One change from pervious years is that the companion plant list is dropped. This is because of lack of interest. Most of the items on the companion list had no requests. Only one person used the companion list to any extent (sorry Jackie) and an attempt to raise interest with an article on drought-loving plants resulted in zero purchases. This was fortuitously just before a water-emergency summer in Victoria. Even rare shrub seeds from John Trelawney failed to wow us. So goodbye companions.
On the rhododendron side the outlook is really good. If I might
be permitted I will list my own minor obsession in dwarf, indumented hybrids
intended for foliage use:
| Female Parent
2. degronianum hept. 'Enamoto'
3. " "
4. " "
5. degronianum, yak 'Exbury'
6. " "
7. " "
8. " 'Yaku Angel'
x buseavii 'Larsen's
x maximum 'Mt Mitchell
Of the above, outstanding foliage should be on 6, 10 and 11 with broader leaves inherited from pachysanthum; 3 and 8 will have narrow, spiky leaves on dwarf plants (a grex of 3 has been adopted as 'Porcupine' in Nova Scotia); 9 has a prospect of red(-dish) flowers from its microgynum (= gymnocarpum) parent but knowing the strong "fading gene" in yak I suspect 5 will be pale pink.
Then there is 12 which is bred for an entirely different purpose - late flowering. While late flowering has little appeal on the West Coast (drought shrivels the flowers) this is a valuable feature for Eastern growers so most of this seed will go to my Nova Scotian friends. There is also the mystery of the red pigment in the Mt. Mitchell maximum and there is a new development in the genetics of this trait which may be the subject of an article in J.ARS.
I try to be a peaceful, law-abiding citizen but I have to confess to being implicated in the deaths of possibly five K. makinoi. This is a pity since the narrow leaf feature is strongly inherited in its offspring. One ambition is to make makinoi x roxieanum oreonastes. In other words narrow leaves crossed with narrow leaves. I even have a name for a clone of this - 'Hedgehog'. Fortunately Joan McMurray feeds me a regular supply of makinoi pollen.
Peter Wharton Expedition
There is also a seed store kept at a secure, secret location somewhere near Victoria. This is a stash of the 1994 Guizhou expedition that Peter went on. These seeds are kept dry and frozen - this enables rhododenron seed to retain its viability almost indefinitely. Specimen plants from these seeds are reported to have sold for up to $85 US. Some of the species are not only rare in cultivation but handsome to boot. May I mention R. agastum. While the continuing existence of these seeds is a secret, packets are still available. We may issue a joint list of old plus new seeds in the coming year.
Projects for 2002
As mentioned at the beginning, please collect seeds for contribution
to our local list or indeed to the ARS Seed Exchange to which the majority
of my own seeds go.