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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

Barton Nurseries: New at Hampton Court ‘09

Posted by Graham Rice on 10 Jul 2009 at 08:36 AM

Most of the new plants at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show are to be found on the exhibits in the Floral Marquee. But out on the Plant Plots, the outdoor exhibits grouped in clusters behind the Floral Marquee and in front of the Tudor Rose Festival, I spotted three new double-flowered echinaceas.

Echinacea purpurea 'Meringue'. Image: GardenPhotos.comBarton Nurseries from Cambridgeshire featured a range of colourful perennials and amongst them were some of the latest double flowered echinaceas from The Netherlands. All three were developed by the Dutch Breeder Arie Blom who's created an impressive range of double echinaceas which are intended both as cut flowers and as border perennials.

Echinacea purpurea ‘Meringue' (above, click to enlarge) has green buds which open to fully double creamy white flowers, the petals steadily unfurling around the green eye. As the flower develops, the flat outer petals turn downwards while the tubular central petals form a creamy dome. ‘Meringue' is one of the shorter of the new double flowered forms, reaching about 45cm/18in in height and this a definite advantage as the compact habit lessens the chance of the heavy double flowers needing staking.

Echinacea purpurea 'Pink Sorbet'. Image: GardenPhotos.comBarton Nurseries also featured ‘Pink Sorbet' which is also self supporting but in a different way. The long flat ray petals develop first and start to roll back, then the masses of shorter pink petals in the cone develop over a long period. This is a taller variety, about 4ft/1.2m, but its stems are unusually stout so it supports its flowers well. The stems are relatively unbranched so are ideal as cut flowers although they also have quite a presence towards the back of the border.

Finally, Echinacea purpurea ‘Milkshake' While the central eye of ‘Meringue' is green, in ‘Milkshake' the eye is honey yellow and at first the flower is rather flat with the yellow eye surrounded by a ring of short upright rays and then a ring of broader, flat rays. Then as the flowers develop, as with other varieties, the outer rays turn down and the cones erupts. ‘Milkshake' is taller than many, 90cm/3ft, and the sturdy stems branch well.

You can buy these three new echinaceas at the Show, but Barton Nurseries is a wholesale grower and does sell to home gardeners except at shows so look out for these new echinaceas in garden centres.

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