What’s in a name? ‘Mango Tango’
I tend to consider plant purchases very carefully. Although I am tempted by impulse purchases from time to time, most of my plants are given a lot of thought, trawling through websites again and again. My choices are also influenced by what, already planted, have done well and so, this spring, I have added quite a few new, shrubby potentillas.
Now I know that these are often passed over when plants are selected for borders. They are too often thought of as plants for supermarket car parks, usually spangled with empty crisp bags and soft drink cans. They can be the epitome of suburban bad taste, hacked back at inappropriate times or left to become unsightly mounds of dead growth. But, apart from actually thriving in my awful soil, they are bright and cheerful and bloom for a very long time, from late spring into late summer. Added to that the fact that they are hardy in even the coldest areas, being native to sub-arctic regions, (growing wild in the British Isles, most notably in The Burren in western Ireland) and they are a reliable, if not dazzling, choice.
The flowers and leaves are typically Rosaceaous and betray their alliance to strawberries but now they have been renamed Dasiphora. The split is because potentillas have palmately divided leaves* and Dasiphora has pinnate leaves and are shrubby. I am not sure what this dasiphora is about – the best I can come up with is that dasy means ‘hairs’ and phora means ‘carrying’. The leaves are variably hairy but I am not sure this is the reason for the name. Whatever the reason I think this name change will be ignored for a long time, and will be by me.
*In fact the native, beautiful Potentilla anserina (silverweed) has notably pinnate leaves so I am not convinced by this unless Dasiphora has pinnate leaves AND shrubby stems.
Some of the plants I buy are rather random and chosen because of their names. With so many potentillas from which to choose, it has to be a bit random and so, when I wanted an orange one to extend the colour range, I was tempted by ‘Mango Tango’.
Some of the ‘non-yellow’ potentillas are less vigorous than I am used to and, despite the huge step in colour expansion initiated by the now rarely seen ‘Red Ace’ introduced in the 70s, it was always a little disappointing in performance. And, like most reds and oranges, it faded in hot sun or when the soil was dry. So these new potentillas will be an interesting learning curve. I am looking forward to ‘Citrus Tart’, ‘Creme Brulee’ and ‘Bellissima’ to bloom. But, so far, ‘Mango Tango’ is the first to bloom. It was raised at the University of Manitoba, Canada, and introduced in 2003. It should be compact, reaching 60-75cm high and a bit wider. The flowers are set against rich green foliage and open a delicious colour that is possibly more papaya than mango. The orange shade is richer at the centre of the flower and it does fade as the flowers mature. I suspect the blooms will be paler in summer heat but we will see. For now I am enjoying the novelty of the colour.
We have found that potentillas are fabulous performers in the garden, good healthy plants with a very long flowering season. I would prefer if the flowers were a little larger and had fragrance!
It is strange that I was thinking about lack of fragrance when I was writing that. I suppose it is asking just a bit too much!
I do like potentillas, so reliable and sturdy. That orange is a lovely addition…
Yes. It is nice to have something in the garden that just gets on with things without a fuss!