Friday, July 9, 2010

My new bed.

There are several gardening staples that I've resisted for the past 20 years that I've gardened here in Arlington.  The first is collecting Hosta: I've only picked up a few over the years.  The second, big one, is actual landscaping efforts.  My beds have always been very cottagey: stuffed full of a hugely diverse assortment of perennials with a few annuals trialed here and there.  But I had a problem: 5 yards of very soil-like 3 year old compost.  I complained to the supplier, and he brought me fresher compost, but he asked me to keep the old compost so that he wouldn't have to load it back into the truck.  Thus, my slightly elevated new bed, 25 feet by 5 feet between my house and a neighbors, extending from the base of my Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia asheii) nearly to the base of an elm.  Bright shade conditions, and easily watered.  My neighbor had inherited a few hostas along the property line, so I placed my bed against them.

So now I've made a bed that my landscaping friends would at least consider passable.  Pretty much all hostas, mostly in groups of three (including the really large ones.)  I taper down to smaller hosta at the end near the elm, and I've filled it with coleus and impatiens to make it pretty until I get more coverage from the hostas.

I selected hostas that I thought had good leaves (especially slug resistance) and that also have nice flowers.  They are:

Hosta 'Guardian Angel'
Hosta nigrescens
Hosta 'Little Blue'
Hosta 'Sugar And Cream'
Hosta 'One Man's Treasure'
Hosta 'Purple Lady Fingers'
Hosta 'Golden Scepter'
Hosta plantagenea
Hosta plantagenea 'Venus'
Hosta 'Diamond Tiara'
Hosta 'Halcyon'
Hosta 'Whirlwind'

Hosta 'Little Wonder'
Hosta 'Wet Bikini'
Hosta 'Popo'

I put a little European ginger where eventually it might get overtaken by the biggest hostas: no loss.

There's a large reserved spot for Hosta 'Winter Snow', if I can find one.  And I have spaces for a little Hosta venusta and about 2 other small hostas yet to be chosen.  Between Steve Greene, Blanchettes, and Seawrights, there's no shortage of choice of hosta.


38 M 4, Purple Self, Dor Dip

Yet another really sunfast dark red-purple!  Not as clear a color as MH0875B: the polite term is "smoky" and some people like that color.  I think it comes from underlying yellow (and the throat shows a fair amount of yellow.)  Here it is after an 90 degree day of blistering sun and breeze that burned, melted, faded and bleached many other dark-colored daylilies.

It seems that the most significant effect of all that sun was to remove the stamens.  Secondarily, the bloom is slightly lighter colored.

Another feature of this plant is that the first scape is a perfect 4-branched scape; it has 2 long laterals and a terminal V.  I'm making the obvious cross to MH0875B; other crosses will be onto the clearest-colored sunfast seedlings.  Maybe a backcross onto Red Spire.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


38 EM 3.5, NearWhite Self, Dor Dip
MH0219I * Ice Trumpets

At last, I've gotten a great scape on a tall-and-small near-white trumpet.  I love the way the petals are a little above the sepals: the strong recurve gives MH0848D a beautiful sculptural appearance from the side view.  Over a yard tall, with 5 branches and 21 buds.  MH0848D is a sibling to the much whiter MH0461F: I remade the cross long because despite the perfection of form and color, MH0461F never developed a decent scape and hardly increased in 6 years.  But the off-white color is very interesting: it looks to me as if there is a green sheen over the petals and sepals.  If you enlarge the picture, and look at the top petal and sepal where they curve backwards, there is a darker, greenish shade.  I've noticed that in a number of other seedlings this year.  Only one fault: the blooms start to senesce in the early evening.

Look at that scape!

What to cross it with?  Why, its sibs of course.  And everything else that's really white and needs a better scape, such as MH0447A.  And my light lavender bicolor, MH0853L, tall trumpet on trumpet.  And MH0751A, a very curious kid of MH0461F that is a greenish yellow with vigor, a taller scape, and just as good branching and budcount.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010


24 EM 4, NearWhite Self, Dor Dip
MH0416A * MH0321A

A breakthrough in green-throated whites!  I'm not entirely sure, but it looks as if there is a green sheen over the centers of the petals and especially the sepals.  A lousy plant with few buds and melts a bit on bad days.  This was from a cross I deliberately made for green on white.  The parent MH0416A (below) was cream, but shrieked green at me, so I put my best near-white rebloomer onto it.  I just love the big, looping ruffles: my favorite kind.  And the "gaposis" (sepals visible between the petals) shows more green throat to its advantage.  The petals and sepals are fully reflexed, and it opens perfectly.  No sign of rebloom yet this year, but there's still time.  The pod parent is from rebloom lines, and the pollen parent is one of the continual rebloomers.


Sunday, July 4, 2010


36 EM 4, Purple Self, Dor Dip
MH0377C * Purple Sphere

My quest for tall-and-small sunfast reds has turned up an extraordinary sunfast purple with excellent branching and budcount.  Bob Sobek came by, saw it, stopped in his tracks and said "Wow, what is THAT?"  The first scape is fairly tall at 36 inches, with 4 long branches and 16 buds.  We could quibble about the color, whether it has a dark eye or light edge, but the sun makes the color fairly even.

Here I'm comparing MH0875B to the excellent Bela Lugosi at 1PM to show the better sunfastness.  BL has curled at the edges, slicked and melted a little.  MH0875B shows none of that: the color is slightly duller.  In the evening, the revived color glows.

I want a brighter color, smaller flower, taller and better branched scape as my goal.  But this is an impressive stop along the way.  The pod parent, MH0377C, is a smaller, taller, brilliant, velvety red that isn't nearly as sun resistant.  Maybe I'll backcross to it.  The pollen parent, Purple Sphere by Kirby (below) is one of the clearest strong purples I know of and not sunfast.  But it is a horrible performer for me in my poor growing conditions.


42 EM 3.5, Lavender Bicolor, Dor Dip

My quest for tall-and-small trumpets has succeeded, but this is just the beginning.  MH0853L is sunfast, extravagently diamond dusted, upfacing, clear-colored, and brilliant.  4 branches and 17 buds on this first scape.

There are two sibs that are also worth keeping: they are more purple, slightly shorter, and just as nice.  Any of these are good enough to introduce.  They stand out in a row of sibs that may look nice, but melt badly (as both parents can) or open poorly (as Sobek 93.36 does.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Visit to George Doorakian

The phone rang, and I received the summons.  I had a guest: I commandeered him and his vehicle.  I had a doctors appointment: the heck with it.  We raced to Bedford, because George Doorakian wanted to show us his latest.  They don't really need any comment beyond "ooooh, aaaaahh!"

Can anybody guess Georges favorite color?