The Ruby Falls and Merlot are the result of 12 years of breeding by Dr Dennis Werner head of breeding at the North Carolina State University, USA. They represent remarkable breakthroughs in hybrid crosses between differing formats and species and are the first in what will be a progression of new and exciting cultivars in the coming years. It was many years ago in the early days of this breeding work that I had the privilege of being taken to the field where the plants were and seeing different cultivars grown side by side under small nets with bees inside to perform the pollination required. This was but the beginning of the process of developing these cultivars. The tenacity required by Dr Dennis Werner to develop the Ruby Falls and Merlot is a tribute to breeders of plants everywhere.
Cercis canadensis Ruby Falls®:
The Ruby Falls shares the wonderful characteristics of its parents, Lavender Twist and Forest Pansy. From the Forest Pansy (which is probably the most popular existing variety) the Ruby Falls takes the red heart shaped leaves which look so wonderful with sunlight behind and turn a vivid array of reds and oranges in the autumn before leaf fall. From the Lavender Twist the Ruby Falls inherits the pendula format which makes such an architectural statement either in the garden or a patio container. It also has quite a good display of pink flowers in the spring.
Cercis canadensis Merlot®:
The Merlot is a cross between Texas White and Forest Pansy. The advantages this variety has over the Forest Pansy are many and should ensure that it becomes a very popular part of many a garden planting scheme. It has shiny glossy red leaves which
are thicker and more resistant to wind and rain damage than its famous parent. It has many more pink flowers in the spring and is a much bushier plant making it easier to shape and grow as a small tree or compact bush. The branches are also more resistant to breaking. For those lucky enough to enjoy a hot climate the leaves are much more tolerant of high temperatures, while in the cooler UK climate they retain much of their red colour throughout the growing season(older leaves become more greenish) ,turning a wonderful orangey /red in the autumn time. Cercis Merlot is a great small tree.