Most (but not all) of these plants were developed and grown primarily for their attractive foliage. Foliage can look almost as attractive as the flowers, especially new growth. Unlike flowers, which last a couple weeks, attractive features of new foliage can last months and even all year. Attractive features include red bracts on new shoots and highly pigmented new leaves. Expanded new leaves can have a layer of colored hairs on the upper surface (tomentum) which can range from pure white to chocolate or rusty brown. Similarly, the undersurface of the leaves can be covered with a layer of hairs (indumentum), which can be very thick and felty, and whose color can range from pure white to fawn to deep brick red. Leaf shape can be an attractive feature as well, some being very thin and long, others nearly round. Some are tiny, some very large. Most of these characteristics are seldom, if ever available commercially.
While all of these foliage plants bloom, some are indeed grown primarily for their attractive flowers. They include creamy-colored blooms, richly pigmented pinks, peachy colors and flowers with dramatic color blotches on a lighter background. Some change color with time, being a dark color in bud, opening a lighter color, and fading to white over time.
The hybrids have been produced via a multi-year process that starts with setting hybridizing goals (white tomentum, for example), identifying the parent to receive pollen, and the parent to provide pollen, obtaining pollen, performing the pollinations, collecting and cleaning the seed, planting and growing under lights their first year, planting in unprotected nurseries, and caring for them until large enough to move into the landscape. Elimination of weakling plants, and those lacking the desired features begins shortly after seed germination, and continues through several years. The inevitable bad winters eliminate many of those not suitable for our area. Others are pulled up due to lack of aesthetic appeal, which varies depending on the hybridizing goal. In all cases, healthy-looking foliage and aesthetically pleasing growth habit are musts. The very best plants are propagated via rooting cuttings to produce exact duplicates of the original.
The plants in this auction have been subject to tough love to ensure they will do well in our area. As mentioned, seedlings are given TLC for their first year, but after that, it is survival of the fittest. Only those that are hardy enough to survive our cold winters and hot summers unprotected, and that also look exceptionally good (attractive foliage and/or flowers and good habit), escape the compost heap. All have proven hardy in the Hopkinton area which is zone 6a. Some are much hardier than this zone. All are larger, landscape-sized plants, due to their size, and in the case of the slower growers, due to their age. Slow growing plants take many years to get to an appreciable size, but are suitable for restricted spaces, as they take many years to outgrow the space provided.
Having been grown in a natural setting, these plants will come with a naturally shaped disk of roots, relatively shallow but wide. This will ensure easy acclimation to their new homes.
While all plants have one or more photos as well as a description, in-person viewing will provide a better appreciation of each. The plants can be viewed in person by appointment through September 7, at which time questions can be answered.
For an appointment, please contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org.