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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

  • Chelsea Plant Of The Year - Where to buy the contenders

    Graham Rice on 25 May 2013 at 10:05 PM

    Clematis 'Kaiser', shortlisted for the 2013 Chelsea Plant Of The Year Award. Image ©Julian Weigall/RHSLast time I told you about the winner and the two runners up for the  Chelsea Plant of The Year 2013. This time, I’m going to set out where you can buy all twenty of the shortlisted plants, or who will be selling them when they become available. These are twenty of the best new plants around, and all are well worth trying.

    Chelsea Plant of the Year 2013
    Mahonia eurybracteata subsp. ganpinensis 'Soft Caress'
    Gardening Express

    Chelsea Plant of the Year 2013 Runners-Up
    Clematis 'Lemon Dream'
    Thorncroft Clematis

    Tropaeolum 'Fruit Salad'
    Thompson & Morgan

    Chelsea Plant of the Year 2013 Shortlised Plants
    Aeonium 'Poldark'
    Trewidden Nursery (available to order in June 2013)

    Allium schoenoprasum (Chives) 'Cha Cha'

    Billbergia 'Hallelujah'
    Every Picture (not available to order at the time of writing)

    Clematis 'Kaiser' (top, click to enlarge)
    Thorncroft Clematis

    Diascia Sundiascia Rose Pink
    Hayloft Plants

    Heuchera 'Thomas' (Fox Series)
    Plantagogo (not available to order at the time of writing)

    Lathyrus odoratus 'Chelsea Centenary'
    Mr Fothergills

    Lavandula angustifolia Platinum Blonde ('Momparler')
    Gardening Express

    Nepeta grandiflora 'Summer Magic', shortlisted for the 2013 Chelsea Plant Of The Year Award. Image ©Julian Weigall/RHSLeucanthemum x superbum 'Real Neat'
    Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants
    Simply Seeds and Plants

    Lilium 'Sweet Desire'
    H W Hyde & Son (not available to order at the time of writing)

    Lilium 'Zirconia'
    H W Hyde & Son (not available to order at the time of writing)

    Lupinus nanus 'Snow Pixie'
    Not yet availabl


  • Chelsea Plant Of The Year – 2013 winners

    Graham Rice on 25 May 2013 at 08:09 PM

    Mahonia 'Soft Caress', winner of the Chelsea Plant Of The Year Award for 2013. Image©Julian Weigall/RHSOn the Monday afternoon of the Chelsea Flower Show, this year’s award for the best new plant at the show, the Chelsea Plant of The Year, was announced – Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ (above, click to enlarge). The runners-up were Clematis 'Lemon Dream' and Tropaeolum 'Fruit Salad'.

    I wrote about Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ here on the RHS New Plants blog back in September last year. It’s outstanding in combining the long attractive spikes of fragrant yellow flowers, and the blue-black berries that follow, with slender, soft and spine-free foliage. It also makes a more maneagable plant than many mahonias, and its slightly silvered evergreen foliage is attractive in a container or border all year round.

    You can order Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ from Crocus, and also from Gardening Express.

    Clematis 'Lemon Dream', runner-up in the Chelsea Plant Of The Year Award for 2013. Image ©Julian Weigall/RHSIn second place came Clematis 'Lemon Dream' (left, click to enlarge). Unique in having large, fragrant double flowers in pale lemon, the most prolific flush of bloom on this self-clinging alpine clematis is in late spring with a second flush later. Needing little or no pruning, and it’s easy to grow.

    You can order Clematis 'Lemon Dream' from Thorncroft Clematis.

    The plant voted into third place is very different, a nasturtium. Tropaeolum ‘Fruit Salad’ (below) took twelve years to develop after a customer passed a plant with serrated petals to Thompson & Morgan. The result is the first bicoloured nasturtum with serrated petals. And it’s also sterile so it flowers continuously for a long season on bushy, slightly trailing plants.

    You can order Tropaeolum ‘Fruit Salad’ from Thompson & Morgan.

    Demand for all three of these plants is high so, although orders can be placed now, delivery of some plants may be delayed while stock is built up.
    Tropaeolum 'Fruit Salad', runner-up in the Chelsea Plant Of The Year Award for 2013. Image ©Julian Weigall/RHS


  • Two brand new crocosmias

    Graham Rice on 20 May 2013 at 03:45 PM
    Crocosmia 'Twilight Fairy Crimson', a new dark-leaved crocosmia with bright red flowers. Image ©Terra Nova Nurseries)Back in 2008, I wrote a piece here about a flurry of new crocosmias - some of which turned out not to be new at all! Now, as a result of new breeding work carried out in Oregon, we have two genuinely new crocosmias added to the 2013 RHS Plant Finder, which came out in April.

    'Twilight Fairy Crimson' (above, click to enlarge) and 'Twilight Fairy Gold' (below left, click to enlarge) are both short, as crocosmias go, reaching only about 40cm, and both have the same smoky bronze foliage that makes the old favourite ‘Solfatare’ so much appreciated. So, like ‘Solfatare’, the leaves make a valuable contribution to the border tapestry long before the flowers open.Crocosmia 'Twilight Fairy Gold', a new coppery-leaved crocosmia with golden yellow flowers. Image ©Terra Nova Nirseries

    'Twilight Fairy Crimson' has rich red, flared flowers carried in branched  heads on dark stems and with that bronze tint to the foliage. The foliage of 'Twilight Fairy Gold' has more of a coppery colouring, and orange-yellow flowers open from orange buds.

    Both are good towards the front of sunny borders, in mixed containers, and even as neat cut flowers. Although drought tolerant, they’re best kept moist to keep them flowering well, to help the flowers last as long as possible, and to help prevent spider mite attack.

    You can order Crocosmia 'Twilight Fairy Crimson' from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.

    You can order Crocosmia  'Twilight Fairy Gold' from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.

    Other crocosmias added to the RHS Plant Finder this year are: 'Butterball', 'Eggs and Bacon', 'Sherbert Orange' and 'Suzanna'.



  • New plants in the 2013 Plant Finder

    Graham Rice on 01 May 2013 at 09:20 PM

    2013 RHS Plant Finder: 77,160 plants, 555 nurseriesJust thought I’d let you have some more facts and figures about the new RHS Plant Finder, which came out last month. In particular, news of some of the new entries in the 2013 edition, new plants available for the first time.

    First of all, there are exactly 4,329 new entries. As last year, Hemerocallis show their surge in popularity with two hundred and fifty new entries, more than any other plant, with tulips following on at two hundred and eight. The next few are not surprising – Primula (178), Narcissus (148), Iris (128) and Dahlia (119).

    Next on the list, in seventh place, is Brugmansia (Datura as was) with an amazing ninety eight new additions, almost all from a nursery that is also new in the Plant Finder, Naieus Exotics. Then comes Fuchsia (88) followed by another surprise – Tillandsia with seventy seven new additions. In tenth place are hellebores with fifty three new additions.

    I discussed the ten new plants with the most suppliers in the 2013 Plant Finder in Rose 'Madame Boll': New in the 2013 RGHS Plant Finder but first seen in 1859. Image ©Kordes Rosesa recent post. But one was left out of the list because it is by some long way not a new introduction. Rose 'Madame Boll' (right, click to enlarge), listed by seven suppliers, is an old Damask Portland rose, pink and highly scented originally introduced in 1859 by the German breeder Kordes. Now it’s back.

    To follow on from my earlier post abut the new plants listed by six or more suppliers, here’s the list of new entries listed by five different suppliers.
    Allium 'Cameleon
    Clematis Giselle ('Evipo051')
    Clematis Samaritan Jo ('Evipo075)
    Cornus alternifolia Golden Shadows ('Wstackman')
    Crocosmia 'Twilight Fairy Crimson'
    Fragaria x ananassa (strawberry) 'Buddy'
    Helenium 'Hot Lava'
    Helenium 'Ruby Charm'
    Mahonia eurybracteata subsp. ganpinensis 'Soft Caress'
    Nandina domestica 'Seika'

    I’ll be looking some of these over the next few months, starting with Crocosmia 'Twilight Fairy Crimson and its new sister 'Twilight Fairy Gold' next time.

    You can order the 2013 RHS Plant Finder from the RHS Bookshop.