Forest Farms has this plant listed in their catalog and I thought about adding it to my collection - received a gift certificate for Christmas.
Is anyone growing this and if so, what's your comments about it good or bad?
Not much differnt than the other myriad of paniculata cultivars...supposedly more mildew resistant.
Thanks - may I ask - are your comments based on personal growing experiences?
It is a new offering here in the US. Until more is known and people have had a chance to grow it here, I would consider other paniculatas like Limelight, Pink Diamond or Quick Fire. Maybe Tardiva too. If you do not have them already. It would be nice if they also sold Vanilla Strawberry but I have not heard that nursery mentioned by people looking for VS. You could get other types of hydrangeas of course. Rhodies too.
Any idea when this plant was introduced to US growers? understand it's a recent introduction from Europe and have found several wholesale growers here in the US listing the plant - so it's been here for a year or two I would think. And it looks like I'm not getting any responses from someone who has personal growing experience - thought maybe some of the European folks who frequent the GW forums might have comments. I see it was selected for the RHS's Award of Garden Merit so it must have some good qualities. And I always have room for another paniculata.
It's been around for awhile, but unlike European selections of Hydrangea macrophylla, European cultivars of paniculata seem to be not so widespread in this country compared to the homegrown cultivars :-) All paniculatas are dead easy to grow so there'd be nothing to dissuade me from trying this one. Supposed to have big flower heads.
RHS has a pretty good image of Big Ben on their hydrangea trial website - looks good.
I really like the pan's as they grow so well in these parts and I have quite a few including 50 grown from seed that are in their 5th year now. And in those 50 seedlings, I see replicas of most all the cultivars now on the market except for maybe 'The Swan". If you have the space to plant out a row, try seedlings as they are so easy to grow. I usually use seed collected from Pink Diamond per Mike Dirr's suggestion.
Marshall, could you be more specific about MD method or perhaps direct me to the link, if available. Why a Pink Diamond?
I never ever had paniculatas to self-seed in a garden until I got my third Limelight. This one seeds like crazy and every spring I have to pull 15-20 seedlings from its vicinity.
BTW, do you have a picture of your grown-up Little Lamb bed?
I attended a Southern Nurseryman Assoc. Symposium several years ago in Louisville and it was like the Who's-Who of southern plant folks. I sat next to Mike during one session and during a break we got to talking about new cultivars and the trial process - evidently Mike does/did a lot of this. He said seed from Pink Diamond seemed to provide the best viability and produced a lot of different seedlings - and my project sort of proved that out. That's all I can pass on as that was about the extent of the conversation. Personally, I have never seen seedlings under any of my pan's including Pink Diamond. He had brought along several of his plants for the auction stating they were soon to be named cultivars, but I never heard any more about them.
I don't have a current image of that Little Lamb bed but will get one this summer. We didn't do any pruning last year, but will do some this March. Last summer it was a mass of blooms, but none took on that pretty pink coloration you sometimes see on LB.
How do you sow paniculata seeds and when you collecting them?
What medium do you use?
I gather the seed in Nov/Dec and usually sow in January in the greenhouse. One flower head will produce way more seed than you will ever use as the seed is about the same size and texture as dust. Prepare a seed flat and I use Metromix360, but about any soilless mix should work and dampen the media, sprinkle the seed like salt and pepper, pat it down, keep warm and moist, and germination usually occurs in 10 days. I transplant as soon as a couple sets of true leaves have emerged into 2.5 inch pots using a compost:pine bark:perlite mix and gradually move up in pot size, eventually going into a trade 1 gallon #300 in mid summer. First years growth can be as much as 15 inches and I pinch stems to promote more branching. If you need to wait till warm weather occurs for seeding, your growth will be considerably less. These can be planted out the second year and some may bloom, third year for sure. I do only corrective pruning 2nd and 3rd year, and the 4th year prune to get the size plant I want.
Give it a try and Good Luck
I did find a picture of that Little Lamb bed you were asking about. Go the website I linked, scroll to the bottom of the first Photo page and click on page 3. Image DSC6517 is the Little Lamb bed and 6505-6516 are some of the 4 year old seedlings grown form seed collected from Pink Diamond.
Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Gallery Photos
Thank you for the planting instructions, Marshall.
I'll try this upcoming Fall/Winter.
This LLamb bed looks very uniform by height. How low did you prune it in a spring? Did you do any additional mid-season corrective pruning?
The LLambs were not pruned at all last year other than cleaning off spent flower heads. Come this March we'll go in and thin out as needed, but not do too much on height changes. We're trying to get a bit more height on them and then control prune.
i have a spot for a Paniculata, did my research and came up with Big Ben. I know it is new in US, but any thoughts yet on on-line options for finding this one?
I would try to contact Forest Farms to see if they will have a supply of Big Bens for this year; they are out of stock and are the only one I know that sells them. There does not seem to either be a large supply or a good distribution network in the US.