21 November 2012

AHHH! My book has a cover!

My editor at Timber Press sent me this yesterday:

The cover design for my book! I still don't quite believe that this is happening... But it is! Coming out in March and... even MORE insane, you can already pre-order it on Amazon. I'm going to be an author! 

18 November 2012

Psycho for cyclamen

I'm nuts about hardy cyclamen. How nuts? Well... Here is a picture of a shirt my oldest brother made for me one Christmas when I was 16 or so.
Yeah... I was so obsessed with cyclamen and wouldn't stop talking about them so he made me this shirt... It is rather faded with age, but I still love it -- and cyclamen!
C. coum was my first love, because it flowers so incredibly early (the same time as snowdrops for me). Like most gardeners, my love of flowers was soon overtaken by an obsession with foliage. Which C. coum also does pretty darn well.
But C. coum, as lovely as it is, now decidedly takes second place to C. hederifolium
Now THAT is pretty epic foliage diversity!
Not only does the amount and pattern of silver vary wildly, leaf shape is crazy too. I love the long leaf forms we've got at Arrowhead. Stock is low at the moment, but I've sown a massive amount of seed, and we should have more before too long.
C. hederifolium wins for me also for its performance in the garden. C. coum is hardy, but never seems to really thrive for me, while C. hederifolium gets beefy and happy and even seeds around a little.
The flowers are pretty epic as well, coming up in huge numbers in the early fall just before the leaves.
White is even better than the normal pink, to my taste anyway.

Most excitingly, to me anyway, we've for some really cool new cyclamen forms coming along here at Arrowhead... Looking through a seedling batch of C. hederifolium, I spotted a few individuals that show a distinct PINK flush to their leaf surfaces!
Admittedly, the pink color isn't that extreme yet, but if this is what is just popping up from open pollinated seed from our stock plants, I'm very hopefully that a little focused breeding and selection will be able to produce a whole new class of brilliant pink flushed C. hederifolium. Stand by! They're going to be all kinds of awesome.
Also cool this year is this C. coum seedling with MASSIVE leaves! Normal sized leaves are at the top for comparison... I'm hoping the flowers are similarly jumbo, and that it comes true from seed. We shall see.

Finally, there is the one that got away...
How incredibly kick ass is this VARIEGATED C. coum? Sadly, it is also incredibly dead. :( That is the depressing bit about variegated plants... they can be easy to kill, hard to propagate, and once gone, there's no way to bring them back. I'm look through every seedling batch of C. coum carefully, hoping against hope that this gorgeous thing will rear its head again, but chances are it won't... Ah well. We can always dream.

08 November 2012

Plants of Portland

I just got back from an exceptionally wonderful week in Portland Oregon. I was there for the Independent Plant Breeder's Conference, and got to spend a couple extra days tooling around checking out amazing gardens and nurseries! Too much fun. Here are some photographic highlights.
 A gorgeous selection of Veronica incana seen at Xera Plants. It is always a great plant, but this is by far the nicest form I've seen. Yes, they sold me a plant, and yes, cuttings are already stuck!
 Want to guess? Buddleia! Yes, this is a butterfly bush! Buddleia colvilei 'Kew Form' to be exact. Excuse me while I stop drooling. Not even close to hardy for us, of course, but still.
Fall color was just about perfect... here's a shot of the Japanese maples in the garden of Dan Heims (as in, Terra Nova) He was one of the organizers of the conference and a perfect host. Thank you Dan!
Japanese maples + moss = Perfection.
Attendees of the conference all busy taking photos of the spectacular maples at the Japanese Garden.
More Japanese maple perfection... I can't get over that PINK one on the left! Amazing.
One of the conference tour stops was Terra Nova... This is where all your heucheras come from. Kinda amazing. It was fun to see behind the scenes a little, and meet some of there breeders. I have to admit, I love their heucheras and kniphofia even more now that I've met Janet Egger, the genius breeder who creates them, and flat out one of the coolest ladies I've ever met.
 Gorgeous planting at Cistus nursery.
More Cistus beauty... I took lots of pictures at Cistus, most of which didn't come out well, so you'll have to use your imagination. Basically, truly amazing collection of gorgeous plants, most of which I could only sigh over, wishing they would be hardy for me.
This just made me sick. It is a bad picture, but this was just one of the many lush, vigorous, flowering blocks of Gentiana acaulis I saw at Edelweiss Perennials. Huge, gorgeous flowers of absolutely perfect blue on plants that were growing like WEEDS. If you've ever tried growing Gentiana acaulis here in the midwest, you'll appreciate my insane envy... I had a little patch that I was inordinately proud of... before it completely shriveled up and died in the baking heat and dry of this summer.

Would you guess this is in Oregon? This was at Rare Plants Research, where again, I walked around looking at gorgeous plants that I could never grow in Michigan...

Besides all the gardens and nurseries and amazing plants, the conference itself was amazing. A veritable who's who of horticulture was attending, I got to meet and hang out with a lot of incredible people and have a terrific time. If you are interested in plant breeding, I highly recommend attending the next one in 2014. Particularly because it is going to be held here in Michigan! Either Lansing or Grand Rapids, I believe, so I'll get a chance to try and make other people jealous of the gorgeous plants we can grow here.