As I mentioned a few days ago, yesterday I went to see the plant trials at Ball Colegrave, an international supplier of plants to the nursery trade. It is a chance to see new and established plants growing side by side as well as inspiring plant groupings and combinations. If you have the chance, there is a public open evening today (look at my former post for details). I went on what has so far been the hottest day of the year.
First a few general shots:
You can see that it is all pretty awe-inspiring and everything is immaculate. There is a huge amount of work involved and it is a privilege to be able to attend. It is a showcase for nurseries and a sneak preview of what will be in the garden centres next year.
Now on to some of the plants that caught my eye. I think this could take a few posts so I will try to organise them sensibly.
But firstly, every visitor is asked to pop a blue flag next to the plant they like best – it is supposed to give them an idea of what people like. And I have to confess that I went against the fashion (as usual) and my lone flag was fluttering (or wilting since it was so hot) next to this plant.
Now I know it is a French marigold and maybe we have enough already (though the number of varieties is nothing compared to petunias!) but this one really stood out. I am becoming more and more impressed with French marigolds as I endure weird summer after weird summer because they are easy to grow, flower on and on and they look good when lesser bedding plants are defeated by too much rain.
But they do suffer a bit from having strident colours, and although there is a ‘Vanilla’ African marigold (which is actually a bit of a washout in wet summers) it seems that French marigolds have been stubbornly stuck in their mould. Until I saw the ‘new’ ‘Strawberry Blonde’.
I liked it because of the loose (ish) double flowers, the compact, but not dumpy, habit and most because of the colour. There is a hint of pink somewhere in those coppery tones and not only is it a novel colour I think this could be ‘the’ variety that helps release the marigold from its marriage with lobelia. I can see this nuzzling up to so many plants including ornamental grasses and heucheras (how cool would it be with heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’) or with blue hostas. I think this may be my plant of next summer.
I have many regrets about leaving Ireland and all the young plants before they flowered and I was sorry that I did not see the cosmos ‘Xanthos’ flower. But yesterday I had the chance to see it is bloom and … I was slightly underwhelmed!
Now the flowers were pretty enough, but they were a bit small! I suppose if you cross the small flowers of C. sulphureus to get the yellow colour you have to expect blooms smaller than the standard C. bipinnatus. Perhaps I was expecting too much.
And while we are on the subject of odd colours, I mentioned bidens ‘Beedance’ before, bidens with flowers in shades of orange which I was quite excited about. Well things get better!
Look out for ‘Bee Alive’, a new orange bidens with a very bushy habit. To be honest I thought it looked a bit like a very good French marigold, which is all getting a bit silly, but it was such a fantastic plant and, like most bidens it has the bonus of a nice perfume.
Now, pace yourself because there is more to come. I was also very taken with ‘Golden Eye’…
… and I quite liked ‘Moonlight’ …
…but what really amazed me was ‘Firelight’.
So now we have a bicoloured pink and white bidens. Where did the genes for that come from? It looks more like one of those newish coreopsis but has a spreading habit and although the flowers did not completely cover the foliage (thank goodness), there was a haze of pretty flowers that would work so well in pots and also at the front of a border. Imagine this with lavender or as a ground cover round an agapanthus.
Last year I mentioned petunia ‘Night Sky’ and now I have met it. It seems that although it is generally considered a ‘marmite’ plant it has proved popular where it has been grown for sale and I must admit that it is a lot better in the flesh than in photos. My only worry was that it looked too much like it has mildew. But it is vigorous and fragrant too. The flower markings vary with temperature – as do many ‘fancy’ petunias……
…such as Designer (TM) ‘Inksplash’ which is a pretty thing with large flowers edged with white and a rather ethereal ‘fading’ around the centre. Nice.
And so I will end this post with something that at least blends in colour – I wouldn’t want to end in a colour clash. This is verbena ‘Voodoo Lavender Stripe’. I am not a great fan of these stripey things because they are a bit fussy looking but because this is a bit more subtle I quite liked it. What do you think? Would you let any of these new plants room in your garden next year?
More new plants tomorrow – good and bad!