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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

  • Helleborus x sahinii ‘Winterbells’: A lovely new hellebore hybrid

    Graham Rice on 20 Jan 2014 at 01:37 PM

    Helleborus x sahinii 'Winterbells': A lovely new hellebore hybrid from Hayloft Plants. Image ©TakiiSome unexpected hellebore hybrids have come on the scene in recent years, hybrids between species that you’d just never expect to see. But this is probably the most surprising of all. Helleborus x sahinii ‘Winterbells’ is a cross between the stinking hellebore, H. foetidus, and the Christmas rose, H. niger. And that’s pretty much what it looks like.

    ‘Winterbells’ looks rather like a taller version of a Christmas rose, but with nodding flowers midway in size and shape between those of the two parents. The colour is especially pretty. The peachy pink buds open to good sized, flared, bell-shaped flowers that mature to pink on the outside and creamy white on the inside and then fade to green and remain on the plant for some time. The flowers are sterile and this helps prolong the display.

    In addition to this attractive colouring and the pretty pendulous flowers, ‘Winter Bells’ is unusual in other ways. Firstly, although flowers open mainly in winter and early spring, on my plants they also sometimes open in summer. Plants can also be rooted from cuttings in summer and may well flower the following winter.

    Many breeders have tried to cross these two species, but in 2004 breeders at the Dutch seed company K. Sahin Zaden BV, best known for developing unusual annuals, raised a single seedling from one pod of seeds and this is it - named in honour of the company’s founder, the late Kees Sahin.

    You can find more on this plant in John Grimshaw’s article on new hellebore hybrids in the December 2010 issue of the Royal Horticultural Society’s magazine, The Plantsman. Unfortunately, it’s not avalable online.

    You can order Helleborus x sahinii ‘Winterbells’ from Hayloft Plants.


  • Forsythia Gold Mine (‘Mindor’): Compact and prolific

    Graham Rice on 06 Jan 2014 at 02:05 PM
    Forsythia Gold Mine (‘Mindor’): compact and prolififc. Image ©ProvenWinners.comGardeners tend to think that forsythias all look the same – and of course, it’s true, they’re all yellow. The shade of yellow varies a little, but look carefully and you notice that there are other differences. This new introduction from France is a case in point.

    Gold Mine (‘Mindor’) has a number of good qualities. Its upright and spreading habit is welcome as so many others, including the popular ‘Lynwood’, are more arching and untidy. Its bright flowers are also crowded tightly along the stems – which is especially striking when the stems are cut for the house – and the stems are covered with flowers right to the base.

    The leaves are an unusually dark shade of green so make a better summer background for flowers and climbers than that of other forsythias, especially as they’re flat rather than folded along the midrib as in some other varieties. The freely branching stems of Gold Mine are also unusually dark.

    Gold Mine is not the most dwarf of forsythias, it reaches about 75cm in three years but eventually makes a taller plant. But it’s more compact than most and, like all forsythias, is best pruned after flowering and this can be used to control the height.

    This plant was actually available for a couple of years about six or seven years ago under then name Show Off but only a very few plants were sold. Now it’s available much more widely. It arose as a sport on the variegated form ‘Fiesta’ (itself a sport of the old favourite ‘Lynwood’) on the Minier nursery in France in 1997.

    You can order plants of Forsythia Gold Mine (‘Mindor’) from The Garden Centre Group and from Notcutts.