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Epic Gardener
Table of Contents
Issue 11
Summer 2005


Running Hot and Cold

Recent Developments
in Echinacea Breeding

The Monochromatic Colour Trend

No-Loss Planting

Epic Plants 2005,
Part 2

Hardy Cyclamen



Q: Dear Epic:
I just purchased 4 of these plants (Kniphofia ‘Border Ballet’) but I am confused by the term seed strain? Is it perennial or does it spread by seed? Or does it mean that I could get any of the colours listed pink red orange yellow? Also, will this plant have much spread or will it behave its self and not be invasive?
I have chosen this plant as a foundation plant for in front of my porch it grows the right height and the colour is right as well as the later bloom period but it may get a little shade late in the afternoon for sure it will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight and also it is very hot and dry in that area where I would like to plant it. Is it a good choice for this spot or would the cultivar ‘Bressingham Comet’ make a better choice? Thank you for your help.

A: Hi Nancy:
It sounds like Kniphofia is a good choice for that spot. Kniphofia do not spread, but the clump will get somewhat larger after the first couple of years. Occasionally you may find the odd seedling. The cultivar 'Border Ballet' is indeed a seed strain, and this simply refers to the fact that it is propagated by seed. As such, it will be somewhat variable, as you indicate each plant you purchase and grow will possibly be a different colour. Seed strains are typically sold as mixed colours. The variety 'Bressingham Comet' on the other hand is a cultivar propagated only by division (or other asexual means -- very similar to 'cloning'). This ensures that each plant will be identical to each other. Hope this helps.

Q: Hi:
I was recently given a gift of 2 ornamental rhubarbs and planted them in my garden. When I read the label that accompanied the plants, I am unsure if this variety is for eating. That was the intention of the gift. Could you please let me know if this variety is for eating or strictly for show?

A: Hi Karen:
Rheum palmatum is for show. Rheum rhabarbarum or R. cultorum is for eating. Hope this helps. Thanks, Epic

Q: Dear Epic:
I just purchased 4 of these plants (Kniphofia ‘Border Ballet’) but I am confused by the term seed strain? Is it perennial or does it spread by seed? Do you by any chance carry a plant called "English blue bells"? The bells are the colour of "forget-me-knots"; the stems go to 8-10 inches and are hollow. In England they grew in shaded gardens or under evergreens. They are a perennial and multiply themselves.

A: Hi Jean: As for the plant you are looking for, I am having a little difficulty in finding out which plant you are referring to (this one of the problems with common names). But according to the Royal Horticultural Society's Index of Garden Plants, the English Bluebell is Hyacinthoides non-scripta, a bulb that we don't carry. I believe however you are referring to the Bluebell or Campanula rotundifolia, which we do not carry either. We do however, carry many other Campanula. Hope this helps.

Q: Hello:
Columbines are taking over my garden. I think this year I will cut off the blooms as they start to drop the flower. Will this help? Thank you, Jenny

A: Hi Jenny:
And yes, cutting off the seed heads after the flower finishes should alleviate your problem. Columbines are notorious self-sowers. It can be pleasant to a point, but after that, you get too many!

Q: Epic Plants Family
My husband's family name is Hunt. His niece lives in x, Ontario, and was shopping at an area store last week, where your plants were on display. For no reason at all she wandered down an aisle of plants and saw the clematis - and what caught her eye was the name "Margaret Hunt" on the plant, which is her grandmother's name and my husband's mother, deceased June 10, 2001. Needless to say she purchased plants for all family members, as my husband’s Mom loved plants and shared her plants with family/friends as the starters thrived. We are interested in knowing how / who gives the plants their names, this just seemed to be so extraordinary! We would appreciate any information you have. Thank you.

A: Hi:
Plant variety names are usually given by the breeder/originator of the new variety, and named for himself or herself or someone they know. From 'An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Clematis', the variety in question was raised by Margaret Hunt of Norwich, England and introduced in 1969 by Fisk's Clematis Nursery, Suffolk, England. Maybe she's a distant relative of yours! Hope this helps.

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