I'm going to kill two birds here with one stone by discussing Allium, last week's TOTW, and Sources, this week's TOTW. Back in the 70s there was a well known (infamous) nursery in Massauchusetts known as Blackthorne Gardens. For a small local area nursery, they produced an impressive glossy color catalog with an overdose of nursery hype and big $$ items. It caught my eye when a whole page featured a new and fantastic Allium hybrid, the page gushing with poetic musings of this rare Chinese allium species which he (Mr. Blackthorne) had reputably hybridized... resulting in an ethereal blue-flowered allium with fabulous foliage and sky-blue flowers... the plant in question: Allium tanguticum 'Blue Skies'. I received plants from Blackthorne Gardens, and subsequently also received plants second-hand from other sources in the interest of verifying the claim. It turns out that the plant in question is an insipid and inferior form of Allium senescens ssp. montanum (now A. lusitanicum) with overly tall stems and dull, washed out white-pinkish-lilac flowers (yawn). The true A. tanguticum is not in cultivation... it's a bulbous species (not rhizomatous as with the imposter) with red-purple flowers, not blue. In the years that followed, I battled against this hoax and complete misnomer, but the plant shows up everywhere and still to this day this inferior pale pinkish plant is described as "blue" (it's an emperor's clothes thing). The hoax was primarily perpetuated by a well-known bulb "specialty grower" in Wisconsin (one of the names begins with the letter "z" and ends with "immerman"), whether knowingly or not, they continued to sell the plant under this name for many years after sending letters repeatedly informing them of the mistake. I also corresponded with the actually grower of the plant, a wholesaler in Oregon that grew this plant by the thousands and sold most of his plants to that nursery. Via our correspondance, the grower became quite convinced about the error, then tried to get the bulb nursery to accept the correction, but they refused and continued to sell under the imposter name in spite of the corrected name it was supplied under. The grower, before he was aware of the error, had also named a seedling from the so-called 'Blue Skies" and named it A. tanguticum "Summer Skies", which became as entrenched as the original imposter, but in this case it was done naively. That cultivar wasn't much better than the miserable 'Blue Skies', and it still wasn't anything close to A. tanguticum. The moral is, sometimes these errors become so entrenched, that it is near impossible to correct the bogus mistake or egregious indiscretion. In this case, I'm convinced that the original offering was a hoax, and the subsequent "turning a blind eye" by the Wisconsin nursery was spurred on by $$$. By the way, the original Blackthorne Nursery was banned from advertiseing in the ARGS bulletins (American Rock Garden Society) due to the number of complaints against the nursery. Mark McDonough Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States firstname.lastname@example.org "New England" USDA Zone 5 ============================================== >> web site under construction - http://www.plantbuzz.com/ << alliums, bulbs, penstemons, hardy hibiscus, western american alpines, iris, plants of all types!