Posts Tagged ‘hardy perennial’

Best lupins money can buy

February 8th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Lupins ‘Blossom’, ‘Masterpiece’, and ‘Polar Princess’ (l-r)These are the best lupins you can buy. It’s as simple as that. Let me explain.

George Russell, back in the 1930s, was the first to develop lupins in this style, allowing bees to cross the yellow-flowered tree lupin with the blue-flowered perennial L. polyphyllus to create – eventually – dazzling, long spiked plants in amazing colours and colour combinations. He worked for decades slowly improving them year by year. He raised an astonishing 152 named varieties in all but there was always a problem; his lupins were difficult to propagate.

Each plant only produced a few cuttings so there were never very many plants to sell. One attempt to solve the problem was to grow them from seed and it’s certainly possible to grow seed-raised lupins without much difficulty. They’re colourful, it’s true, but the fact is that the quality is just not there and purple colouring and then gappy spikes tend to dominate. In the end his named varieties faded away. Virus diseases didn’t help.

In 1985, Woodfield Lupins won the first of ten Gold Medals at Chelsea having used the remaining Russell Lupins to develop new varieties. But, again, propagation was a problem.

Then for many years, down in Devon, Sarah Conibear worked on creating her own named varieties in the same style and she too won Gold Medals at Chelsea with them. But now there’s a difference. Modern laboratory propagation techniques have made it easier to produce these impressive named lupins in sufficient numbers to offer them here.

They come in a collection of five varieties: ‘Blossom’, ‘Masterpiece’, and ‘Polar Princess’ (l-r above) plus ‘Manhattan Lights’ (purple and yellow) and ‘Tequila Flame’ (red and yellow).

And you know what else? They’re all deliciously fragrant! Why not try the very best of all lupins?

Tough new long flowering perennial

October 5th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Heliopsis 'Burning Hearts'

This is a great year for new perennials. I discussed Echinacea ‘Green Twister’ here a week or two back, now here’s another superb new easy seed-raised perennial that flowers for months: Heliopsis ‘Burning Hearts’.

This tough perennial has two main features. The bronze foliage shows off its rich colouring from the moment it peeps through the soil in spring and still retains its dark tones now, in October.

Then from early summer onwards, the flowers open. Each bloom features, two or three rows of narrow, slightly twisted, slightly rolled back petals that are yellow changing to orange at the base around the reddish-orange eye.

Each stems carries opposite pairs of leaves, and two flowering shoots develop from the leaf joint. Then each leaf joint on each flowering stem also produces two flowering shoots and the result is a long succession of flowers giving a striking display. Dead heading is easy and makes a huge difference, prompting more branching and so more and more flowers.

I planted some small trial plants in the spring of last year and in their first summer they were superb. They all came back strongly after the winter, with the addition of a few self sown seedlings scattered around the garden. This summer they took the heat very well and I was still dead heading them yesterday and new flowers are still developing.

Heliopsis ‘Burning Hearts’ is one of the best new perennials I’ve seen for years.