Paphiopedilum Johanna Burkhardt

Paph_Johanna-Burkhardt

I have previously written about two fine old primary hybrids made with Paphiopedilum rothschildianum: the Victorian P. Lady Isobel and P. Saint Swithin. Here is a modern one, and it may well be the best.

Paphiopedilum Johanna Burkhardt is P. rothschildianum x P. adductum, and it was registered in 1994. My plant was made using P. adductum var. anitum as the pollen parent, and the results are spectacular. P. rothschildianum has contributed flower size, number, and overall form, while genes from the very dark P. adductum var. anitum have produced a dorsal sepal, petals, and pouch with dark reddish-brown markings on a yellow background. P. adductum var. anitum has also reduced the overall size of the plant, without affecting flower size; this plant has about half the leaf-span of my other P. rothschildianum hybrids, but its flowers are just as large, if not larger. A Google search for this grex will turn up pictures of better clones, many of them awarded, with huge, muscular-looking flowers and dorsal sepals that are almost black.

P. adductum var. anitum is sometimes considered a separate species, P. anitum, in which case this hybrid would be P. Wössner Black Wings (P. rothschildianum x P. anitum). From a horticultural point of view, there’s something to be said for distinguishing the dark plants made with P. adductum var anitum from those made with lighter colored P. adductum clones. However, the International Orchid Register lists P. Wössner Black Wings as a later synonym of P. Johanna Burkhardt, and both the Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families and a recent checklist of the genus Paphiopedilum (Koopowitz, H., 2018, Orchid Digest 82: 178-235) consider P. anitum to be a synonym of P. adductum.

Eight hybrids using P. Johanna Burkhardt as a parent have been registered, but none of the photos I have seen suggest that they are any better than–or even as good as–their parent. I’d go so far as to say that in this group of orchids, the primary hybrids are almost always better than complex hybrids. After more than 120 years, P. Lady Isobel and P. Saint Swithin are still well worth growing, and I suspect that the same will be true of P. Johanna Burkhardt in another century.

Paintbrush lily

Inflorescence of Scadoxus puniceus

This is exciting! After about six years in the ground, my Scadoxus puniceus has finally decided to flower. I was afraid that I wouldn’t get it to see it in full bloom: The day after I noticed a bud emerging from the mulch, the temperature dropped to 28 F (-2.2 C), so I surrounded it with bubble-wrap and covered it with a large plastic pot. That seemed to be sufficient insulation, because a couple of weeks later I have this beautiful orange inflorescence. The many small flowers are surrounded by petal-like spathes, giving it the appearance of a large single bloom.

Scadoxus puniceus is an African member of the Amaryllidaceae, the daffodil family, so it is not a true lily. Its range in the wild extends from Western Cape Province in South Africa northwards to Tanzania, with disjunct populations in Ethiopia [1}. Given its tropical and subtropical native habitat, it is somewhat surprising that it has done so well in my garden. It has survived temperatures as low as 5.5 F (-14.7 C) when buried under a thick layer of mulch, and despite its reported preference for a dry winter dormancy, it grows in clay that stays wet all winter long.

I suspect it took so long to flower because it is heavily shaded in summer by a large American beautyberry bush (Callicarpa americana). Last year, I planted a couple of young plants in sunnier spots. They survived the winter but are still too small to flower. Maybe next year.

Reference

1. Duncan, G., Jeppe, B., and Voight, L. (2016)  The Amaryllidaceae of Southern Africa, Umdaus Press, Pretoria, South Africa.

A lichen mimic

Catocala-ilia_caterpillar

I found this beautiful caterpillar crossing a path on Thursday. It’s the larva of the ilia underwing moth (Catocala ilia), and it would be well camouflaged on patches of lichen that sometimes decorate the bark of the oak trees on which it feeds. Supposedly, the caterpillars of C. ilia come in two color forms, this lichen-mimic form and a second form that is mottled brown to match the bark of oak trees. However, the only pictures I can find online are of the lichen mimic, probably because it looks cool.

Six on Saturday #65 (April 10, 2021)

We are currently in the middle of the annual Pollen Apocalypse week as the local pines, oaks, and hickories make the case that they, not humans, are the dominant species in the piedmont. The week’s activities have included eating cetirizine like candy, finally being glad that we can wear masks everywhere, and hoping that the person behind me in line just has allergies and not a particularly virulent case of Covid-19. Up next, the traditional reading of poems by WWI soldiers about mustard gas attacks.

It’s Saturday, so here are six things in the garden.

1. Claytonia virginica (Virginia springbeauty)

Picture of Claytonia flowers

This was totally unexpected. Claytonia virginica is a native woodland wildflower which blooms early in the spring before the deciduous trees leaf out and then quickly goes dormant. This one appeared spontaneously in the middle of one of my full-sun flowerbeds. I have never noticed the species growing in our woods, so I’m really not sure where the seed came from.

2. Tulipa turkestanica?

picture of a miniature tulip

Another surprise. Last autumn, I planted some more bulbs of Tulipa sylvestris (photo 1) and Tulipa whittallii (photo 3) to expand existing plantings. This must have been mixed in. The flowers are miniscule, barely 3 cm across. After looking at all the other tulips sold by the bulb vendor and searching the web, my best guess is that it is Tulipa turkestanica.

3. Tulipa ‘Little Beauty’

Tulipa_Little-Beauty

Another miniature tulip living up to its name. The flowers of this little plant are almost flush with the foliage. Various references disagree about whether this is a selected clone of Tulipa humilis or a hybrid with T. humilis ancestry. I planted these last year, so although it is reputed to be a good choice for warm climates, it remains to be seen whether it will perennialize as well as T. clusiana var. chrysantha (photos 5 and 6), T. whittallii, and T. sylvestris.

4. Narcissus ‘Starlight Sensation’

Starlight-sensation

Last autumn, I interspersed some of these bulbs among the existing drift of Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’ (photo 4) that runs along the lane at the edge of our property. I was hoping for a mix of yellow and white flowers, but I miscalculated the blooming season of the two clones. Instead, I have early yellow and later white. I suppose extending the flowering season is a different kind of success.

5. Iris bucharica

Iris_bucharica

Another recent planting. Iris bucharica is from Afghanistan and needs a dry dormancy in late summer, so I have planted the bulbs in the hottest and driest spots in the garden. It remains to be seen if it will survive our summer thunderstorms and humidity. The foliage is very odd–more like a Tradescantia or daylily than the typical sword-like leaves of the genus.

6. Narcissus ‘Golden Bells

a photo of Narcissus 'Golden Bells'

These guys get better every year.

The Propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six for this week and find links to the blogs of other participants.

Six on Saturday #64 (March 13, 2021)

What a difference a few weeks makes. This week has been brightly sunny, and the high temperature was about 80 F (26.5 C). The spring bulbs and hellebores are nearing their peak, the garden is perfumed by Edgeworthia chrysantha, Lonicera fragrantissima, and Osmanthus fragrans, and the fence lizards are skittering about in the leaf litter.

1. Cypripedium formosanum (Formosan lady’s slipper orchid)

Cyp_formosanum

After three years, my C. formosanum is still going strong. I think this year’s flower is the nicest so far. The plant is in an 8-inch diameter pot with a mix of composted wood chips, peat, and stalite. It lives outside under shade cloth in summer and spends the winter on the floor of the greenhouse, near the cold draught from the imperfectly sealed swamp cooler.

2. Hellebore flowers

Hellebore flowers floating in a dish

The pure white flowers at center left and 5 o’clock are Helleborus niger. The large reddish flower at 10 o’clock is Helleborus x iburgensis ‘Anna’s Red’. The others are all seed-grown Helleborus x hybridus.

3. Narcissus ‘Odoratus’

Narcissus_odoratus

This is a dwarf tazetta Narcissus. According to various web sources, it was discovered somewhere on the Isles of Scilly by the horticulturalist Alec Gray. To my nose it is only faintly fragrant, despite the cultivar name.

4. Narcissus x odorus (Campernelle)

Campernelle

Narcissus x odorus is a centuries-old hybrid of N. jonquilla x N. pseudonarcissus. It has been grown in North Carolina since the colonial period. The blue-green foliage in the foreground is Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha (see photo 2 here).

5. Cackleberries

eggses

The tiny dinosaurs have started laying, and between the five of them, we are averaging about four eggs a day! The very pale blue-gray eggses are from Hühnchen and Kuritsa. Dark brown with darker speckles is from Pollo, large brown from Kylling, and small, light brown from Frango.

6. Vegetable seedlings

A picture of Cypripedium formosanum

I handle the ornamental perennials, but vegetables are my wife’s domain–she’ll have more than a dozen different varieties of Asian greens and kale, along with tomatoes, malabar spinach, spigariello, lettuce, and a few annual flowers ready to plant out next month. The glow from her new LED grow lights makes our house look like something out of “The Amityville Horror” at night, but the seedlings seem to love it.

The Propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six for this week and find links to the blogs of other participants.