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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

Recent Comments

  • Five to Jive: Perennials to look for in 2010

    Graham Rice on 31 Dec 2009 at 01:25 PM

    Acanthus,Digitalis,Euphorbia,Geum,Leucanthemum - new in 2010. Images ©. Do not reproduce without permission.On this the last day of the year, I'm looking ahead to 2010 and picking out five perennials to watch for in the coming year (click the picture to enlarge it). One or two may have been available in very restricted quantities recently, but I expect all to become available by mail order during the year.

    Digitalis ‘Goldcrest' With gorgeous honey-gold spikes, this is a hybrid between Digitalis obscura and D. grandiflora from David Tristram, who also raised the new hellebore hybrid I wrote up here recently. It's sterile and so is very prolific, with strong upright stems lined with those gold flowers which are speckled inside and red-tinted on the outside.

    Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow' A new variegated euphorbia reckoned to be hardier and easier too grow than so many of the others we've seen. Found in Australia as a sport of plain, green-leaved E. x martinii, the foliage combines bluish green and cream with extra reddish pink tones in winter.

    Acanthus ‘Whitewater' A startling new acanthus with non-spiny foliage boldly variegated in white and bright pink and with white flowers on red stems. This hybrid of Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty' is slow to get started but matures into a bold clump up to 4ft/1.2m tall.

    Leucanthemum ‘Banana Cream' The best yellow flowered Shasta daisy yet. Opening in lemon yellow and maturing to buttery yellow and then cream, flowers emerge from the leaf joints below the first flower to extend the flowering season.

    Geum coccineum ‘Eos' From ace Dutch breeder Marco van Noort, who also brought us Geranium ‘Sweet Heidy', this new geum brings together bright orange flowers and bright golden yellow foliage in a fiery combination.

    Look out for these in the coming year, when I find sources for them I'll let you know.


  • Six penstemons: New from Hayloft Plants.

    Graham Rice on 27 Dec 2009 at 12:52 PM

    Penstemon 'Pensham Skies' - new from Hayloft Plants/Edward WilsonEdward Wilson began breeding penstemons in the little Worcestershire village of Pensham in 1985. In all he raised almost seventy varieties before he passed away in August and his final introductions from his breeding programme are now available from Hayloft Plants.

    These include ‘Pensham Skies', the last variety he named - just a week before he passed away. As his wife Stella left Pershore Cottage Hospital that afternoon she looked at the sky and noted how similar its blue and purplish tones were to the plant he'd just named.

    Also available for the first time is ‘Ted's Purple', finally naming a variety after himself - after much persuasion from his family. In deep, rich purple with flickering white highlights in the throat, like many of his introductions it's derived from his favourite ‘Pensham Just Jane' and has the same stout stems and long flowering period.

    Also new is the pure white, with blushed buds, ‘Louise Wilson', named after Edward's daughter. ‘Marilyn' is vivid pink with a white throat, ‘St James' is scarlet Penstemon 'Freshwater Pearl' - new from Hayloft Plants/Edward Wilsonwith a red and white throat and named for a school in Malvern that raised money for the Desmond Tutu School in South Africa. ‘ Freshwater Pearl' is a lovely pale pearly pink with a white throat and a fine companion for ‘Pensham Skies'.

    Ideal in sunny borders or large containers, they begin flowering in may or June and - especially if dead-headed regularly, will continue to bloom even into November.

    You can order these varieties as a collection, or individually, from the Hayloft Plants penstemon page.



  • Green-edged petunias: Update and look ahead

    Graham Rice on 21 Dec 2009 at 02:39 PM

    Petunia 'Midnight Eclipse'. Image: SuttonsBack in February I mentioned a new petunia from Suttons that was needing a name.

    Well, I just thought I'd mention that the winning entry in their competition to name the plant was  - ‘Moonlight Eclipse'.

    The blue flowers have a very dark throat and are edged in green - a unique combination. And the flowers are carried not on vigorous trailing plants that get in the way but on plants with a neater, bushier habit of growth.

    And here's another with a green edge, ‘Pretty Much Picasso'. With its startling combination of vivid magenta purple flowers with a green edge and a blue Petunia 'Pretty Much Picasso' - 2010. Image: Suttonspurple throat it's another love-it-or-loathe-it variety. More upright in habit than many, it's said to be "self cleaning", that is the flowers don't need dead heading as they drop off naturally.

    Petunia 'Moonlight Eclipse' is available from Suttons.

    Petunia ‘Pretty Much Picasso' is not yet available in catalogues, as far as I can see, but may well be in a few garden centres next year. If I get any news I'll let you know.  

  • New dicentras from Japan

    Graham Rice on 18 Dec 2009 at 10:10 PM

    Dicentra 'Fire Island' - new Japanese dicentra hybrid from Akira Shiozaki. Image: ©Luc KlinkhamerLast month I wrote up a new dicentra from Japan - Dicentra 'Burning Hearts'. I had so many comments, emails, tweets and even a phone call about it that over on my Transatlantic Plantsman blog - recently shortlisted for the Garden Blog of the Year award! - I've discussed all the varieties in this series and others, like Fire Island (seen here, click to enlarge), from the same Japanese breeder.

    These look to be genuinely valuable new plants for shade. Just click here to take a look


  • Helleborus Walberton’s Rosemary: New in RHS plant centres

    Graham Rice on 18 Dec 2009 at 01:42 PM

    Helleborus Walberton's Rosemary ('Walhero') - H. niger, H. x hybridus. Image: ©Farplants

    Something important is happening this month... In the run up to Christmas and into January the RHS plant centres will be stocking a new hybrid between H. niger, the Christmas Rose, and H. x hybridus, the Lenten Rose, for the first time. And, from what I've seen. it looks to be a great plant


  • Caryopteris Sterling Silver: New multi-season shrub

    Graham Rice on 11 Dec 2009 at 02:23 PM

    Caryopteris Sterling Silver  (‘Lissilv’) - good foliage, good flowers. Image: © with both good foliage and good flowers are always welcome, especially in small gardens where the benefit of being rewarded by two seasons of colour from one plant is invaluable.

    Caryopteris, long known for their prolific late summer and autumn flowers, have been receiving a great deal of attention from plant breeders recently - in particular, new forms with gold or silver foliage have appeared. And one of the best is Sterling Silver  (‘Lissilv').

    With its intensely silver foliage it makes a superb foliage plant from spring into the fall and then in September and October the clusters of bright blue flowers appear.

    Just as easy to grow as other caryopteris - sun, soil that is not too wet, prune hard in spring - Sterling Silver  (‘Lissilv') was raised by veteran shrub breeder Peter Catt. Honoured by the RHS with the Veitch Memorial Medal (VMM), Peter's first introduction was the well known Choisya Sundance almost twenty five years ago.

    For many years Peter had sought to combine intensely silver foliage with a prolific show of  intense violet-blue flowers and after sowing and examining thousands of seedlings only one achieved his high standards - Sterling Silver  (‘Lissilv').

    Caryopteris Sterling Silver  (‘Lissilv') is available from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries and is now becoming more widely available.

    For more on Caryopteris take a look at:
    RHS Caryopteris Plant Bulletin (free download)
    American plant breeder Tim Wood's blog



  • Three heucheras: New from Plantagogo

    Graham Rice on 04 Dec 2009 at 11:08 AM

    Heuchera 'Electric Lime' - New from Plantagogo’ Image: ©Terra Nova NurseriesHeucheras are now the second most popular perennials with RHS members, so with three brand new varieties available to order it only seems reasonable to feature them. They are ‘Electric Lime', ‘Midnight Bayou', and ‘Shanghai'.

    All are from the extensive Heuchera breeding programme at Terra Nova Nurseries in Portland, Oregon.

    ‘Electric Lime' makes a big plant. In summer, its large leaves in a tight mound are rather like those of the well-known ‘Citronelle', plain lime-tinted yellow. And there's a bonus of white flowers. Then in cool conditions the foliage develops red veins a little like ‘Tiramisu'. Looks impressive.Heuchera 'Midnight bayou' - New from Plantagogo’ Image: ©Terra Nova Nurseries

    ‘Midnight Bayou' is an extraordinary colour. Reddish purple, or even simply red, with black veins in the summer, in winter the foliage becomes much more purplish and more silvery. It makes a large plant, topped with pink flowers.

    Heuchera 'Shanghai' - New from Plantagogo’ Image: ©Terra Nova NurseriesFinally, there's ‘Shanghai' which has proved one of the best of all heucheras for retaining good looking foliage right through the winter. Silvery purple leaves look good all year round then re-blooming all through the summer are white flowers on purple stems. Great combination.

    These three heucheras are all available from Plantagogo - scroll through the extensive list till you get to them.