Posts Tagged ‘patio plant’

Begonia in a different style

May 10th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Begonia 'Gryphon'

We always tend to think of begonias as flowering plants – whether it’s the dramatic double-flowered types, the neat bedding types or the prolific basket varieties. But there are also varieties grown for their foliage and the star is one called ‘Gryphon’.

‘Gryphon’ makes a big plant, 40-45cm high and 45-50cm wide. Every large darkly metallic leaf is jaggedly divided into points and streaked in silver but the stems and undersides are completely different. Beneath each leaf the colour is orange-red and that vivid colouring peeps out whenever the leaves turn or are held at an angle or are ruffled by wind.

As a specimen in a container it makes a dramatic patio plant that’s happy in sun, if kept consistently moist, or in partial shade if watering is a little less regular. Once established, ‘Gryphon’ is unexpectedly drought-tolerant.

Three plants in a 45cm pot will develop into a bold specimen plant for the patio. Alternatively use ‘Gryphon’ towards the front of bold tropical-style plantings featuring cannas and dahlias to hide their bare basal stems.

‘Gryphon’ is also more cold tolerant than many begonias, it will take 5C outside but in the autumn it pays to wheel your pot into the conservatory where it will continue to look good right through the winter. So why not give this very different style of outdoor begonia a try?

Exciting daisy hybrids

April 12th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Argyranthemum Grandaisy Series

A couple of years ago I enthused here about a new marguerite, arygyranthemum, with the slightly odd name of ‘Grandaisy Pink’. This was the first widely available variety of what had been a very rare hybrid between a traditional marguerite (Argyranthemum) and an annual chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum carinatum). It combined the wonderful flower colours of the annual chrysanth with the bushy, twiggy habit of the marguerite.

Now we have a whole series of them, five colours in all: pink, gold, white, reddish orange and one called “pink tourmaline” which is pink speckled with white and with a white ring around the dark eye.

All make neat and bushy little shrubs that reach about 50cm in height and they flower from June to the frosts – and often beyond. Moved into a conservatory in the autumn, a specimen in a pot may well flower right through the winter.

And as individual specimens is a very good way to grow them, one plant in a 30-45cm pot. They’re well matched for height so you could also plant all five in the same pot and they’re also superb as border specimens surrounded by lower spreading plants or even ground covering petunias or calibrachoas.

The stems on the individual flowers are long enough to snip for posies – or they will be if you keep the plants moist and feed them every couple of weeks.

And the name? In the wild marguerites grow in the Canary Islands, including Gran Canaria… They’re daisies, so Grandaisy. These exciting new daisies are easy and colourful… Give the a try.

Terrific ‘Toto’ rudbeckias

March 29th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Rudbeckia 'Toto Mixed'

On my first trip to California, long ago, I remember visiting one of the world top flower breeders. They developed new geraniums and petunias and marigolds and all sorts of new summer flowers for containers and borders. And they were working on rudbeckias.

At that time, rudbeckias were more or less yellow and they were tall. Developments were mainly in terms of how reliably double they could be made and whether or not the best doubles produced enough seed to sell.

But on that California visit I found rudbeckias were being created that were only a foot high. Not only that, but they came in mahogany and chestnut shades, as well as yellow and orange, and they also included some striking bicolours. They were called ‘Toto’.

Since then the ‘Toto’ rudbeckias have been refined and improved and they’re still available, as young plants and as seeds, and are still popular. Quite right too. Not only that, but ‘Toto’ has also received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

Their dark-eyed single flowers look right up at us, individually they’re very long lasting, collectively the display lasts for months as the buds open in a steady succession – and they’re so easy to deadhead!

Grow them at the edge of large containers, as specimens in smaller ones, in groups at the front of borders. They’re robust and easy to raise from seed.

Just give them sunshine.

A super rosy snapdragon

February 15th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Antirrhinim 'Twinny Rose'

The wild snapdragon, Antirrhinum majus, is native to southern Europe and was probably grown in Britain long before Linnaeus formalised its name in 1753. Always appealing, if only because of the way we can make the flowers open their mouths by pinching them at the sides, it’s been constantly developed and improved.

We’ve had tall cut flower types a metre high, tiny bushy ones and trailers for hanging baskets. We’ve had two different kinds of variegated ones and we’ve had bronze-leaved ones. We’ve had flowers in every colour but blue, including some striking bicolours, and we’ve had varieties with flared instead of two-lipped flowers and some with almost double flowers. We even have a few with scent.

‘Twinny Rose’ is the prettiest of the seven varieties in the Twinny Series, but they all combine a number of valuable features. They’re dwarf, but not too dwarf – about 30cm – and make low rounded plants that are good at the front of borders or at the edge of tubs.

The flowers are a lovely soft rose pink, in fact they open pale rose pink and then darken as they mature so each plant will be covered in flowers in different rosy shades.

The individual flowers are flared, with extra petals in the centre. The great thing about this is that the bees find the flowers difficult to pollinate – and it’s pollination that triggers the fading of the flowers. So the flowers last longer.

‘Twinny Rose’ is a lovely little snapdragon and this year it’s available as young plants as well as from seed. Well worth a try, don’t you think?