Blogs and Online

Holiday online reading

As you take time off over the holiday season, here's some reading to set you up for the best of this season in the garden.

Helleborus Walberton Rosemary. Image ©GardenPhotos.comChoosing Flowers: Hellebore Combinations (Organic Life - US)

Edibles: Cooking with nasturtiums (Plant Talk blog - UK)

Award Winners: Ten of the hardiest plants for British gardens (Royal Horticultural Society - UK)

This strange season: Not yet winter in Pennsylvania (Transatlantic Gardener - US)

Movies: Not reading but viewing (Transatlantic - US)

Choosing Flowers: Five Super-Hardy Perennials (Organic Life - US)

New Plants: Sparkling new yellow cosmos (Royal Horticultural Society - UK)

Choosing Flowers: Five Shrubs That Add Color To Winter Landscapes (Organic Life - US)

Propagation: Raising plants from seed in Rootrainers (Plant Talk blog - UK)

Award Winners: Ten winter shrubs for fragrance (Royal Horticultural Society - UK)

Edibles: Kale belongs in the flower beds (Organic Life - US)

Kale 'Redbor'. Image ©GardenPhotos.comChoosing Flowers: Black(ish) beauties (Plant Talk blog - UK)

Indoor plants: Indoor foliage climbers (Royal Horticultural Society - UK)

This strange season: Warmest ever autumn in Britain (Transatlantic Gardener - UK)

New Plants: Trends in hellebores (Royal Horticultural Society - UK)

Choosing Flowers: Blue favorites spark white varieties (Plant Talk blog - UK)

Award Winners: Pick of the latest awards to perennials (Royal Horticultural Society - UK)

New Plants: A big step forward in Sweet Williams (Royal Horticultural Society - UK)

Classic tree and shrub reference goes online

Bean's Trees and Shrubs Online.The five volume Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles by W. J. Bean, usually referred to simply as “Bean”, is a monumental work running to over 4,000 pages. It does what it says: it describes in detail the woody plants (including climbers) that can reasonably be expected to grow outside in Britain (mostly zone 8, some zone 9).

The four A-Z volumes were last revised almost forty years ago, then a supplement appeared in 1988 (see below, click to enlarge), so it does not include recent classification and name changes and recent introductions. Otherwise, it's impressively comprehensive with good descriptions and boundless information on origins and differences between similar plants. It’s invaluable.

Now you can read it - free.

In the first part of a two part initiative, the International Dendrology Society has published the whole thing – all 4,027 pages of it – online. And it’s free: no charge for access. The original four A-Z volumes plus the supplement are currently priced on at £325/$504. Did I mention that the online version is free?

The new online version is easy to navigate and attractively presented. The next step is adding pictures.

You can read more about it on the excellent blog post by John Grimshaw, who’s been heavily involved with the project - and I see he’s had the same idea of including an image of his five volume set as I did!

Take a look at Bean's Trees and Shrubs online - it's invaluable, and it's free.

The five volumes of Bean's Trees and Shrubs. Image ©

And what's coming next? Britain's Alpine Garden Society is well into the process of making its invaluable two volume Encyclopaedia Of Alpines available online. It's currently available from for £150/$250.74. You can track the progress of the operation here.

Transatlantic Gardener wins Garden Blog Of The Year 2014!!!

Silene dioica 'Graham's Delight' marks my pleasure at winning Garden Blog Of The Year. Image © Ray Brown Plant World Seeds ( a few minutes ago I heard that this blog was named as Garden Blog Of The Year by Britain's Garden Media Guild!

I was not able to be at The Savoy in London to accept the award  - we're in a snowstorm in Pennsylvania - but my old friend Fiona Gilsenan accepted it on my behalf.

It's great to be the winner of an award that's judged by one's peers. Thank you.

UPDATE And in the spirit of my recent post on weird and wondeful plant variety names, here I now present a picture of Silene dioica 'Graham's Delight'! Order seed from Plant World Seeds, where Ray Brown developed it.

Take a look at the press release on my award.

Check out all the other award winners on the Garden Media Guild awards page.

I'd especially like to congratulate the runners up in this year's Garden Blog Of The Year award. Please take a look at their work, you won't be disappointed:

Andrew O'Brien -

Richard Jones -

Michelle Chapman -

David Marsden -

Recently published online

Abies koreana cones in the RHS Encyclopedia of Conifers
Goodness! Time flies when you're having fun. But it's time again to set out the work that I've had published online recently, all the titles are linked so that you can hop over and take a look.

Here on my Transatlantic Gardener blog

Doll’s eyes and tulip trees

Our favorite new garden tool of the year

Powerhouse Plant For All Seasons: Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum ‘Variegatum’

Distinctive trees of our local forests

Chinese hosta flowering on an American roadside

Best new plant of the year: Pink Trumpet Vine

The Dead Plant Society meets again

Transatlantic flower awards

British sweet peas for American gardeners

Curiosities of Transatlantic travel

Most popular new plants

Powerhouse Plants For All Seasons: Tiarella 'Mystic Mist'

The Petunia that's an Ipomoea and more botanical fibs

Spectacular new conifer encyclopedia (above, click to enlarge)

In my Royal Horticultural Society series: Ten award-winning plants
Each month I pick ten plants for a particular spot in the garden or with a specific feature in common. All ten plants have been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Ten award-winning plants with bold foliage

Ten award-winning shrubs with autumn berries

Ten award-winning yellow daisies

On my Royal Horticultural Society New Plants blog
My twice-a-month choice of some great new plants, recently made available to British gardeners.

Colourful new heleniums from Special Perennials

Viola ‘Teardrops’: New fragrant blend from You Garden

Scabious ‘Little Cracker’: New from Binny Plants

Choisya ‘Royal Lace’: New for containers

‘Gold Dust’ rosemary: New from Norfolk Herbs

Carrot ‘Dara’: Lovely new cut flower

Helleborus x sahinii ‘Winterbells’: A lovely new hellebore hybrid (below. click to enlarge)

Forsythia Gold Mine (‘Mindor’): Compact and prolific

Helleborus x sahinii 'Winterbells': A lovely new hellebore hybrid. Image ©

I hope you enjoy what I think is an intriguing range of blog posts and features.

The Petunia that's an Ipomoea and more botanical fibs

Mutant Petunias Sing The Blues - New York Times 6 January 2014. Screen shot from NY Times website, Jan 6, 2014, by BotanicalAccuracy.comThe news that two prestigious publications, Science magazine and the New York Times (left, click to enlarge), both used the same image of an Ipomoea to illustrate a story about a genetic breakthrough in the development of blue petunias took me from Garden Rant, where a guest post by Lena Struwe laid it all out in glorious detail, to Lena Struwe’s own Botanical Accuracy blog.

Dr Lena Struwe is Associate Professor at the School of Enviromental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University in New Jersey and her Botanical Accuracy blog is simply wonderful.

As well as her piece about the morning glory pretenting to be a petunia, she’s pointed out (in impressive and entertaining detail) that:
Batman’s nemesis Poison Ivy is often actually clothed in English Ivy to keep her decent;
The plants known as ‘Magilla Perilla’ and ‘Magilla Vanilla’ are very definitely Solenostemon (coleus) and not Perilla at all (see below);
Many retailers and wholesalers use images of Philadephus to show that their products contain jasmine;
The logo used to celebrate 50 years of Greening Singapore by their National Parks service shows mostly European weeds;

And more… It’s really fascinating, and funny – and all so thoroughly researched. Take a look –

And here are links to some of my posts here on Transatlantic Gardener that deal with similar issues:
The good, the bad - and the chrysanthemums
Fun with plant names
From the depths of the black lagoon arose – Dendranthema!
Another nursery plant name fiasco
Cannas, agastaches, bluebells, bluebonnets – and Star Trek Voyager

And here's Solenostemon (coleus) 'Perilla Magilla' - definitely not a Perilla. And, actually, it can't be called Solenostemon 'Perilla Magilla' - cultivar names are not allowed to include a genus name!
Solenostemon (coleus) 'Perilla Magilla'. Image ©

Screen shot from NY Times website, Jan 6, 2014, by

Most popular new plants

Apple Red loveMy New Plants blog started on the Royal Horticultural Society’s website back in April 2008, over five and a half years ago, and since then I’ve written up well over four hundred new plants. Some, of course, have captured gardeners’ attention more than others so I thought it would be interesting to see how many times each write-up had been viewed – and come up with a top ten of the most popular. Of course, those I wrote up four or five years ago have been available much longer than those I posted more recently, so they’ve had a better chance of been seen.

One plant is way way ahead of all the others. Apple ‘Red Love’, from June 2010, has about 50% more views than the plant in second place which, surprisingly, is Coprosma ‘Pacific Sunset’ with its colourful foliage. The unusually dwarf Buddleja Buzz Series is third while the plant in fourth place is the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show Plant of The Year, Anemone ‘Wild Swan’.

The most viewed new plant from this last year was Impatiens ‘Sun Harmony’

Here’s the all time Top Ten, with links to the original posts. It’s a fascinating list.

1 Apple ‘Red Love’ (above, click to enlarge)
View the post on Apple 'Red Love'

2 Coprosma ‘Pacific Sunset’
View the post on Coprosma ‘Pacific Sunset’

3 Buddleja Buzz Series
View the post on Buddleja Buzz Series

Anemone 'Wild Swan'
4 Anemone ‘Wild Swan’
(above, click to enlarge)
View the post on Anemone ‘Wild Swan’

5 Choisya White Dazzler
View the post on Choisya 'White Dazzler'

6 Anemone Pretty Lady Series
View the post on Anemone Pretty Lady Series

7 Pennisetum x advena ‘Fireworks’
View the post on Pennisetum x advena ‘Fireworks’
Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'
8 Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (left, click to enlarge)
View the post on Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’

9 Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’
View the post on Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’

10 Cordyline ‘Pink Passion’
View the post on Cordyline ‘Pink Passion’

And the most viewed of the 2013 newcomers was:
Impatiens ‘Sun Harmony’
View the post on Impatiens ‘Sun Harmony’

Recently published online…

Sweet Pea 'Northern Lights', a unique dwarf variety. Image ©Mark Rowland

Time for another quick recap on my work which has been published online over the last few weeks.

Transatlantic Gardener

Be smart when choosing Dill, Cilantro and Chervil

Wasps’ nest over the water

Powerhouse Plant For All Seasons: Clethra 'Ruby Spice'

Unique British sweet pea - also available in the US (That would be the dwarf 'Northern Lights', above clck to enlarge)

"Don't buy seed of perennials," says British expert!

Hitler rants on taxonomists who change plant names

Four, long season foliage plants

American tomatoes for British gardeners

The Telegraph
Sow now for sweet pea success

The Guardian
A perennial problem: Is plantsman Bob Brown wrong to claim buying seed of perennials is a waste of money? Yes, says me
This is a revised version of my "Don't buy seed of perennials," says British expert! post that was published here on Transatlantic Gardener.

The Plantsman
Chelsea Plant Of The Year 2013 Winners and finalists reviewed. The winnner is seen below (click to enlarge)

Royal Horticultural Society New Plants blog
Lavatera ‘Dwarf Pink Blush’: new colour from Thompson & Morgan

New sweet peas to sow this autumn

Sweet Pea 'Sir Henry Cecil': New from Mr Fothergill's Seeds

Rose Lady Marmalade: Rose Of The Year for 2014

Royal Hortcultural Society website
Ten award-winning autumn grasses

Exotic and unusual climbers

Chelsea Plant Of The Year 2013: Mahonia 'Soft Caress'. Image ©

Masses of great info on my recent blog posts

My new book - Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers For Multi-Season Beauty I just thought you might appreciate an update on all my online offerings over the last two months. They all start with the new webpage for my latest book - Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers For Multi-Season Beauty. More about this book here soon.

Transatlantic Gardener
Just take a look at the links in the sidebars to check out recent posts on this Transatlantic Gardener blog

Simply Gardening blog (mainly for Brits)

Here are my blog posts from the last two months on my Simply Gardening blog

Two ways with spring bulbs, in containers
Sweet pea ‘Erewhon’: Breakthrough new variety

Tulips and daffodils, happy together
Daffodils, naturally
Easy cut flower perennials
The blackberry for kids (and for grown ups)
Lettuce without disease
If you only grow one raspberry variety…
Great taste, no thorns, no disease: a Great British gooseberry

Royal Horticultural Society New Plants blog
My RHS New Plants blog has covered a wide range of exciting new plants.

Clematis ‘Sweet Summer Love’: Combines fragrance and colour
Agastache ‘Blue Boa’: colourful and drought tolerant
Euonymus japonicus ‘Happiness’: Bright new colourful evergreen
Hosta ‘Purple Heart’: red leaf stems and colourful flowers
Olearia ‘Moondance’: New variegated evergreen shrub
Tomato ‘Black Opal’: New black cherry tomato from Dobies and Suttons
Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Lemon Slice’: Sparkling new bicolour
Digitalis Dalmatian Series: gorgeous colours, quick to flower
Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’: Dark foliage and fiery flowers
Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’: Sparkling new six colour mixture
Kale ‘Black Magic’: An improved Cavalo Nero
Phlox Paparazzi Series: New from Hayloft Plants

Top Ten RHS Award of Garden Merit plants
Continuing my series on Award of Garden Merit plants of special types and for special uses.
Evergreen perennials
Climbers and wall shrubs

The latest RHS Award of Garden Merit plants
My choice of the latest plants to be given the Award of Garden Merit.
Broad bean ‘Witkiem Manita’
Lespedeza thunbergii subsp. thunbergii

Simply Gardening blog - recent posts

Simply Gardening is my blog mainly for British gardeners, hosted by the good people at the fast rising online mail order plant and seed company Simply Seeds and Plants.

Here's what I've been writing about over the last few months. Although the blog is intended for Brits, I'm sure everyone else will also find it interesting.

APRIL 2012

Spice up life with chillis Three Chillis - featured in my Spice up life with chillis blog post(picture right, click to enlarge)

Grow fabulous fuchsias

Grow healthier, tastier, heavy cropping tomatoes

Disease free chrysanths

MAY 2012

New ways with brassicas

Echinaceas transformed
Three heucherellas featured in my blog post - Heucherellas: fantastic foliage for containers and shade
Fuchsias from Chile take the chills

JUNE 2012

Perfect container perennials

Heucherellas: fantastic foliage for containers and shade (picture right, click to enlarge)

Feed the birds – fewer pests

Colourful coreopsis that beat the winter

New styles with favourite perennials

Must-read new memoir by veggie star Joy Larkcom

JULY 2012

Two plants - one attractive plant picture

Marvellous yuccas: myths exposed

‘Blue Heron’: an outstanding spring perennial for shade

Bright summer perennial planting


Hot new pokers

Flowers and foliage combine in spring

The best new perennials

Cabbage all-year-round from one variety

One step success with plant associations

SEPTEMBER 2012 Your best chance of sweet peas like these is to sow in the autumn. Image ©

Daffodils: Best of the old, best of the new

Why sow sweet peas in autumn?
(picture right, click to enlarge)

Heucherella Falls Series: Impressive dual purpose perennials

Forcing hyacinths for early flowers



Interview with photographer judywhite

Jjudywhite's stellar snapshot of a great spangled fritillary and a Peck's skipper on a purple coneflower appeared in the July issue of Birds & Blooms Extra. Image © (all rights reserved)There's a very interesting new interview with award-winning photographer judywhite over on the Birds & Blooms blog. She talks about the surprising journey from studying cell biology to becoming such an accomplished photographer, and then about another more recent turn from there. She's a great example of "you can do anything if you put your mind to it".

judy also describes the intensity and thinking ahead involved in taking good pictures and shares some advice to which we should all pay attention. And she explains why her name is all one word. It's well worth a look.

Birds and Blooms is a splendid American magazine, the title neatly explains exactly what it's about, and it always features excellent photography.

[Declaration of interest: judywhite is my wife!]