Beware of the beetles
Daffodils: good intention, rotten result

Don't be fooled

Question: What’s wrong with this picture? (click on it to enlarge it)


Answer: This is not a plant growing in a pot.

This is an attractive nicely weathered, terra cotta pot (I’ve got one just like it myself). Inside is a block of Oasis, or potting soil straight out of the bag. And someone has gone round the nursery cutting foliage and flowers of Ligularia 'Little Rocket' and made an impressively unnatural arrangement.

What is so bizarre, is that a plant that really is growing in a pot looks so much better (even with a mark or two on the leaves)! As you can see here… So what’s the point?


Well, I suspect that what the first image tells us is that someone hadn’t been able to grow a plant that looked sufficiently impressive to photograph and so “made one up”. You may conclude that it’s not a very good plant in the first place, but no.

This excellent, shorter-than-usual ligularia, good in a large container, was raised in the Netherlands by Marco Fransen and is fine perennial for moist soil and is unusually prolific. It’s hybrid between the old favourite 'The Rocket' and 'Lanternchen’ (Little Lantern).

But expect it to look like the second picture – and not at all like the first!

Ligularia ‘Little Rocket’ is available in Britain from Suttons and from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.

Ligularia ‘Little Rocket’ is available in North America from Big Dipper Farm (scroll down) amongst others.


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Sylvia (England)

Graham, it is so confusing for new gardeners when they do things like this, we all need some information to add plant selection but so often it is misleading. As I have gained experience I have come to the conclusion the only way to know a plant is to grow it yourself. Then it performs differently in different gardens, in different parts of the same garden or in different years. I really love gardening because you never know what is going to happen.

Best wishes Sylvia

D Heckert

This is something I see more and more, and I am getting increasingly upset about it. How are we supposed to judge the natural characteristics of a new plant when it is presented in such an incredibly unnatural light? Much of the time, the plant presented in such a way that you wouldn't want to grow it! The bulb companies are the worst....

Graham Rice

I agree some of the bulb people are especially bad. I remember doing a story about "blue" tulips 20 years ago - and with Photoshop that sort of thing is now so easy.

Much of the garden business seems to be going the way as other industries - make a sale any way you can.


Well Graham , I'd say the fake picture looks like a far more compact plant which the breeders/marketing departments seem to be totally obsessed with. Also the real plant pic shows much larger, more mature leaves which they may have feared would turn off new gardeners - with a larger leaf to flower ratio . (breeders for years have been going for more & larger blooms and smaller/lesser foliage .) Their thinking may be that the second pic would look too wild or weedy to the new gardener.
And of course the top pic depicts yellow blooms and the real pic - gold. Yellow is always a faster sell.

Happy Spring, Annie

Graham Rice

Annie, you're absolutely right. It's not about emphasising the real life features of the plant so that it sells well - that's fair enough. But it's becoming about presenting the plant so that it sells - even if what they show bears little resemblance to the true plant.


This kind of thing gets me so cross. However, I've just found something that's got me even crosser at my local garden centre - plastic topiary!

Graham Rice

Back in England, I just saw plastic box hedging, about 2ft high, in a garden centre - and a 3ft length cost £175!!! Incredible.

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