Best buddlejas for butterflies
Star of the spring garden

How "unique" is this new perennial?

Actaea,pachypoda,Misty Blue,dolls eyes,Mt Cuba. Image: ©Walters Gardens, Inc
Unique, or not?

Yesterday I was looking over the new introductions from the international perennials grower Darwin Perennials (Darwin Plants in Europe) and I noticed the new actaea that I’d written up over on my RHS New Plants blog back in February - Actaea pachypoda ‘Misty Blue’ (above, click to enlarge).

They descibe it as thus:
Cimicifuga pachypoda 'Misty Blue' Unique blue foliage, with white flowers in spring. In fall will make white berries on a little red stem. VERY Unique” (their CAPS)

It’s a lovely thing, but three points:

1.    Why do they call it Cimicifuga pachypoda ‘Misty Blue’? It’s true that a few years ago the two genera, Actaea and Cimicifuga were amalgamated – but under the name Actaea not under the name Cimicifuga. And this species was not placed in Cimicifuga even before the change, it’s always been an Actaea. So why confuse everyone by suddenly, out of the blue, calling it Cimicifuga - a name no longer valid? Aren't gardeners muddled enough by plant names?

2.    They describe it as "VERY unique" (their capitals) - which means it must be more unique than just, well, unique. So there must be other plants which are, perhaps, moderately unique or mainly unique or not very unique at all. No: it’s either unique, or it’s not unique. There’s either just the one, or there are more.
Actaea pachypoda 'Pewter and Pearls'. Image: ©
3.    In this case, as it happens, "not very unique at all" is more like it. There’s at least one other form of this species with that distinctive silvery/bluish foliage and it looks pretty much the same. Actaea pachypoda ‘Pewter and Pearls’ (above, click to enlarge) was selected by the British nurseryman Kevin Hughes and I spotted it at the 2009 Chelsea Flower Show. So ‘Misty Blue’ is, you might say, not "VERY unique" but only "slightly unique"! [The leaves are actually more similar in colour than my pictures suggest.]

I know, this might seem like pedantic and esoteric stuff. But we already have nurseries trumpeting as "new" plants which have been around for years. I'm just trying to keep them on their toes…

Either way, this/they is/are (a) lovely plants(s).