All posts by Gary Antosh

The Two Hybrid Cattleyas

Orchid in bloomCould you have seen two of my Cattleyas which were in bloom recently, I should not have to tell you how much you are missing if you are not growing a few orchids. If you possess even a small greenhouse, you too might be enjoying orchid flowers in the cold winter days when they are especially appreciated.

Now permit me to enthuse just a bit about these two Cattleya hybrids. The first was Cattleya Prince Shimadzu which blossomed in November with twenty-two large perfect flowers, the sepals and petals of which were a medium orchid shade and the labellum or lip a deep orchid or maroon and its inner portion the most brilliant orange yellow imaginable. Added to the beauty of the flowers was a delicate, delicious perfume.

It is a robust plant and has done well each year, having developed sixteen perfect flowers last year and in addition carried a seed pod to maturity of a cross which I made with a Brasso-cattleya Mrs. Leeman. Little plants from this parentage are now developing in culture flasks and in six to eight years I hope to find that the new variety thus produced will at least prove as good as either or both of its parents. You will think that a long time to wait and it is, but every step in the production and rearing of a new cross is interesting and I hope to attend the “Coining out party” when the seedlings come into bloom.

The other hybrid Cattleya, came into bloom about the first of December and carried seven large flowers with pure white sepals and petals and a light orchid colored labellum with lines of gold running from the outer edge of the lip clear into the depth of the throat. It too was fragrant, and what perfect flowers they would have been for a bride’s corsage, or bouquet!

When a labellum is marked with lines such as these leading into the throat of the flower, its is thought that these converging lines are nature’s way of guiding the visiting bee or other insect toward the nectary located down deep in the throat of the flower. Whether that be true or not, the gold lines add a beautiful touch to the flower. These gold lines were derived from one of the parents of this hybrid, Cattleya dowiana which is perhaps the most beautiful of all the wild species of Cattleya.

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The Characteristic Feature Of Flowering Cherries

Cherry varieties to choose. There is a wealth of variety in flowering cherries. The names of some thousands are recorded in Japanese botanical records, but those commonly grown here fall into four groups. First to bloom, at about the same time as forsythia, are the varieties of Prunus subhirtella, the Higan cherries. Very common through the suburbs of cities is the weeping cherry, Shidare Higan, popular as a specimen lawn tree. It is usually grafted on a bare stem 5 or 6 feet high. When young, the trees are likely to be of an uninteresting mushroom shape, but they become more irregular and picturesque as they mature. It a pity that the natural type, which grows into a tall, rather narrow, weeping tree, is not more generally available.

Little planted except in parks is the lovely Higan, Prunus subhirtella, which grows into a small, bushy tree. it bears a profusion of single pink flowers like those of the weeping cherry. Another variety, Jugatsu, Prunus subhirtella autumnalis, has the same bush habit as the Higan, with single or semi-double flowers. In addition to its regular spring bloom, this tree nearly always flowers again in October and November, often abundantly enough to make a fine display.

Coming after the Higans in time of bloom is the Yoshino cherry, Prunus yedoensis. It is Yoshino that is planted near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. A. quick growing, wide-spreading tree, it ultimately reaches a height of 30 feet or more. It blooms before leafing out, the pale pink or almost white, single, slightly fragrant blossoms covering the gray branches. In the whole plant kingdom there are few trees to equal the beauty of this one in full flower.

Last to bloom come the varieties of Prunus serrulata and Prunus sargenti. Sargent’s cherry is the hardiest of the Orientals, a splendid tree that grows to 60 feet in its native China. The single pink flowers are borne in profusion. The young foliage is bronzy and in autumn the leaves turn an attractive shade of red. This tree is somewhat less tolerant of warm climates than the other species. Among the names of varieties of Prunus serrulata found- in catalogs are Fugenzo, Kwanzan, Taki-Nioi, Shirotae, Shiro-Fugen, Naden and Amano-Gawa.

Fugenzo and Kwanzan are two of the best double pinks. They are spreading, bushy trees and strong growers. The flowers are a clear deep pink; the young leaves, light bronze. A smaller tree, seldom exceeding 12 or 15 feet, with single white, delightfully fragrant flowers is Taki-Nioi. The young foliage of this, too, is reddish brown. Shirotae is an earlier white and has semi-double flowers. Amano-Gawa is the one cherry that can always be bought true to name, for its clustered, upright habit is unmistakable even in the nursery. It is particularly valuable where space is limited or for accent in the large garden. It reaches a height of 25 feet with a width of only a few feet. The flowers are semi-double, deep pink in the bud, pale when they open; the young leaves are reddish brown.