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January 8th, 2016 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Coleus 'Kong Rose'  (annuals)

Last week I looked back into the 1800s and 1900s and picked out three annuals introduced long long ago that are still available and that we should all still be growing. This week I’ve picked three recent introductions that haven’t, perhaps, had they attention they deserve and which far more of us should try this year.

Coleus ‘Kong Rose’
Coleus are probably the finest of all foliage plants for summer containers and for dramatic summer borders. They were popular in Victorian times but then sort of migrated away from borders and pots into greenhouses and were brought out for short periods for special displays.

The Kong coleus changed all that but not everyone seems to have got the message. These are big plants, reaching 60cm, sometimes more, in height with no trouble at all and with leaves up to 30cm long. Superb in large patio containers and in exotic summer borders, the dramatic colouring of ‘Kong Rose’ will certainly make you take notice.

Lupin 'Snow Pixie' (annuals)Lupin ‘Snow Pixie’
We all know what lupins are – or do we? The perennial lupins in their brilliant colours and colour combinations are required elements of the herbaceous border but what about annual lupins?

‘Snow Pixie’ is neater than perennial lupins, it’s much bushier and with smaller and more refined foliage. It flowers from June to October (if deadheaded), the flowers are pure white with an occasional pink blush – and, what’s more, they’re strongly scented. Ideal anywhere sunny. ‘Snow Pixie’ was shortlisted for the Chelsea Plant of The Year award in 2013.

Geranium ‘Divas Orange Ice’
This is a slightly different case: if you don’t grow it this year you may never get the chance again.

This is one of the loveliest geraniums you can grow with a delightful colouring. Each petal of ‘Divas Orange Ice’ is white on the front and orange on the back, but the petals are thinner round the margins so that all round the edge the orange colouring seeps through from the back and the result is an orange picotee.

Developed in Norfolk by one of the world’s top breeders of new geraniums, it’s been around for about ten years but unfortunately it’s proved too difficult to produce enough seed that consistently maintains the colour pattern. So it will soon be disappearing.

So grow some this year. If you really like it you could save some seeds, but the problem is that with modern geraniums you never know what the seed will produce. So take a few cuttings.

Geranium 'Divas Orange Ice' (annuals)


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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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