I have extolled the virtues of Cambridge-bred Tumbelina petunias many times before so it was exciting to see the newest offering at the Ball Colegrave open day this week. Latest in the range is the lovely ‘Maria’ which has the same compact habit, perfect for full baskets or for cascading from pots but this time in a glorious lavender that is almost blue. The flowers are deeper in colour when they open and fade slightly as they age, all the time smelling lovely. There is nothing much to say really except that this is a wonderful thing to look out for next spring.
And now for something a bit more controversial – a dwarf monarda. I like monardas but I rarely plant them because, despite their fragrant foliage and lovely, very showy flowers, most varieties are very top heavy in rich soil (which they prefer) and they are ruined by mildew if the soil is dry or if there is a Monday in the week! I have never really been happy with them and although there are lots of newer kinds, reputedly more resisitant to mildew, I still cannot say that I have ever loved them. So I was intrigued by these new ‘Balmy’ monardas which are supposed to be resistant to mildew (I cannot really vouch for this) and are very short and early flowering (I can confirm this). There are four colours in the series and they grow to about 30cm high and, as you can see, they cover themselves in bloom. I am slightly worried about what happens once those flowers have faded – I think you should trim them off and maybe there will be a second flush. I just hope you don’t end up with a tired looking mess of mildewed leaves.
And so on to callibrachoas. These mini-petunias are derived from species found in South America and although they are related to petunias they are a distinct genus (though the two have been successfully hybridised). The genus is named after Antonio de la Cal y Bracho, a Mexican botanist.
The flowers are just like miniature petunias and they have been on the market as bedding plants for more than a decade. The early varieties were rather brittle and I found they broke off in the wind when they were in baskets and the other possible problem was that they are rather sensitive to soil pH and young plants in small pots, especially if they were overwatered and the weather was cold, would turn yellow and look very ill. There are several series, produced by different breeders all around the world and the different companies sell these. Ball Colegrave list several and the Cabaret series is noted for its ability to tolerate composts with a higher pH than usual (useful since most multipurpose composts have a pH of 7 or more). Their other main series is Can Can which is slightly more mounded and height but both are suitable for baskets or pots.
Because the flowers are small, but bright and showy and held above the foliage, they do not need the regular deadheading that is necessary with petunias which sometimes look as though they are covered in discarded shreds of toilet paper in wet weather.
Anyway there are some lovely colours and I quite like the doubles too.
Can Can Double Yellow
Can Can Double Pink Vein
Cancan Double Apricot
Can Can Black Cherry
Cabaret Sky Blue
Cabaret Scarlet Improved
Cabaret Deep Yellow
Cabaret Violet Glint – new in 2017
Starlight Pink – New for 2017
Starlight Blue – new for 2017