James Waddick
Fri, 27 Jan 2006 14:46:33 PST
Dear All;
	Feel free to delete this repetition.

	I wrote a bit for the Alpien L group about Rohdea. It is only 
vaguely rhizomateous, so it's inclusion here is a bit iffy. Thought 
some of you might find a glimmer of info. So I am sharing unless your 
hate it, then just dump it.

Dear All;
	It is 'that' time of year. The days are slowly, agonizingly 
getting longer, but not nearly fast enough. The temps are 
unseasonably warm and as we wander the garden there are shades of 
brown and tan everywhere. There are some exceptions - the hillside of 
deep dark green Hellebores, but that's another story. And the 
infinitely small 'pips of Galanthus, Narcissus, Adonis... One plant 
stands out from all others; Rohdea japonica.

	There seems to be too little written in praise of this plant. 
It is easy as anything we grow. From seed or divisions, single plants 
form bold clumps that stay evergreen down through -0 F and now the 
bright red berries are an added bonus in an otherwise dull garden. We 
have only had it defoliate during our record cold season of -23 F 
(-30C), but the plants survived and bounced back with new foliage. 
This year the Rohea were untouched by our winter low of -5F and the 
foliage is green, rich and lush.

	I have been collecting the bright red berries and planting 
seed. Most fruits have 1, 2, or 3 seed, but an exceptional fruit has 
up to 5 seeds. They are large, pearly and firm.  Planting just buried 
in pots or scratched into the ground, seedlings are produced quickly 
in spring and do not need fussing even here.

	This is a collector's plant from Japan where it is known as 
'Omoto' and available in dozens or hundreds of named cvs. It is a 
plant of subtle to outrageous variation. The common, cheap and basic 
variety has flat foliage up to a foot or so in length and a couple 
inches wide in large loose fans, but from there anything goes. 
Variation is from a minimal white or yellow edge to longitudinal 
striped foliage and even spotted forms all called 'clouds'. Naturally 
there a white tipped or 'Akebono' form too.  The leaves may be 
crinkled long-wise into ridges (called dragons) which may make up the 
entire leaf - pure corduroy.  And of course you can find almost  any 
combination of clouds and dragons, in sizes from dwarf to large. And 
don't forget the narrow linear leaves versus wide rounded leaves and 
the exaggerated bent, twisted and convoluted leaves (called Lion's 
head) combined with clouds and dragons to an almost infinite variety.
	As these variation become more pronounced the plants are 
higher in price, slower to propagate and harder to locate. A few US 
catalogs regularly offer a few special forms at $100 or more and in 
Japan there is almost no limit to the price for the most extreme 
specimens of Lion's Head with clouds and dragons. The Japanese 
classic gardener would carefully cultivate these treasures in a 
certain form of pot made just to show them off.

	All are equally hardy or those I have tried, about a dozen 
forms. I'd get more, but they are getting beyond my wallet's worth. 
But even a small variety of different forms, sizes and variation can 
have an impact in the winter and spring landscape.  Their small 
flowers are not worth pursuing.  I've probably planted 100 seeds of 
half a dozen forms and fingers are crossed for some clouded and 
bedragoned, lion-headed progeny. Wish me luck.

	Incidentally, Rohdea is 'probably' a monotypic genus in the 
Lily Familiy, but it is close to and may just 'drift' into the much 
larger genus Tupistra found widely across temperate Asia. I have 
tried and killed a few species, but the hardiest has been T. 
chinensis - the true species, not what is sold as 'Eco China Ruffles' 
with soft tender foliage. More of these are coming into gardens too.

	If you check the literature, you will read it is somewhat 
tender and used to routinely be listed as Zone 9 or 10, but as more 
people try this in northern gardens, it is found to be quite hardy 
and an absolute necessity in the winter garden.  So any one have a 
Lion Head Rohdea that needs thinning?

	If you haven't tried Rohdea, get some for a prominent, but 
lightly shaded spot in the winter garden. It is most satisfying this 
time of year.

		Best wishes from spring feverish	Jim W.


	Thanks to my computer literate partner, here's some pictures 
of Rohdeas taken yesterday, Jan 26, 06.

	This is an assortment of pictures of various cvs to show 
their leaf condition in my Kansas City, Missouri Zone 5 mid-winter 
landscape. I think the foliage generally looks great, especially when 
you compare it to that of some Hellebores, Epimedium and others 
shown. There are a few brown tipped leaves, but every brown tipped 
leaf is among the oldest. I think they can keep foliage from one to 
the next, so some of these oldest leaves are more than 1 year old and 
thus subject to my summer AND winter climate extremes. This winter's 
low has been -5F.

	Hope to get your comments about the foliage

Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

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