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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

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New plants for 2011: Keep a look out for these exciting newcomers

Posted by Graham Rice on 29 Dec 2010 at 09:22 AM

Hosta ‘Raspberry Sundae’,Ajuga reptans 'Pink Lightning',Phygelius Croftway Snow Queen (‘Crosnoque’),Syringa Bloomerang Purple (‘Penda’),Chaenomales Double Take Series. Image ©Terra Nova Nurseries,Walters Gardens,Proven Winners,Plants For EuropeIt’s time look ahead to the new year so, as I did last year, I’ve picked out five plants not yet available (as far as I can tell) but which you should look out for next year. All look to be excellent new plants, some truly innovative, and all well worth trying.

Hosta ‘Raspberry Sundae’ (left in picture, click to enlarge) In recent years we’ve seen a number of new hostas with red leaf stems and then with the red colouring starting to spill out into the leaf itself; most have been green leaved or gold leaved. In ‘Raspberry Sundae’, we have the first with a creamy white centre to the leaf brightened by that red colouring.

Developed by hosta breeder Gary Gossett at Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon, it took ten years to create but with that dramatic leaf colouring plus purple leaf and flower stems and deep lavender purple summer flowers it looks to be really special.

Ajuga reptans 'Pink Lightning' (centre top in picture, click to enlarge) Pink flowers and white variegation combine to bring a new style to bugle. The foliage is a fresh pale green, with an interesting crinkled look, and each leaf is edged in creamy white - but the margin is relatively narrow so the plant retains good vigour. The short spring spikes of flowers make a great combination against the foliage background.

‘Pink Lightning’ is a variegated sport of the uncommon ‘Purple Torch’, found at Sunny Border Nurseries in Connecticut.

Phygelius Croftway Snow Queen (‘Crosnoque’) (centre bottom in picture, click to enlarge) The first pure white phygelius, I’ve been waiting for this to appear in nurseries and garden centres but so far I can find no one who’s taken it up. 2011 might just be its year.

Raised in Sussex by Malcolm Spencer of Croftway Nurseries, it’s one of five varieties in the Croftway Series – the others are Croftway Coral Princess (‘Crocorpri’), Croftway Purple Emperor (‘Crocpurpri’), Croftway Red Emperor (‘Croredemp’) and Croftway Yellow Sovereign (‘Crocyelemp’).

Croftway Snow Queen has been available in the US for two or three years now, but in Britain nurseries seem more interested in dwarf types for patio containers. This will reach about 30in/75cm but that clean pure white colouring is unique.

Syringa Bloomerang Purple (‘Penda’) (right in picture, click to enlarge) An impressive re-blooming lilac, growth is vigorous yet compact and rather spreading and the plants branch well to show off the heads of fragrant purple flowers. The first flowers open in late spring but then continue coming all summer.

There are some similar lilacs, Josee (‘Morjos 060f’) is paler pinkish lavender in colour while the flowers of S. meyeri ‘Paladin’ are pink. Bloomerang Purple is rich purple in colour and is also more resistant to soil born diseases than others of this type.

Developed by Tim Wood of Spring Meadow Nursery in Michigan, Bloomerang is a seedling of Josee; it’s other parent is not known.

Chaenomales Double Take Series (centre middle in picture, click to enlarge) These new double flowered “japonicas” represent a big step forward. First of all, the flowers are huge, much larger than those of existing varieties, and they’re also double – almost like camellias in form - and come a great burst of spring colour.

The plants are modest in size, reaching about 3-4ft/0.9-1.2m high and 4-5ft/1.2-1.5m across and here’s another plus – they have no thorns. This series really looks to be a big step forward in these tolerant and easy-to-grow shrubs.

Developed by Dr. Tom Ranney at the Mountain Crops Research and Extension Center in North Carolina, three varieties have been launched so far, you can guess the colours – Orange Storm, Pink Storm and Scarlet Storm.

None of these plants are yet available here in Britain, look out for them in 2011.

Image ©Terra Nova Nurseries, Walters Gardens, Proven Winners, and Plants for Europe.


Graham Spencer, Plants For Europe Ltd said:

hi Graham

Thanks for the good words on Phygelius Croftway Snow Queen. My father's experience with breeding Phygelius has shown that it is really hard to get the white colouring into ultra-compact varieties. In spite of several generations of attempts and a few false leads, he has not really managed to get a good ultra-compact pure white. It seems that the white colouring is coupled with a gene for mid or large size plants. But he is still trying, as we'd like a good compact white to complement the other colours available already as ultra-compact plants.

He has also been working on some very exciting new colours. Some of these are already in trial on both sides of the Atlantic and we are hopeful of introduction in either 2012 or 2013.

Best wishes,

Graham Spencer

on 05 Jan 2011 at 11:44 AM

Graham Rice said:

Thanks Graham, Keep me in touch with developments...

on 17 Jan 2011 at 10:27 PM