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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

Catwalk in Bloom: New at Hampton Court '09

Posted by Graham Rice on 08 Jul 2009 at 01:54 PM

Dahlia 'Knockout'. Image: GardenPhotos.comThere are not many people who breed plants as different as dahlias and sweet peas and clivias - in fact I can only think of one. Dr Keith Hammett, from New Zealand, is one of the world's leading plant breeders and his dahlias and sweet peas are widely grown. He also breeds Dianthus, Primula and Clivia. He was featured in the RHS magazine The Plantsman in December last year.

Here at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show I spotted  Dahlia ‘Knockout', his latest, not on a nursery exhibit but amongst the plants used to decorate the Catwalk in Bloom marquee. It was only just coming into flower but it was obvious it's a really spectacular plant.

The foliage is prettily divided and an exceptionally dark mahogany black; the tips of the shoots are a little greener but soon develop the dramatic dark colouring. The single flowers are a vivid, almost fluorescent yellow, with faint slightly reddish veins all surrounding a chocolate eye.

Reaching about 80cm/32in in height, this is a great plant for containers or the summer border and the stems are long enough to cut. The contrast between the brilliant yellow flowers and the dark leaves is very impressive.

‘Knockout' was selected in 2002 from a batch of seedlings which were the result of crossing two unnamed dahlias that Keith had previously raised.

Dahlia ‘Knockout' is on sale at the Show in the Catwalk in Bloom marquee, but it's available from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.



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