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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

Marigold ‘Kees Orange’: New for fiery summer borders

Posted by Graham Rice on 21 Nov 2011 at 12:15 PM

Tall African Marigold 'Kees Orange'. Image © Mr Fothergills SeedsWe know that African marigolds can be some of the most vivid of plants. The problem is that so many of them have been modified by plant breeders into such short, dumpy and inelegant plants.

This has been done partly because they believe gardeners are only interested in dwarf plants and partly because if plants are dwarf, growers can fit more shelves on to those vertical trolleys they use to deliver plants to the garden centre.

But integrating plants like footstools into today’s mixed borders is difficult, they just look so out of place. So the arrival of ‘Kees Orange’ (left, click to enlarge), which reaches about 2ft/60cm, is very welcome especially as it’s such a rich colour.

The flowers are about 2in/5cm across, rather like carnations in form, held on vigorous and well-branched plants and are far more intense in colour than other orange marigolds. Because they’re taller than most African marigolds, they will integrate well into mixed borders, and especially with other hot-coloured summer and autumn plants like cannas and dahlias.

Treat ‘Kees Orange’ as a half hardy annual and sow seed in heat from February to April, or sow outside where they are to flower a little later; being so vigorous they should flower well outside when treated like a hardy annual and sown in May.

‘Kees Orange’ was developed in Holland by the prolific plant breeder Kees Sahin who developed a wide range of annual and perennial flowers. This was one of his last projects before he passed away a couple of years ago.

You can order seed of African marigold ‘Kees Orange’ from Mr Fothergill’s Seeds.

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