The latest edition of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Plant Finder came out earlier this month. You know the story: over 70,000 plants, over 700 nurseries, the last word in correct plant names and, for European gardeners, sources for all those 70,000+ plants. It’s indispensable for gardeners across the world – just to help us all get the names right.
There are over 4,100 new plants in the 2008/2009 edition and the top two, judged by the number of nurseries stocking the newcomers, are Brunnera macrophylla ‘Mr Morse’ and Salvia x jamensis ‘Hot Lips’, than any other newcomers.. More nurseries are stocking these two new introductions than any others.
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Mr Morse’ looks like a white-flowered version of the very popular blue-flowered ‘Jack Frost’. The foliage is the same – brilliant silver with narrow green veins – it’s just the flowers that are different. Great in shade, even dryish shade, and deer resistant too.
‘Mr Morse’ originated with Belgian plant breeder Chris Ghyselen. He crossed his own ‘Inspector Morse’, which is like ‘Jack Frost’ but with a fraction more green in the leaves, and white-flowered ‘Betty Bowring’. The result is ‘Mr Morse’. It’s new in Britain this year and available from eighteen British nurseries. In the US you can get it from Garden Crossings and other suppliers.
Salvia x jamensis ‘Hot Lips’ is amazing, dramatic bicolored flowers on twiggy shrubs broader than their 90cm (3ft) height. Tony Avent, on the Plant Delights website, explains its origin. “This wild selection… was introduced by Richard Turner of California after the plant was shared with him by his maid, who brought it from her home in Mexico.” Tony lists it as a form of S. microphylla but the RHS considers it a form of S. x jamensis (a hybrid of S. greggii and S. microphylla). Tony also points out that the flowers become more red in high summer when the nights are warm and, as you can see from the picture, the markings can vary from flower to flower.