Colchicum × agrippinum "Old Portland garden form" and C. 'Disraeli'

Jane McGary
Tue, 27 Aug 2013 20:04:45 PDT
On Jim McKenney's post on two colchicums he got from me:

The C. x agrippinum "Old Portland garden form" 
was confirmed as a hybrid of that type, and 
distinct from the Dutch stock, by Antoine Hoog 
some years ago. I got my corms from a 
plantswoman's garden that was established in the 
1930s and passed into the ownership of a friend 
of mine. (Said plantswoman was "Pokey" Bayliss, 
commemorated in the popular Ribes sanguineum 
selection 'Pokey's Pink'.) She sold the property 
to the city for a greenway, as it was subject to 
frequent flooding, and told me to come and get 
the colchicums I had admired. We dug them up from 
below 18 inches/45 cm of flood-deposited silt and 
they were very elongated, but still growing. In 
the garden they improved very much. Their main 
difference from the usual cultivar is that the 
Portland plants have brighter green leaves, while 
the Dutch plants have more glaucous leaves, more 
similar to C. variegatum. Possibly Jim's 
disappointment with his commercial bulbs is the 
result of their being infected with a virus; I 
have received 'Waterlily' on two occasions that 
showed virus symptoms. My Dutch agrippinum stock, 
from Hoog & Dix, appears healthy, though.

Incidentally, I grow two accessions of C. 
variegatum from wild seed, and one of them 
multiplies while the other does not. Otherwise 
they appear similar. It probably requires a real 
Mediterranean climate to succeed.

I think tessellation (checkering) in most of the 
large hybrids comes from C. bivonae, which is 
variable. Many of the smaller species are very 
checkered but probably have not been used in 
breeding. Too bad as they are great plants. 
Colchicum hierosolymitanum is showing its spots 
at the moment here, and this summer I was able to 
send seed of it to a PBS member in its eponymous city, Jerusalem.

I got the cultivar 'Disraeli' through the list of 
Hoog & Dix, now Dix Export (strictly wholesale). 
I just gave some stock of this large hybrid to 
Mark Akimoff of Illahe Nursery, a PBS member, so 
probably he will be able to sell them in a year 
or two. Mark also has the Portland agrippinum, 
and I have plenty of it in my new garden.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

Jim wrote:

>In 2006 I received through Jane McGary's surplus 
>bulb distribution some corms of a plant Jane 
>described as  Colchicum × agrippinum "Old 
>Portland garden form". ...Unlike the usual 
>commercial agrippinum, which often produces 
>malformed, twisted tepals of poor, smudged 
>color, this one produces well colored blooms 
>with nearly flat tepals with a pattern of 
>tessellation nearly as clear as that of the two 
>forms of Colchicum variegatum I have grown.  ...
>The name 'Disraeli' has been common enough on 
>commercial lists of colchciums over the years, 
>but the plant Jane distributed is, in my view, 
>the handsomest hybrid colchicum I've ever grown. 
>The flowers are big, the color is rich and the tessellation is clear.

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