Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea Video

I just bought a flip video recorder. What a great little device. This is my first attempt in using it - I suspect I should be using a tripod but I was very excited to use it and share with you what's looking good in the garden today. I've shared pictures of Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea before but video seems to give you a better idea of what the plant looks like. If you have a blog or a website you might consider a flip. It films in HD and is very reasonably priced. Best of all it's easy to bring along so you're more likely to use it. Check out the quality of this video.

As for the Hydrangea, it will be available at better garden centers in spring of 2010. We're pretty excited about the plant. It appears that the flowers are larger than anticipated. We're also excited that the plant will help raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

If you're a garden center retailer, think about how you can utilize this plant to raise even more money for breast cancer research. This spring Chalet Nursery and Garden Center featured this plant during their spring workships. They raffled off plants and donated the proceeds to the BCRF. Fruit Basket Flowerland did the same. The Morton Arboretum auctioned off a plant for $1,600. What could your garden center do for this great cause? Get your staff together and make a plan for next spring. Conact a Proven Winners ColorChoice Gold Key grower to purchase plants. Learn more at

Breeding a Better Rose - UK Travels continued

If you subscribe to this blog than you now Dale and I visited with Chris Warner the Oso Easy rose breeder while in England. Getting to his Shropshire home was not easy even with a GPS unit. English addresses are a tad bit strange and the GPS does not like them. Thank goodness for cell phones!

It was a great pleasure to visit with Chris and the get a better feel for how he breeds and selects his roses. For example - he leaves any diseased seedlings in his greenhouse seed beds so there is plenty of fungal inoculum available to infect and show which seedlings have the greatest disease resistance. We got to see all phases of his testing and selection. It is in the later stages in the process where Chris gets ruthless about culling out any diseased seedlings. Still even at these stages there are old rose plants near by to infect any susceptible roses.

One of the most disease resistant roses in the Oso Easy Line is called Honey Bun. Interestingly it is not a rose that Chris developed. Chris works with a network of breeders and tests their roses and helps them introduce their plants if they are good enough to make the cut. Honey Bun was developed my Leonard William Scrivens. Its beautiful honey yellow - white flowers are very prolific and it has outstanding black spot resistance.

New and Interesting Plants seen in the UK

We'll I had a few moments to go through some of my pictures from England and gleened out a few to share. The first one is an English Oak (Quercus robur) tree we say along side the road. It was so large we just had to stop and get a picture. Turns out it has a name - The Big Belly Oak and is one of the largest in the country.

We had a chance to visit the Berberis traials at Wisely. I hope to revisit them in this blog at a later time but they had Sunjoy Gold Pillar Berberis 'Maria' there and it looked great. The color was bright and there was no mildew or bunring as with some of the other yellows.

This is a very nice Buddleia grown not for it's flowers but rather its silver foliage. I think Plant Haven offers it. It's called Silver Anniversary. It have white flowers but that's not the reason to grow it. It was developed by Peter Moore.

Another plant by Peter Moore is Choisya Goldfingers. What a pretty container plant for the patio. I suspect it's a good plant for California or Oregon but not for the rest of us. Still very stunning.

This is a variegated from of Hydrangea a. pet. with dusty variegation. It comes from Japan and I believe it's been patented but I forget the name.

Schizophraga is a relative of the climbing Hydrangea. This unusual selection has yellow blotches on the leaves. I kind of like it but I think many people would think it has chemical damage

I have always loved this shrub but have never had success growing it. It's Sophora davidii - a member of the pea family. This plant was loaded with blue flowers and was quite stunning.

Plants on Trial - Lonicera vines

It’s a shame that Honeysuckle vine has gotten a bad rap. Lonicera japonica, the Japanese Honeysuckle vine is to blame of course. It has proven to highly invasive, particularly in the South East. Birds love the fleshy fruit and deposit the seeds along fence rows and thus miles of fence lines in the East have been engulfed by this aggressive vine. As with most invasive plants, it is a regional issue. The USDA plant database shows it as being escaped in Michigan, however, I’ve never seen it to be a problem. The point is that there are many excellent vines in this genera that are well behaved and garden worthy depending upon where you live. In addition there are also native species that get neglected simply because of this guilt by association.

On my trip to England, I was fortunate enough to catch some of the early flowering varieties of Lonicera in bloom at the RHS trials in Wisley Gardens. The bright orange, red and yellow flowers drew me in and the thick, sweet fragrance lured me even closer and I ran from plant to plant clicking photos and sticking my nose into each bloom inhaling the rich aroma. These are twining vines and they need support to climb. They will not adhere to brick or bark as would ivy or climbing Hydrangea. And as a twining vines go these plants require more structural support than Wisteria or Clematis. At Wisley they loosely wrapped a tube of chicken wire around wooden poles with the vines planted in between the two. This worked brilliantly, as the British say.

It was a tad early to see the majority of these vines in flower, so what follows is a snapshot of some of the early flowering varieties.

The showiest plant in bloom was Lonicera x heckrotti (Goldflame Honeysuckle) which to the best of my knowledge is a hybrid that contains the genes of three species; our native Lonicera sempervirens, Lonicera etrusca a Meterianian species and L. implexa a species native to Africa. It is an everblooming vine with rose-pink tubular flowers adorned with an orange-yellow interior. The plants I sniffed were wonderfully sweet and intoxicating.

Lonicera x italica is another early bloomer. It too was fragrant but the blooms were not as showy as Goldflame.

Our native species Lonicera sempervirens was in flower. While it does not have the fragrance, I love the contrast between the intense orange-red flowers its attractive blue-green foliage. The flowers are more pendulous, more tubular than other and so you only get a slight glimpse of the yellow hues hidden within the tube.

Two Lonicera periclymenum (Woodbine Honeysuckle) cultivars were in flower. The cultivar ‘Munster’ sported yellow flowers with a hint of pink in the buds, while ‘La Gaserie’ was a lighter cream-yellow and pink in bud. Both plants had good fragrance. The cultivars ‘Belgica Select’ and ‘Graham Thomas’ were showing buds but were not in flower. The popular cultivar ‘Serotina’ was even further behind.

Lonicera x tellmanniana, Lonicera henryi, Lonicara x brownii and their cultivars were not yet in flower.

If you are interested in learning more about these interesting vines I would suggest you visit It is the website of ornamental vine expert and Clematis breeder Szczepan MarczyƄski.

I’ve visited Szczepan in Poland a few years ago and fortunately for me the Lonicera vines were in full bloom. Oh how I love fragrant plants.

Off to England

Later this week Dale and I are heading to England. The plan is to visit plant breeders, small specialty growers and hopefully find some new plants for North American gardens. We’ll start the tour with a stop a Wisley Gardens in Surrey. The Royal Horticulture Society conducts plant trials at Wisley so we will have a chance to see a number of plant trials and evaluate cultivars growing in side by side comparisons. It should be fun.

Another stop will take further north in Shropshire, where we’ll visit Chris Warner, the OSO EASY rose Breeder. We have been growing and trialing Chris’s roses for about 7 years but this will be the first time we get to see his breeding program up close and personal. While the rose market is difficult at the moment, we are getting great feedback from both growers and gardeners on the Oso Easy roses. This does not surprise me as Chris is one of the best rose breeders in the world. His plants have superb disease resistance, excellent hardiness, attractive glossy foliage, and unique vivid flower colors. Oso Easy Paprika seems to be the early favorite, but Chris is getting praises for all his roses. Our visit with Chris will give us insight into potential Oso Easy roses.

Do you know any of breeders or interesting nurseries in England that we should visit? If so – please send me an email. Perhaps we can fit in a few more stops.