For two decades, we’ve grown the amazing Chinese jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema saxatile with its delightful lemon-fragranced flowers. The most frustrating part was its slow offsetting nature, which meant we rarely had any to share.
Eighteen months ago, we dug our main clump and moved most of it from a well-shaded site to a location that would get a couple of hours of afternoon sun. To our surprise, it loved the new site, where this summer, it produced two large seed heads which will be harvested shortly. This is the first sign of seed in 20 years, so hopefully in a few years, we have some good numbers to share.
After being told several years ago that creating interspecific hybrids of arisaema (Jack-in-the-Pulpit) was virtually impossible, we started our own breeding program. Here are a few of our creations from our Contrarian Frankestein Lab that are looking quite nice this week.
I’m just back from a quick trip to Washington DC with my stepdaughter Katie. We first stopped at the US National Arboretum to spend some time with the new director Richard Olsen, who shared his excitement about many of the exciting plans and projects underway at the people’s arboretum including the renovation of the Chinese bonsai pavilion. Virtually all of the projects and expansions are privately funded.
While it was exciting to hear that the future looks bright, it was equally shocking to see the horrific state of maintenance and weeding due to continuing Congressional budget cuts to the arboretum’s funding. The Federal government seems to have no understanding of funding for maintenance. It’s a sad reflection on our country for visitors from around the world to see our country’s National Arboretum like this. I hope you’ll join me in calling your representatives and voice your concern!
One of the really interesting finds in the garden was a spontaneous jack in the pulpit hybrid…a cross of Arisaema heterophyllum and Arisaema ringens. This is the first spontaneous arisaema hybrid that I’ve ever heard of. We need this!
Then, it was off to speak at the International Pteridological Convention at the Smithsonian. Over 250 fern researchers, half from outside the US, showed up to share their latest fern discoveries and research. It was a great chance to meet so many amazing people. Katie videotaped my talk and we’ll post it on our You Tube channel soon.