A selection of 2011 ‘new plants’

Well, new to Pan Global’s catalogue at any rate, though some are in fact new to cultivation in the UK and some have never been offered commercially in this country before. Here are some notes about a few of them:

Starting with Abies colimensis, this endemic of West Central Mexico was found by us to have conveniently dropped a cone on the dirt track up to the peak of the mighty volcano Nevado de Colima, Jalisco, from whence it was described by Keith Rushforth some years ago. It is closely related to A. religiosa, which is a success in Southern England at least.

30m Abies colimensis on Nevado de Colima, Jalisco, Mexico with giant Buddleja cordata

This same trip in 2009 has given rise to a fine batch of Cowania plicata, a tall woody Rosaceous shrub from N Mexico with vivid pink flowers turning to wispy winged seeds and cute little minutely lobed leaves, white under.

Aesculus wangii was collected by me last November in the highlands of N. Vietnam. This fascinating species is still not validly published and often thought to be synonymous with A. assamica, though experts can’t agree and populations within Vietnam differ, adding to the confusion. No matter, the foliage alone on this misty woodland dweller makes it worth growing.

Originally collected in Taiwan, I have grown Aralia bipinnata in the nursery garden for 8 years and it has been completely hardy, even through the winters of the last two years (so different a result from all the other odd species I’ve tried), making a large upright shrub to about 3m with typically impressive foliage. It has flowered regularly in autumn for years with creamy white upright spikes, but it only ever set fruit once and thus plants will be available this year.

Interesting Betula cultivars remain a strong point, with another four additions to this catalogue to add to the range of sumptuous bark colours and textures already available.

My youngsters of Cornus macrophylla derive from a tree in my parents garden, originally collected in the 1980’s by Mark Fillan in S. Korea. I first knew this taxon from an old, now long gone, specimen at Kew, which struck me as a very fine small tree with a splendid growth habit, being flat topped like a savanna Acacia. It is a first rate species that is known by very few and planted by fewer. It’s bone hardy, has great foliage, layered branching and conspicuous late summer flowers. What’s not to like?

Good old Disanthus cercidifolius is back on the list after many years. I am often asked for this autumn stalwart and this year I will take pleasure in not disappointing.

No less than 24 new Hydrangea can be found in this years catalogue, far too many to highlight here, but many delightful and highly obscure Japanese cultivars, amongst others, await your discovery. H. serrata, more than most, is a neglected species in gardens, where H. macrophylla and H. paniculata etc. usually steal the limelight. It is a refined, often delicate looking species with many cultivars to choose from, mostly with lacecap flowers and all with slim elegant foliage.

As with Hydrangea, the genus Magnolia is a Pan Global’ strong point and this year sees the addition of the wonderful rarity M. macrophylla subsp. ashei, a dwarfer form, in all respects, of its vast leaved relative, so much more suitable for small gardens – it flowers very young too.

Magnolia sapaensis is arguably the most exciting plant in the whole catalogue. I found it growing on the slopes of Fan Si Pan mountain, N. Vietnam in autumn 2009. It visually stood out from the various other Magnolia species we were encountering, not least because of the exceptionally handsome, silken, rufous terminal buds and white leaf backs and I assumed I would be able to get it named on my return to the UK. No such luck, this was stumping even the worlds best Magnolia experts. And so it turned out, after a number of emails around the globe, that we were looking at a taxon that had been noticed only a year before by a Vietnamese botanist. He was to publish the new species in 2010 as Manglietia sapaensis, but as the Western world has, on the whole, ditched the idea of keeping Manglietia, Michelia etc separate from Magnolia, the new combination Magnolia sapaensis was published in March 2011 by John Grimshaw in the journal of the Magnolia Society International. Just as interesting as the above was a conversation I had with Tom Hudson, owner of the inspiring Tregrehan Garden in Cornwall, who proclaimed to have this species (identified from my description) already thriving in his woodland garden, from a collection he’d made in Vietnam a few years previously. So, the plants at the nursery this year aren’t quite the very first in Western cultivation, but at least we know they will grow perfectly well here, at least in the milder areas of our Isles.

Muehlenbeckia astonii couldn’t be more different, being, to the eye at least, a shrubby version of the well known climbing plant M. complexa. Unlike that species it is a hardier, deciduous, densely bushy freestanding shrub with equally slender stems, but cast in a rigid, interlocking zig-zag form, creating a textural contrast to most garden plants. Strangely it is very seldom come across in the UK, though does feature strongly in the excellent New Zealand Garden at the Savill Garden.

Neolitsea sericea is a foliage plant par excellence; I challenge anyone not to be bowled over by the sheer gorgeousness of its expanding new foliage. I can think of nothing else like it – the words ‘silken gold’ come to mind. Small plants should be available later in the season.

Almost equal to Magnolia sapaensis in excitement inducing qualities is Parrotia subaequalis; introduced from China to Western cultivation only in 2000 and making its UK retail debut here at Pan Global’. This is a fully hardy species with brighter patchwork bark than its well known cousin (being described as akin to Pinus bungeana in the wild), a more upright form and infinitely more spectacular autumn colour, in fiery orange and scarlet (I have quite honestly never been excited by P. persica as a subject for autumn colour). Parrotia subaequalis has caused quite a stir in dendrological circles since its arrival here and has proved a perfect success in the very few gardens it is planted in. It was until recently described either as a Hamamelis or Shaniodendron, but its similarity to P. persica was finally acknowledged by Chinese botanists.

A couple of Philadelphus are seen here for the first time; Philadelphus madrensis was introduced by us from Durango, Mexico and they represent the true species, unlike the plants going around under this name, which are actually P. maculatus. The other new Philadelphus is a hybrid, found at Pan Global’ by chance as a seedling growing between P. mexicanus ‘Rose Syringa’ and P. palmeri. It is a lovely thing which I will probably name at some stage.

I am extremely excited to be offering various wild source Mexican Pinus species this year, from my own collections. Most striking of all is a blue-grey needled form of Pinus montezumae, collected at 2800m alt in NE Mexico, the coldest part of the country. I believe this provenance is quite probably the source of the famous old trees in a few gardens in the British Isles. These old trees have not only withstood some extremely harsh winters during their lives, but they also have blue-grey needles, something which is rarely seen in Mexico, with most populations having green, laxer foliage.

Pinus pseudostrobus is very rarely encountered in cultivation but is a handsome species, closely related to P. montezumae, with long, semi-lax, green needles. The seed for these was collected from the coldest provenance for the species, again in NE Mexico, giving the greatest chance for success in the UK. The other three new Pinus available this year are equally rarely available and those wanting these should buy now, as I only have a few.

Much in the same way, I have but a handful of the boldly good looking Pterocarya macroptera var. insignis, a tree which, again, is offered for the first time in the UK at Pan Global’.

Quercus features strongly this year, with wild collections of various rare evergreen Mexican species, too numerous to list here. Quercus griffithii from a Bhutanese collection is worthy of more trial in the UK, as it is barely known in cultivation, but Quercus rotundifolia, collected in Andalucia and closely related to Q. ilex, is known to do well here, yet is extremely uncommon for a European tree.

My collection of Rhus succedanea from N. Vietnam is not likely to be the hardiest species, but it is so beautiful that it would be well worth growing plants on to, perhaps, a couple of metres tall before trialling outside, as young plants are soft. This method is known to work well on other tricky plants.

Sophora cassioides is closely related to S. microphylla from New Zealand, but hails from Chile, where I found it growing in drier areas, making a large shrub or small tree with wonderful seed pods, constricted around the seeds in a random fashion.

A couple of great new forms of Sorbus hedlundii derive from Keith Rushforth’s collections in Bhutan, one with bigger leaves than usual, and if large Sorbus foliage is your thing, then look no further than Sorbus harrowiana.

It’s great to be selling Stewartia sinensis, a plant I have admired since my student days, the bark of which stands out from any other in the genus.

For a similar position how about the South Korean island form of Styrax japonicus? Really rather different from the Japanese plant, Styrax japonicus ‘Emerald Pagoda’, originally collected on Sohuksan-do, has big flowers and large, thick textured foliage, making one think it is perhaps a different species.

Talking of such things you couldn’t get more different than a new species to Western cultivation, which is exactly what Tetradium austrosinense is. I found this up in N Vietnam near the Chinese border where its attractive red petiole and rachis made it stand out from other species I know. I sincerely hope this settles in well here.

Any regulars will know of my love of the genus Tilia and I am very happy to be offering a few Tilia endochrysea and Tilia nobilis this year; both rare as hens teeth, particularly attractive and worthy of a place in any serious arboretum.

I’ve included some fine new Agapanthus forms this year; mainly but not exclusively selections of Agapanthus inapertus.

Lupinus montanus was found near the top of the volcano in Mexico that I mentioned at the beginning of this endless paragraph. It appeared at first sight to be a shrub, well branched and 2.5 metres tall, smothered in mauve-blue flowers, though it has turned out to be a fast growing annual that makes huge plants in one season and then sets copious seed, allowing you to create drifts the following season.

Growing a little up slope was Festuca tolucensis, which I can’t imagine being anything other than hardy, as it was residing at 3900m alt. It’s a good looking thing, larger than many, with blue-grey foliage and arching flower heads to 75cm.

Akebia longeracemosa is a hardy new addition to our gardens, flowering heavily here, with its very long and very dark, blackish-red inflorescences.

There are some other very interesting climbers this year, not least a Stauntonia I brought back from Fan Si Pan, N. Vietnam, which could of course turn out to be a Holboellia.

Acacia pataczeckii is thought to be the hardiest of all Acacia, even more so than A. pravissima and should one day grace many more of our gardens.

Acacia covenyi can’t compete for ultimate hardiness, but the foliage is just the most wonderful silvery-grey; worthy of a pot placed under cover if you are too scared to risk it outside in winter.

My passion for the supremely perfect form of many an Agave is well known, but my love turned to knee wobbling lust when we encountered Agave ovatifolia in the wild lands of far NE Mexico. Not only is this a truly stunning plant, making fat, squat, perfectly formed rosettes of broad, very deeply guttered, light grey-blue leaves, but it has proven to be a hardy, tough and tolerant grower in American trials. Even if I cannot grow this species in my cold Frampton garden (not that I’ve tried yet), I shall admire, fondle and drool over potted specimens until I die.

And if that wasn’t enough, I have some small plants of Puya raimondii, one of the most spectacular flowering plants in the world (really), available for you. You won’t find those for sale elsewhere!

One Response to A selection of 2011 ‘new plants’

  1. tom cox says:

    As one who appreciates rare and unusual plants, I stumbled on your website. I really enjoyed the article. Let me know if you ever want to exchange scion wood. As you will see on our website, we have an extensie collection of Asian plants such as Sinoandina, Sinowilsonia henryi, etc.

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