Friday, June 17, 2011

New American Hulthemias due out 2012

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Hulthemia, a xerophyte native to desert regions of Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey, called "the most noxious weed in Iran" and desirable because of its characteristic red 'blotch' petal base. It's one of my prime rose "obsessions" and has been for over twenty-five years.

Rose petal bases are traditionally white or yellow. Hulthemia's is a deep, rich brick to crimson red on a bright yellow petal. Jack Harkness created four garden hybrids in England in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His company has much more recently introduced other hybrids of their breeding. None of which are available in the United States.

Mr. Harkness was a friend of Ralph Moore's, who took Harkness' work much further with his Hulthemia hybrids. I had the pleasure of suggesting the "Persian" series for their names, which is why all but Roses are Red have names beginning with Persian. I thought it appropriate because of where the species is indigenous and because two of Harkness' hybrids were named for major rivers in that area, Tigris and Euphrates. A third was named for a Persian ruler, Xerxes. The forth of their original garden hybrids was named to honor the British actor, Sir Nigel Hawthorne. I've grown all but Xerxes, which, unfortunately, appears extinct.

Mr. Moore took Hulthemia from the spring blooming only, small flowered bramble plant of the British hybrids and added vigor and repeat flowering. His Persian Autumn, Persian Sunset, Persian FlamePersian Peach and Persian Light were introduced by Sequoia Nursery before his death. Some are still available today and are worth growing in more arid, hot areas.

Another friend of Mr. Moore's is a gentleman by the name of Dr. Jim Sproul. Dr. Sproul has worked with Hulthemia for over fifteen years, raising thousands of their seedlings each year at his Bakersfield, California home. Jim has created some very interesting, quite beautiful roses in addition to his Hulthemia hybrids. His web site, Sproul Roses is well worth browsing and following to keep up to date on his imaginative work.

Spring of 2012 sees the introduction of three of Jim's creations by Star Roses. Thrive! is a disease resistant landscape shrub bred from the Knock Out line and should be quite a good addition to the healthy landscape rose segment. His two other creations are what have me really excited!

Jim has taken the characteristic Hulthemia "blotch" and put it on real garden roses! Instead of the wispy, prickly "bramble bush", Jim's roses are real garden rose type plants with much more traditional foliage. One of the pre release plants was sent to me by a nurseryman friend, and I am impressed!

Star has created the marketing label "Eyeconic" for them to capitalize on their Hulthemia "blotch". Eyeconic Lemonade is a floribunda shrub with large, yellow with red blotch center, wonderfully fragrant flowers.

Eyeconic Pink Lemonade is similar only with pink flowers with red blotch.

The foliage on Eyeconic Lemonade is absolutely gorgeous!

So far, and it is still quite early, there are no issues with it here in Encino. Not bad for a plant which had sat in a bucket of water far too long, even began leafing out in that bucket before being mailed to me. It's just been here a few months in a two gallon can and you can see how very nice a plant it is!

Until now, Hulthemia hybrids had thin, wispy, prickly wood. Not Eyeconic Lemonade! These are thick, sturdy stems nicely clothed in very nice foliage. There are prickles but nothing like its predecessors.

If you like becoming familiar with something new, watch for Eyeconic Lemonade and Eyeconic Pink Lemonade this coming spring when Star releases them in the US. Good job, Jim! VERY good job!