Monday, March 21, 2011

Camellia x 'Night Rider', look at that color. and shapely petals the texture of fruit roll-ups!

The pollen parent was Camellia x 'Ruby Bells', the seed parent C. japonica 'Kuro Tsubarki'. The cross was made by the late Os (wald) Blumhardt (1931-2004) in New Zealand; the plant flowered for the first time in 1980. Blumhardt was a plantsman, nurseryman, hybridizer, and plant explorer of the first order. He founded Koromiko Nursery on the North Island after training and apprenticing through the New Zealand Institute of Horticulture. Working with a variety of taxa including Magnolias, Rhododendrons, Camellias, and Orchids, he produced a quantity of hybrids, many of which are important commercial plants. 'Night Rider' is his best known Camellia; 'Star Wars' (Magnolia campbelli x liliflora) is a great plant known, grown, and admired world-wide. 'Saxon Glow' and 'Saxon Blush' are among the many vireya hybrids that are widely grown in areas warmer than ours! I am tempted to read his biography, Oswald Blumhardt; New Zealand Plant Pioneer, by Cathering Ballard, but am slightly put off by the cost, 50$ used. Maybe I'll just go for it; he clearly led an interesting life. Apparently his nephew, Chris Blumhardt, is attempting to carry on the tradition including both the Nursery and the breeding programs. Wow.

I liked this camellia for it's foliage the first time I saw it. It came in with the other Camellias from Dr. Ackerman last summer. Now that I've seen the flowers, I'm sold. The only problem here is that it's considered a Zone 8 plant. Technically we're Zone 7. I'm thinking though with a little creative siting, it might be done. I guess that means this is another plant I'm going to be propagating this summer.

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