Thursday, June 13, 2013

Luna Toscana


Ah Firenze, che bella città!  In the hour just before sunset the air is still and high-flying clouds bathe the city in a pink glow. Then--the moon rises over the Arno. "C'è il momento sublime!"

This flower is salmon-peach with a subtle eyezone of 
orchid-pink. The eye color is echoed in a pencil edge of orchid and gold stitched through the pleated ruffles. The yellow-green throat flares into the eyezone. A network of magenta veining spreads out to the edge of the petals,.like veins in pink marble. Thick creped texture. 

Suggested by a cross of Pat Stamile's, whose Magic Amethyst, Lake Effect and Knights in White Satin are all siblings. Whereas neither parent is a strong grower for me, Luna Toscana is a big vigorous plant with healthy dark green foliage. Budcount 12-16. Fertile both ways.

Druid's Chant x Big Blue

Flower 6 x 3 x 2"
Height 30"

Introduced at $75


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Kathryn's Choice

Back in 1997, I made the pilgrimage to Hamlin NY to see the lovely garden of Kathryn Root. The first thing I saw was a clump of lemon flowers blooming in front of a blue rain barrel. I immediately said, "What 's that flower?" And without missing a beat she replied, "That's Mike F."

Kathryn was a keen collector and hybridizer for many years. She worked with diploids from the lines of Sarah Sikes, Pauline Henry, and Elizabeth Yancey, as well as tets from many breeders. She created many fine flowers over the years, but never introduced any, choosing instead to name them after the person who appreciated them most. 

This is probably the most vigorous plant I grow, with dense deep blue-green foliage that curls as it grows. The color is brilliant lemon. The squarish flowers face outward all around the plant. It has three- to four-way branching and a budcount of 18-22. Tiny puckered pleated ruffles on both petals and sepals. Thick creped substance. While it doesn't rebloom for me here in the city, Kathryn's daughter Ginny Byers (with whose blessing I introduce it) reports rebloom in her garden near Lake Ontario. Fragrant. Nocturnal. Extended bloom. Starts mid-June here. Plants will be multiple fans.

Kathryn once confided to me that this one was her best. She paid me the compliment of calling it after me. I will return the favor by naming it in her honor. 

Stella de Oro x Camden Gold Dollar
Flower 3 1/2 x 1 3/4 x 1"
Height 24"

Introduced at $25

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Like a little bird unfurling its wings, this bright yellow and red flower looks poised for flight. Crisp pastel yellow petals converge in a ruby eyezone that lightens to scarlet as it spreads outward. Petals stretch out or fold gently back, sepals strongly recurve. There is often one petal that lifts a bit, like a bird stretching its wing.

Wild's early eyed Wake Island has long been a favorite of mine, but is rather short at 22" and not a great grower for me. Darryl Apps's Bumblebee's Bouquet is an "apps-ly" named bouquet of flowers, but blooms midseason. This cultivar combines early bloom and larger flower from the pod parent with dormancy and vigor from the pollen parent. At 26" it is taller than both parents.

Hadn't planned on introducing this, but kept it for its trouble-free habit and cheerful color. Then one day I found a chunk neatly cut out of the clump, like a wedge from a pie! The light dawned. I realized that some people might value this plant for the very qualities for which I had passed it over. That tallish scape and slightly irregular form might be part of its charm. 

Then the name came to me, and the die was cast. This flower stands for all whose beauty defies convention. Very vigorous, fast increase,  many scapes, and lots of flowers, with four-way branching and a budcount of 12-16. Multiple fans.

Wake Island x Bumblebee's Bouquet
Flower 4 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 1 1/4
Height 26"
Early (starts last week in June)

Introduced at: $45

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lemon Limerick

This lemon flower with green throat has a sort of "lilt" to the petals, like the "lilt of Irish laughter" in the song. Blooms are rounded, recurved, creped and gently ruffled, with dark anthers that contrast strongly with the lemon petals. 

Lemon Limerick was chosen first for its beauty and color--called "Lovely Lemon" in the garden. But it possesses a constellation of qualities that add up to distinction: clear color, consistent form, compact plant habit, good plant balance, and fast increase.                                                                 A strong hardy plant with healthy dark blue-green foliage. Two- to three-way branching, budcount 12-16.
Many scapes, lots of flowers. Sure the leprechauns must be smilin' at this fair colleen!

By Myself x Smuggler's Gold
Flower 5 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/2"
Height 25"
Early Midseason

Introduced at $55

Flash of Javelins


Like an Olympic athlete throwing the javelin, this cultivar throws a brilliant flash of gold across the garden. My tallest plant at 42", Flash of Javelins takes high budcount from Imperial Lemon, and bold color and robust plant habit from Westbrook Gold by the late Dick Bennett. "Mister Bennett" was a pioneer of tet breeding and a great advocate for daylilies in Rochester, NY. 

First flowers around July 5th here. A huge husky plant with healthy dark green foliage. Creped petals have a pleated edge. Budcount 20-25. Often has polymerous or fused flowers with extra segments for additional interest, as in flower at right. Fertile both ways but a difficult pod parent.

Westbrook Gold x Imperial Lemon
Flower 6 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/2"
Height 42"

Introduced at $50

Normal flower

Spring foliage 5/14/2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

Knight's Valor

This vigorous deep purple with pleated ruffling sometimes has a smoky color, which suggests a medieval quality, like a knight errant on his flying charger. The gold throat expands its rays into a light-purple watermark--the Munson trademark.

The courtly name is reminiscent of Bill Munson, as Knight's Valor is indebted to Munson through its pollen parent, Robert Lee Batt (which has in its background Vintage Wine and Nairobi Night.)  However, unlike those Munson classics, this is a hard dormant. A strong grower and fast increaser, it has 3-4-way branching and a budcount of 22-26.

Nordic Night x Robert Lee Batt
Flower 5 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 2"
Height 29"
Early Midseason

Introduced at $60

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Butterfly Cravat


Like the deftly-knotted tie of an Edwardian dandy, this flower lends a touch of elegance to the garden.. These boldly-eyed blossoms have a definite "face." The color is a flesh-peach with a raised lavender midrib,  red-violet eye and olive throat. The eye "bleeds" into the petal color. Diamond-dusted with a gold pencil-edge. Clear colors. Buds have a touch of lavender.


Wanting a taller scape on Paper Butterfly, I crossed it with Gay Cravat, again a Peck cultivar. The result is this very free-flowering plant that is taller than both parents, with the large blooms well balanced on the tall scapes. The flowers face outward all around the plant for a sculptured look. Budcount 18-23, with three-way branching. Thick creped substance. Fertile both ways.

Gay Cravat x Paper Butterfly
Flower 6 1/2 x 3 x 2"
Height 36"
Early Midseason

Introduced at: $75


Bendigo Beauty

In 1851, gold was discovered in a number of locations in Victoria and New South Wales, sparking the Australian Gold Rush. Two of the most significant sites were the Victorian towns of Ballarat and Bendigo. No doubt when they found a nugget, those early prospectors held it up and exclaimed, "You little beauty!"

The bright color here could start a gold rush. Deep gold, very ruffled, with an olive throat and good substance. Bendigo Beauty has a healthy budcount of 12-16, with three-way branching.

In making this cross, I wanted to combine the color saturation and fast increase of Virginia Peck's classic By Myself with the rounded ruffled form of Smuggler's Gold. This plant fulfills all three wishes. Foliage is a shade lighter and greener than sib Lemon Limerick. Very hardy and a rampant grower.  Admired by Mary Coupe.

By Myself x Smuggler's Gold
Flower 5 1/2 x 3 x 1 5/8"
Height 28"
Early Midseason

Introduced at: $45

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Calypso Noël

Have you ever heard a Christmas carol with a Caribbean beat? 

When I made this cross, I wanted to combine the russet tones and rounded form of Jeff Salter's Calypso Bay with the the big brawny plant of Bill Munson's Paper Dragon. But instead of russet and bronze, the result was this bright cherry-red! 

A lighter watermark sets off the yellow-green throat,  from which gold flares dart into the midribs and are repeated in the sepals. Petals have darker shadings at their crimped edges. Calypso Noël was "discovered" by Charlie and Judy Zettek on a visit to the garden in 2007. Good eye, Judy!                                                           Height and color make it stand out in the garden. Starts second week in July here in Zone 6. Three-way branching with a budcount 16. Runner-up for Stanley Saxton Award for Best Seedling (Region 4) 2010.

Paper Dragon x Calypso Bay
Flower 6 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/2".
Height 40"

Introduced at: $75

Nerissa's Ring

In the final couplet of The Merchant of Venice, a chastened Graziano swears to be true to his wife Nerissa with these words:

Well, while I live I'll fear no other thing
So sore as keeping safe Nerissa's Ring.

June is the month for weddings, and in the last week of  June this bright gold self puts forth a profusion of cheerful blossoms in honor of true love. The flowers are rounded and rolled back, pleated in tiny ruffles on both petals and sepals. 

I was visiting Charlie Zettek's Cobbs Hill Garden one day when he was digging seedling clumps. "Don't toss that one--it's my favorite!" I exclaimed. The plant was dubbed "Save for Mike"--combining rolled-back form from Queen Ann's Lace with fine foliage and high scape density from Penny's Worth. To achieve rebloom, I crossed it with Doris Simpson's Lemon Lollypop.

Nerissa's Ring is a fine front-of-the-border plant and mixes well with early perennials. Loaded with flowers. Healthy blue-green foliage and pleasing plant balance. Good substance with many scapes and a budcount of 16-30. Some rebloom. Multiple fans.

(Queen Ann's Lace x Penny's Worth) x Lemon Lollipop
Flower 3 1/2"
Height 22"

Introduced at $25