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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

  • Top of the Plant Finder charts

    Graham Rice on 29 Apr 2009 at 12:09 PM

    Gaura lindheimeri 'Rosyjane'. Image ©Hardy's Cottage Garden PlantsYes, the plant listed by more nurseries than any other in the latest edition of the RHS Plant Finder is none other than the gorgeous (drum roll...), the delightful (another drum roll...), the altogether unique (even more drums + cymbals...) - It's Gaura lindheimeri 'Rosyjane'.

    Regular readers will have noted the official launch of ‘Rosyjane' at last year's Chelsea Flower Show and its triumphant appearance soon after at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Now it's available from ten RHS Plant Finder nurseries around the country; send your order in soon to be sure of getting a plant.

    Derived from the old favourite ‘Siskiyou Pink', this is the very first bicoloured gaura and one whose unique colouring is captivating gardeners. It was spotted at Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants down in Hampshire and named for Rosy Hardy - a familiar face on the (more often than not) Gold Medal winning exhibits at RHS shows around the country. At 30in/75cm ‘Rosyjane' is taller than many recent gauras, some of which are rather dumpy and characterless, so it retains an appealing airy elegance. Use it in large containers, or in sunny well drained borders where it will come back year after year.

    You can order Gaura lindheimeri 'Rosyjane' from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.



  • New echinacea and sedum in the RHS Plant Finder

    Graham Rice on 26 Apr 2009 at 12:42 PM

    Echinacea 'Tomato Soup'. Image ©Terra Nova NurseriesTwo more hot new perennials today, the second and third of the nurseries' favourites in the new RHS Plant Finder. Only one of this year's newcomers is listed by more nurseries - and we'll get to that next time.  Both these two are excellent plants, and both were raised at Terra Nova Nurseries over in Portland Oregon.

    First ‘Tomato Soup', one of the latest echinaceas raised by Harini Kaliparan and a truly dramatic tomato red colour. And it's that colour which is so outstanding, made even more striking by the fact that the flowers can be up to 12.5cm/5in across. Just be sure to give the plant good winter drainage and, perhaps, a little discreet support as it reaches 90cm/3ft in height.

    Sedum 'Mr Goodbud'. Image ©Terra Nova NurseriesOne of the stars of the recent Sedum trial that ended in 2006 (read the Sedum Trials Bulletin here) was ‘Mr Goodbud'. Raised by Gary Gossett, it's a neat and bushy hybrid between S. spectabile ‘Brilliant' and an unnamed form of S. telephium. The trial revealed that it flowers from early August to mid October, its bright pink flowers held on dark sturdy stems. It's also more compact and sturdier than more familiar varieties like ‘Autumn Joy'. The general consensus was that Sedum ‘Mr Goodbud' was outstanding.

    Both these two American perennials from the world's leading breeder of new perennials are now proving deservedly popular.

    Order Echinacea ‘Tomato Soup’ from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries

    Order Sedum ‘Mr Goodbud’ from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries


  • Popular patio clematis

    Graham Rice on 24 Apr 2009 at 01:26 PM

    Clematis Diana's Delight™ (‘Evipo026’). Image ©Raymond Evison ClematisClematis is our most popular climber but many gardeners are put off growing more than one because they fear their garden will disappear under a vast mass of growth. World renowned clematis breeder Raymond Evison has solved that problem with his series of prolific and long flowering but less vigorous varieties which are ideal for small gardens and for containers.

    His latest, one of the most popular new entries in this year's RHS Plant Finder and already stocked by seven different Plant Finder nurseries, is Diana's DelightTM (‘Evipo026'). Its flowers are an unusual two tone blue with hints of cream creating an appealing subtlety, the cream dissolving into a rich creamy-yellow central eye.

    Clematis Diana's Delight™ (‘Evipo026’). Image ©Raymond Evison ClematisFrom his nursery on Guernsey Raymond told me more: "This new clematis comes from the Evison® & Poulsen® breeding programme and is typical of our new race of free-flowering clematis. It has a compact habit, only growing to 1.2-1.5m/4-5ft, and is very free flowering making it ideal to be grown in a container or for the smaller city garden.

    "Diana's DelightTM is named after Diana Rowland, the wife of the Bailiff of Guernsey, and in trials in her small garden on the north coast of the island it started flowering in mid May, had a rest for four weeks in the middle of the summer and then carried on flowering until November.

    "Its compact habit, free flowering and extended flowering season make it stand out when compared to old cultivars in similar colours such as ‘Lasurstern' or ‘The President'."

    Clematis Diana's DelightTM (‘Evipo026') is available from Raymond Evison Clematis, where you'll also find a list of garden centre stockists across the country, and these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.



  • Tapestry of foliage colour

    Graham Rice on 20 Apr 2009 at 12:26 PM

    Heucherella 'Tapestry'. Image ©Terra Nova NurseriesContinuing our look at the top six new plants in the latest RHS Plant Finder, just out, equal fourth with two others is the invaluable x Heucherella ‘Tapestry'.

    Heucherellas are hybrids between Heuchera and Tiarella and Dan Heims of internationally renowned plant breeders Terra Nova Nurseries in Portland Oregon has created some superb plants in all three genera. This is one of his best.

    The doubly lobed foliage is bluish green in spring, maturing to green with bold purple veins misted in silver in autumn and into the winter. This is all augmented by dusty pink spring flowers. The plants are less tight and compact than many heucheras and will spread steadily at the front of shady borders, make superb specimens in medium sized containers or can be tucked into a corner of some shady steps.

    x Heucherella ‘Tapestry' appreciates light or dappled shade, always try to give it good drainage as it can't stand waterlogged soil. It's lovely with many of the usual spring shade lovers like wood anemones, Iris cristata, silvery Cyclamen coum foliage and more.

    You can order x Heucherella ‘Tapestry' from these seven RHS Plant Finder nurseries.


  • Fiery new sorbus

    Graham Rice on 15 Apr 2009 at 05:25 PM

    Sorbus commixta Olympic Flame ('Dodong')For the next few posts here on the RHS New Plants blog, I'm going to feature the new plants in the latest RHS Plant Finder that are listed by the most nurseries. There is a grand total of 3,760 new entries in this year's Plant Finder and the fact that so many nurseries recognise the merit of these new plants is a good indicator of their quality. So, equal fourth (with two others) out of the top six is a tree - Sorbus commixta Olympic Flame (‘Dodong').

    This is a lovely mountain ash, with unusually large, shiny green foliage up to 30cm long and 20cm wide with fifteen or seventeen leaflets; the leaves turn an impressively brilliant orange-red in the autumn. Earlier, there are large creamy heads of flowers followed by pear-shaped orange-red berries. The tree grows to about 10m in height and 4-5m wide, is good in exposed situations and its large leaves and large fruits really make it stand out.

    Sorbus commixta Olympic Flame ('Dodong')

  • Stunning new sunflowers

    Graham Rice on 09 Apr 2009 at 08:48 AM

    Sunflower 'Starburst Lemon Aura'. Image: ©SeedsenseSunflowers are fast becoming one of our most popular annuals - for borders, for cutting, for containers, for being big and beautiful, and for wildlife. At the forefront of the creation of new sunflower varieties is Norfolk breeder Peter Denney. Some of his varieties are available through the familiar seed companies but all his varieties, all thirty of them, including his very latest introductions, are available to the home gardeners only through Seed N Grow, whose range of sweet peas from Keith Hammett I featured last time.

    Peter's varieties cover the full range: single and double plus some with more unusual flower forms; familiar sunny colours and less common rich and pastel shades; short bushy types and tall single-stemmed varieties. Many are pollen free so don't stain the furniture when cut for the house.

    Sunflower 'Double Dandy'. Image: ©Seedsense‘Double Dandy' is a well branched, dwarf double red just 60cm/2ft high which is ideal for containers or borders in small gardens. ‘Golden Cheer', naturally branching, is a green-eyed double reaching 1.8m/6ft which is ideal for the back of the border or for cutting. ‘Stella Gold', with its whirlygig flowers of slender petals is bred for cutting and grows up on single stems


  • Superb sweet peas

    Graham Rice on 04 Apr 2009 at 04:29 PM

    Sweet pea 'Erewhon'. Image: Keith HammettKeith Hammett is one of the world’s leading flower breeders, and I’m delighted to say that a wide range of his sweet peas is now available in Britain for the first time. His talents are many - last week he was awarded the Cory Cup by the RHS for his innovative work breeding new dahlias - now you can buy his unique sweet peas.

    The first to cross our familiar sweet pea with other species, Keith used Lathyrus belinensis (discovered in Turkey only in 1987) hoping to work towards a yellow sweet pea. Surprisingly, the result was the creation of reverse bicolours  with darker lower petals (the wings) instead of the usual darker upper petals. He’s also created flowers with a more intense blue colouring.

    Sweet pea 'Blue Shift'. Image: Keith HammettTake a look at the Seed N Grow sweet pea webpage and Keith Hammett’s own sweet pea webpage for pictures of all the varieties.

    Seed N Grow are now listing thirteen of Keith’s varieties but unfortunately they’re selling them under new names! The result is that they’re available from Keith in New Zealand under his original names and from Seed N Grow under their new names. The lovely pink and blue reverse bicolour ‘Erewhon’ (above), is also available in Britain under its original name.

    Now, a lot of this name changing goes on in the seed trade and over the years I’ve upset (but remained friends with!) a lot of people when I’ve complained about this in print or online. But Alan Leslie, Chair of the RHS Advisory Committee on Nomenclature and Taxonomy told me: “Clarity and consistency in naming is essential if we want to be able refer to plants unambiguously. Renaming plants merely causes confusion and misunderstanding, breaking the link with information about their origins and causing uncertainty about identities.