Breeder of Neptune’s Gold – Neil Alcock
Eryngium Neptune’s Gold was bred in Britain by Neil Alcock. Neil is an experienced and knowledgeable plantsman and is the manager at Seiont Nurseries in north Wales, and this is what he had to say about the plant:
During my 28 years in the horticultural industry, new varieties of plants have always interested me the most. It is the most rewarding part of my job to see a new plant that I have raised being propagated up from a single plant to tens of thousands, selling in garden centres around the UK and Europe. New plants are the lifeblood of our industry and it is great to see all the choices available to the consumer today. I am particularly encouraged by the range and quality of UK bred varieties. I have raised several of my own varieties at Seiont Nurseries over the years including Phormium, Cordyline, Hebe and Heuchera.
There is another plant though, one I found as a chance seedling in my own garden back in 2008. It was a sea holly (Eryngium) with bright yellow leaves. A bit of care and a few root cuttings later, I realised I could have a good potential variety. Micropropagation was begun in a European laboratory and Rob & Rosy Hardy of Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants were recruited to trial the plant and take it to Chelsea. This Eryngium had no name and for once I had no ideas! Rosy came up with Neptune’s Gold, which I thought was a brilliant choice.
The best moment of the development was to see the first flowers. The spring foliage is bright gold which turns yellowish-green, then the flowers have a flashing steely blue – the contrast is amazing! Hardy’s have entered Eryngium Neptune’s Gold in the new plant competition at Chelsea 2014 and will have the first plants for sale to gardeners. Plants will also be delivered to stores in The Garden Centre Group during Chelsea week. We have also worked together with Coblands to supply plants to Paul Hervey-Brookes for the BrandAlley Renaissance Garden at Chelsea.
My second ever visit to Chelsea will be an exciting one!
Eryngium zabelii Neptune’s Gold – the world’s first golden foliage Sea Holly
Eryngium zabelii Neptune’s Gold will be launched at the Royal Horticultural Sociey’s Chelsea Flower Show in May 2014.
Neptune’s Gold was bred by Neil Alcock, manager at Seiont Nurseries. Neil is a very experienced and knowledgable plantsman and grower. His breeding programme aimed to develop new and improved forms of Eryngium, but one seedling caught his eye, having yellow foliage.
Whenever a plant breeder sees interesting foliage, the key is to grow the plant on successfully to ensure that the colouring is interesting, attractive, uniform and stable. Neptune’s Gold ticked all of those boxes.
Neil then began to work with Graham Spencer of Plants For Europe Limited (PFE). PFE is a specialist plant breeders’ agency, working with owners of new plant varieties to help them to develop their new varieties, distribute them to the trade and protect their invention by Plant Variety Rights and Plant Patents. Graham got in touch with a specialist Dutch propagator with experience of working with Eryngium who set to work to turn the original plant into the thousands needed for the launch.
At the same time, the first plants were sent to Rob and Rosy Hardy of Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants near Whitchurch in Hampshire. Rob and Rosy soon agreed that Neptune’s Gold would be an excellent plant to launch at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show 2014.
At this point, Neptune’s Gold still did not have a name – it was simply “Neil’s golden sea holly”. There was much hard thinking and head scratching, struggling to come up with a suitable name. Then Rosy suggested “Neptune’s Gold” – combining the idea of “sea” (holly) and the golden foliage – and giving a great idea for our launch promotion at Chelsea!
Neptune’s Gold will be available from Chelsea week onwards. British gardeners will be able to buy plants by mail order from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants and at their nursery in Hampshire. Plants will also be available from selected garden centres across the country. Garden designers will also be able to obtain plants from Coblands Nurseries.