Many years ago, when I was a Kew student, I had my first real experiences with diascias when I had to plant out Diascia cordata ‘Ruby Fields’ in the beds along the Broadwalk. They were interspersed with blue Festuca glauca and the effect was ground breaking. Diascias were delicate plants for the alpine house, not bedding plants, but Brian Halliwell, Curator of the Alpine Department, was ahead of his time, as well as scary for students. Diascias are plants from South Africa and, in the past twenty years, largely through the encouragement of plants people such as Derry Watkins and breeders like Hector Harrison and later breeding companies around the world, diascias have been transformed into amazing plants that truly cover themselves in flowers for most of the summer. If they get straggly just trim them back, make sure they are watered and fed, and the bounce back with more flowers. Even better, in addition to the rather strident, grumpy pink of ‘Ruby Fields’ the colour range has expanded to include lots of happier colours that I would be delighted to see in the garden. Perfect for pots, baskets and the front of borders, in well drained soil and mild winters, they will survive for more than one year too.
Here are more seen at Ball Colegrave.
And then there are nemesias. At about the same time, work started to make new nemesias, based on the subshrubby, South African Nemesia fruticans. Until then, nemesias were jelly-bean-coloured annuals like those below.
But N. fruticans turned nemesias into neat, tidy, slightly tender perennials with flowers in purple, pink and blue shades and, amazingly, perfume, something we had not seen in nemesias before. Now there are dozens and some are lovely. They are certainly easy to grow and flower for ever. I think they are in danger of becoming just too dumpy and have too many flowers, but I just love this ‘Myrtille’, named after the French for bilberry.
New for 2017 is this yellow and white creation which, as its name suggests. is perfumed too.
You can buy a wide range of nemesias from here – http://www.nemesia.co.uk/nemesia-14-c.asp
I have no connection with them and have not bought plants from them.