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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

  • Geranium phaeum ‘Lavender Pinwheel'

    Graham Rice on 30 Jul 2009 at 03:40 PM

    This lovely new hardy geranium has delightful flowers - and an interesting history.

    Geranium phaeum ‘Lavender Pinwheel' - New in 2009. Image: ©De VroomenGeranium phaeum ‘Lavender Pinwheel’ has the usual dark green mound of spring foliage, with maroon-purple blotches, but it’s the flowers which are special. Each flower is pale lavender, with violet veins radiating from a green eye, then the edge of each petal features a dark, picotee rim. The result is a delicate patterning of colour, with misty shadows where the petals overlap. The individual flowers are rumoured to be up to 5cm/2in across (I’ve not yet seen a live plant but this seems highly overoptimistic) but it’s their pretty colouring and patterning with marks them out.


  • Potato 'Vivaldi' for Christmas

    Graham Rice on 27 Jul 2009 at 12:05 PM

    Potato 'Vivaldi' - new for second cropping in 2009. Image: ©DobiesToday's new plant is, in fact, a not quite new way of growing a not quite new variety - it's the combination that's new this season. I'd better explain. Some years ago a smart potato grower came up with the idea of keeping seed potatoes in cold store then planting them in August to produce a crop of new potatoes for Christmas. Clever.

    They're called second cropping potatoes, I tried the idea when they first came out and although the crop was not huge, it was a real treat to dig fresh-from-the ground new potatoes in winter.

    The other innovation is the potato variety called ‘Vivaldi'. This has been available as a second early potato for spring planting for a year or two and it's known not only for its flavour, creamy texture and resistance to scab, but for the fact that it has 26% less carbohydrate and 33% fewer calories than other varieties. When the BBC reported its launch as a commercial variety it was dubbed "the slimmer's potato". It even has its own Wikipedia page.

    Now, for the first time, you can grow ‘Vivaldi' as a second cropping potato for Christmas. Order now, plant them as soon as they arrive, and you could dig new potatoes in October. But it's better just to leave them in the ground, cover them plants with fleece if severe frost threatens and dig them for Christmas. You can also grow them in barrels or large pots.

    You can order ‘Vivaldi' second cropping potatoes from Dobies now - but you'll need to be quick.



  • Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’

    Graham Rice on 25 Jul 2009 at 03:29 PM

    Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’ - new in 2009. Image: ©Walters Gardens, IncEuphorbias with attractive coloured foliage seem to have been coming one after another recently; some are strong, attractive and stable while others seem weak, or poorly coloured, or revert to green. Of course, this being the New Plants blog, the plants here are by definition new and have not been tested for many years in the way that old favourites have been. But one of these euphorbias that looks especially promising is Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire'.

    The big thing about ‘Bonfire' is that it keeps its purple colouring all summer; I've just taken a look at the trial plant in my garden and although it's become a little overshadowed by neighbouring plants it still retains its reddish purple colouring -  and it's almost August.

    In early in spring, it looks a little like E. polychroma ‘Candy' (‘Purpurea' as was) with rich purple foliage, sometimes shading to greenish yellow at the base of the leaf, surrounding bright yellow buds which stretch into brilliant yellow flower heads. But while ‘Candy' turns green in summer, ‘Bonfire' retains that rich purplish tone with golden tones in the shoot tips sometimes becoming pinkish before ageing to purple. Only the lower leaves down in the plant where they're much less prominent turn green.

    Reaching about 30-45cm/12-18in as the plants mature, this is an easy going plant for any reasonable soil and colours best with plenty of sunshine.

    Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire' was found by Mary Ann Fria of Limerock Plant Farm in Lincoln, Rhode Island on the north east coast of the USA. It was found growing in a crack in the paving on the nursery in 2000. Mary also discovered the Coreopsis ‘Limerock Ruby' on her nursery.

    At the moment you can order E. polychroma ‘Bonfire' from just one RHS Plant Finder nursery, Dove Cottage Nursery, but expect it to become more widely available soon.



  • Hampton Court '09: All the new plants!

    Graham Rice on 20 Jul 2009 at 11:02 PM

    Agapanthus 'Megan's Mauve' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comHere's the full list of new plants at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. The links go to the blog posts in whichthe plants are featured - except in one or two cases where I never quite tracked down the informagtion or (gulp) forgot to take a picture! And in the case of some of the agapanthus the rain washed my notes to a smudge! So the link goes to the raiser's website. There are just under a hundred in all. Again, sorry but life's too short to put in the all the italics for the botanical names.

    Thanks to all the people who took time out from preparing their exhiibits to help me with info on their new plants and to Martin Mulchinock for shooting the rose pictures.

  • Harkness Roses: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 20 Jul 2009 at 11:09 AM

    Rose Red Hat Lady ('Harpeep') - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: ©Harkness RosesOK, this really is the last new Hampton Court Palace Flower Show plant. The trail has gone cold on the new astrantia I spotted but one slipped through the net along the way: Harkness Roses finally introduced the last of their new roses for the year, Red Hat Lady (‘Harpeep').

    This was held back from their pre-announced Chelsea Flower Show launch but launched instead at the Tudor Rose Festival with a presentation to members of the Red Hat Society, the international society dedicated to fun and fulfilment for women approaching fifty and beyond.

    This is a neat Floribunda rose - and so many new Floribundas are compact in habit - reaching just 60cm/2ft in height and as much across. The rich dark green foliage makes an ideal background for the dome shaped clusters of slightly fluffy looking, rich and brilliant red, semi-double flowers. Red Hat Lady blooms not just on the top of the bush but almost down to the ground and each flower is sparked by an occasional white fleck.

    With its long flowering season and compact growth this is a fine rose for containers and for low hedges although it has to be said that many others are more strongly scented - even the raiser gives it two out of ten. But it makes up for this in its profusion of flower.

    The Red Hat Lady rose is available by mail order from the Harkness Roses website.



  • Alpine Campanulas: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 17 Jul 2009 at 10:13 PM

    Campanula poscharskyana 'Pinkins'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comDetails of one of the last new plants I spotted at the recent Hampton Court Palace Flower Show have come in, it was nestling in a crevice, on a rock face, at the back of the Alpine Campanulas exhibit in the Plant Heritage Marquee and after recovering from the ardours of the show Sue Wooster, of Alpine Campanulas, has filled me in on the background. It was one of the prettiest new plants at the show.

    Campanula poscharskyana 'Pinkins' is a clear pink form of this well known and widely grown Campanula species. It features a long flowering season and is also well behaved and not too vigorous.

    Reaching no more than 15cm/6in in height, the trailing stems about 15-23cm/6-9in long are lined with deep pink stars each with a white eye. The only similar variety around at the moment is 'Lisduggan Variety' which is uncomfortably vigorous and whose flowers are a rather mauvish pink; ‘Pinkins' is a lovely pureCampanula poscharskyana 'Pinkins'. Image: ©Sue Wooster/Alpine Campanulas colour.

    It's a versatile plant, totally hardy and very drought tolerant, and although it's best in full sun it will also thrive in partial shade.

    ‘Pinkins' was discovered by the former National Collection holder, Peter Lewis, amongst a batch of seedlings of a number of Campanula species. It was selected out, grown on, and assessed, and when it was found that it retained its colour and habit about fifteen years ago Peter named it for his Sealyham terrier. He passed it on to Sue Wooster of Alpine Campanulas when her collection was granted National Collection status in 2005.

    Campanula poscharskyana 'Pinkins' is available from Alpine Campanulas, though as only small stocks are carried at present it is not listed on the website.

  • Peter Beales Roses: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 13 Jul 2009 at 08:31 AM

    Rose 'Desmond Tutu' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: RHS  Peter Beales Roses is a rose nursery best known for its invaluable collection of old roses and for following in the footsteps of Graham Stuart Thomas in bringing information on old roses to a wider public.

    But Peter Beales Roses also breed and introduce new roses and after some fine new introductions at Chelsea two more were introduced at the recent Hampton Court Palace Flower Show which came to a close yesterday. Both are connected to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who visited the show on Saturday to launch them..

    ‘Desmond Tutu' (above, click to  enlarge) is a shrub rose of modest height (1.2m/4ft high by 90cm/3ft) with classic, slender, pointed Hybrid Tea style buds which open to magenta red flowers, with white streaks on the backs. It was noticeable how little the colour faded once the flowers opened. The flowers, carried in generous clusters, mature into a rather rounded ball-like shape but, unfortunately, I detected very little scent. The Peter Beales catalogue describes it as "discreet"!

    Rose 'Leah Tutu' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: RHSPersonally, I liked ‘Leah Tutu' (named for Desmond Tutu's wife) a lot better. Pale golden buds set against bright green foliage open to flat, multi-petaled flowers in pale gold shading to old brassy gold within when the flowers are at their peak. Again, the fragrance is less than stupendous but in this case the flowers are exquisite so perhaps the lack of fragrance can be overlooked.

    For three years, 10% of the combined value of sales of both these varieties will be donated to the Tutu Foundation UK which works to foster tolerance and understanding between people of different backgrounds.

    Plants of both varieties will soon be available by mail order from Peter Beales Roses.

  • Plantagogo (Part Five): New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 13 Jul 2009 at 07:31 AM

    Heuchera 'Electra'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comFinally, the last of the many new heucheras (and Heuchera relations) introduced by Plantagogo at the recent Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. They had eleven new varieties on sale at the Show, all originating at Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon (no retail sales), and this is the final trio.

    Heuchera ‘Electra' is reckoned to be an improvement on the much discussed ‘Tiramisu' which first saw the light of day at Hampton Court last year. The foliage starts off bright yellow early in the season, then transforms to chartreuse in the summer and autumn and then to tawny shades in the autumn - always with bright red veins. Compared to ‘Tiramisu' it's said to be more vigorous and to hold its red veining right through the year - and it thrives in both heat and cold.

    It's the long flowering season which sets Heuchera ‘Milan' apart. And the pink flowers are not only very prolific but are held on unusually short stems - so instead of the flowers being wildly separated from the foliage, they're set much closer and this makes the plant more of a complete picture. The leaves are small and silvered, with a maroon caste in cooler conditions.

    Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comFinally... Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie'.  Bringing together a background of the cold hardy H. americana and the heat tolerant H. villosa, ‘Berry Smoothie' is really vivid. Rosy pink as the leaves open in spring, evolving into pink toned silver foliage with crimson veins for the rest of the season, the veins tend to scarlet towards the base. Dramatic and powerful, this looks to be a great new addition.

    These three new heucheras were on sale at the Show last week, check the Plantagogo website for online mail order availability.


  • National Dahlia Collection: New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 13 Jul 2009 at 07:08 AM

    New Dahlia from the National Dahlia Collection. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comFollowing the award to the National Dahlia Collection of the award for the best floral display at the Chelsea Flower Show, I headed for their exhibit in the Plant Heritage Marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show last week to check out their new plants.

    And there I found another new dahlia, raised by Jon Wheatley who also helped put together the Growing Tastes Allotment Garden which won the award for the Best Show Garden. A man of many talents...

    This is a single-flowered variety reaching about 1.5m/4.5ft in height with lovely dark bronze foliage. The flowers open white, with an appealingly ragged look owing to their pointed petals with their wavy edges, then violet magenta streaks develop in the flower. This streaking becomes increasingly colourful as the flowers mature. The result is delightful.

    But what's this new dahlia called? Well, as the opening of the Show approached, and passed, Jon Wheatley was still wondering what to call it. It's a cross between ‘Magenta Star' and D. tenuicaulis  and he wanted something that continued the "Star" theme - something astronomical, perhaps. ‘Galaxy' was considered, then I suggested ‘Shooting Star'. After a little thought Jon decided he liked the idea. So it was decided.

    Then when I got back to the Press Tent and checked - I found there's already a dahlia called ‘Shooting Star'. So it's back to square one. As soon as a name is finally decided, I'll add a postscript here.

    The new dahlia will be available from the National Dahlia Collection as soon as stocks are built up - and it has a name. 

    POSTSCRIPT (17 July): This gorgeous new dahlia is now called - 'Meteor'!


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

    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.



  • The Palm Centre: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 13 Jul 2009 at 06:24 AM

    Trachycarpus 'Naggy'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comThe 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show finally finished yesterday and today the weary exhibitors, some of whom worked late into the night dismantling their exhibits, prepare to head home. And your weary correspondent sets out on his last day of reports on the new plants seen at the Show.

    In the Floral Marquee, every Trachycarpus species that exists was on display from The Palm Centre and they also showed a new hybrid palm not seen before. To be honest, everyone is still a little uncertain quite what Trachycarpus ‘Naggy' is going to look like as it matures - all the plants that exist are too young to be anything like mature.

    The new hybrid has T. nanus from China as the seed-bearing parent with T. wagnerianus from Japan the pollen parent. Barry Shobbrook, the Nursery Manager at The Palm Centre, told me: "We just wanted to see what would happen. The first seeds came three years ago but of course it will be many years before we how the plants will finally turn out."

    Early signs are that the plants have taken on the short stature of the smallest of all these palms, T. nanus, with the short leaves of T. wagnerianus - sounds like a splendid container plant to me.

    Plants of this new hybrid palm were on sale at the Show, and can also be ordered online from The Palm Centre website.



  • Plantagogo (Part Four): New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 12 Jul 2009 at 05:19 PM

    Heuchera 'Sugar Plum'. Image: © Plantagogo are Heuchera specialists and are introducing eleven new varieties of Heuchera and related plants at this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Next up are two more that originate from Terra Nova Nurseries over in Oregon (no retail sales).

    The leaf colour of Heuchera ‘Sugar Plum' is simply gorgeous. Brilliant silver, delightfully lobed leaves are boldly veined in charcoal grey, each vein with a pale stripe in the centre towards the base. Where the stem meets the leaf, where all the veins also come together, is a bright scarlet spot whose colouring sometimes seeps along the pale streak in the main veins.

    On top of that, the young leaves have a pink caste as they open and then in summer there are silver pink flowers on stems over 60cm/2ft tall.

    Heuchera 'Fire Chief'. Image: ©‘Fire Chief' is a brilliant colour, just look at that picture (click on the image to enlarge it).The young leaves are almost scarlet with a pattern of silvering between the veins and in the autumn they become a deeper wine red which, with a few slightly browner overtones, persists colourfully through the winter. The bicoloured pink and white flowers start coming in spring and keep on right till autumn.

    Both these new heucheras have been on sale at the Show, check the Plantagogo website for online availability. And check out my earlier reports on their Tiarella, Heuchera and x Heucherella. Tomorrow I'll report on Plantagogo's last three new heucheras.


  • Barrie Clarke: New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 12 Jul 2009 at 03:58 PM

    Rubus pseudoacer. Image: GardenPhotos.comAs the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show draws to a close, many of the rarest and most interesting plants are to be found in the Plant Heritage Marquee as holders of National Collections of plants as varied as cannas and camellias show off their treasures. Barrie Clarke, whose "day job" is as propagator at the Sir Harold Hillier Arboretum in Hampshire, holds the National Rubus Collection. This year he showed the fruits of his plant hunting in China - and, in particular, two species not seen before.

    Rubus pseudoacer (above, click to enlarge) looks to have the potential to be a really valuable foliage plant. As you can see from the picture, the bright green veins make an attractive pattern across the olive green leaf while the backs of the leaves are a lovely contrasting shining reddish brown. The leaves are long and pointed.

    Barrie found this species in a very dark shaded gulley in Guangxi in Southern Yunnan province, and also features small white flowers followed by colourful bright orange fruits. He reports that in the garden this species prefers acid, shady and well-drained conditions but that it may not be hardy here in Britain.

    Rubus reflexus subsp. lanceolobus. Image: Barrie ClarkeThe other new species Barrie has on show, never seen in Britain before, is R. reflexus var. lanceolobus has foliage reminiscent of a Rodgersia, opening with a striking bronze tint and evolving into a bright green divided leaf, the tips of each division tending to droop. The flowers are relative unobtrusive, reddish and tubular but followed by bright orange fruits. This species, from near Guilim City in China, might well be hardy.

    Neither of these species is yet available to gardeners, but you can check out the National Rubus Collection website for details of the whole collection.


  • Marshalls: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 12 Jul 2009 at 09:25 AM

    There are lots of interesting plants, new and old, in the Growing Tastes marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show including garlic and grafted vegetables. And on the Marshalls stand there was a new strawberry and new variety of rocket.

    Strawberry 'EM 1119'. Image: GardenPhotos.comThe strawberry is still grown under its reference number of ‘EM 1119' and has some great qualities. It's an extra early variety which holds its foliage more upright that in other varieties and holds its flowers above it foliage - this makes it much easier to get the straw mulch in place than is the case with other varieties. It's good on flavour and will often produce a second, rather smaller crop, later in the season.

    ‘EM 1119' was raised by David Simpson, who raised popular ‘Marshmello', at East Malling Research in Kent. It will replace the variety ‘May'. There's a competition running in Kitchen Garden magazine in which a reader will give this variety its name


  • Water Meadow Nursery: New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 12 Jul 2009 at 08:37 AM

    Papaver 'Gentle Rosalind' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.In the Plant Heritage Marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Water Meadow Nursery in Hampshire created an exhibit to publicise their Super Poppies and launched a new variety in the series, ‘Gentle Rosalind'.

    Super Poppies look like ordinary Oriental Poppies but flower for far longer, often giving a second or even third flush of flowers, the individual flowers last for longer and the their also unusually sturdy.

    Sandy Worth of Water Meadow Nursery, who also holds the National Collection of Oriental Poppies, says that these poppies originated in California thirty years ago. The botanist James DeWelt. He wanted to created poppies that would cope with the California climate so, Sandy explained that he crossed a number of different species including P. atlanticum, P. orientale, P. rupifragum and the annual species P. californicum and P. somniferum.

    Papaver 'Gentle Rosalind' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.The result is a series of poppies which are more vigorous, longer flowering and more prolific, hardy and standing intense summer sun as well as cold winter temperatures.

    Sandy is launching a new addition to the series at Hampton Court, ‘Gentle Rosalind'. "It is being named for a very special mother by her grateful children Beth Philip & Ruth for her 50th birthday," she told me.

    Plants are on sale at the Show and by mail order from Water Meadow Nursery.


  • Pococks Roses: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 12 Jul 2009 at 07:58 AM

    Rose 'Durrell' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: RHSAs the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show enters its final day two new Floribunda roses continue to take the attention of visitors on the Pococks Roses exhibit in the Tudor Rose Festival.

    Rose ‘Durrell' is a very unusual colour. With coppery red young growth, each semi-double flower is deep red and boldly flecked and streaked with white - rather like very dark strawberry ice cream - with the occasional very dark unmarked flower. The flowers are lightly scented, the plants are bushy and reach 90-120cm/3-4ft in height.

    As you might guess from the name, this rose is named to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Gerald Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey and a donation of £1.00 will be made to The Durrell Foundation for every rose sold.

    Rose 'Abbie's Rose' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: RHSThe second newcomer from Pococks Roses is ‘Abbie's Rose'. This is a very pretty, small-flowered rose with tiny pointed dusky red buds set amongst very dark leaves. The flowers mature to be almost fully double and coloured soft rose pink with peachy overtones and darker purplish flecks at the edges of the outer petals. The flowers are lightly scented, and the bushy plants reach only 60-75cm/2-2.5ft and bloom from June to November


  • The Sun newspaper: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 12 Jul 2009 at 07:48 AM

    Petunia 'Littletunia Donna Louise'. Image: GardenPhotos.comThe world is bursting with petunias. Plant breeders all over the world are producing new varieties but an especially charming new series was launched this week at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show on an exhibit sponsored by The Sun newspaper.

    Many breeders just go for larger and larger flowers but the Littletunias feature unusually small flowers - in unusually large numbers. The tumbling mass of flowers is really appealing and ideal for hanging baskets and large containers.

    Raised by one of the world's leading plant breeding companies, Danziger in Israel, there are ten colours in the series (with more to come) including some sparkling starry bicolours. Steve Bradley, garden writer on The Sun, told me that the Littletunias are hardier than other petunias, more resistant to disease and, when grown in baskets and other containers, develop more shoots from the base which arch over the crown to ensure that the base of the plant is covered in flowers. Some varieties just go bare at the base.

    The plants are also self cleaning - no need for dead heading because as the old flowers fade new shoots extend beyond them and their flowers open in front of them to grab our attention.

    Petunia 'Littletunia Julia'. Image: GardenPhotos.comFinally, as the Show opened, a tie-up was announced with the Greenfingers charity which creates gardens at childrens' hospices. A donation of 2.5p will be made to Greenfingers from the sale of every plant in the series, and they've all been named for children who've benefited from the Greenfingers charity over the years.

    So the white variety in the series has been named ‘Littletunia Donna Louise' (top, click to enlarge) while the red variety has been named ‘Littletunia Julia'.

    Look out for the Littletunia petunias in your local garden centre.


  • Mickfield Hostas (Part Two): New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 11 Jul 2009 at 11:03 PM

    Collectors' Corner at Mickfield Hostas. Image: GardenPhotos.comIn addition to their exhibit in the Floral Marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Mickfield Hostas also had one of the outdoor Plant Plots - and there, on the sales table, they featured their Collectors' Corner with at least four brand new hostas.

    Hosta ‘Extasy' (below, click to enlarge) comes from renowned American breeder Hans Hansen. It makes a small, compact plant of long, slender, pointed blue leaves each of which is boldly splashed with a creamy yellow blotch that ages to white. The clump eventually reaches about 45cm/18in wide by 25cm/10in tall, although the spikes of lavender flowers will stretch to about 41cm/16in. ‘Extasy' is a cross between ‘Sweet Susan Streaked' and a hybrid between H. longipes and ‘Blue Blush'.

    Hosta 'Extasy'. title=By contrast Hosta ‘Ice Prancer' is a much larger creature, reaching 50-60cm/20-24in in height. Its foliage is unusually thick and slug-resistant, in a cool blue shade, attractively rippled and with a long point to each leaf. With its bold architectural habit ‘Ice Prancer' makes a superb specimen, with midsummer flowers in pale lavender. It's a seedling of ‘Reptilian'.

    The ribbed leaves of Hosta ‘Spartacus' mature into an elongated heart shape, strikingly rippled along the edge, with a wide central zone in dark green and a narrow yellow rim. In early summer, arching stems carry light lavender flowers. ‘Spartacus' is a sport of ‘Sea Gulf Stream'


  • H W Hyde: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 11 Jul 2009 at 09:00 PM

    H W Hyde won the award for the Best Exhibit in the Floral Marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week - and the award was very well deserved. Their carefully staged exhibit of beautiful lilies grown in individual pots was just stunning.

    Lilium seedling A2. Image: GardenPhotos.comI watched Richard Hyde as he moved the potted lilies on to the exhibit, stood back to assess the effect and, as often as not, moved the plants back out to try an alternative.

    One impressive feature of the stand was the inclusion of lilies so new that they don't yet even have names! These were OT Hybrids - hybrids between Oriental and Trumpet lilies - and Richard explained that those he'd chosen for the exhibit had actually been rejected by their Dutch breeder


  • Dibleys: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 11 Jul 2009 at 08:23 PM

    Kohleria 'Sunshine'. Image: GardenPhotos.comDibleys are best known for their wonderful displays of Streptocarpus here at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, and at Chelsea, but some of their other specialities are also on display. There's a spectacular display of begonias with, in a most prominent position right at the front, one of the most captivating new plants in the whole show - a new Kohleria. Kohleria is related to Streptocarpus and generally features velvety leaves and tall stems carrying bright flowers with contrasting spots.

    As you can see from the picture, the flowers of Kohleria ‘Sunshine' are white but evenly covered with bright red spots creating a captivating look. Plants are robust, upright in growth and lined with these gorgeous flowers over a long period.

    Plants need a minimum winter temperature of 15C/60F and a bright site to discourage leggy growth and foster prolific flowering. Allow the compost - fibre-based compost works well - to partially dry out between waterings and give a regular high potash liquid feed.

    Sometimes sold as ‘Sunrise', this has been available in the USA for a few years but this is its first outing in Britain.

    Kohleria 'Sunshine' is on sale at the Show. It's also available - at just £2.80 - from the Dibleys website.



  • C & K Jones (Part Three): New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 11 Jul 2009 at 07:48 PM

    C & K Jones have some great new roses at this year's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Earlier I talked about ‘Josephine' and about their Rose of the Year ‘Absolutely Fabulous'. But I also took a look their other two newcomers.

    Rose Rebecca Mary ('Dicjury') - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: RHSOne of the recurring themes of the new roses introduced at the Tudor Rose Festival this year is health - many are unusually disease resistant and Floribunda Rose ‘Rebecca Mary' is no exception.

    Rose Rebecca Mary (‘Dicjury') (above, click to enlarge) starts with compact, creamy green buds which open to flowers with a slightly old-fashioned look in a soft peachy yellow which are rich buttery yellow in the centre paling to primrose yellow at the outer petals. It reaches 90cm/3ft in height and 60cm/2ft in width and like all the best new roses it flowers from June to the frosts. And Keith Jones says that ‘Rebecca Mary' is "super healthy". Just one problem, Keith told me: "no scent".

    Rebecca Mary (‘Dicjury') was created by Colin Dickson of Dickson's Roses in Northern Island and he's quoted in the trade magazine Horticulture Week as saying that Rebecca Mary is "one of the best floribundas that has been introduced in recent years". It was named by Dr Nick Harris to celebrate his wife's 40th birthday


  • Goldbrook Plants: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 11 Jul 2009 at 07:40 AM

    Hosta 'Little Willie'. Image: GardenPhotos.comGoldbrook Plants have staged some of the most impressive Hosta exhibits of recent years. They've won seventeen consecutive Gold Medals at the Chelsea Flower Show and nineteen consecutive Gold Medals the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show including a Gold this week at Hampton.

    Sandra Bond, who IS Goldbrook Plants, is narrowing the focus of her nursery to concentrate on small and mini hostas suitable for growing in bowls and troughs. This Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is her last big show.

    Her Gold Medal exhibit showed the full range of hostas from large specimens grown in large pots to tiny hostas three of which fit into a bowl. Amongst this impressive range were two new variegated varieties.

    ‘Little Willie' (above, click to enlarge) is a new miniature hosta with lance-shaped, slightly cupped leaves, the slender green edge surrounding a rather variable central zone streaked in lime-green, cream and almost white. Plants reach about 17.5cm/7in in height and spread to 40cm/16in.

    Hosta 'Dixie Chickadee'. Image: GardenPhotos.comAlso on the stand was ‘Dixie Chickadee'. Raised by Tony Avent of Plant Delights nursery in North Carolina, ‘Dixie Chickadee' is a sport of ‘Dixie Chick' and descended from ‘Masquerade' and ‘Invincible'. It features the reverse colouring of ‘Dixie Chick': each leaf is edged in dark green, the central area being creamy yellow with green streaks. It makes clumps about 20-25cm/8-10in wide with large lavender flowers on 35cm/12in stems.

    The Goldbrook Plants catalogue includes these and many more new introductions. They have no website but click here for details of the nursery.


  • Suttons Seeds: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 11 Jul 2009 at 07:31 AM

    In recent years Suttons Seeds has pioneered a completely modern approach to the old idea of growing tomato plants by grafting named fruiting varieties on to special rootstocks - in the same way as apples. They demonstrated their new ideas of grafting vegetables in the Growing Tastes marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

    Grafted cucumbers. Image: GardenPhotos.comGrafting tomato plants is not a new idea. What Suttons are doing is completely new and different  - newly developed disease resistant tomato rootstocks are matched with prolific and flavoursome fruiting varieties and the results are impressive. Take just two elements of their success. 1: Crops are about two thirds greater than you'd get with the same fruiting varieties grown from seeds; 2: You can plant them in the same soil year after year and they'll never be diseased. No more growbags, no more ring culture or straw bales - and you'll need fewer plants.

    But the point is - and what really is revealed for the first time at the Show - that Suttons are now extending this idea to cucumbers, melons, aubergines, bell peppers and chilli peppers.

    Just take cucumbers. By grafting a variety that's resistant to powdery mildew, the scourge of greenhouse cucumber crops, on to a rootstock that's resistant to soil borne diseases you get resistance to multiple disease problems. These grafted plants also bring other benefits including tolerance of low temperatures and strong vigour - as well as that invaluable disease resistance.

    Suttons currently have a range of combinations of fruiting growth and rootstocks on trial in all these crops and once they've assessed the trial this summer the very best combinations will be offered in their catalogue, and online, in the New Year.

    Tom Sharples, who's been at Suttons as long as I can remember and seen any number of new ideas come and go, says: "This is the best thing I've seen for home gardeners for twenty years."

    Check out the Suttons Seeds website later in the year to order these new grafted vegetable plants.


  • W S Warmenhoven (Part Two): New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 11 Jul 2009 at 07:08 AM

    Allium 'Carlito'. Image: GardenPhotos.comWhile the W S Warmenhoven exhibit at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show featured some unusual alliums on their Floral Marquee exhibit, they also displayed the latest introductions in the more familiar ball-headed style.

    Allium ‘Carlito', I noticed, had an unusually stout stem - invaluable for large scale flower arrangements - topped by very densely crowded heads of the usual starry florets in a noticeably silvered lilac shade... slightly paler and slightly larger than the familiar favourite ‘Globemaster'. Expect the plants to grow to about 75cm/30in and the spherical flower heads to be about 12cm/5in across. ‘Carlito' was raised by Firma Langedijk, of Zwaagdijk in The Netherlands


  • Pheasant Acre Plants: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 10 Jul 2009 at 04:09 PM

    There's an increasing interest developing in gladioli and while there are new introductions in the traditional style are on show at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show there are also new varieties which hark back to the wild species.

    Pheasant Acre Plants had two new seedlings, as yet un-named, which caught the attention of a lot of visitors.

    Gladiolus seedling. Image: GardenPhotos.comThe first seedling, (illustrated left, click to enlarge) is gorgeous both in its flower shape and its colouring. With the three upper, slightly waved petals broad and slightly waved, the patterning of cream with strawberry pink staining and speckling is delightful. Then the three narrower lower petals, rolling to a point, are more consistent in their colouring: rich cream with a strawberry flash through the centre. The buds are rich cream.

    One invaluable feature of this plant is that the lowest flowers on the spike are still in good condition when the topmost flowers open - ideal both in the garden and the vase.

    This seedling is the result of crossing G. tristis with a plant which is itself a cross between G. alba and ‘Robinetta' and, strangely, the result has larger flowers than any of the three


  • Plantagogo (Part Three): New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 10 Jul 2009 at 02:22 PM

    Heucherella 'Sweet Tea'. Image: GardenPhotos.comI started off this mini-series on the new plants introduced at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week by Plantagogo with a Tiarella, then last time I focused on Heuchera and this time it's the hybrids between the two  - x Heucherella. There are two newcomers.

    x Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea' is a unique colour. The veins are cinnamon red shading out into the blade of the leaf which is a fresh tea colour stained in orange. As the plant develops the foliage becomes unexpectedly large making this not only a superb container plant but also good ground cover in partial shade.

    Heucherella 'Golden Zebra'. Image:‘Golden Zebra' is also a spectacular colour, and a plant which becomes even more dramatic as it matures. Opening vivid yellow, with a haze of lime in the newest leaves, each prettily lobed leaf is stained in red along the midrib and main veins. As the season progresses, the leaves become a little larger, though never as large as those of the popular ‘Alabama Sunrise', and the red stain seeps into more and more of the leaf blade until in some cases the result is a bright red leaf with a yellow edge.

    Both these new heucherellas are the latest releases from the largest perennial breeding programme in the world at Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon (no retail sales). They're too new for large mature plants to have had time to develop so while young plants are for sale at the Show they were not on used in the Plantagogo display. And of course these plants are also too new to have been thoroughly tested in British conditions. But there's no denying the amazing colours.

    Both these new heucherellas are on sale at the Show, check the Plantagogo website for mail order availability.


  • Westcountry Nurseries: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 10 Jul 2009 at 12:25 PM

    We always associate Sarah Conibear and Westcountry Nurseries with enthusiasm for popularising lupins but they now grow a far wider range of plants. And on their Plant Plot exhibit at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, I spotted a new Gaura.

    Gaura 'Vanilla'. Image: GardenPhotos.comGaura ‘Vanilla' is striking for two things: the purity of its white flowers and its noticeably upright habit. The flower buds are green with the faintest touch of pink and open to the familiar butterfly flowers in a very clean white, then as they age the flowers simply fall away.

    The plant is very upright and self supporting and the foliage is fresh bright green in colour. Some gauras develop red colouring in the older foliage, and this has been enhanced in some varieties to great effect. But in the case of ‘Vanilla' there's only a little evidence of this feature, almost all the leaves on the plant on display remained green - which made the whole plant look fresh and bright. However, some sources say that the young growth is red-tinted which would provide welcome colour before the plant flowers.

    One other interesting thing about Gaura ‘Vanilla' is that early reports suggest it may be truly hardy - it came through the last winter in Hampshire.

    You can buy Gaura ‘Vanilla' at the Show or order online at the Westcountry Nurseries website.


  • Hoyland Plant Centre: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 10 Jul 2009 at 11:23 AM

    Agapanthus are everywhere at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year and there were two newcomers on show from the Hoyland Plant Centre in Yorkshire.

    Agapanthus 'Yorkshire Dream'. Image: GardenPhotos.comAgapanthus ‘Yorkshire Dream' is a lovely new variegated form. A seedling of A. praecox, the variegation is unusually luminous and, unlike so many variegated Agapanthus which are simply striped along each edge in cream or white, the variegation is less predictable. The pale yellow or cream colouring may feature as a broad band at one edge and narrower streaks through the green part of the leaf. The pale blue flowers are striped in dark blue. ‘Yorkshire Dream' is also hardier than many variegated forms, and is hardy to at least -8C.

    The other new form from the Hoyland Plant Centre is Agapanthus ‘Margaret'. Bred by Hoyland's Steven Hickman, the powdery blue flowers are carried on 60cm/2ft stems above evergreen foliage and the quality of the blooms is excellent. "Agapanthus ‘Margaret' is named for my friend Margaret Evans, whom I've known for twenty five years and who's a well known Yorkshire vegetable judge."

    Plants of these two new Agapanthus are available at the Show, or check the Hoyland Plant Centre website for online availability.


  • The Garlic Farm: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 10 Jul 2009 at 10:25 AM

    The variety of new plants that are to be found at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is amazing. On the way to see the Venus Fly Traps I spotted the three new double echinaceas outside the Tudor Rose Festival marquee and then heading back to the Press Tent for coffee I was able to chat to Colin Boswell of The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight about his two new varieties of garlic!

    Garlic 'Picardy Wight'. Image: GardenPhotos.comColin searches the world, wherever garlic is grown, to find local types which have been grown for generations. He then grows them on his farm to assess their suitability for British conditions and only introduces those which prove good for British gardeners. His two new introductions this year, on display in the Growing Tastes Marquee, are both from relatively close to home.

    Garlic ‘Picardy Wight' (above) is a softneck garlic that Colin found in the Pas de Calais in northern France. "It makes a fairly small bulb," Colin told me, "but its special features are that it can be planted in late March to harvest at the end of July or early August and that it's the longest keeper - it keeps till April. In France it's often used for smoking."

    With a very strong flavour, ‘Picardy Wight' will grow anywhere in Britain even in areas where garlic normally struggles


  • Essex Carnivorous Plants: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 10 Jul 2009 at 09:29 AM

    Carnivorous plants, and the Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea) in particular, seem to hold an eternal fascination but until you take a moment to look at a whole collection you don't realise how many different types there are. And amongst the plants in the National Collection on display from Essex Carnivorous Plants in the Plant Heritage Marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show are three newcomers.

    Dionaea muscipula 'B52'. Image: GardenPhotos.comDionaea muscipula ‘B52' is an unusually large and vigorous flytrap. The individual traps are much larger than those of the wild species and of other varieties and can be as much as 5.7cm/2.25in long. They're also an unusually deep red in colour, especially when grown in good light.

    ‘B52' was selected from seedlings in 2005 by Henning Von Schmeling of the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell, Georgia, and the name comes from his system of designating plants in his breeding programme.

    Sawtooth' is unusual in that instead of the long spines running along the edge of each trap, there is simply a line of saw teeth. Then each tiny tooth is itself toothed so that the result is more like a fringe. The traps are basically green although late in the season they may become red.

    ‘Sawtooth' is a sport that occurred in the tissue culture of the more usual form of Dionaea muscipula. It was found in the 1980s by Thomas Carow of Muennerstadt, Delaware, and was grown under a range of informal names before finally being registered as ‘Sawtooth'.

    ‘Sawtooth' is the parent of ‘Bohemian Garnet', the last of the trio of newcomers on the on the Essex Carnivorous Plants stand. ‘Bohemian Garnet' is distinctive in its all-red colouring and the saw-tooth edge to its traps. It's also very compact and but at the same time produces new offsets at a generous rate. Removing the offsets promptly and rooting them separately allows the parent plant to develop more fully. ‘Bohemian Garnet' is a cross between ‘Sawtooth' and ‘Royal Red' made in the Czech republic by Miroslav Srba in 2000, but it has only recently been named.

    You can buy plants of these new dionaeas at the Show or order from the Essex Carnivorous Plants website.


  • Barton Nurseries: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 10 Jul 2009 at 08:36 AM

    Most of the new plants at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show are to be found on the exhibits in the Floral Marquee. But out on the Plant Plots, the outdoor exhibits grouped in clusters behind the Floral Marquee and in front of the Tudor Rose Festival, I spotted three new double-flowered echinaceas.

    Echinacea purpurea 'Meringue'. Image: GardenPhotos.comBarton Nurseries from Cambridgeshire featured a range of colourful perennials and amongst them were some of the latest double flowered echinaceas from The Netherlands. All three were developed by the Dutch Breeder Arie Blom who's created an impressive range of double echinaceas which are intended both as cut flowers and as border perennials.

    Echinacea purpurea ‘Meringue' (above, click to enlarge) has green buds which open to fully double creamy white flowers, the petals steadily unfurling around the green eye. As the flower develops, the flat outer petals turn downwards while the tubular central petals form a creamy dome. ‘Meringue' is one of the shorter of the new double flowered forms, reaching about 45cm/18in in height and this a definite advantage as the compact habit lessens the chance of the heavy double flowers needing staking


  • Style Roses: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 09 Jul 2009 at 11:48 PM

    Rose ‘Bride and Groom'- New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: RHSThe Tudor Rose Festival is one of the highlights of the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and many of the rose nurseries who are exhibiting there have new roses on show. Style Roses from Lincolnshire have a fine new Hybrid Tea raised by Edward Smith, it's called ‘Bride and Groom'.

    It reaches about 90cm/3ft high, the mature foliage is very dark and the flowers have a comfortably traditional look. The buds open rose pink then as the flowers develop the petals roll back and reveal the white colouring inside. As the flowers mature the outer petals become almost white.

    Chris Styles of Style Roses told me: "This is an unbelievably free flowering variety. It has attractive dark pink buds which open up into large, high centred, Hybrid Tea style blooms of baby pink - produced singly and in clusters of up to five blooms per stem on strong sturdy upright growth. The young foliage is red and bronze which darkens to a pleasing olive green."

    Edward Smith, who raised such well known varieties as ‘Baby Bio' and ‘Terry Wogan', passed away last year and all the seedlings he'd raised and was assessing passed to Style Roses who are introducing the very best as the Edward Smith Collection. Edward was something of a perfectionist and was especially keen on healthy roses so good health is one of the features of ‘Bride and Groom' and all his roses.

    You can buy plants of ‘Bride and Groom' at the Show or contact Style Roses for news of its availability online.



  • Trecanna Nursery: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 09 Jul 2009 at 10:56 PM

    There are two nurseries who are serious about creating good new crocosmias and one of them, Trecanna Nursery, introduced two newcomers at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show - one raised at the nursery and the other from a well known West Country plantsman.

    Crocosmia 'Zeal Remembrance'. Image: GardenPhotos.comCrocosmia ‘Zeal Remembrance' was developed by Terry Jones and named for his garden at Zeal Monachorum in Devon. Any plants with Zeal in their name came from Terry Jones and these include nerines, a eucomis, and schizostylis as well as crocosmias. Terry passed this crocosmia to Mark Wash of Trecanna Nursery shortly before he passed away in 2005.

    It features enormous orange flowers about 3.5in/9cm across with a reddish zone at the base of each petal surrounding a bright yellow throat; the petals flare as they mature revealing the full brilliance of their colouring. The flowers are carried in generous sprays above broad pleated foliage. This plant was selected from amongst a number of seedlings that Terry grew from open pollinated seed. Mark named it ‘Zeal Remembrance' in Terry's honour.

    Also new at the Show was Crocosmia ‘Tamar Glow'. This is one of Mark Wash's own varieties, a tall and upright plant with rich green leaves above which large red flowers up to 2in/5cm across are carried in prolific quantities. Mark won't reveal the parentage of his plant, he'll only say that he's identified the plants which make good parents - but of course he won't reveal what these plants are! He also says that he has a number of other good new varieties on the way including, I was intrigued to hear, a double-flowered form. So don't forget to take a look at his Hampton Court Palace Flower Show stand next year.

    You can buy plants of these two fine new crocosmias at the Show or online from the Trecanna Nursery website.



  • Mickfield Hostas: New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 09 Jul 2009 at 05:31 PM

    There's a huge number of hostas introduced every year, many raised across the Atlantic, and some of the newcomers are to be seen at this week's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Mickfield Hostas from Stowmarket in Suffolk, holders of one of the National Hosta Collections, have one much respected new hosta on their marquee exhibit.

    Hosta 'Heart and Soul'. Image: GardenPhotos.comHosta ‘Heart and Soul' is a small variegated. Each gently rippled leaf has good substance and measures about 3-4in/2.5-3in and its subtle leaf pattern changes as the season develops. At first the colouring is greenish yellow and then becomes cream and then a rather variable green edging develops.

    The end result is a mature leaf which features a green rim varying from a slim green band at the sides to widening at some points along the edge. The central variegation features an almost yellow area close to the stem and this colouring fades through cream to greenish cream towards the tip. Once the leaves fully mature the contrast between the pale central area and the green edge is very striking. In summer, upright spikes of lavender flowers emerge and reach about 45cm/18in high..

    This is a hosta often suggested as being more sun tolerant than most, although most soil is always a big help in taking sun.

    Raised by the well respected hosta breeder Rob Mortko in 2000, ‘Heart and Soul' is a sport of ‘Vanilla Cream', which was itself derived from the tokudama hybrid ‘Little Aurora'. 'Heart and Soul' is the reverse variegation of another sport of 'Vanilla Cream', 'Ice Cream'.

    You can buy plants at the Show or online from the Mickfield Hostas website.


  • Warmenhoven: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 09 Jul 2009 at 04:26 PM

    Allium 'Dready'. Image: GardenPhotos.comThe exhibits of alliums from Warmenhoven are always a big highlight of the Hampton Court Palace Flower show, and of the Chelsea Flower Show as well, and in recent years the alliums with the familiar big rounded heads have been joined by varieties in a very different style.

    These are varieties without flowers. Instead the heads are topped by clusters of bulbils from which grow slender new leaves. These are almost exclusively cut-flower varieties, although they would also be interesting grown through bushier plants in containers. ‘Hair' was the first and at this week's show two more in the same style were on show.

    Allium ‘Dready' (above, click to enlarge) is a heavier, more tangled version of the very finely structured ‘Hair'. A slim, dark green stem is topped by clusters of bulbils that start green then become redder over time and from which emerge slim and dark green leaves, some of which are absolutely upright and some of which are twisted.

    Allium 'Bizar'. Image:‘Bizar', by contrast, has stouter stems and has altogether more substance. The larger red bulbils in the head are up to 12mm/1/2in across and the leaves which emerge from them are strikingly tall and almost all upright - and all feature another small clusters of bulbils at their tips.

    These two varieties are too new to be featured on the Warmenhoven website, so contact them for details.


  • Plantagogo (Part Two): New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 09 Jul 2009 at 03:50 PM

    When looking over the Gold Medal exhibit staged by Plantagogo at this week's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the new varieties are to be found on the sales table and not on the exhbit itself.

    Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade'. Image: GardenPhotos.comPlantagogo's Vicky and Richard Fox specialise in bringing in new varieties from Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon (no retail) where breeder Dan Heims and his team work on a wide variety of perennials.

    This year at the Show Plantagogo introduced eleven new plants, so let's take a look at three more.

    Heuchera ‘Lime Marmalade' is a limey coloured sport of ‘Marmalade' and is like a larger, chunkier and more vigorous version of the well known and widely grown ‘Lime Rickey'. The frilly foliage opens limey green and retains its colour as the foliage matures, eventually taking on yellow tones. It stands summer heat well, in fact Vicky Fox says it's better than the much touted ‘Citronelle' in this respect


  • Pine Cottage Plants (Part Two): New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 09 Jul 2009 at 03:40 PM

    Agapanthus 'Blue Ice'. Image: GardenPhotos.comI looked at one of the new introductions from Pine Cottage Plants at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in the run-up to the show but National Collection holder Richard Fulcher also had two more of his new introductions on show.

    Agapanthus ‘Blue Ice', which has been overlooked when exhibited previously, is related to A. praecox with large heads of large flowers over a long period. Each individual floret is bright blue at the very base just above the point where its meets its individual stalk but this colouring quickly changes to a cool blue-tinted white that is a very sharp shade.

    The foliage is evergreen and strikingly purple-tinted at the base.

    Agapanthus 'Megan's Mauve'. Image: GardenPhotos.comAlso from Pine Cottage Plants is Agapanthus ‘Megan's Mauve', another A. praecox type and in another distinctive flower colour. Each floret opens from purple buds to florets which are not quite white - white with a faint mauve tint - but each lobe of the flower is marked by a bold mauve stripe.

    This too is evergreen and Richard Fulcher says it's especially good in pots; it looked splendid in its pot on the exhibit. And it was my impression that, compared with many varieties on the exhibit, it had more florets open at once than other varieties.

    You can buy plants of these agapanthus at the show or online at the Pine Cottage Plants website.


  • Mattocks Roses: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 09 Jul 2009 at 09:23 AM

    Rose Pink Perfection ('Korpauvio') - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: RHSOver in the Tudor Rose Festival marquee at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show the award for the best exhibit went to Mattocks Roses who also introduce a lovely new Hybrid Tea.

    Rose Pink Perfection ('Korpauvio') is a neat-growing plant featuring high-centred pink flowers which open widely and retain an elegant shape. But there are two features which make this variety stand out - and, after all, there are already plenty of pink Hybrid Tea roses.

    Firstly, it's genuinely repeat-flowering and will flower from June to the first hard frost. Secondly it has a really good fragrance putting the lie to the often mentioned notion that modern roses have no scent. And finally it has excellent disease resistance.

    Raised in Germany by one of the world's leading rose breeders, Kordes, "they've really cracked the disease resistance," Jo Davey of Mattocks Roses told me. "It's resistant to powdery mildew, black spot and rust - the three diseases every gardener worries about."

    ‘Pink Perfection' grows to about 80cm in height with an upright habit reaching about 50cm across, and the soft pink tones of its flowers are also lovely cut for the house.

    You can buy plants of ‘Pink Perfection' at the show and you'll find it in garden centres across the country in the autumn. It is not available from Mattocks by mail order.



  • Derek Lloyd Dean: New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 09 Jul 2009 at 08:36 AM

    Pelargonium ‘Berkswell Flair'. Image: Derek Lloyd Dean is the holder of the National Collection of Angel Pelargoniums. His collection consists of about 140 varieties, some of which date back to the 1930s and two of which are completely new and seen here at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show for the first time.

    Angel Pelargoniums make small plants with a prolific display of small flowers set against small neat foliage. His collection does not include larger plants with larger foliage, sometimes included with Angels, as these are hybrids with Regal Pelargoniums and very different in character.

    His delightful exhibit features most of his collection, 120 varieties in all, including two new introductions raised by Malcolm Harris, a specialist breeder from Berkswell near Coventry.

    Pelargonium ‘Berkswell Urchin' is a small, neat plant with very small leaves, its dainty prettily marked flowers feature petals which overlap slightly to give the impression of almost being semi-double. One important feature of ‘Berkswell Urchin' is that stays compact and doesn't run up tall - ideal for a window box or a small specimen in a pot.

    ‘Berkswell Flair' (above, click to enlarhge), also from Malcolm Harris, is equally neat and features a very striking combination of velvet purple upper petals with paler lower petals.

    Both these new varieties combine neat rounded growth with a very prolific flowering habit. Derek also lists another nineteen varieties raised by Malcolm Harris, all with the Berkswell prefix.

    You can buy these varieties at the Show and also online at the Derek Lloyd Dean website.



  • Glens Garden: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 09 Jul 2009 at 01:05 AM

    Gladiolus 'Sugar Babe'. Image: GardenPhotos.comThe dramatic exhibit of gladioli from Glen's Garden of Hull won a well-deserved Silver-Gilt Medal at this week's Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and was home to two bright new varieties.

    The blooms were staged in the traditional style: cut stems arranged in a fan, each restricted to just one variety, with the individual spikes selected so that plenty of flowers were open - but not so that so many flowers were open that the oldest would by dying before the end of the show on Sunday. The fans of individual varieties were arranged in tiers to create an exhibit that caught the eye from the other side of the tent. Two new introductions were featured.

    On the topmost row Gladiolus ‘Sugar Babe' (above, click to enlarge) stood out for its vivid but subtle colouring. The buds emerge in a bright coral shade that approaches salmon pink then as the flowers open the slightly rippled petals mature to rose pink with a hint of salmon at the edges, shading to a creamier colouring, and with rose tones emerging again in the throat. Many gladioli are so powerfully coloured that they're difficult to blend with other blooms in a flower arrangement but ‘Sugar Babe' will blend well with many other pastel shades.

    Gladiolus 'Orlando Green'. Image: GardenPhotos.comOn the lowest row, right at the front, was another newcomer - Gladiolus ‘Orlando Green'. Another great partner for other flowers, the buds emerge a fresh bright green then soon take on paler and slightly lemony tones and finally open to white with a slightly green haze. The colouring deepens to creamy yellow towards the throat and then becomes greener in the throat itself. Finally, as the flowers fully mature, the outer set of three petals develops a few reddish tints towards the tips. I'm sure the Gladiolus purists really hate the emergence of this extra colour - but I rather like it.

    For information on ordering these gladioli contact Glens Garden on 01964 670720.


  • Hopleys Plants: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 08 Jul 2009 at 11:47 PM

    Coreopsis 'Rum Punch'. Image: GardenPhotos.comThere's been a flood of new Coreopsis arriving in gardens and nurseries in recent years, in fact I have a whole article just about these new coreopsis in the August issue of the RHS members' magazine, The Garden. I was expecting to see quite a few of them at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week at but the only one I spotted was Coreopsis ‘Rum Punch' shown by Hopleys Plants.

    Hopleys have a long and impressive tradition of launching good new plants and this attractive American Coreopsis hybrid in an unusual shade looks as if it has a place both in containers and borders.

    The fine, dark green, thread-like foliage is topped by a long succession of single flowers in an unusual shade of watermelon pink. In fact the plant changes colour as it ages so the result is an attractive tapestry of amber, lemon, rose and mainly watermelon.

    The plants on show are a little taller than their usual height - the heat wave was again responsible, I think - 30-28cm/12-15in would be more usual in garden plants. They need plenty of sunshine, adequate moisture during the summer but good drainage in winter. ‘Rum Punch', and some of the other recently introduced varieties, are less tough than old favourites like C. verticillata ‘Moonbeam' but even if they don't survive the winter they make superb container plants with a very long succession of flower.

    Coreopsis ‘Rum Punch' is on sale at the show and is also available from Hopleys Plants.



  • Potash Nurseries: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 08 Jul 2009 at 05:20 PM

    Fuchsia 'Rivendell'. Image: GardenPhotos.comThe banks of fuchsias grown in large pots - standards, bushes and trailing varieties - are regular feature of the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and with so many varieties artfully arranged on one exhibit visitors can easily compare one with another and make a choice.

    Potash Nursery introduced two new varieties at the show this week, although one was, in the end, replaced on the exhibit as the specimen had lost a few flowers and was just not up to a high enough standard on the day. They did the right thing - they won a Gold Medal.

    Fuchsia ‘Rivendell', however, did make it and very striking it is too. Raised by Kim Chapman ‘Rivendell' is strong and upright in growth and holds the individual flowers for an unusually long time. But it's the flower itself which is especially striking.

    The tube and the slim, gracefully reflexed petals are pinkish lavender, while the skirt begins a rich deep purple shade and matures to deep red. But the most noticeable feature is that as the flower matures the very clean, broadly petalled skirt flares higher and higher until it's almost flat. It really looks so elegant.

    Fuchsia 'Suffolk Splendour'. Image: GardenPhotos.comThe other new variety, which did not quite make it into the display, was Fuchsia ‘Suffolk Splendour', raised by Charles Welch. This is an impressive large flowered double white with a magenta tube and sepals and was named to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stowmarket Flower Club.

    You can buy plants of ‘Rivendell' at the show and online at the Potash Nursery webiste.

    You can also buy plants of ‘Suffolk Splendour' at the show and online at the Potash Nursery webiste.


  • Plantagogo (Part One): New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 08 Jul 2009 at 04:13 PM

    New heucheras from Plantagogo. Image: GardenPhotos.comHeucheras and related plants have become extraordinarily popular in recent years so that now there are two specialist exhibitors doing good business at The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show when a few years ago there were none.

    Plantagogo decided only to include large, mature specimens on their exhibit. A Gold Medal at this year's show proves that this is a wise approach. But the result is that they often have new varieties to sell before they've grown to specimen size.

    So they took me round the back, where all their sale plants are stored, to take a look at the eight new heucheras, two new heucherellas and one tiarella that they're selling at the Show but which are still a year away from making large enough specimens to go on the exhibit. Eight of the heucheras and heucherellas are in the picture. I'll be discussing them all over the next few days.

    But let's start with the one that's not in the picture, Tiarella ‘Mystic Mist', illustrated below


  • Catwalk in Bloom: New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 08 Jul 2009 at 01:54 PM

    Dahlia 'Knockout'. Image: GardenPhotos.comThere are not many people who breed plants as different as dahlias and sweet peas and clivias - in fact I can only think of one. Dr Keith Hammett, from New Zealand, is one of the world's leading plant breeders and his dahlias and sweet peas are widely grown. He also breeds Dianthus, Primula and Clivia. He was featured in the RHS magazine The Plantsman in December last year.

    Here at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show I spotted  Dahlia ‘Knockout', his latest, not on a nursery exhibit but amongst the plants used to decorate the Catwalk in Bloom marquee. It was only just coming into flower but it was obvious it's a really spectacular plant.

    The foliage is prettily divided and an exceptionally dark mahogany black; the tips of the shoots are a little greener but soon develop the dramatic dark colouring. The single flowers are a vivid, almost fluorescent yellow, with faint slightly reddish veins all surrounding a chocolate eye.

    Reaching about 80cm/32in in height, this is a great plant for containers or the summer border and the stems are long enough to cut. The contrast between the brilliant yellow flowers and the dark leaves is very impressive.

    ‘Knockout' was selected in 2002 from a batch of seedlings which were the result of crossing two unnamed dahlias that Keith had previously raised.

    Dahlia ‘Knockout' is on sale at the Show in the Catwalk in Bloom marquee, but it's available from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.



  • McBean's Orchids: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 07 Jul 2009 at 08:59 PM

    The number of new indoor orchids being created around the world is difficult even for the experts to keep up with but here at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show McBean's Orchids are introducing one that looks to be a bit special.

    Phalaenopsis 'Tzu Chiang Balm' is a great plant for those of us who are not seasoned orchid growers. First of all it's a Phalaenopsis (moth orchid) and these are about the easiest of all indoor orchids to grow. It's also small, and reaching only 30-38cm/12-15in in height allows it a place in the smallest rooms and on the narrowest of windowsills; it's altogether more manageable than the more common larger types.

    'Tzu Chiang Balm' is also a lovely and subtle colour. The flowers are about 5-6.5cm/2-2.5in across, in an intriguing yellow tone shaded in purple with pretty speckling and purple spark on the lip. It's a compact plant, the leaves are neat and compact as well, and the flowers are not crowded, but the spike branches well creating very long flowering period.

    I asked judywhite, author of the forthcoming Bloom-Again Orchids and a former trustee of the American Orchid Society, about this new style of orchid.

    "Fragrant Phalaenopsis are among my personal favourite kinds of orchids," she told me. "In fact I devoted an entire entry just to them in my new book. Everyone should grow at least one of these easy winners on the windowsill. And the new hybrids that not only smell great but also are small enough to fit just about anywhere - well, that's an incredibly winning combination."

    Raised in Taiwan, white and yellow and pink flowered plants in the same style are on the way. The scent in plants such as these is derived from several species in the background that have good fragrance, including P. stuartiana and P. amboinensis, and the other breeding is with short multifloral types such as P. mannii and P. equestris which bring the neat, branching habit.

    You can buy Phalaenopsis Tzu Chiang Balm here at the Show, for mail order availability contact McBeans Orchids.



  • Chrysanthemums Direct: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 07 Jul 2009 at 08:11 PM

    Chrysanthemum 'Husky' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: GardenPhotos.comA great many new chrysanthemums are produced every year, mainly to be grown as cut flowers, so Martyn Flint of Chrysanthemums Direct has to choose carefully exactly which ones to introduce for home gardeners. At Chelsea he had the yellow, anemone-centred ‘Tim Wonnacott', and here at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show he has another, Chrysanthemum ‘Husky'.

    ‘Husky' is a single white spray chrysanthemum with the prodigious flower production of modern chrysanthemums but with more style and character than many. The white rays have are slightly uneven, slightly cottagey look which means it will fit into informal flower arrangements more naturally than single varieties which are completely even. And each flower features a distinctive green eye.

    The way to grow ‘Husky' is in a pot which is kept outside in the summer and then moved into a greenhouse - or, better still, a sheltered place like a porch, to bloom in November. At 75cm/30in it's shorter than many which makes it more adaptable. You can either enjoy the flowers as you pass them by or cut them for the house.

    Chrysanthemums Direct get a good chance to try out new varieties as they're also big growers of cut flower chrysanthemums so they can assess the new varieties from breeders around the world. They're the only major supplier of incurved varieties as cut flowers, producing one and a half million cut stems every year, and have recently started to supply Marks and Spencer.

    You can buy Chrysanthemum ‘Husky' here at the Show, or order it online from the Chrysanthemums Direct website.

    Chrysanthemums Direct won a Gold Medal for their superb exhibit. And that was all the more impressive as on the way to their show their van had a puncture and rolled over. Martyn Flint, who staged the exhibit, was taken to hospital - and they had to send down a whole new crop of flowers which Martyn staged at the Show as soon s the hospital released him!


  • Rose of the Year 2010: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 07 Jul 2009 at 07:42 PM

    Rose Absolutely Fabulous - 2010 Rose of the Year launched at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Image: RHSRose nurseries make a big deal about the Rose of the Year - and quite right too. Each year they all vote on the best new rose and it's launched at the Tudor Rose Festival here at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. The winner for 2010 has just been announced - Absolutely Fabulous ('Wekvossutono') introduced by C & K Jones.

    Absolutely Fabulous is a yellow Floribunda (Cluster Flowered) rose with a lovely flower form and a very distinctive fragrance.

    Reaching about 75cm/30in in height, the flowers open into a delightful flat form in the old-fashioned style, shading from pale primrose at the outer edges to old gold in the centre. And the fragrance is a very unusual combination of sweetness and licorice.

    Raised in California by the world rose famous hybridist Tom Carruth of Weeks Roses, it has been tested in Britain for three years to ensure that it thrives in our climate.

    ‘We've been the UK agent for Weeks Roses for about twenty years," Keith Jones told me. "When we first received roses from California to trial we found that many just didn't like our climate - they defoliated or they suffered in the wet. But Tom soon began breeding with our conditions in mind, selecting parents that he learned would produce roses that grew well here. Of course we still test them thoroughly before they're introduced.

    "Absolutely Fabulous flowers from June to November (or the first hard frost)," he said. "The flower colour is fantastic and it's very disease free all over Britain."

    The 2010 Rose of the Year, Absolutely Fabulous ('Wekvossutono'), was launched yesterday by Henry the Eighth at the Tudor Rose Festival here at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. It's availble by mail order from C & K Jones and many other rose nurseries in the autumn.

    By the way: in the United States Absolutely Fabulous is known as Julia Child - selected by, and named for, the much loved TV cook.

  • Amulree Exotics: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 06 Jul 2009 at 10:24 PM

    Amongst gardeners who enjoy exotic, tropical style plants the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show has a lot to offer, including two new alocasias from Amulree Exotics.

    Alocasia are native to South America where their corms are eaten - after prolonged boiling. But we grow them for their large and dramatic leaves which can be purple, green or variegated and Amulree have two new variegated forms.

    Alocasia wentii 'Aline' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: GardenPhotos.comAlocasia wentii ‘Aline' has a large, dark green, arrowhead-shaped leaf with a dark purple underside and the top side of the leaf is densely speckled in white. It's the first variegated alocasia and while no two leaves are quite the same, they are always densely marked


  • Fryer's Roses: New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 06 Jul 2009 at 09:07 AM

    Rose 'Super Trouper' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: RHSLast year the Rose of the Year, Lucky, was a Fryer's rose and although they year they don't have Rose of the Year Fryers do have two fine new varieties launching here at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Both are Floribundas.

    ‘Super Trouper', named for the ABBA song, is a vivid coppery orange. The young buds are almost pale yellow in colour, with orange overtones. As the flowers develop they become amber on the reverse of the petals, which in bud is the outside, and orange on the inside. Then as the blooms continue to open they develop the full richness of their brilliant orange colouring, with coppery overtones.

    The foliage is very dark, ideal to set off the vivid blooms, and it features excellent disease resistance. ‘Super Trouper' is modest in height, 85cm/33in, it branches well so there's plenty of flower.

    Rose 'Dorothy House' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: RHSThe other newcomer from Fryers this year is ‘Dorothy House' and I particularly noticed that when I sniffed it just before 7am this morning, when it was really quite cool, its scent was the strongest of all the new roses I sniffed in the Tudor Rose Festival.

    Very pale cream buds, with a hint of green, and with rosy overtones open to beautifully formed pale pearly rose pink flowers. The foliage is very dark, which sets off the flowers well, and the individual flower stems are unusually pale.

    This rose is named for Doreen Constance Dorothy Elsie House of Bath, and will support the hospice in Winsley, Wiltshire, called Dorothy House.

  • Fibrex Nurseries: New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 05 Jul 2009 at 09:23 PM

    Pelargonium 'Monty's Magic' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show . Image: GardenPhotos.comFibrex Nurseries near Stratford-upon-Avon hold an unlikely pairing of National Collections – ivies and pelargoniums. And with over 2,500 different varieties in the Pelargonium collection, Ursula Key-Davis has a great opportunity to be sure that when she’s considering introducing a new variety it really is different, she can compare it with all the others.

    At this year’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show she has one excellent new variety, ‘Monty’s Magic’. Ursula’s mother, the late Hazel Key, built up the collection and this was one of the last varieties she selected for introduction before she passed away. It was four years ago that she identified this plant, a sport of ‘Montague Garabaldi Smith’, and it’s taken this time to bulk up enough stock to sell


  • Fernatix: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 05 Jul 2009 at 12:16 PM

    Athyrium 'Ocean's Fury' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show’ Image: ©Terra Nova NurseriesThere's been a flurry of new silvery ferns released in recent years, but the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show marks the debut of one which has more quiet elegance than brilliant colour. Athyrium ‘Ocean's Fury' can be found on the Fernatix exhibit along with a collection of other lovely ferns.

    This is a lovely fern. ‘Ocean's Fury' has upright, quietly silvered fronds which arch over at the tips and with their delicate crests the effect is like tumbling ocean waves. sea. The slightly reddish stems add some intriguing extra colouring.

    Reaching 60-90cm/2-3ft in height, Steve Fletcher of Fernatix tells me that the plant is slow to get going after propagation, but the plants he now has on sale are three years old and growing vigorously. The nursery does the hard work for you. They'll be splendid in the garden, their silvery colouring lighting up shady places.

    ‘Ocean's Fury' is a cross between Athyrium niponicum var. pictum and Athyrium filix-femina ‘Congestum Cristatum'. It was raised by American plant breeder Thurman Maness, from Wildwood in North Carolina, who has also raised some superb perennial lobelias and a number of other fine perennials.

    He told me about the origins of ‘Ocean's Fury': "In the early 1980s, I was so fond of the Japanese Painted fern, Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, that I tried my hand at crossing all the Athyriums that produce spores for me. I got many variations but finally chose only two as most of the plants were rather plain looking and nothing out of the ordinary.

    Athyrium 'Ocean's Fury' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show’ Image: ©Terra Nova Nurseries"What I find so appealing about ‘Ocean's Fury' is its ability to produce fronds that divide at the tips and seemingly it does it differently each time. It also twists and turns, somewhat giving the appearance of ocean waves crashing against the shore or rocks.

    "I had several other very pale, silvery types that I still grow in my own garden.  There was one that looked just like ‘Ocean's Fury', except that it was only a third of the size. There seemed to be no interest in a fern that small, at the time. So it somehow fell by the wayside."

    Athyrium ‘Ocean's Fury' is on sale on the Fernatix exhibit at the show and will soon be available online at the Fernatix website.


  • Solva Plants: New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 04 Jul 2009 at 07:46 PM

    Heuchera 'Plum Royale' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show’ Image: ©Terra Nova NurseriesLooking around the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this afternoon, all the exhibitors are relieved that the heat wave is now a little less fierce. Bringing plants in a van from the other end of the country in that heat wouldn't leave them in good condition.

    Some exhibitors have yet to make an appearance but others, like Solva Plants from Hampshire, are well on the way to finishing. But they're having doubts about their new heuchera from across the Atlantic.

    Heuchera ‘Plum Royale' is an interesting first in heucheras: it's the first variety to retain its intense purple colouring all summer. In winter, the foliage is silver with purple tints but then in summer it develops the lovely rich colouring you see in the picture (click on the image to enlarge it).

    And in spring and summer there are the flowers. Purple stems carry the usual dainty little flowers in white tinged with pink, the perfect companion colour for the plum purple foliage.

    Sean Burton of Solva Plants told me: "When people come through the nursery it's the first heuchera they notice, it really stands out."  And his wife Jooles says: "It's one of the nicest of all the purple heucheras." The problem for Solva Plants is that the plant is so new that they're not sure the specimen they have earmarked for their stand is really good enough. They've not had time to grow a really top class one. And I have to say that it still looks a little silvery and they don't want to let a good plant down by displaying a specimen which is not perfect. So it remains to be seen if it will find its way on to the completed exhibit.

    However, you can buy plants of this superb new heuchera at the Show, or order it from the Solva Plants website (scroll down).

    BTW, like C & K Jones whose website's excellent name I mentioned the other day - Solva Plants have a great doman name for their website: Read More...

  • Knoll Gardens: New at Hampton Court ‘09

    Graham Rice on 03 Jul 2009 at 10:07 PM

    Miscanthus sinensis 'Abundance' - new at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Image: ©Knoll GardensMiscanthus sinensis ‘Yakushima Dwarf' is, as you will have guessed, a dwarf form of this invaluable ornamental grass.

    The problem is that because it's been raised from seed there are quite a few different dwarf forms all available under that one name - and some are far better than others. But you're never quite sure what you're going to get: the good, the bad or the ugly.

    Neil Lucas at Knoll Gardens has solved the problem by selectinging an especially good seedling, naming it, and then propagating it by division so that all the plants are the exactly the same and you can always depend on getting an excellent plant. Miscanthus sinensis ‘Abundance' takes its first bow at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

    "This is the new name for our best form of ‘Yakushima Dwarf' which is actually a mix of seedlings and not a clonal cultivar," Neil told me in the run up to the Show. "So, with encouragement from Rick Darke, we've taken the step of naming this particularly good form to avoid continued confusion.

    "It's not always in flower by Hampton though it's looking hopeful, and we will certainly have plants for sale," he said. The heat wave has made it difficult for everyone.

    ‘Abundance' forms wonderful mounds of attractive narrow leaves covered in masses of delicate buff white flowers. The plumes glint in the sunshine. Neil says "it's one of the very best Miscanthus for general garden use" - though it's his baby so he's bound to be proud!

    It's deciduous with the leaves turning an attractive tawny shade as they age, it reaches about 1-4-1.7m/4.5-4.8ft in height, and it thrives in sun or light shade. Ideal as a specimen in a border in a small garden, some gardeners grow these dwarf miscanthus in large tubs - where they look amazing.

    You can buy Miscanthus sinensis ‘Abundance' at the Show, or order Miscanthus sinensis ‘Abundance' online at Knoll Gardens.


  • Pine Cottage Plants: New at Hampton Court

    Graham Rice on 02 Jul 2009 at 05:45 PM

    Agapanthus 'Northern Star' - new at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Image: ©Pine Cottage PlantsOne of the great things about visiting any big flower show - and the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is the biggest of them all - is that you get the chance to talk to the breeders of some wonderful new varieties.

    Richard Fulcher, who runs Pine Cottage Plants in Devon, is a holder of a National Collections of Agapanthus and is expecting to be showing perhaps three new varieties he's raised himself.

    Getting the timing for the Show right is always tricky, and with the recent scorching weather his timing may be thrown out at the last minute. But one fine new variety he's confident of being able to unveil is Agapanthus ‘Northern Star'. "The plants are looking to be on target," he told me - although that was before the heat wave.

    ‘Northern Star' is one of the hardier, deciduous, types with unusually large rounded heads packed with flowers. Each individual flower opens from an inky purple bud to a blue flower with a darker blue stripe along the centre of each petal. Then the petals continue to roll back as the flowers mature until each is like an exploding star creating a lively sense of movement. The foliage is interesting too, the base of each leaf is stained violet-blue, almost black.

    Richard himself calls ‘Northern Star' "spectacular" and "one of the finest hardy Agapanthus in cultivation" and even for allowing for a little parental pride it must be good!

    You can buy Agapanthus ‘Northern Star' at the show or order it online. I'll be reporting on Richard's other newcomers which made it to the show later in the week.

    Another holder of a National Collection of Agapanthus who can also be seen at the Show is the Hoyland Plant Centre, exhibiting in the Plant Heritage Marquee.



  • C & K Jones Roses: New at Hampton Court '09

    Graham Rice on 01 Jul 2009 at 12:34 PM

    Rose ' Josephine' - new at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Image: ©C & K JonesAs the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show - the largest flower show in the world - approaches I'm beginning my series of posts about the new plants introduced at the Show. I'll be posting here every day until Sunday 12 July, when the show closes, bringing you news and pictures of all the new plants on display.

    One of the highlights of the Show is the Tudor Rose Festival and, along with the announcement of the Rose of the Year for 2010, quite a range of new varieties will be launched. So to start us off, here's a taste.

    The rich red ‘Josephine', new from C & K Jones, looks gorgeous. It's neat in habit, growing just 90cm-1.2m/30-36in tall and no more than 60cm/24in wide, so is ideal in small garden or even a container.

    But it's the flowers which make this rose special. Unusually large in size, and almost blood red in colour, set against the bright green foliage they look especially striking. But it's not just their colour which is appealing. From the opening of the first blooms in June. ‘Josephine' will continue to bloom through the summer and into the autumn until November, unless halted by the first hard frost of the winter. Dead heading significantly enhances the display.

    The rose is named for the bestselling author Josephine Cox, whose latest of thirty six novels, Born Bad, was published in February. A donation from the sale of each rose will be made to Barnardo's, the long established charity which works to support vulnerable children.

    You can buy plants of ‘Josephine' at the show or order it from C & K Jones after the show.

    * And by the way.... C & K Jones have a great domain name for their website. It's obvious really, but still excellent: