Sunday, July 24, 2011

Petrocosmeas with Fragrance

I've posted about this before, but wanted to remind those of you who are growing P. minor or P. sericea, or P. sp. 'HT-2' to sniff the flowers when they bloom for you. This year, in the GS Convention show, Paul Kroll entered a flowering P. minor. This was an unusual entry since P. minor rarely blooms at this time of year. I used this opportunity one morning in the showroom to conduct an informal survey with those who were viewing the show.

I asked ten people to sniff the flowers of the P. minor. Seven of the ten people could detect the fragrance. It was mid-afternoon, and for me, the flowers are most fragrant very early in the morning, but still the fragrance was there. Of those who could smell the fragrance, I asked them to describe it. All said "spicy", four also detected a floral scent along with the spice.... two said it reminded them of carnations. Three people could not detect the scent at all. I find that for many of the gesneriads that have fragrant flowers, there are always a good percentage of people who cannot detect fragrance. Covering or enclosing the blooming Petrocosmea will also help to concentrate the fragrance. I also feel that some clones are more fragrant than others. The veined leaf form of P. minor, the one often labeled P. sp. #5 is the most fragrant.

So, just a reminder to take the opportunity to enjoy yet one more incredible trait of these fabulous gesneriads!! SO take the time to "stop and smell the ....Pets!"

Petrocosmea minor Kinship group

This year, I entered my first Petrocosmea Kinship Collection in the Gesneriad Society Convention show. A Kinship group is an effective way to showcase a parent and its offspring. Dominant characteristics can easily be illustrated with this type of entry, as well as utilizing the entry to introduce new hybrids.

I chose to showcase Petrocosmea minor and four of its hybrid offspring since P. minor has been quite the challenge to hybridize with. It has never performed successfully for me as a seed parent, and has only functioned as a pollen parent in three crosses so far. I must have pollinated a hundred flowers, actually likely more than that. Last year, I think I applied pollen to every P. minor flower that opened, all failures. The crosses that have worked have been P. minor crossed onto P. forresttii, P. sericea, and P. rosettifolia. The cross with P. sericea, which like P. minor has fragrant flowers, also produced fragrant offspring.

Pictured above is my Petrocosmea minor Kinship Collection. Starting with P. minor at the top, and moving clockwise, there is P. 'Paul Kroll', an unnamed seedling of P. rosettifolia x minor, P. 'Keystone's Blue Jay', and P. 'Keystone's Slippery Rock'. I used tan fabric as a unifying drape for the collection since I like the brown tones against the green Pets....

Pictured above is a new hybrid P. 'Keystone's Slippery Rock' which is P. forresttii x minor. This cultivar had lots of flowers and inherited a nice compact rosette from P. forresttii and the shiny round leaves of P. minor. It was my favorite seedling from the cross. Slippery Rock is a city about an hours drive north of my home in Pittsburgh, in western Pennsylvania. The glossiness of the leaves reminded me of a slippery quality, so the name was to honor a great university town in PA.

Pictured above is P. 'Paul Kroll' a sibling from the P. forresttii x minor cross that produced P. 'Keystone's Slippery Rock'. This plant has flatter leaves with more prominent veining, a dark green round leaf with a bluish coloration and a nice combination of glossiness and hairness to the leaves. It was the most floriferous plant from the cross, producing LOTS of flowers. You've heard me mention my friend Paul on here before. Paul is a skilled grower of Pets and has shared lots of new Petrocosmeas with me over the years, so I wanted to honor him with this new hybrid.

The Kinship group got lots of positive comments and received a first place ribbon from the judges. I had lots of requests for leaves of the new hybrids, so I hope they will be enjoyed by other admirers of Pets soon.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Petrocosmeas Go To Convention!!!

Well, the annual international convention of the Gesneriad Society is but a fond memory now, but what a great time we had! Philadelphia was the site for this years convention and the fast-paced week was full of fun, friends, and of course gesneriads! While I do love the plants, I always leave convention reaffirming that the chance to spend a week among friends who also love gesneriads is the best part, and this year was no exception. On the Petrocosmea front, Pets got their fair share of attention. I was overjoyed to see some of my own hybrids being grown and shown by others....a "high" that every hybridizer enjoys.

Petrocosmea 'Keystone's Bantam' won big this year and was selected 'Best Petrocosmea'. The plant was grown and shown by Richard and Nancy Carr of Ohio. An interesting story about this entry was that the classification committee almost didn't let Richard and Nancy show the plant as 'Keystone's Bantam', insisting that it was actually P. rosettifolia. I was asked to come over and help to sort out the confusion, which we did. The Classification Committee were simply unfamiliar with the characteristics of the hybrid, and honestly thought they were helping the exhibitor to correct some mislabeling. The distinction, when out of bloom, is that 'Keystone's Bantam' is significantly smaller in leaf and rosette size and a bit hairier than the species P. rosettifolia. A P. rosettifolia with that much leaf volume to the rosette would have been three times the size of the little plant that the Carr's were attempting to enter. The confusion was quickly cleared and the plant was entered. It did well in the judging too! I was as proud as the Carrs were, I think!

P. 'Keystone's Bantam' also showed up in the Photography classes, and performed well there too! Dale Martens did a very skilled job of photographing her little plant early one morning just as the sun was rising and casting a golden glow upon the little plant. She captured this in the photo and the judges recognized her skill by awarding her a First Place in the class and 'Best Photograph' for the Division. Dale, a dear friend of mine and my hybridizing mentor, kindly gave me the photograph after the show! I was touched by her generosity and the photo now hangs in a prominent place in my living room.

Mary Lou Robbins won a second place award for her needlework interpretation of a photograph from this blog, taken of my hybrid seedling P. forrestii x sericea. Mary Lou wrote some time ago asking for permission to use the photo in a craft entry, and this is the result. I loved it! She even used longer tufts of thread over the calyx lobes to mimic the hairiness of this hybrid. It was a First Place effort in my book Mary Lou!!!

Another friend, Paul Kroll, executed a wonderful design using a Petrocosmea sericea as a focal point in his design. The theme was Punxy Phil, the legendary ground hog from Punxsatauney, PA, who emerges each February 2nd to predict the arrival of spring according to whether or not he sees his shadow. This design required that hairy and fuzzy gesneriads had to be incorporated into the design. I loved this one! The pieces of slate at the base were intended to suggest Phil's shadow.

This photo, taken on the last evening of convention shows some of my dear friends and mentors in my gesneriad adventures. From the top left are Dr. Bill Price, Mary Lou Robbins, Ben Paternoster, myself. Middle row L to R are: Paul Kroll and Arleen Dewell. Front row L to R are: the legendary and beautiful Rosemary Platz, namesake of my first Petrocosmea hybrid, Karyn Cichocki, Dale Martens, and Jill Fischer. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner on our last evening together. Each of these people has taught me something about gesneriads over the years that I have known them. In all things in life, having mentors and friends is most important to success. I have been most fortunate to have lots of both. I wish the same for each of you.........