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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

The Sun (Part Two): New at Hampton Court ‘09

Posted by Graham Rice on 13 Jul 2009 at 06:36 AM

Verbena 'Strawberry Kiss' Image: ©GardenPhotos.comAs well as the delightful new petunias shown by The Sun at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, they also showed verbenas.

The Sun's Steve Bradley told me that all the verbenas on show were unusually hardy, as hardy as the very tough ‘Homestead Purple' and also ‘Seabrook Lavender' which was on show here this week but launched last year. They also showed ‘Claret' and ‘Strawberry Kiss' (above, click to enlarge) - and this is where things become less simple.

Wine-coloured Verbena ‘Claret' is certainly not a new variety - Steve didn't pretend that it was - but having had its long-standing virus infection removed, the increased vigour and much improved hardiness (it survived last winter in the open garden) means that's almost the same as having a new variety.

But then there's ‘Strawberry Kiss'. This exquisite bicoloured variety (see picture, click to enlarge) is not only lovely in its combination of colours but also features the strongest scent I've ever sniffed in a verbena but a rather floppy habit of growth. Exactly like ‘Pink Parfait'. And that's the problem.

‘Pink Parfait' was introduced here by Hopleys Plants many years ago. They no longer sell it - it's become rather weak and susceptible to mildew, probably because of virus infection. ‘Pink Parfait' is a sport of an old American variety (whose name, I confess, I forget) - but I remember seeing both at the Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery in Oregon many years ago. Like Hopleys, they no longer sell it.

So it looks to me as if ‘Strawberry Kiss' is nothing more than ‘Pink Parfait' with the virus infections removed in the laboratory - and that makes a tremendous difference. I'm delighted to see the gorgeous ‘Pink Parfait' cleaned up so that it grows more vigorously and very pleased to see it made more widely available. But why change the name? Comments anyone? If Verbena ‘Strawberry Kiss' really is different - then please tell me.

Anyway, look out for Verbena ‘Strawberry Kiss' in your local garden centre - and for Verbena ‘Pink Parfait' at these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.



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