Sometimes, a seedling just doesn't seem to measure up to the others raised in a year, but something about it just 'speaks to you', so you allow it to hang around and show what it's made of. This is one of those.
I'd made the cross back in 2010, wondering what would result from putting pollen from the incredibly healthy China, Purpurea, on Ralph Moore's Torch of Liberty. This mini was one of my favorite work horse breeders in the old arid garden, but has fallen by the wayside here on the more humid hill due to foliage issues. It's just SO fertile and it saturates colors so wonderfully. Purpurea's pollen proved agreeable with it, and seeds resulted. They were sewn November 2010 and germinated early spring 2011.
The new foliage has always been very mahogany-russet, with an almost lacquered finish, but it didn't seem to want to grow. I don't remember seeing a flower on it that first year. If I did, it didn't impress me. It was potted in a gallon can and permitted to languish in partial sun, receiving water when I thought about it.
The recent rains seem to have suited it just fine. New growth is popping out in the same highly polished, mahogany-russet, lacquered finish as I remembered, only better and there are fat, promising flower buds on the plant! As exciting as the shiny, beautiful foliage is the plant's complete freedom from prickles! There is also an herbal scent to the sepals when rubbed.
There are two or three leaves which show a very little bit of rust, but I'm not holding that against this seedling. It has had nothing but the minimum of water since last summer. It has had very little direct sun as those around it have kept it fairly well shaded. Many of the surrounding seedlings are demonstrating high levels of mildew and black spot with a few suffering rather severe rust infections (I don't spray...at all), yet this one is remaining surprisingly free from any foliage issues. It shouldn't be surprising the other seedlings are having foliage issues. I make many "what if" crosses with may "conflicting" foliage types so issues are to be expected. None of the "safe" crosses here!
It impressed me that it has earned its place and a better chance, so it has been rescued from its gallon can of depleted soil and is now resting in a two gallon can of premium potting soil. Heck it might even get fertilized! I'll add photos of the flowers as they open. I think this might be one to watch!