A group of garden hybrids combining genes from Abelia chinensis, A. schumannii and A. uniflora. Shrubs to 2 m, sometimes semi-evergreen. Leaves sometimes glossy and sometimes slightly greyish-green. Flowering from summer into autumn, sometimes scented. Corolla c. 2–4 cm long, bell-shaped, pink to purplish pink or sometimes partly pink and partly white, and generally with yellow or orange markings in the throat. (Landrein et al. 2017).
USDA Hardiness Zone 6
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Plants in this group combine features from their three parents in various combinations, and are usually sold and described simply as cultivar names after Abelia. ‘Edward Goucher’ was the first of these hybrids to be widely grown and remains the most popular; all the known clones likely to share its parentage are grouped together here for convenience.
Abelia PINK PONG®
Abelia × grandiflora 'Abenov41'
A selection that was bred in France in 2006 by Véronique Kapustra, crossing Abelia schumannii ‘Bumblebee’ with A. × grandiflora ‘Semperflorens’ (Transatlantic Plantsman 2017). The matt leaves are fully evergreen and the large, scented flowers, vivid pink from purple buds, open from May until October, making for one of the most interesting combinations so far bred of the best features of the three parent species in this group.
A plant differing from ‘Edward Goucher’ in its lavender-mauve flowers, which are very scented. It was sold by Debby Sheuchenko of the now-closed Lazy SS Farm Nurseries in Virginia, having long been grown by her sister Bobbie Hackett from a plant found in the garden of an old farm where she had (once lived). Laurence Hatch (who mis-spells the cultivar name as ‘Bobby’) suggests that it is probably synonymous with some long-forgotten American clone (Hatch 2021–2022).
RHS Hardiness Rating: H5
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6
This Abelia was selected at the Glenn Dale Plant Introduction Centre, Maryland by Edward Goucher in 1911, only a year after the first known introduction (by Ernest Wilson to the Arnold Arboretum) of plants attributable to the wild Chinese A. schumannii (q.v.), some of whose genes are almost certainly expressed in this cultivar (this was one of the cultivated Abelia whose genome was studied by Landrein et al. 2017).
‘Edward Goucher’ maintains a neat, dense habit and carries rather small, quite glossy leaves which have a bronzy flush and persist into winter in the climate of southern England. Its flowers are larger than those of the familiar A. × grandiflora and lilac- or purplish-pink, with a darker throat marked with amber speckles; the corolla contrasts beautifully with the soft red of the two persistent sepals. The paired sepals, one often with a notched tip, and the often slightly exserted style, are distinctive features (Landrein et al. 2017). It is slightly less hardy than most forms of A. × grandiflora (Dirr 2009).
Plants sometimes sold as Abelia ‘Pink Dwarf’, ‘Dwarf Pink’, ‘Dwarf Purple’ and ‘Dwarf’ may represent the same clone (Dirr 2009); Michael Dirr remarks that in Georgia, the leaves of ‘Dwarf Purple’ at least hang on with a purplish colour in late autumn.
A product of the Abelia breeding programme at the University of Georgia (USA), bred by Dr Carol Robacker in 2006 from ‘Edward Goucher’ presumably pollinated by A. chinensis (Dirr 2009). In that climate, the distinctively grey-green leaves slowly turn purple from their tips in autumn but hang on until midwinter; the lavender-pink flowers mostly open from June to August, with odd flowers appearing into autumn. The sepals are green at their base and rose-pink at their tips.
Abelia PINKY BELLS™
Bred by Timothy Wood at the Spring Meadow Nursery, Missouri, in 2003, by crossing Abelia schumanii ‘Bumblebee’ with A. × grandiflora ‘Little Richard’ (Hatch 2021–2022), ‘Lynn’ makes a low mound with reddish stems and leaves which are red-tinged in spring and autumn. The almost disproportionately large, lightly fragrant flowers are pale pink with a rich reddish-pink throat.
An Abelia with medium (pink) flowers, distributed by Pépinières Minier from 2006 (Hatch 2021–2022). AUDEROSE® was available in the UK until 2014 (Royal Horticultural Society 2021) and is still sold in France and Germany.
Abelia × grandiflora SUNNY CHARMS™
Abelia × grandiflora SUNNY ANNIVERSARY®
SUNNY CHARMS™ was raised in 2007 by Pépinières Minier as an open-pollinated seedling of Abelia × grandiflora as is universally sold as a clone of that hybrid, but its blowsy, wide-lipped flowers with strong yellow markings would seem to indicate a strong influence of A. schumannii. The general appearance is of a plant with creamy-yellow flowers, marked purplish-pink outside. It has attracted considerable interest as the first yellow-flowered Abelia, and makes a compact plant blossoming abundantly from midsummer on (Rice 2015; Proven Winners 2014).
Abelia PASTEL CHARM®
Abelia PASTEL CHARM® is a product of Pépinières Minier’s recent Abelia breeding programme, making a compact plant whose leaves bronze in autumn in the climate of north-western France, and whose flowers are distinctively two-toned, being blush with a rich pink throat marked with orange (Minier). (The ‘variegated’ plant sold under this name in the UK by (Coolings) is clearly something different.)
Abelia PETITE GARDEN®
A self-pollinated seedling of ‘Edward Goucher’ raised by Pépinières Minier in 2003 and distributed in 2010 (Hatch 2021–2022). Abelia PETITE GARDEN® forms a low mound less than a metre high, whose dark glossy semi-evergreen foliage contrasts with light pink flowers with darker throats.
A product of Dr Carol Robacker’s Abelia breeding programme at the University of Georgia (USA), ‘Plum Surprise’ is ‘Edward Goucher’ crossed in 2006 with A. × grandiflora ‘Francis Mason’ and makes a spreading plant to one metre high whose yellowish-green leaves flush red and take on a purple cast which lasts through winter. The rather sparsely produced flowers are white with a pink throat speckled with yellow (Dirr 2009).
Bred by Dr Carol Robacker at the University of Georgia (USA) in 2006 from ‘Edward Goucher’ and Abelia chinensis, ‘Raspberry Profusion’ makes a glossy-leaved largely deciduous plant which begins to produce its large, reddish-pink scented flowers as early as May; these are backed by raspberry-red sepals, making ‘Raspberry Profusion’ one of the most colourful of Abelias (Hatch 2021–2022).
Abelia × grandiflora 'Really Pink'
A plant raised (as a clone of A. × grandiflora) by John Sabuco before 1983 (Hatch 2021–2022) but probably no longer in commerce. ‘Really Pink’ was an evergreen plant with clear pink flowers, otherwise resembling ‘Edward Goucher’ (Dirr 2009).
Abelia schumannii 'Saxon Gold'
Abelia × grandiflora 'Saxon Gold'
Abelia parvifolia 'Saxon Gold'
‘Saxon Gold’ was raised in 2003 at the Stone Cross Garden Centre in East Sussex (which lies on the supposed route of King Harold’s Saxon soldiers as they marched to the Battle of Hastings). It is the only Abelia in this group with greeny-yellow foliage, which tends to scorch in the strong sunlight of the south-eastern United States (Dirr 1983) and does not necessarily contrast well with the purplish-pink, unspeckled flowers. It is also unusual in its five sepals, and was one of several garden hybrids whose genetics were studied by Sven Landrein in 2017 (Landrein et al. 2017), indicating influences from Abelia schumannii and A. × grandiflora. ‘Saxon Gold’ can be found advertised as a cultivar of various Abelia taxa.