Monday, August 17, 2009

The Next "Step".....

Hello! Welcome to my blog!

I have started this blog to share my enthusiasm for the genus Petrocosmea with others who have an interest in them also. While most of the posts will be about various aspects surrounding the cultivation of Petrocosmea, I also have a large collection of other gesneriads and assorted favorite plants, so I expect there will be posts about those too.

My passion for Petrocosmea really started when I attended my first convention of the American Gloxinia and Gesneriad Society (now the Gesneriad Society) back in 2000 in Tampa, FL. There were several new species in the show, and the growers of those plants shared leaves with me after the show. Soon after returning home, I got a box of about ten Petrocosmea species from Mary Bozoian, who was known as the "Petrocosmea Lady". The generosity of those people back then started me down a path that has led to the creation of this blog.

About two years ago, my focus on Petrocosmea really intensified. I wanted to learn more about them, so I wrote to Dr. Larry Skog at the Smithsonian, asking if he knew of any botanists who were currently working on the genus. He replied that he didn't know of anyone, and felt that someone should start the tremendous work of sorting out all of the species within the genus and trying to assign proper identities to them. He suggested that since no one else was doing the work, I should do it!

Now, I am not a botanist, or taxonomist, or even anywhere close. I just loved these plants and had an intense interest in knowing more about them. Dr. Skog supplied a list of botanical references and the first and second revisions of the genus done many years ago. He referred me to the Flora of China, which contained the botanical descriptions of many of the species in the genus. And he began to talk me through the process of dissecting the plants, studying all of the minute, microscopic little anatomical parts within the flowers, and how to measure each part. So, I began the process. I have learned so much about these plants. I have collected over 40 different species and varieties of each species along with more than a dozen hybrids. And I began to hybridize Petrocosmea. This has all been fascinating to me!

As a small boy, growing up in the countryside of northern middle Tennessee, I spent many hours following behind my grandfather as he worked in his garden and fields. He often cultivated his garden with a plow, pulled by a mule. With each step he took, he would leave his footprint in the freshly tilled soil. I would try to step into each one as he lifted his foot.... He always seemed so knowledgeable and wise about every plant in the garden,....every tree in the woods, and I always wanted to know as much as he did about all of the plants on his farm. I always asked for seeds or seedlings from every plant he planted and then would take them and plant them in the little corner of his garden that he had given me for "my garden". I tried to grow them all as well, or better than he did. That inspiration from my wise and wonderful grandfather has grown into a hobby and passion that sustains my soul up to the present day. So, I hope to share that with passion and any knowledge I have gained about Petrocosmea and gesneriads, and gardening in general, with others through this blog.

My grandfathers footsteps have led me here....and this is the "next step". I hope that you will enjoy sharing this journey of knowledge about Petrocosmea with me.....