Over the years, visiting seed companies and looking over the rows and rows of plants grown side by side for testing and comparison, I’ve often noticed individual verbena plants in amongst the seed-raised mixtures that stood out. I even grew some mixtures myself, and picked out a few individual plants that looked promising and propagated them from cuttings. But, in the end, none proved truly exceptional.
But Brian Talman, Trial Ground Manager at Mr Fothergill’s Seeds, has struck gold with a verbena that caught his eye, or rather his nose, on their trials back in 2009.
“Walking past it one August day, I could smell it,” he told me. “I got down on my hands and knees for a closer look and it was exceptional. The colour was lovely, and that one plant in the row was also more vigorous.
“I dug it up, potted it, grew it on in the greenhouse and took cuttings. We continued to look at it and found that while all verbenas get mildew in the end, this was the last to get it.” Mr Fothergill’s decided it was so good that they decided to put it in their own catalogue.
‘Talman’s Fragrant Treasure’ is spreading rather than trailing. It makes a lovely specimen plant in a container and is a good mixed with other plants in a hanging basket. The individual flowers are lavender blue with a white eye – and then there’s that lovely scent.
For many many years Brian looked after the trials for one of the huge multinational seed companies and when he spotted a seedling that looked special he reported his find to the plant breeders and let them deal with it. Now, one of his own finds carries his own name.
You can order plants of Verbena ‘Talman’s Fragrant Treasure’ from Mr Fothergill.