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Graham Rice on Trials

Updates on trials and awards from the Royal Horticultural Society by Graham Rice

Amaranthus - bold and beautiful

Posted by Graham Rice on 30 Sep 2009 at 10:34 AM

Amaranthus 'Golden Giant' in the trial at the RHS Garden at Wisley. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comWe all know the old cottage garden annual Love Lies Bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus. But down on the Wisley trials field right now is a trial of these impressive and easy-to-grow annuals - with almost thirty other entries alongside that familiar favourite.

They come in an amazing variety. As well as the long deep red tassels of Amaranthus caudatus there's a pale green form and a spectacular range of type with upright plumes in crimson, green, and biscuit brown plus some with tight, upright rather nobly flowers heads. There's also a range of varieties with coloured foliage.

One striking thing about the trial is that the mixtures are all noticeably poor compared with the single colours. They vary so much in height and style of flowering that in a group they just look terrible. So forget about ‘Mixed', ‘Ribbons and Beads' and ‘Pony Tails'.

Amaranthus 'Oeschberg' in the trial at the RHS Garden at Wisley. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comAmongst the those with biscuit brown plumes ‘Golden Giant' (above) was definitely the pick. ‘Marvel Bronze' features tall deep red plumes and bronze-red foliage which makes a great combination as does the rather similar ‘Oeschberg' (left).

A few varieties of the less robust Amaranthus tricolor were also included, these are the ones with multicoloured foliage but insignificant flowers. ‘Early Splendour' was probably the pick but they all develop a rather ungainly habit and none had the impact of the flowering types.

One thing to keep in mid is that most of these make big plants - 90cm-1.2m/3-4ft is common so they need space. But in a large container, slipped into spaces in mixed borders or as part of a tropical style summer border these are very effective.

You'll enjoy seeing these impressive annuals, take a stroll down to the trials while they're still looking good. And there are voting forms at the back of the Trials Pavilion so you can tell us which is your favourite.



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