Before the holidays, the Rhode Island Master Gardeners were treated to a talk by award-winning garden writer, lecturer and plantsman extrordinaire, Graham Rice.
Graham divides his time between Pennsylvania and England. He is the author of numerous gardening books, and the Editor-in-Chief of the British and American Encyclopedia of Perennials. So it’s probably a gross understatement to say that this is a man who really knows his plants, and even better, knows which growers are growing what and which introductions we are likely to see this coming summer.
I have always thought that our preferences for certain plants are very subjective – matters of personal taste. For instance, I usually go for the old- fashioned cultivars and single flowered varieties over the fluffy and flashier new doubles.
I am not overly fond of some of the new echinaceas, but of course, many people would disagree. However, I did fall head over heels for some of the new rudbeckias when they were introduced a few years ago, particularly “Prairie Sun.”
Many of the new perennials are the results of someone spotting a sport growing alongside its wild or nursery buddies, and propagating it. Graham explained that growers usually wait a few years to see if the new cultivars will breed true. Many times they do not.
There are some mighty interesting things being done with foliage and flowers. We were treated to some great “garden porn” – beautiful photos of new heucheras, hostas, dicentras etc.
For more information, check out Graham’s blog, “The Transatlantic Plantsman.”