Hey! Breeder! Leave Those Plants Alone!
I realize I’ve ranted on this topic recently, and I don’t mean to be tiresome. but I find it impossible to shut up on the topic of silly cultivars. If this means I am turning into a crotchety old man, so be it.
My last post on this theme focused just on the genus Echinacea, but of course all sorts of genera are being turned into a mockery of their former selves by plant breeders in search of novelty.
Take Gaillardia ‘Sun Devil’, above. This is a fairly new variety, I believe. Those petals make the plant look diseased.
Here is Coreopsis ‘Jethro Tull’. It was introduced about ten years ago, but I still can’t get used to it. Those fluted petals just look weird. What’s the point? And as far as I’m concerned, the name simply adds insult to injury.
Would you want this person hanging around your garden?
My problem with Columbine ‘Dorothy Rose’ is that it doesn’t look like a Columbine. The flowers are like miniature pink barrels.
I wasn’t going to mention any Echinacea varieties in this post, but then I saw ‘Green Jewel’. Looks like a very serious case of aster yellows.
Is this supposed to be a Hollyhock? Why, yes it is. It’s Alcea ‘Apricot’. I dislike most double flowers, but this one really seems to negate the simple charm of the traditional plant.
Just so I don’t come off as hopelessly negative, this is a cultivar I like, as far as I can tell from the photo in the catalogs. It’s Aruncus ‘Misty Lace’ a compact Goatsbeard. I have a soft spot for cultivars that are compact versions of plants that tend to by big and floppy.
Several years ago I wrote a post proposing the creation of an Echinacea Cultivar Control Board, to prevent the introduction of Echinacea cultivars damaging to public equanimity.
The idea didn’t get much traction, but maybe now is the time to restart the discussion. Except this time we should think bigger: a Perennial Cultivar Control Board (PCCB). Board members (appointed by me, to minimize red tape) would divide cultivars into three categories:
- No Problem. May be sold and planted without restriction.
- If You Must. Can be sold only after a 48-hour cooling off period.
- You’re Dead To Me! Self-explanatory.
The concept has definite possibilities, I think.