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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

Recent Comments

  • Digitalis ‘Illumination Raspberry’: Latest in the popular series

    Graham Rice on 21 Apr 2013 at 01:26 PM
    Digitalis ‘Illumination Raspberry’: Latest in the popular series Image © Thompson & MorganThe Illumination Series of foxgloves is an impressive addition to our range of hardy perennials and a fine example of the plant breeder’s art and science.

    Created by Thompson & Morgan plant breeder Charles Valin, who earlier this month was awarded the RHS Cory Cup, the Society’s award for excellence in plant breeding, the series combines our familiar purple-flowered biennial foxglove and its uncommon relative from the Canary Islands, Digitalis canariensis (formerly Isoplexis canariensis), with its orange flowers and rather woody habit.

    The first result of bringing these two unlikely relatives together was ‘Illumination Pink’. This was followed by ‘Illumination Chelsea Gold’, which won the Plant of The Year award at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show, and now the latest to appear is ‘Illumination Raspberry’.

    ‘Illumination Raspberry’ has the same upright habit, and the same long long season of flower spikes, this time in a rather purplish raspberry red with a pale speckled throat, And it has the same impressive attraction to bees as its predecessors in the series.

    Good in sunny borders that are well-drained, and also in containers, the plants are sterile, no seed is produced, so they flower continuously for many months.

    Digitalis ‘Illumination Raspberry’ will be available in a collection with ‘Illumination Pink’, on Richard Jackson’s Garden on QVC TV, on Saturday 26 April at 9am. You’ll find QVC on Sky Digital (channel 640), on Virgin TV (channel 740), on Freesat (channel 800) and on Freeview (channel 16). The same collection will then be available on the QVC website while stocks last.



  • 2013 RHS Plant Finder is out – with over 4,000 new plants

    Graham Rice on 09 Apr 2013 at 02:20 PM
    Geranium Azure Rush™ is the new plant listed by most RHS Plant Finder nurseries. Image ©Blooms of Bressingham.Yesterday saw the launch of the 2013 RHS Plant Finder, now with over 75,000 entries and over 4,300 new additions for this year. Of course, some of these additions are plants that are returning but the majority are new plants, first time entries.

    It’s always instructive to take a look at the new plants that are listed by the most nurseries, it’s a good gauge of their value, and top of the list this year, with ten stockists, is Geranium Azure Rush™. If this pale blue, white-eyed hardy geranium is as good as its parent, Geranium Rozanne™, then it’s going to be a popular success.

    Joint second on the list with eight stockists listed is, perhaps unexpectedly, a 1m high thistle. Cirsium rivulare ‘Trevor's Blue Wonder’. “It's not blue but it is bluer (than 'Atropurpureum')…,” says Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Plants. He continues: “the stems are a mixture of white pubescence and purple staining with silvery-green basal foliage.”

    Also in the Top Ten most widely stocked newcomers is a plant I wrote up here last year, Choisya x dewitteana 'Aztec Gold', with white flowers and narrow golden evergreen leaves. More recently, just a few weeks ago, I wrote up another popular newcomer for 2013 Hydrangea aspera 'Hot Chocolate' with its dark foliage a large lacecap flowers. One of a number of new Shasta daisies, Leucanthemum x superbum FREAK! ('Leuz0001'), is also in the Top Ten.The Lark Ascending, and three other David Austin Roses, make the Top Ten newcomers for 2013. Image © David Austin Roses

    The other four places are all taken up with new roses from David Austin Roses: Boscobel (‘Auscousin'), Heathcliff (‘Ausnipper'), Tranquillity (‘Ausnoble') and The Lark Ascending (‘Ausursula').

    You can order Geranium Azure Rush™ from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries

    You can order Choisya x dewitteana 'Aztec Gold' from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries

    You can order Hydrangea aspera 'Hot Chocolate' from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries

    You can order Leucanthemum x superbum FREAK! from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries

    You can check out all four new English Roses on the David Austin Roses website.

    Cirsium rivulare ‘Trevor's Blue Wonder’ is listed in the RHS Plant Finder as available from these nurseries, but at the time of writing none actually list it on their websites as available to order.


    And you can order the 2013 RHS Plant Finder from RHS Bookshop.

  • Impatiens ‘Sun Harmony’: Mildew resistant sun lover

    Graham Rice on 08 Apr 2013 at 12:55 PM

    In the last couple of years, our Busy Lizzies have been devastated by disease so this year they will – and should be – hard to find in garden centres and largely unavailable by mail order. Frankly, there’s no point growing them.

    But what to grow instead? Well, how about a different kind of Impatiens?

    New Guinea impatiens have long been grown as indoor plants, and with their attractive foliage and large, bold and bright flowers have been much appreciated as pot plants. Developed from I. hawkeri, which grows wild in from Papua New Guinea, recent developments have adapted them to being grown outside in summer containers and even in sunny summer borders.

    It is the African species, I. walleriana, the species from which the familiar Accent, Super Elfin and other busy lizzies have been developed, that suffers from the devastating downy mildew which has made growing busy lizzies pointless.

    But the four colours of the Sun Harmony Series of New Guinea impatiens were outstanding last summer; their vigorous growth, tolerance of both full sun and partial shade, and their long flowering period really made them stand out. And, of course, no mildew.

    You can order Impatiens Sun Harmony Series from Gardening Direct.

    Also look out for…

    Impatiens Divine Series – nine colours, no mildew, tolerates cool conditions better. From Dobies.

    Chilli Pepper ‘Bhut Jolokia’ – one of the world’s hottest, and previous world record holder. From Simply Seeds and Plants.

    Petunia Eliza – bushy fragrant bicolour, new in the Tumbelina Series. From Mr Fothergill's.