A Gentle Unblocking
Wednesday, July 19, 2023
|Rosa 'Bathsheba' & Hosta 'Forbidden Fruit' 19 July 2023|
Joan Didion famously said, ““I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at,
what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” She is my
literary mentor so I have managed to write 5855 blogs since I began in January
These days with the knowledge that my male cat Niño has
terminal cancer and might survive, perhaps a couple of years, my thoughts are a
tad dark while I reflect on the loss of my wife Rosemary. All that, develops in
me a writer’s blog block.
But I have been saved. This is not one of my regular blogs.
Brenda Viney, an extremely active member of the Vancouver Rose Society, has been
gently (very gently) nagging me to write something for the Vancouver Rose
Society. This is it.
It was sometime in 1987 that my Rosemary persuaded me
(not so gently) to accompany her to a meeting of the Vancouver Rose Society at
the Floral Hall at VanDusen Botanical Garden. I sat on an uncomfortable chair
and was forced to watch over 100 bad slides of roses. Since that day, while I
eventually shared my Rosemary’s love of roses, I swore to avoid taking
photographs of them. Beginning in the the summer of 2001 I have been scanning them.
Today, 19 July, 2023 I could not resist grabbing my camera
when I saw the English Rose, Rosa
‘Bathsheba’ flowering very close to Hosta
I don’t consider (thanks to Rosemary) the plants in my
garden to be standout specimen plants. I see them as companions to other
plants. Obviously these two go well together.
This last year I have been obsessively scanning my roses
with hosta leaves.
And so here you have one of my rare photographs of a rose
and a scan of the same combination.
Brenda, please nag me (gently) soon to write another one of
|Rosa 'Bathsheba' & Hosta 'Hirao Majesty' 4 July 2023|
|Rosa 'Bathsheba' & Hosta 'Halcyon'21 June 2022|
|Rosa 'Bathsheba' & Rosa 'Emily Louise' 23 September 2021|
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
|Hosta 'First Frost' 19 July 2023|
the hostas in my gardens since I first started collecting them in 1987 my
favourite has been the blue, narrow leafed and extremely elegant in my eyes Hosta ‘Halcyon’
mutate the hosta lingo is that they sport. The most famous Halcyon sport is
are many more of these hostas that are called Tardianas as their parentage is
from an event that happened only once.
here of a late Tardiana called Hosta ‘First
Frost’ is remarkable as all those scapes (hosta lingo for flower stems) is tha
they are all from my pot of the plant. The pot is not all that big.
the opinion that of all the hosta flowers (which I think are beautiful) the
most beautiful are the bluish/purple Tardiana flowers. And I must add that they
are beautiful even before they open.
hosta hybridizer Bob Solberg explains it quite nicely and does add that he had
that experience that Eric Smith had also.
The “Longiana” Story (Solberg 2009)
Way back in the fall of 1961 Eric Smith took some pollen from a late, reblooming plant of H. sieboldiana and crossed it on to the first flowers of a H. ‘Tardiflora’ scape. He had to finish ripening the seeds inside in a solution of sugar and water. He was able to germinate about 30 seeds of which 14 were blue. The result was his famous group of “Tardianas”, of which ‘Halcyon’ was the first introduced from this historic cross in 1974. He was never able to set seed on ‘Tardiflora’ again. (The Hosta Journal Vol. 13, page 18.)
He was able to cross this first generation (F1) with itself and produce a second generation (F2) of very blue hostas with variable leaf shapes. ‘Blue Wedgwood’, ‘Blue Dimples’, ‘Hadspen Blue’ and ‘Blue Moon’ are some of the most widely grown. Eric Smith was able to achieve his goal of producing small, heavily substanced, blue hostas for the very small garden.
As a group of maybe 30 in number or more, (they have become collector’s items now and many have been named after the fact), “Tardianas” are all small to medium size plants with at least some white wax so that they appear blue in color. They have good substance and a sort of stiffness and sturdiness to their personality. Their clumps are usually pretty tight with dense foliage. They are almost the perfect hostas, (you certainly could argue that ‘Halcyon’ is), although some of the second generation seedlings are very slow growing, like ‘Blue Moon’.
Being a student of hosta history and a great admirer of the insight of Eric Smith, when the rare opportunity of a reblooming H. sieboldiana presented itself to me in 1997, instead of repeating Eric Smith’s cross, I decided to use ‘One Man’s Treasure’ as the second parent. ‘One Man’s Treasure’ is a seedling of H. longipes hypoglauca and for all intents and purposes a form of the species, H. longipes. My new hostas were to be “Longianas”. I expected them to be blue, larger and more vigorous than the “Tardianas”, and well suited to all growing conditions.
I recovered 15 seeds from that cross and five seedlings made it to maturity. There was not a ‘Halcyon’ in that group, all were mediocre plants brimming with genetic potential. In 2001, hundreds of second generation seeds were taken from the F1 seedlings and germinated. Several hundred seedlings were then culled, first for the best blue color, and second for interesting leaf shapes, and soon there were only 25.
In 2010, 13 years later, I am introducing four of my second generation “Longiana” seedlings. They are a very special group of hostas, a new genetic combination, not of the historic proportions of the “Tardianas” by far, but a new line of breeding for all hosta hybridizers to incorporate into their seedling programs. All four are vigorous growing medium to large hostas with good color and distinct leaf shapes. They have good substance but lack the stiffness of the “Tardianas” and are more interesting to the eye. While none may ever rival ‘Halcyon’, ‘Summer Squall’ and ‘Sun Shower’ are great hostas.