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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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  • Five new roses from Peter Beales

    Graham Rice on 30 Jun 2012 at 03:11 PM

    Five new roses from Peter Beales for 2012. Images ©Peter Beales RosesPeter Beales Roses are famous as champions of old fashioned roses. By making so many old roses available to gardeners and showing off so effectively in the Norfolk rose gardens, they’ve inspired a huge number of gardeners to grow them.

    In recent years they’ve also been developing new roses under the guidance of Amanda Beales, daughter of the company’s founder, and this year they have five new introductions (above, click to enlarge). Three were launched at Chelsea, two more will be launched at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

    The Queen’s Jubilee Rose (‘Beajubilee’), launched at Chelsea, is a lovely fully double scented white rose blushed with peachy tones with traditional goblet flowers. Reaching only about 3ft/90cm is its good in containers and also good in borders.

    The cross that led to this rose was made in 2005 and while it’s been on test before being released it was learned that a hard prune in February suits it best, along with a fortnightly feed through the summer.

    Red Letter Day (‘Beajackdaw’), also launched at Chelsea, is another new rose with a traditional look. Crimson red flowers, quartered in the traditional way, are set against dark glossy foliage and there are relatively few thorns and those mostly low on the plant.

    With such a thoughtful name, this is a great rose to give to celebrate anything from passing a driving text to getting married.

    Finally from the Chelsea launches, Capel Manor House (‘Beajammie’) has a more simple look. Its semi-double, blood red flowers have unusual white striped on the young petals as well as gentle fragrance. This is a strong growing variety which can be grown as a climber in a small garden if tied in to its supports.

    The two Peter Beales roses launching at this year’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show are Nelson’s Journey (‘Beaflirt’) and Richard Porson (‘Beajuniper’).

    Nelson’s Journey is covered in beautiful two tone pink, semi-double flowers with a subtle fragrance. Its sales are supporting the charity of the same name which works to “bring back smiles to bereaved children”. The deep red buds of Richard Porson open to double crimson-pink, fragrant flowers on compact plants. It’s named for the influential eighteenth century classical Greek scholar who was from Norfolk, where Peter Beales Roses is based.

    All these roses are, or will soon, be available from Peter Beales Roses.


  • Double laced polyanthus: New from Hayloft Plants

    Graham Rice on 26 Jun 2012 at 01:07 PM

    Primula ‘Tarragem Gilded Garnet’ (top) and ‘Tarragem Sparkling Ruby’: New from Hayloft Plants. Image ©Simon CrawfordBritish gardeners have a special fondness for primroses and polyanthus, especially those with hints of the old varieties of long ago. We’ve seen some lovely new British-bred double primroses in recent years, now we have some stylish double-flowered laced polyanthus – ‘Tarragem Gilded Garnet’ (above, left) and ‘Tarragem Sparkling Ruby (below, left)’.

    Both varieties reach about 10in/25cm in height, both have delightful double flowers. The flowers of ‘Tarragem Gilded Garnet’ are a deep mahogany red with pale gold edging to every petal, ‘Tarragem Sparkling Ruby’ is a much brighter red with a fine white edge to every petal.

    Both were developed by Dr Margaret Webster, holder of the Plant Heritage National Collection of Primula (British floral variants) - that is, all the different forms of British native primulas – who’s been working on native primulas and the garden plants derived from them, for many years. Others of her Tarragem varieties (Tarragem, by the way, is an anagram of Margaret) can sometimes be seen at Primula ‘Tarragem Gilded Garnet’, New from Hayloft Plants. Image ©Margaret Webster specialist Primula shows.

    “I first began breeding double polyanthuses sometime in the early 2000's,” she told me, “and the two Tarragem double polyanthuses date from about 2008. It took time to get them bulked up by micropropagation. They can be grown as other polyanthuses, but all doubles benefit from feeding.  They normally don't set seed so expend much energy continuing to flower over the season.”

    You can order these Tarragem double polyanthus from Hayloft Plants.


  • David Austin Roses: Five new varieties

    Graham Rice on 21 Jun 2012 at 01:18 PM

    New roses from David Austin for 2012: Boscobel (Auscousin), Heathcliff Images © David Austin RosesAt Chelsea this year, David Austin Roses again launched a batch of new varieties. They had five this year, all with the familiar David Austin combination of an old-fashioned look but with the modern attributes of a long flowering season, disease resistance and compact growth.

    Boscobel (Auscousin), named for the seventeenth century Shropshire house, features red buds which open to form a rich salmon pink cup opening further to form a traditional rosette; sparks of orange-yellow enliven the colouring and the fragrance is dominated by myrrh. Boscobel is very compact, reaching just 3ft/90cm in height.

    Just a few inches taller, and slightly spreading in habit, Heathcliff (Ausnipper) features large, tea scented, deeply cupped, fully double rosette flowers in that sultry shade of deep crimson which everyone associates with old roses. This is an especially healthy variety, with dark green foliage.

    With very few thorns, the flowers of Royal Jubilee (Ausparade) are rich pink, rounded in shape and with a deep fruity scent. The inwardly curved petals are reminiscent of a peony. It’s vigorous, repeat-flowering of course, and at 5ft/1.5m a little taller than most of this year’s other newcomers.

    Another taller variety, The Lark Ascending (Ausursula) reaches 5ft/1.5m and is unusually vigorous and healthy. The petals of the semi-double apricot flowers are slightly frilled and create an attractive feathery look. The fragrance is light, but with up to fifteen flowers in each head the effect is impressive.  Named after Ralph Vaughan Williams’ classical piece, recently voted Britain’s favourite by listeners to Desert Island Discs.

    Finally, Tranquillity (Ausnoble), another almost thornless variety and with the classic old rose look. From creamy buds large, beautifully formed, rosette shaped blooms open in pure white with a creamy centre. Healthy and vigorous, upright with glossy leaves, and reaching just 4ft/1.2m, the flowers are lightly apple scented.

    Find out more about all these roses, and order them for autumn delivery.


  • Aeonium 'Cornish Tribute' and ‘Logan Rock’: Plant Of The Year finalists

    Graham Rice on 18 Jun 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Aeonium 'Logan Rock': Chelsea Plant of the Year Finalist 2012. Image ©RHSAeoniums have become popular plants for Mediterranean and gravel style gardens, especially as bold specimens planted in terracotta pots. Their broad succulent rosettes in green or bronze and the way they develop striking shapes, bring a unique look to a sunny patio.

    But while many gardeners appreciate the sculptural shapes of mature plants, many prefer plants in a more compact and uniform style. At Trewidden Nursery in Cornwall that is what they set out to create.

    At Chelsea Flower Show last month, Claire Batten of Trewidden Nursery explained about Aeonium 'Logan Rock'. “Compact in habit, it grows to about 75cm/30in in height and 45cm/18in in width, freely branching. The branches have lovely lance-shaped dark leaves, green in the centre, and this doesn’t change apart from in the heat and drought when the colour gets darker on the outside. It’s fantastic in containers and very drought tolerant.”

    Aeonium 'Cornish Tribute': Chelsea Plant of the Year Finalist 2012. Image ©RHSThe second of their two new aeoniums is 'Cornish Tribute'. “It’s a new hybrid,” she said, “compact in habit - very very tight clumps - with rosettes that are garnet coloured on the outside and apple green on the centre; it reaches 45cm/18in in height and 20-25cm/10-12in in spread. Very very drought tolerant. Fantastic for containers, doesn’t show any of the dead leaves when it’s dry.”

    The breeding programme began with crossing several different Aeonium species. About five hundred seedlings which looked especially different or interesting were grown on in 9cm/3.5in pots and then the most promising fifty plants moved on into 1.5l pots for final assessment. These two are the first varieties to be named.

    Finally, in recognition of their enjoyment of local refreshment, nursery owners Claire Batten and Jeff Rowe named ‘Cornish Tribute’ after their favourite local Cornish beer, while ‘Logan Rock’ is named after their local pub.

    Aeonium 'Cornish Tribute'  and 'Logan Rock'  are available from Trewidden Nursery.


  • Heuchera ‘Circus’: Plant of The Year finalist

    Graham Rice on 11 Jun 2012 at 01:41 PM
    Heuchera 'Circus' - Plant of The Year finalist 2012
    The flood of new varieties of Heuchera that have originated in the United States has perhaps distracted us from the fact that Europe is also generating some superb new varieties.

    One of the best of recent introductions, from France, was a finalist in this year’s Chelsea Flower Show Plant of The Year competition. Heuchera ‘Circus’ was developed by Thierry Delabroye who also created ‘Caramel’ and the superb ‘Citronelle’. At Chelsea Vicky Fox, of the Heuchera specialists Plantagogo, explained why it’s so special.

    “It’s an amazing plant for the garden. It’s evergreen, it produces beautiful flowers of cream and pink, and it produces this kaleidoscope of colour of leaves through the seasons, it changes as the seasons go on…. As the weather cools down the leaves change to this beautiful pink. In the spring you’ve got mint with a burgundy veining and in the summer it’s a buttery mint – I can’t think of any other way to describe it at this time of year. The veining fades as the weather goes warmer and then as it cools those leaves will change to pink. It’s really easy to grow, it’s easy to maintain, of course heucheras are really good garden plants.”

    ‘Circus’ has Heuchera villosa in its background which ensures that not only is it hardy through the winter but that it is also tolerant of extremes of summer heat. It  looks to be an especially good plant to grow as a specimen in a container.

    Heuchera ‘Circus’ is available from Plantagogo (scroll down).


  • Dianthus Memories: Plant of the Year runner-up

    Graham Rice on 06 Jun 2012 at 04:58 PM

    Chelsea Plant Of The Year runner-up. Image ©RHSLast summer at the National Plant Show, Dianthus Memories ('WP11 GWE04') won the award for the Best New Plant Introduction. Having won the top award at a trade show, recently it was a deserving runner-up in Chelsea’s Plant of the Year competition.

    The journey began eight years ago when Whetman Pinks, the world’s top breeders of new garden pinks, dissatisfied with the faults of the old cottage garden favourite ‘Mrs Sinkins’, decided it was time to create an up-to-date replacement. At the Chelsea Flower Show last week Caroline Bourne, of Whetman Pinks, explained.

    “There’s a very famous Dianthus variety called ‘Mrs Sinkins’ which was raised in 1863 the Master of the Slough workhouse. At Whetman Pinks 150 years later we’re raised a modern version of ‘Mrs Sinkins’ compatible with 21st century demands.

    “This plant, bred in 2004, has undergone extensive trialling to provide us with a plant that is pleasing to the eye, fills our noses with beautiful fragrance, is easy and satisfying to grow and repeat flowering. It’s versatile, it can be grown in pots, containers, borders, or up the garden path. It’s repeat flowering, naturally compact, about 12in/30cm high, it’s extremely hardy to frost and heat, drought tolerant, easy to grow in a well-drained sunny situation.

    “Most importantly, to me at last, it has the most fantastic scent, hurling out its fragrance at me stimulating the senses. This has very often been overlooked in modern breeding. Why the name Memories? Until Dec 2013 Whetman Pinks is donating all the royalties on this variety to the Alzheimer’s Society.”

    You can order plants of Dianthus Memories from Whetman Pinks. And look out for it at your local garden centre.