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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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Six penstemons: New from Hayloft Plants.

Posted by 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.



Miranda Hodgson said:

I like the look of ‘Pensham Skies' and am very tempted. Are they all hardy, Graham?

on 03 Jan 2010 at 04:54 PM

Graham Rice said:

They're as hardy as most penstemons of this kind, Miranda. That is, they'll get through most winters, especially if cut back by half in November, but are naturally relatively short-lived so are best re-propagated after two or three years. A useful guide is that those with smaller, narrower leaves are hardier than those with large and broad leaves.

on 04 Jan 2010 at 12:27 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

That's worth knowing about with the leaf width, Graham. Useful tip, thank you!

on 05 Jan 2010 at 04:36 PM