Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Santa Croce


Morning in the square of Santa Croce, Firenze. In the warm sunshine, the white marble façade with its lavender accents seems to glow with an inner radiance. Form and symmetry combine in esthetic harmony.

The flower is a pale ivory-cream or eggshell yellow. The yellow-green throat sets off the lavender-blue eye. The curling lavender picotee is completed by a gold edge at the end of the petals. Lighter midribs bisect the eye and connect it to the petal color.

A very finished flower, with each blossom opening flat. Santa Croce is a sibling of last year's Luna Toscana, and and continues the Florentine theme. Like LT, it is vigorous and a good opener, but is a very different color and makes smaller fans. Many scapes and flowers. 

A very long bloomer, Santa Croce flowers all through July, then rests for a bit. In 2013, last flower on first scapes was August 5. Rebloom started August 12 and continued to the end of August. Three- to four-way branching, budcount 18-22.

Druid's Chant x Big Blue
Flower 6 x 3 x 2
Height 32"
Midseason to Late

Introduced at $95

Mariachi Music

Can you hear the music with the Mexican beat? Rattles, drums, flutes, and conch-shell horns! There's a spicy aroma in the air. Let's celebrate! ¿Te gustaría bailar conmigo?

Mariachi Music is a bold red flower, loud and brassy. The gold throat flows out into the petals and sepals like molten metal. Sometimes shows a pencil-edge of white. Long petals fold back informally in a variety of shapes, just as a musician's riff changes each time it's played. Two- to three-way branching, 12-14 buds. Produces many many flowers as despite its modest budcount, it has lots of scapes.

This is a mid.late flower with a long bloom season, starting midway through July and then reblooming in August. This year I picked flowers on Sept. 14, with 2 buds remaining. Late bloom comes from Roger Mercer's Copper Frills, candy-apple red color from David Kirchhoff's Crimson Wind. Makes rather small fans.

Copper Frills x Crimson Wind
Flower 5 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/2"
Height 24"
Mid-late to late season

Introduced at $75

Gwendolyn Vole's Fine China

Gwendolyn Vole has invited all her meadow friends for a fancy tea party. Of course it's an occasion for trotting out one's best china! Whenever tthe conversation lags, she delicately lifts her hand-painted teacup to her snout, so that it may be discreetly admired.

The flower is a clear primrose yellow with plum inkblot eye staining both petals and sepals. Orange anthers add a nice touch of contrast. Creped texture, pleated petal edges. Petals and sepals gently recurve for a rounded effect. Budcount 9-12.

Lucille Williamson's classic Bumble Bee has long been a favorite of mine. Here it is transformed into a bigger flower with a more prominent inkblot eye, while retaining its innate hardiness and charm. Early bloom comes from Wild's Wake Island.

A plant in bloom does look like a collection of brightly painted teacups. Nice balance of flower to plant. Fast increase. Nocturnal. Multiple fans.

Wake Island x Bumble Bee
Flower 3 1/2 x 1 3/4 x 1"
Height 16"
Early (first flowers 6/22)

Introduced at $45

Knight's Victory

The contest between good and evil is the essence of his life, and commits him to a hard and lonely quest. Often the Knight must ride through the dark forest, but a spiritual force sustains him. Even when he can see only a glimmer of light through his visor, he is guided to victory. 

A half-sib of last year's Knight's Valor, this one offers a bigger flower on a taller scape. A rather triangular flower, the color is a rich red-purple with darker veining and often shows a white edge on petals. Purple stamens set off the glowing yellow-green throat.

Knight's Victory is a strong brawny plant and a fast increaser. Many scapes and flowers. Very pod fertile. Three-way branching and a budcount of 14-16. Hard dormant and very hardy. 

Begins last week of June here. Combining the lines of Jeff Salter, Pat Stamile and Steve Moldovan, this Knight comes from royalty. Double fans.

Nordic Night x (Big Blue x Mephistopheles)
Flower 6 x 3 x 2"
Height 32"
Early Midseason

Introduced at $75

Castilian Gold

This broad-petaled flower has a commanding presence, like a Spanish Grandee. Bright plates of molten gold dazzle across the garden. Thick creped petals have heavy substance.

Dick Bennett's Genesee Fire is a strong dormant plant with intense orange-red flowers. David Kirchhoff's Marilyn Siwik has an orange flower with red eye and evergreen habit. This cross produced many strong seedlings in varying shades of orange and red. This light gold self was a surprise, and is the first of its sibs to be introduced.

Very strong grower and good increaser. A big plant with thick scapes. Three- to four-way branching and 14-16 buds. Sometimes polymerous--not too often, but I couldn't resist showing this 4x4 flower! Long bloom season. Very pod fertile.

Genesee Fire x Marilyn Siwik
Flower 6 x 3 1/4 x 2".
Height 36"
Early Midseason (begins 6/29 here)

Introduced at $75

Double Cordovan

Fine Spanish leather from Cordoba has a distinctive color. This blend of burgundy-red and dark rose is called Cordovan.

The flower has broad round petals around a center of raised petaloids, which often show white edges. The color is Cordovan red with highlights of henna and maroon. Crimped petals and green throat complete the picture.

This plant came from a cross of two siblings, one which had good doubling but was very short, the other tall but only semi-double. This consistently double performer has a good flower-to-height ratio.

A fast grower and increaser, producing many scapes. Very hardy. Budcount 12-14.

(Radar Love x Big Blue) f2
Flower: 5 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/2"
Height 26-28"

Introduced at $75

Gwendolyn Vole’s Yellow Chiffon

When one’s pelt is brown, a yellow frock is just the thing to set it off. Gwendolyn Vole takes her dress out of the press and runs a careful claw over the stiff layers of chiffon. “Like being dressed in sunshine!” she squeaks.

The flower is a bright sunny yellow with rounded petals which gently roll back. Double and semi-double flowers have a cluster of petaloids at the center. 

The rounded petals have a creped texture, with tiny pleats at the petal edges. Orange anthers add a pleasing touch of contrast. Early bloomer, starting last week of June here. Very hardy. Two- to three-way branching, 12-16 buds per scape. Many scapes and flowers.

Double Action x Pudgie
Flower 4 x 2 x 1 ¼.
Height 22”

Introduced at: $45

Cherry Tree Children

Above: Daytime color of strong cherry pink with just a suggestion of lighter sepals.
Below right: At 8:30 pm--showing lavender-pink color with bud opening above.

Come brother, come sister! Up into the cherry tree! The cherries are ripe and will not wait! For a season we were cherry tree children, taking our sustenance from the great broad-limbed tree, our hands and faces stained red with its juice.

This plant selected itself as a robust grower and increaser, producing many flowers on well-budded scapes. The delicious color is cherry-pink, fading to lavender-pink by evening, with light pink sepals that remind me of the white cherry blossoms. Gold sunburst throat, olive green heart, with a ruffled gold edge on petals.

Combines rich color and watermark from Court Magician with dormancy from Big Blue, and broad ruffled form from Portofino. Three-way branching and 13-18 buds. Nocturnal opening. Double fans. 

(Court Magician x Big Blue) x Portofino
Flower 6 x 3 1/2 x 2"
Height 28"
Early Midseason

Introduced at $75

Clump in evening--showing strong bitone contrast, with next day's buds opening.

Gwendolyn Vole’s Pink Organdy

A special party dress is needed for the Meadow Ball. Gwendolyn Vole chooses her best pink organdy for this occasion, certain that she will be the prettiest rodent of them all. She twitches her whiskers in happy anticipation!

The flower is a warm shell-pink bitone, with lighter sepals and midribs. The rounded petals have tiny scalloped edges and strawberry veining. Good substance. Three-way branching and 16-20 buds. Clumps quickly, producing many scapes and flowers.

Nice balance of flower to plant. Starts first week in July. Multiple fans.

Little Grapette x Siloam Jim Terry
Flower 3 x 1 5/8 x 5/8"
Height 19"

Introduced at $45

Music of Hope

Some say that music has power to heal the body. Whether or not this is true, music can inspire hope for those who live with a life-threatening disease. The interweaving voices of Renaissance polyphony express a faith that has endured for centuries.

In my early days I thought hybridizing was simple. If I wanted a purple double, I  thought I had only to cross a  purple single flower with a cream pink double, and hey presto! The purple double would appear.

Predictably, the 26 seedlings from that 1998 crop produced a range of colors in lavender, pink, and cerise. I saved this one because of its rich grape color, though it produced few flowers in its shady bed. Years later I moved it to full sun, and discovered that it was a vigorous plant with ample bud count and dependably double flowers. So glad I didn't throw it away!

This compact pony-sized plant has a pleasing proportion of  flower to plant size. Petals are wide and ruffled, with a darker purple eye and vivid green heart. Scapes have 3-4 way branching and carry 16-20 buds. A good grower and increaser.

Grape Velvet x Siloam Double Classic
Flower 3 1/4 x 1 3/4 x 1 1/8"
Height 24"

Introduced at $55