Posts Tagged ‘rudbeckia’

Sunshine in the rain

August 16th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Rudbeckia Display at Mr Fothergill's

This week, on a day of biblical rain, a large group of the country’s garden writers and photographers and garden radio and TV personalities gathered at the Mr Fothergill’s trial ground in Suffolk.

The idea was to see this year’s new varieties, the potential new varieties for next year and beyond and just about every single variety of flowers and veg in the Mr F range – all growing in tough conditions, with absolutely no pampering.

We stood under our new Mr F fluorescent lime green umbrellas and watched the cornflowers sag down under the onslaught from the heavens. And this is where it got interesting. Nothing, except climbers and a few tall dahlias, was supported and while the direct sown cornflowers fell right over and the annual poppies hung their dripping heads, the direct sown larkspur nearby stood tall and beautiful, in particular the lovely blue-and-white ‘Frosted Skies’. This is the sort of performance that might tempt the powers that be to add it to the range.

The dahlias also shook off the rain impressively but the beat-the-rain stars of the day were the rudbeckias. A spectacular display was the central focus of this year’s planting and, as I stood there with the rain battering on my umbrella and my feet getting muddier by the moment, one or two of them leaned a little.

But they stood firm and created such a sparkle that under the charcoal clouds they were impressive from fifty yards away. And the star of them all was ‘Prairie Sun’ (across the top in the picture) its green eye surrounded by two-tone yellow petals.

A soon as the forecast looks better, I’ll be heading back to the trials on a more comfortable day to bring you more highlights from this year’s trials. And there are some very exciting new varieties to tell you about.

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.

Longer lasting cut flowers

June 29th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Mixed rudbeckias cut for the table

We all cut flowers from our gardens. I often cut them from mine, and I have ‘Hi Scent’ sweet peas in front of me on the table as I write as well a vase full of mixed sweet Williams. The rudbeckias (above) will be opening any day mow. But how do we make them last as long as possible?

Every summer I bring up this issue of making cut flowers last because, after all the time and effort and imagination you’ve spent looking after your flowers in the garden, it really pays to give a few thoughts to making them last. And a few simple tricks can make a huge difference. So here goes.

1. Cut them first thing in the morning, when they’ve had a cool night to take on moisture. By evening, the sun has been sucking up water from the flowers and foliage all day.
2. Cut flowers at the right stage, usually this is just as they’re opening. Don’t cut flowers that have been open for a few days, it’s obvious that they won’t last well.
3. Take a bucket or a jug filled with water with you into the garden and put the flowers in it as soon as you cut them.
4. Before arranging them, cut at least a half an inch from the base of the stem.
5. Change the water every day.

Adding flower food to the water is the ideal approach as flower food inhibits the growth of the bacteria that block the stems and prevent water uptake. But I know that relatively few people actually do this – so change the water every day instead. If you ignore all the other advice, at least change the water daily. You’ll be so pleased you did.