Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Glimpse of Spring and a Gesneriad Show

AAhhh, those massive piles of snow are finally melted. After the snowiest month in recorded history here in southwestern Pennsylvania, I was most anxious, and happy, to be able to attend theNational Capital Area Chapter of the Gesneriad Society's spring gesneriad show this past weekend in Washington, DC at the National Arboretum. The four and one-half hour drive was worth it for the opportunity to shed the winter cold, visit with some great friends and be among a multitude of gesneriads. This chapter always has a great show, and this year was no exception. While I did not enter any plants in the show, I did help to judge the show. The quality and quantity of plants was excellent. The number of genera represented in the show was quite high also.

Of course, I always have to scope out the Petrocosmea entries whenever I attend a show. There were a few Pets entered in the "Grown for Foliage" classes, and one entry each in the "New Gesneriads" class and the "Gesneriads in Flower" class. I was reminded, as a hybridizer of Petrocosmea, how badly we need an extension of the flowering season among the new introductions. Being strongly seasonal bloomers, most Pets are in flower in the winter. Most gesneriad shows are in Spring, Summer and Autumn, so Pets are rarely seen in shows, in flower. Often, sadly, when they are shown in flower, they are not at their best. The new hybrids MUST bloom heavily, for longer periods, and during the warmer months of the year....this must be a goal for anyone hybridizing Petrocosmea.

The Pets entered in the Foliage class were only six in number, and relatively young plants. Still, a bit of variety among the genus ,and well shaped for young plants. Many of these plants shown, were grown by a younger, new member of the host chapter, who has only been growing Petrocosmea for a year!!!! He is obviously off to a great start!

One lone Petrocosmea entry in the New Gesneriads class, and the only Petrocosmea hybrid in the show, was the spectacular new hybrid, P. 'Imperial Butterflies' from Mr. Nakayama of Japan. It's parentage is P. flaccida and nervosa. This hybrid is vigorous and produces large, double flowers with ruffled petals on a mature plant. I grow this plant, and love it. The entry won a blue ribbon for First Place. This plant shown, was also grown in leca stones and hydroculture!

The most exciting Petrocosmea-related story from this show was that the Best In Show entry was a collection of Petrocosmea grown by a young man who has only been growing Petrocosmea for a year! This display was exhibited with the plants clustered on a rock..... I found this a charming way to unify a collection of Petrocosmea, since the genus name Petrocosmea means "pretty little plant on a rock". This was a collection of pretty little plants on a rock! From top row left, moving clockwise the species in this collection are: P. sp. 'HT-2', P. parryorum, P. kerrii, P. rosettifolia, and P. minor veined leaf form (exhibited as P. sp. #5). Additionally, this entry was voted by the public who attended the show as the winner of the "People's Choice Award" for the public's favorite gesneriad in the show! The public continues to love the sight of a Petrocosmea in a show. I wandered around the showroom listening to visitors to the show as they commented on the Pets. It was great to hear how excited the sight of a Petrocosmea makes people. But then, I am certainly in agreement with them!

So, keep growing , and showing those Petrocosmeas!!!!! The public demands it!!!!!