Primary colours in vogue
BALL STRAATHOF OPEN DAY: 1 000 NEW VARIETIES OF GARDEN PLANTS ON SHOW
‘Next year’s colours may be much brighter compared to this year’s trend of purple and mauve ...’
Flowers in vivid shades of pink, red and yellow caught the public votes at this year’s flower trials at Ball Straathof. With more than 1 000 new varieties on show, the main complaint from visitors to the Open Day last month was that they only had one vote, recalls marketing manager Kathy Varney.
“If we follow the lead from gardeners it looks as if next year’s colours will be much brighter, more primary and with a lot of hot pink, compared to this year’s colour trend of purple and mauve,” she said.
In addition to the public, Ball Straathof invited growers, landscapers, media and buyers from large garden centres and retail chains to view and vote on their idea of what gardeners would like.
Of the 10 most popular plants, the unanimous winner was a small flowering succulent that nobody had seen before. Lewisia cotyledon “Elise” sent ripples of excitement through gardeners, media and horticulturists alike. Where did it come from? As Kathy explained: “Lewisia has been around for some time but was very difficult to grow from seed because it was hard to germinate and needed the cold to flower.
“Then, an international Netherlands-based breeder, Benary, developed a hybrid that didn’t need the cold to flower. “We decided to trial it and were as surprised as anyone else when it became such a success.” She attributes its popularity to its strikingly beautiful flowers, in shades of pink, peach, and white that almost obscure the rosette of dark-green succulent leaves. Being a drought-hardy, heat-tolerant perennial, it is perfectly suited to low-water gardens and containers. Plants are compact (15cm to 30cm high and wide) and need ordinary to sandy soil that drains very well. In hot gardens the best position is semi-shade. It also does well as an indoor plant, needing bright light or sunshine and a warm room. Lewisia “Elise” was not the only old-fashioned flower gardeners liked.
Cannas are on the comeback trail, with Canna “Cannova Bronze Scarlet” in third, just behind Calibrachoa “MiniFamous” double pink.
Allaying concern that cannas are invasive, Kathy said the Cannova series was an early-flowering F1 hybrid (the only F1 canna around).
Being a dwarf variety, plants only reach a garden height of 60cm to 70cm, with lush leaves and flamboyantly coloured flow- ers. Bred for smaller gardens, they are low-upkeep plants that like plenty of sun and water.
Another old-fashioned favourite was Achillea “Vintage Red” in 10th, along with Begonia “Nonstop Deep Rose”.
More commonly known as yarrow, the Achillea Vintage series is among the best perennials for planting in hot, dry and sunny positions, providing good colour throughout summer.
They are good garden cut-flow- ers and plants remain compact (30cm high) if trimmed hard after flowering.
They grow in ordinary garden soil and need very little attention.
BREAKING GROUND. Strawberry ‘Summer Breeze’ was the first edible to be in the top 10.
HAPPY. Sunflower ‘Bert’ is a compact pot sunflower.
FAVOURITE: Lewisia ‘Elise’ shone at this year’s trials.