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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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Helleborus Walberton’s Rosemary: New in RHS plant centres

Posted by 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.

Over the decades a number of plant breeders have tried to raise this hybrid and there have been quite a few plants talked up as hybrids which proved not to be. There are two others around which it is all but impossible to obtain. Walberton's Rosemary (‘Walhero') is the first that is actually available in plant centres and which has been proved by genetic analysis to be a hybrid.

And, I have to say, Walberton's Rosemary (‘Walhero') looks to be an impressive plant. It combines the outward facing flowers of H. niger with colour from H. x hybridus  and because it's sterile it just keeps on flowering - it starts early, lasts late and produces a large number of pink, white-centred flowers along the way. Last winter my trial plant was in bloom about now and continued into spring.

Walberton's Rosemary (‘Walhero') was raised by plant breeder David Tristram, whose father had a large part in the development of the ‘Potter's Wheel' Christmas rose in the 1960s. David crossed one of his own selected seedlings of ‘Potters Wheel' with a reddish H. x hybridus. In fact he tried this many times and finally raised just this one seedling. 
Helleborus Walberton's Rosemary ('Walhero') - H. niger, H. x hybridus. Image: ©Farplants

Last year I first wrote about this plant, then announced the genetic proof of it being a hybrid. Now Walberton's Rosemary (‘Walhero')  is available from three out of the four RHS plants centres: Wisley, Rosemoor, Hyde Hall. Unfortunately there just isn't enough stock to supply all four.

You can read more about H. niger and its various hybrids in the December issue of The Garden. And you can read about the attempts, and successes in crossing H. niger with H. x hybridus is the December issue of The Plantsman.

 

Comments

Miranda Hodgson said:

Now that's lovely!

on 18 Dec 2009 at 02:38 PM

Graham Rice said:

It IS lovely, Miranda, isn't it! I think hybrids like this are going to be important new winter perennials.

on 18 Dec 2009 at 10:31 PM

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on 19 Dec 2009 at 12:08 AM