpus - sometimes called the Cape Primrose. In twenty years at Chelsea Dibleys have won nineteen Gold Medals - that's impressive.

    And every year, along with their fascinating and beautifully staged exhibit, they introduce some new varieties and this year they'll be launching two new streptocarpus on stand D4. Both have flowers about 5cm/2in across, both are very prolific, both will flower for about ten months of the year and both are fairly compact.

    The subtle pastel colouring of ‘Hannah' is especially appealing, its rose pink flowers open quite pale and become a richer pink after a couple of days. The creamy yellow throat pales almost to white as it extends on to the lower part of the flower. The seven short purple streaks in the throat complete the picture.

    Streptocarpus 'Hope'. Image ©Dibleys'Hope' is a much stronger colour. The lower lobes of the flower are a velvety reddish purple while the upper lobes are overlaid in white. Slender yellow streaks in the throat add a flash of bright light. Sales of ‘Hope' are supporting Hope House, a children's hospice with two facilities - one in Oswestry in Shropshire and another in Conwy in North Wales. Dibleys will donate 5p to Hope House for every plant of ‘Hope' sold.

    You can order plants of these two new Streptocarpus at the show, or from the Dibleys website.


  • Foxglove ‘Pam’s Split’ – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 10 May 2009 at 08:54 PM

    Foxglove Digitalis 'Pam's Split'. Image ©Thompson and MorganFoxgloves are always a feature at the Chelsea Flower Show. Their elegant upright habit, their long spikes flowers of course their delightfully speckled flowers often make impressive features both on the show gardens and in the Floral Pavilion. Back in 2002 Hillier Nurseries launched an unusual new foxglove, they year sees and even more dramatic variety in the same style Thompson & Morgan.

    Back in 2002 ‘Saltwood Summer' featured prettily speckled white flowers with each flower split into four narrow segments, one slightly longer than the rest. This year sees an altogether more dramatic variety in the same style from Thompson & Morgan. ‘Pam's Split' also has pure white flowers split in the same way but with far bolder and more dramatic wine red spotting. Foxglove Digitalis 'Pam's Split'. Image ©Thompson and Morgan

    Derived from Thompson & Morgan's earlier variety, ‘Pam's Choice', with boldly blotched bright flowers in the traditional form and ‘Pam's Split' has other good qualities. It only reaches 4ft/1.2m high so could even be grown as a specimen in a large container, and unlike many foxgloves it branches well at the base to give a longer succession of flowers.

    Look out for Digitalis ‘Pam's Split' on the Widow's Garden from Scotsdale Garden Centre in Chelsea's Floral Pavilion (stand C18). Seed will be on sale at the show, and will be available by mail order from Thompson & Morgan soon.


  • Sweet pea ‘Leominster Boy’ – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 07 May 2009 at 02:29 PM

    Sweet pea 'Leominster Boy'. Image ©Eagle Sweet PeasThis year Eagle Sweet Peas alone carry the flag for sweet pea growers at the Chelsea Flower Show (stand B17). In recent year's they're shared the spotlight with Matthewman's Sweet Peas but this year their superbly arranged quality sweet peas will be the only sweet pea exhibit in the Great Pavilion. But the annual temptation of their new introductions continues, they have three promising newcomers at the show this year including ‘Leominster Boy'.

    In vivid salmon orange shading to white in the heart of the flower, the large florets make it ideal for the garden, for cutting for the house and for showing. In the garden, I like to grow sweet peas planted on the sunny side of shrubs and climbing up into their foliage. ‘Leominster Boy' would look superb scrambling into yellow-leaved privet or ‘Black Lace' elder, just be prepared to give the sweet peas an occasional soak from the watering can in dry seasons.

    Seed of sweet pea ‘Leominster Boy', and of their many other varieties, will be available at the show and after the show from Eagle Sweet Peas.



  • Cordyline ‘Southern Splendour’ – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 05 May 2009 at 12:08 PM

    Cordyline 'Southern Splendour'. Image ©Hillier GardensHillier Nurseries (stand D16). The slender, upright, sword-like leaves are striped in grey-green, pink shades, brown and almost white with rich pink margins. It's not a quick grower, rarely reaches more than 1.2m/4ft in five years with a spread of about 1m/90cm, and has very short internodes (the length of stem between the leaves) - all qualities which make it ideal for containers,

    In a container planting it would benefit from something bushy or billowy around the base but don't choose anything too low and trailing: many impatiens, for example, are too dwarf and wrong in proportion. The rarely seen Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens Variegata' would match the colouring well but is hard to find. Better, perhaps, the old favourite silver-leaved Helichrysum petiolare or its limy-leaved variety ‘Limelight'.

    Cordyline ‘Southern Splendour' arose in New Zealand over ten years ago as a variegated sport of the better known ‘Red Star'.

    Look out for Cordyline ‘Southern Splendour' at Hillier garden centres, at other garden centres around the country and at these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.



  • Iris ‘Broadleigh Fenella' - New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 04 May 2009 at 01:50 AM

    Iris 'Broadleigh Fenella'. Image ©Broadleigh GardensOver the years, Christine Skelmersdale has raised a continuing succession of delightful Pacific Coast irises many of which made their debut at the Chelsea Flower Show. Indeed, along with her eclectic blend of bulbs and other plants they've been a continuing feature of her exhibit. This year another new one is unveiled.

    Like its predecessors, ‘Broadleigh Fenella' is named for Christine's nursery, Broadleigh Gardens in Somerset. The nursery specialises not only in Pacific Coast irises but also in dwarf daffodils, indeed the nursery was founded in the 1940s by daffodil breeder Alec Gray, creator of the well known 'Tete a Tete'. Now Christine also lists a wide range of other choice bulbs and woodland plants.

    ‘Broadleigh Fenella' is particularly striking. With its rich purple darkly veined falls, prettily edged in white, combined with upright standards which fade to cream in the centre it's an ideal stand-out for the front of the border.

    Broadleigh Gardens exhibit at Chelsea '06. Image ©Broadleigh Gardens"We named our first hybrid in 1972," Christine said, "and our irises have been the central feature of our Chelsea Exhibit since 1973. The first was named after my mother-in law Ann and established a tradition of naming each new introduction after a female member of the family. Over the years a few friends and employees have crept in as well! ‘Broadleigh Fenella' is named for our daughter-in-law."

    ‘Broadleigh Fenella' is typical of the series in flowering for about six weeks in late spring. A mature plant can produce literally hundreds of flowers and, reaching only 40cm/16in in height, these are ideal front of the border plants in partial shade as long as the soil is not too limey.

    You can order plants or ‘Broadleigh Fenella', and of others in the series, at the show or at the Broadleigh Gardens website.


  • Rose Kew Gardens – New at Chelsea ‘09

    Graham Rice on 02 May 2009 at 01:54 AM

    Rose Kew Gardens ('Ausfence'). Image ©David Austin RosesFrom now for the next three weeks you'll find more posts than usual here on my RHS New Plants blog as I bring you updates on all the hot new plants revealed at this year's Chelsea Flower Show. Yes, the plan is to cover every single one. And last year there were almost a hundred.

    I've been getting news of some of them in advance of the show. Then, at the show itself, I'll be hunting out more and checking to see if those announced early really live up to expectations.

    One of the most intriguing new plants for this year is a new thornless rose from David Austin Roses. Marking the 40th anniversary of David Austin's English Roses and the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew it's called Kew Gardens (‘Ausfence').

    This is an English Hybrid Musk with prolific heads of pure white single flowers, shading to lemon at the base of the petals, and opening from apricot buds. Blooming for many months from June to the end of the season, its upright habit and modest height, (just 1.5m/5ft) make it ideal for the back of a mixed border.

    Actually, I'm wondering if it might also be a success trained on a wall or fence, especially as it repeatedly produces new stems from the base; that means the flowers will not all be at the top of the plant. As to scent, I'll be checking that out at the Show. And of course it's thornless, one of the very very few thornless roses, ideal when there are boisterous young children running around the garden.

    You can order rose Kew Gardens (‘Ausfence') after its launch at Chelsea, in the meantime find out more about David Austin Roses.