I hope to post about a few more new or newish plants in the near future and, as ever, the majority will be annuals or bedding plants but to start the new week here is an exciting perennial. Although it is not quite new – it was one of the top 20 in the best plant contest at Chelsea Flower Show last year, it should be more widely available in Europe and the USA this year.
‘Neptune’s Gold’ is an eryngium so gets my vote straight away. Eryngiums are drought-tolerant, tough and generally easy to grow in most soils, in full sun, as long as the soil is not wet. They don’t need much maintenance and their flower heads are long lived and the flowers attract bees and butterflies. What’s not to like?
Well maybe the prickly heads but I think that is part of the charm. Most of the Old World species have blueish flowers and spiny bracts, often amazingly blue with a metallic sheen. They are good for your borders, flowering from June to August or longer, and make great cut flowers too and they can be dried for winter decoration too.
There is one commonly available variegated form – E. planum ‘Jade Frost’ – though the leaves of E. bourgatii in itself has pretty good, white-veined foliage. I was not too sure what to make of ‘Jade Frost’ at first because the young foliage, edged with cream and tinged with red looks a bit too flashy and good to be true. I was not convinced that it would be a ‘good doer’ but it has been and despite the plants flowering well last year there are new shoots emerging again. One tip I would give is that when you buy a plant make sure there are shoots coming up at the base in addition to the flowering stem or your plant may bloom and die. ‘Jade Frost’ has lovely leaves but the flowers are pretty much the same as usual E. planum. That is not a huge problem because the widely branching stems with hundreds of flower heads are perfectly good.
But ‘Neptune’s Gold’ is even better. Especially if, like me, you like yellow and blue together.
‘Neptune’s Gold’ was a chance seedlings that was found by Neil Alcock, Manager at Seiont Nursery in Wales, in 2008. He spotted the bright yellow leaves and propagated it by root cuttings at first until he was convinced it was really something special. It was sent to the Netherlands for micro-propagation and then on to Rob and Rosie Hardy of Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants to take it to Chelsea. It was Rosie who came up with the name which seems singularly appropriate for a yellow sea holly.
The plant itself is a gorgeous thing with bright yellow spring foliage that ages to lime green. The flowerheads are steely blue overlaying the golden shades and the subtle combination is beautiful.
I will be looking out for this one this spring and will let you know if I manage to find it! Let me know if you already have it and how it is doing.
Update August 2017
Well there are a few points to make after a year or two. Eryngium planum ‘Jade Frost’ has proved to be not as good as I had hoped because all the new shoots this year were plain green. Maybe I was unlucky but it is a bit disappointing. On the other hand ‘Neptune’s Gold’ has proved reliable, if not amazingly vigorous and it is a useful addition to garden bouquets.