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Author Topic: IRG 87 March 2017  (Read 2615 times)

Lesley Cox

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IRG 87 March 2017
« on: April 03, 2017, 03:06:12 AM »
Always a thrill to read the IRG, I was especially happy with the latest issue as it mentioned as being in that glorious garden in Bohemia, a New Zealand raised campanula called 'Blithe Spirit.' A beautiful photo accompanied the note about it. Perhaps I can give a little of its history.

Dates are a little hazy now but we believe it was in approximately 1978, 79 or 1980, an alpine gardener from Timaru in the South Island of New Zealand and whose name was Maie Blyth, raised a batch of seed apparently from the AGS seed exchange and which reached her as Campanula morettiana. The seedlings were not that but seemed to be C. carpatica. One was selected as a compact form and Maie propagated this and eventually sold some but without a name. After a time Maie became ill and eventually died and local rock gardeners felt the plant was special and worth naming so gave it her name as a way of remembering her and the many little plants she had distributed from her tiny nursery. So Campanula 'Maie Blyth' came into being.

We all around that time in the 80s and 90s raised seed from this form but none was as good as the original, being, gradually, more and more like a regular, larger C. carpatica. One seedling however - and I don't remember who found it - was very similar and quite small and tight growing and was WHITE! For some time it was around simply as "white Maie Blyth" then it became obvious that there were several seedlings being distributed under this name but all different and again, none as compact as the original. So when sure I had the right and original white seedling, I gave it the name 'Blithe Spirit.' This was a play on Maie's name of course, and also a nod to the old comedy movie about the ghost or spirit manifestation of a man's first wife, after he had remarried, the white referring to the spirit or ghost.

So i was especially pleased to see the Czech plant because search as I may, I can no longer find in New Zealand, the true 'Blithe Spirit.' At the Otago Alpine Garden Group's Spring show last October I bought a plant under that name but as it grew and then flowered, it was seen to be an imposter. It's good to know it is still extant even if not accessible to New Zealand gardeners.

C. 'Maie Blyth' is cushion-like in full growth and flowers as a total cover when well grown. The texture of the flowers is thick and wax-like and each lobe has a dint or "crimp" in it which is unlike any other carpatica form. The white 'Blithe Spirit' has something of this dint and something of the waxy texture, but less of each than its parent. The foliage and general habit are also very similar though each is a little larger than the original. Is it just an excellent seedling from C. carpatica or is it a hybrid? If so what with? We don't know and probably never will. Happily it is still grown by many of us and is propagated regularly by Hokonui Alpines for their listings. It would be sad if we were to lose it.

I hope the two photos below show something of the quality of both plants. Shortcomings are due to the photographer (self) and the less that perfectly grown specimens.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2017, 03:10:23 AM by Lesley Cox »
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9


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