Aeoniums 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.”
The 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.