Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What I Want To Learn

As I ponder pictures of my seedlings with patterned blue or violet eyezones, there are things I wonder that I can only determine by making test crosses.  I suppose this is true of any trait, like plant habit, hardiness, ruffling, flat opening, or brilliant color.  

All the pictures in this post are my seedlings.  I keep wondering what it's useful to try to do or find out, as I can't do everything that comes to mind and I can't grow all the test crosses I have time to make.  So...I am keeping fewer yellow bridge plants but am still going to try to develop the ones that seem to me to have something distinctive to contribute in form or size.  I still want to see if I can get into the same ballpark as the yellows I buy to improve my seedling line.

I look at my patterned blue eyezones and the forms of the flowers those patterns are on, and I consider how to narrow my range of choices, which seem nearly infinite right now.  There are a couple of important avenues I think I should try.  Structurally, I should take my consistently arresting patterns on bridge seedlings to plants with excellent vigor and scape structure -- like Vertical Horizon, Point of Divergence, Articulate Matrix, Bridgeton Finesse, etc., working for clear background colors and flat, early openers.

In terms of design, I think I should cross complex-from-one-line X complex-on-a-different-line.

In March I must inspect all the keepers from Mysterious Eyes to see which look hardy and which look tender.  I'd love to grow Mysterious Eyes again, having lost it to this past winter, but if I come up with a hardier kid with complex pattern, you know I'll want to see how it breeds with several test crosses.

I might also want to increase the level of complexity by crossing to Water Drops.  Since I now have good seedlings from Thibodaux Tantalizer that resemble TT but contain additional recessive genes for blue eyes, I will want to cross those seedlings with patterned blue eyes to find out if I get complex results such as I got from taking TT to CAST YOUR NET, and I'll surely use TT all over the place one more time.

Quickly, this line of thinking can crowd out my interest in yellow, white, lavender, purple, and pink.  I have some nice, clear lavenders now, with nice branching and vigorous plants.  I'll want to keep working for larger lavender flowers with big white edges and a shimmering quality of color to make me have to dry my tears.

I'm not going to work on red flowers with lighter borders.  Unless someone comes up with such a flower with a true cherry ice cream background rather than rosy brown bag lunch color, I don't want to see them in my garden.  Even then, what would I do with them?  I would marvel.  That would be enough, just as I marvel at a wondrous double from David's hard work or the silvery lavenders of Steve or Curt.

Today I picked blossoms from five eyed varieties still blooming here.  KING JAMES and KING OF THE AGES on rebloom, ELISA DALLAS on rebloom, SAM ABELL on rebloom, and THIEVING MAGPIE, which is not eyed but is clear dark blue purple with a blue center.  I brought them home to show house guests, who ooohed and ahed, and explained why I was interested in trying a cross of the two biblical names with "king" in them.  But then I said that my favorite blossom is actually ELISA DALLAS.  The shape and color of the eye, relative to the shape and color of the flower, and the lively green in the throat all combine to thrill, rather then please, me.  Being a guy, I suppose I'm addicted to thrill.  You should see me drive!

When I imagine colors, I'm in a zone of thrill.  I want to be swept away with feminine mystery, allure, and willingness to dance. I want to express male boldness, the haughty insecurity of the Flamenco dancer, the man who plays a mariachi trumpet and the man who sells ice cream or balloons.  I want to express the eye for balance and rightness of my general contractor and the sense of oratory of my favorite Episcopal priest.

I want to make music with color.  I want to make love with form.  This art, for me, is not about grabbing your attention for five seconds of fame.  It is about winning your heart long-term, bordering on forever.  It is a form of courtship and flirtation.  

It's also an extension of friendship.  When I'm working with David and Mort's flowers, I think of David and Mort, and their arts.  When I'm with Melanie Mason's flowers, I recall the lightness and joy of her talks and her prose.  When I'm with Steve Moldovan's flowers, I think of the eye he developed.  My garden is a reminder of a circle of friends whose respect I want to earn and whose friendship I want to keep.  It is a zone of the highly personal and social aspect of horticulture and the nurture of living things.  Those who would steal from a garden have fallen from God's grace, cut themselves off from it, and are at risk.  Pray for the thief.  His act brings failure to the love force that drives life toward the good.

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