Skip navigation.

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

  • Viola ‘Teardrops’: New fragrant blend from You Garden

    Graham Rice on 25 Oct 2013 at 01:36 PM

    Viola 'Teardrops' is new fragrant blend from You Garden. Iamge © BallColegraveViolas have become staples of the winter garden, providing charming colour when little else is there to delight us. And their small flowers are so much more weather resistant than the large flowers of pansies. ‘Teardrops’ is a new variety that provides delightful winter and spring colour, but on neat semi-trailing plants that are ideal for hanging baskets.

    The plants trail but are not long and lank; they branch well creating a neat look and ensuring that there are no gaps in the display – who wants to see the basket through the flowers? And, although the flowers are small, each plant carries so many flowers over such a long season that the display is always colourful. Plus – they’re scented.

    There are eight colours in the mixture: some are almost pure colours, some have a few whiskers, and some have a bolder blotch.

    Plants should flower in mild spells in winter, and in favoured areas and sheltered situations, may start flowering at Christmas. They really get into their stride in February and continue right through spring until it’s time to preplace them with summer plants. They should not be allowed to dry out and although they may appreciate a little liquid feed in long mild spells it’s more important to feed them in spring as the weather becomes consistently warmer.

    You can order large plugs of Viola ‘Teardrops’ from You Garden.


  • Colourful new heleniums from Special Perennials

    Graham Rice on 09 Oct 2013 at 04:16 PM

    Helenium 'Hot Lava', new from Special Perennials. Image ©Darwin PlantsOnce seen as reliable workhorses of the autumn garden, heleniums are now being appreciated for the fine perennials they are and their value is increasingly appreciated not only in sunny borders but as cut flowers. Two new introductions, both developed in Holland, and available from Helenium specialists Special Perennials, continue the development od these easy-to-grow perennials.

    An important feature of Helenium 'Hot Lava' (left, click to enlarge) is the fact that the petals do not turn down, as they do in so many heleniums, and so greatly reduce the impact of the colour. In fact the tips of the petals are slightly upturned; it makes a huge difference. The petals open almost yellow, the develop orange and red streaks and mature to red.

    The plant is stout and upright, with unusually sturdy stems, and reaches about 90cm, with a constant succession of bloom from July to October, each individual flower lasting unusually well.

    Helenium 'Ruby Charm' (right, click to enlarge) also features slightly upturned petals and its other Helenium 'Ruby Charm', new from Special Perennials. Image ©Darwin Plantsstandout features are its consistently rich red colouring - this is probably the darkest red helenium around – maturing to a slightly fierier shade and its unusually compact habit, reaching just 60cm in height. And, like ‘Hot Lava’, its flowering season is unusually long.

    The flowers of these heleniums last well in a vase if not cut too soon; wait until most of the flowers on a stem are open before cutting.

    You can order plants of Helenium 'Hot Lava' from Special Perennials
    You can also order plants of Helenium 'Ruby Charm' from Special Perennials