This is the first of three posts about variegated plants. At the end of last month I took a look at Britain's National Plant Show, a trade show focused on plants - and not the garden furniture, barbecue grills and bird food that seems to take over so many trade shows.
One thing that struck me was the number of new variegated plants on show, so here's a few notes on six of them. All look well worth trying – depending on your tastes.
I'm hesitant to give heights and hardiness guidance as they've not yet been fully assessed and the information presented with some of the plants seemed a little suspect. One or two are just starting to become available, but over the next year they should all turn up in retail nurseries or garden centers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Alstroemeria Rock ‘n’ Roll (‘AlsDuno1’) (above left, click to enlarge)
This was perhaps the most startling plant I saw, a new variegated Alstroemeria from New Zealand. Each leaf of Rock ‘n’ Roll has a broad white to cream splash in the center and plants are topped by vivid orange-red flowers. You can't miss it.
Prunus Frilly Frock (‘FPMSPL’) (above center, click to enlarge)
There are virtually no variegated cherries (Prunus) except evergeens, so it was exciting to see this small weeping cherry with such bright variegated foliage. Ideal in a container, after clouds of small white flowers the yellow edged foliage develops from leaves which open green and then in the autumn it all turns purple, red and yellow.
Antirrhinum ‘Eternal Magenta’ (above right click to enlarge)
We've had variegated antirrhinums before, mostly seed raised types, but ‘Eternal Magenta’ is the first intended to be raised from cuttings and so dependably true in flower color and variegation. Slightly greyish foliage with white margins is topped by pink (not magenta) flowers. I have a few trial plants in the garden and they're starting to look good.
Alonsoa Lucky Lips Scarlet (below left, click to enlarge)
I vaguely remember seeing a variegated Alonsoa a couple of decades ago, but now there's Lucky Lips Scarlet from Penhow Nurseries in Wales and the bright orange-red flowers make a very effective contrast to the yellow-edged foliage.
Olearia arborescens ‘Moondance’ (below center, click to enlarge)
The first variegated form of this New Zealand native species, and developed in New Zealand, the deep dark green evergreen leaves are brightly splashed in yellow around the edges.
Petunia Surfinia Variegated Mini Purple (below right, click to enlarge)
Every few years a new variegated trailing petunia turns up, and mostly they disappear after not very long – they never seem to catch on. Perhaps this one will, you can't say it's not colorful with those vivid purple flowers set against brightly yellow edged leaves.
If you come across any of these plants on sale, please post the news as a comment below. Thanks.
Next time I'll be taking a look at variegated ceanothus.