Black, pink and green are the colours in question in this eighth instalment of our series on new plants finding a place on our listing for 2014.
If you like black or nearly black plants, you will like Dianthus Barbatus Monksilver Black, an unusual and very attractive form of the plant commonly known as Sweet William. It forms a compact bushy plant with distinctive, virtually black evergreen foliage and, above that in late spring into summer, clusters of dark maroon flowers that are so dark that they, too, are virtually black. And they’re fragrant, for your added pleasure. Lovely, though it wouldn’t stand out on a dark night, we suppose. Often grown as biennials, these are in fact perennial plants, if relatively short-lived. Worth it, though, however many seasons they last.
You will certainly have heard of Digitalis Illumination Pink. Since taking Chelsea by storm in 2012, this new cross between Digitalis and Isoplexis (from the Canary Islands and which we also grow and sell in its own right) has been deservedly in demand. It has a compact and bushy habit with a semi-evergreen rosette of toothed lance-shaped leaves and spikes clothed with deep pink flowers with warm apricot throats. Very long flowering, which is good news. Thompson & Morgan, who bred this new introduction, stand to do very well out of it and are busy already introducing new colour variations.
Now for Echinacea Green Jewel. There have been so many – perhaps too many – new varieties of Echinacea flooding on to the market in recent years, and green flowers are not to everyone’s taste, we admit, but this Piet Oudoulf introduction might convince even the more reluctant amongst you. Quilled lime green petals surround a flattish and fragrant central cone of darker green, which, set against the backdrop of the equally green foliage, makes for a rather sumptuous appearance. If green’s your thing, this one should be on your planting list.
Rob & Joanna – February 2014
Three very different plants in terms of size and style for our seventh update on what’s up and coming for the new season.
Returning to our lists after a brief absence is Colocasia Diamond Head: this is a real black beauty which will stop those who see it in their tracks. The difference between this one and the more usually seen Black Magic is in the fact that the leaves have a crinkled effect and are beautifully glossy – so shiny, indeed, that we have seen them described as like an oil slick! The leaves are matt initially but suddenly develop their gloss as they mature – it’s a lovely transition to behold. If kept indoors in winter at 10 degrees plus, the leaves will remain. If it’s much colder, the plant will go dormant. Keep it only lightly watered in winter in any case.
Delosperma Jewel of the Desert Peridot is a little stunner, with the emphasis not just on the little, though this is a low growing fleshy leaved plant that will carpet a dry spot and brighten it up all summer with its vibrant sunshine yellow flowers that shade inwards to white with yellow anthers. And yes, it is hardy in a sunny spot with well drained soil. The really long varietal name comes about because it is one of the Jewel of Desert series, so those three words appear in the name of every plant in the series. We know there are good commercial reasons for this kind of thing, but we still really dislike the practice. Somehow it turns plants into a commodity, which doesn’t seem right!
A new and definitely rather special delphinium which doesn’t get too tall and won’t flop, Highlander Moonlight has the usual elegant spires of flower in mid-summer, but the flowers themselves are frilly doubles in lilac blue around apple green centres. Highly desirable. Nice name too, we think. It will do well given plenty of sunshine and moist but well drained soil. Getting to around 3 feet, it shouldn’t need staking, which is a real plus point about this series. This is the plant which persuaded us to grow another delphinium: we haven’t done so in recent years for various reasons.