A Peek at the New Perennials

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 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.”

Dicentra "Burning Hearts"

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.

Dianthus "Wicked Witch"

For more information, check out Graham’s blog, “The Transatlantic Plantsman.”


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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4 Responses to A Peek at the New Perennials

  1. Layanee says:

    I have enjoyed his blog and it must have been a real treat to hear his speak in person. That Dicentra looks like a winner.


  2. wendy says:

    really nice dark red dicentra. Garden porn…funny!


    • dirtynailz says:

      I know – that dicentra is so beautiful.
      As for the garden porn, his talk was accompanied by one stunning slide after another. The plants, the gardens… they were all so, so… well you get the idea.


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