Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Content matters...

Codonanthe devosiana --- Worth growing
Story # 82,

Content matters…

      There have been three comments about the question: Can we make a species better?
 Bringing them together here will keep the subject on track.  If you have an opinion...

"It’s great to see that Gary (and other commercial growers) are thinking like this.  Creating more grower- and market-friendly cultivars will surely lead to wider inroads of gesneriads into general horticulture!

The idea that a species can be “improved” is uncontroversial.  It is founded in the observation that any wild population of a species includes considerable variation – flowers may vary in color, plants in height, leaves in shade of green or inclusion of other colors or patterns, and so on.  In the natural world, these are the variants that under some circumstances may end up being the foundation of new species through the process of natural selection.

In the cultivated world, though, often we are seeing only a very limited sample of the variation that occurs in the wild.  In some cases, the plants we are growing descend from a single collected ancestor.  The assumption gets made that the “species” is very limited, and that progeny will all be pretty much identical.  And this is true, given the very limited gene pool for many of the species we are growing.

This is why it is so very important to recognize the importance of sampling as broad a range of the true species as possible.  Whenever we can find a new collection of, say, Sinningia pusilla, it’s important to try to bring those genes into cultivation so that we can refresh our existing collection with new vigor and potentially new characteristics. 

In some cases, this happens through identification of variant populations of species.  For instance, we now see many different forms of the wild species Sinningia speciosa in cultivation.  Modern botanical conviction is that these variants are simply that – variants of a single species.  In past days, the conviction might have been that they represent separate species even if they can successfully interbreed.  In any case, it is refreshing to see such focus on species variants.

It’s important, though, to recognize that important variations might be much more subtle than those between dramatically different forms of S. speciosa.  Creation of new more cultivation-friendly forms of Codonanthe devosiana is going to be easier if we have access to significant genetic variation within the species, even if this variation is relatively minor.  I suspect that the cultivated forms may not represent much of that diversity;  it may be that real success in this endeavor will await collection of additional forms of the species from its Brazilian home."


    Copied from Gesneriphiles, 17 Dec 2012

"Well I was going to write a response to this piece when I saw it in Mel Grice’s Gleanings last week, but like many other projects it got put to the side. It might have been tabled permanently but for the news this morning that had picked it up and run with it. On the one hand that’s a great piece of news for the gesneriad world, as it’s always good to get some free publicity on our favorite plants. On the other hand, it’s a little bit disconcerting because to my perhaps somewhat warped way of thinking, Gary’s question is answered quite simply. The answer is “No.”
Okay, to elaborate on this I think that the question is not an accurate question.I recognize that to some this may seem to be picking nits, as the saying goes. I certainly got that sort of response when I started to complain about Michael Pollan’s hit book “The Botany of Desire,” which even got picked up by PBS and made into a four part documentary – I’ve never been more unimpressed with public television in my life. But I suppose that’s another story.
The difficulty is that while I understand Gary’s interest in “improving” the species, as soon as he starts manipulating for particular traits which he thinks would be more desirable, he is working with this human selecting process, which is why we call the results “selections” and “cultivars.” The species complex which has stood the test of time with sometimes subtle and in other cases impressive variability, while admittedly still in the evolutionary process if we can step back and look at it over hundreds or thousands of generations, has worked for this species in the wild. What does that mean? It means that the species with those variations just referenced, has survived.
Larger flowers? More pink in the corolla? Quicker growth from seed to blooming plant? They may indeed all be occasionally out there in the wild, and if Gary starts sowing and growing lots and lots of these plants, and with each generation just picks his favorites and then sees with subsequent generations if those traits carry through, and then picks them again if they do, etc. etc., he may well come up with a plant that he likes better, maybe one that everyone likes better. And if with all his selfing crosses he stays within the scientific understanding of the species definition, he will perhaps technically not be doing any hybridizing. However, from the get-go he is working with selections and cultivars of this particular species, which is to a nit-picker like me entirely different from “improving the species.” It may be picky here, but if not here, the next thing you know we’ll be talking, like Michael Pollan did to the delight of millions, plants with some purpose manipulating us so that their range and in some cases specific qualities can improve over time. Picky, I know – but you get misinterpreted and in the blink of an eye the turn of a phrase changes from accurate science to good storytelling, and for those that don’t see the shift the good storytelling gets better and better and is still accurate science.
Well I’ve said enough to start this off (?) Perhaps this will start a lively discussion – or perhaps not. Good Growing – and Gary – good luck with your selection process."


     Copied from Gesneriphiles 17 Dec 2012

Cool project. I'd be interested in helping out. Have you thought of mutagenesis as a way of speeding things up?

     Copied from comments, 17 Dec 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I'm World famous...

Codonanthe devosiana (formerly digna or carnosa)
Story # 81,

      I’m World famous, just nobody knows it!

      This is my attempt to think like Yogi Berra.  His best is:  “You can observe a lot by watching.”

      The Story # 79 about improving a Codonanthe species was republished by an international website: newplantsandflowers 

     Don’t know if any commercial plant breeder will find Codonanthe worth investigating.

      The clone that I have is already a legitimate commercial flowering plant for the Miniature Garden & terrarium market … just nobody knows it yet!

Monday, December 17, 2012

How can I get free of Facebook?

There is supposed to be something there but there isn't, sort of like Facebook.

Story # 80, OT

     Facebook sends me continuous e-mails which are intended to make me feel guilty if I don’t do something.

     Some ask me if I know these people?

     Some tell me somebody did something on Facebook?

     Some ask me to be friends with people I may or may not know?

       If I don’t do anything, are my friends mad at me or just the Facebook computer?

     I never had a Fax machine until I needed one.  I have not found a reason to need Facebook.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Can we make a species better?

Codonanthe devosiana (formerly digna)

Story # 79,
      Can we make a species better than it already is?  Is it possible to improve on a species that has survived for untold millions of years in the wild?

      I learned the original definition of a botanical ‘species’ as a plant found in nature that is uniform in it’s characteristics and comes true (identical to the parent) when self-pollinated.

      So if they are all identical then how can they be improved?  It seems that the modern day definition is not as rigid and some species are variable and in some cases can have different colored flowering forms within the species.

      The plant that I want to improve is Codonanthe digna, a small trailing plant with small bell shaped white flowers and orange berries. (The name was carnosa, then digna.  It may now be devosiana).  Well grown plants will self-branch and get a flower at every leaf axil.  It could be a commercial plant in the terrarium market if crop time could be speeded up.

      My proposal is to grow quantities of seed crops of Codonanthe and select for speed and flower size.  In every measurable step, we select the best.  Save the first to germinate and from them, the first to flower.  If flower size improves, of course, save them.  Record the times so we can see if any improvement is made in successive generations.

      Does science support this plan?  I think so.  Plants have been improved by intercrossing species within a Genius.  This is self-pollinating a species and hope for variability. In nature seed germinates at varying rates to insure survivability, so we will just select the fastest.

      Since no one has tried to improve Codonanthe digna, the story is not yet written.  But nothing can be lost in trying since all plants, fast or slow, can be sold.  If somehow flower size improves then all the observation will pay off.

      There is a pink flowered form of Codonanthe from Brazil that we are attempting to establish.  The goal there will be to select for the brightest pink.  Then cross the white with the pink and see if we get hybrid vigor and a big, bright, pink flower on a tough little trailing plant.  But that’s a different story.

Codonanthe devosiana- Pink form (formerly digna)
This story was first published in the Delaware African Violet and Gesneriad Society newsletter and then shown in Gleanings.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

So what is the goal?

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie' in 2" pot (5 cm)
Story # 78,

 So what is the goal?

      I’ve been an opportunist in the plant business.  When I’ve seen an opening in the market for a new plant or a new size for an old plant, I’ve taken chances on there being a demand for it.

      The downside is that you can chase the market and never catch it.  The upside is that you can be progressive and be ahead of trends if you guess right.  We dropped growing market packs of annuals years before others moved into 4" pots.  The trend was that gardeners would pay more for a bigger plant for immediate flowering.

      Currently with very small production space, I’ve moved to small pots ----the Miniature Garden and Terrarium market requires the correct plants in small pots.

      I see miniature Sinningias as a worthwhile tiny specialty.

      The ultimate is one of the world’s smallest flowering house plants ---------Sinningia ‘Li’l Georgie’

      As described before, S. ’Li’l Georgie’ , a hybrid by Jim Steuerlein, proved to be the breakthrough that had limited the success of micro mini Sinningias.  The hybrid does not require the higher humidity of a closed container.  So now we have a flowering plant that can survive in an open Miniature Garden as well as a terrarium.

      Tissue culture is the only practical means of propagation.  Thousands can be produced.

      So the goal is:  Produce finished flowering ‘Li’l Georgie’s.  There is no competition.

      In marketing theory, this is known as a ‘New Market’.  The size of market or the number of customers is not known because no one ever had the product before.  In ‘New Markets’, it may take years before the demand can be found to absorb the supply.

      Nobody knows.

 The goal is to be the leading supplier of a very miniature flowering plant.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Buzzards are dumb but not stupid!

Baby Buzzard half grown
Story # 77, O T

 Buzzards are dumb but not stupid!

       The pair of buzzards that have nested in my barn for the last two years have hatched and raised three chicks.

      It’s been fun watching the babies outgrow their yellow baby feathers and grow rapidly through the ugly duckling stage to a full set of black wing feathers.

      One of their instincts is to go into the sun and dry their wings. 

      It probably takes some weight off and makes it easier to fly.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Park

NYC Park Rules
Story # 76,  O. T.

      This NYC Park is along the East River.  It was a nice place to sit even though its postage stamp size stretches the concept of a park.

      Of course, there are rules.  How else can you arrest someone for being stupid or annoying if you don’t tell them in advance?

      If you make trash, be sure to not search through it for anything valuable.  

      If a bird or squirrel should somehow visit this park, do not give them any food -----they may decide to come back.

      Humans are not specifically excluded, so I guess you can be there, unless it’s dark.

One person saw it.

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie'
Story # 75, Part II

       When I was at Longwood Gardens' Plant Shop today making a delivery, I noticed that a woman had a newspaper clipping in her hand.  She was looking for Sinningia ‘Li’l Georgie’ as shown in the Philadelphia Inquirer 8 days ago.

      Since I was stunned by that, I asked her about it.

      We were equally amazed.  She had come to Longwood because the story says that is the only place to find the plant.  And by dumb luck she met the grower.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Who will ever see this?

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie'
Story # 75

      A copy of a listing in the Philadelphia Inquirer of Christmas gifts under $20.

The season's cutest plant. Sinningia 'Lil Georgie' tops out at 1 inch tall and 11/2 inches wide, making it one of the smallest flowering plants ever, says Gary K. Hunter, longtime wholesale specialty-plant grower in Drumore, southern Lancaster County. This new "micro-mini" hybrid is a steady bloomer, perfect for miniature and fairy gardens, terrariums, or open pots. To buy: $12.99 at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, which also sells Hunter's Sinningia 'Prudence Risley' ($12.99) and Poinsettia 'Ruby Frost' ($14.99). His website is, but he does not have a retail outlet or online sales.

- Virginia A. Smith

        I’m sure you missed it, so here is a permanent record of the announcement.  And a picture.

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Mentor

 Story # 74

     In the book, Mastery, that I’m reading, the author proposes that the great masters of Science or the Arts had a mentor at some point in their training.  Masters like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford or Benjamin Franklin worked as apprentices and were then influenced by a mentor.

      My mentor in the greenhouse business was Donald Layser, a self-made man who created a plant business to make it into the top 100 greenhouses in the United States.  It was by chance that I got to work at Layser’s Flowers for several months during the Spring retail season.  My greenhouse production professor at Penn State, Dr John White, had a request for an intern and suggested that I try to get it for some real greenhouse experience.  The job was to work for Mrs. Layser in the retail greenhouse as the stock boy refilling plant inventory.

      I got to see how the whole place worked and as part of the deal I was to write a report on my observations.  

      Over the years, after I started my own business I would visit Layser’s to buy plants and get counsel from Donald.  Every once in awhile he would pull out that report and remind me that he valued it even though many of my observations were either off the mark or na├»ve.

      His genius in the plant business was that he would perceive what size and price the customer wanted and then figure out how to grow it at a profit.

      My business was small and his large so I always wanted to get his advice on things, so I could do the opposite of what he was doing.

      My mentor gave me a chance to see how commercial horticulture worked.  I would have worked there for nothing.  Of course, I didn’t tell him that until years later.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

One extra flower

Sinningia 'Prudence Risley' - Three leaf
Story # 67, Part II,

      One extra flower.

      The three leaf Sinningia shown before, did it once---- A flower for each leaf axil.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What should plants cost on e-Bay?

Streptocarpus 'Wow' bought on e-Bay
Story # 73

      What should plants cost on e-Bay?

      I’ve been a buyer on e-Bay but not a seller so I only know one side of this auction system.

      The internet has allowed this pure form of free enterprise.  Plants are shown and anyone is free to bid.  The plants that I watch are Streptocarpus or Sinningias.  Potentially there could be thousands of buyers.  In reality there rarely are more that 2 or 3 people bidding on any particular Gesneriad.  There are probably not more that 10- 15 sellers.

      As a buyer you are never sure how many plants are available or when you might see a rare one again. My observation is that the e-Bay system has allowed new or rare Sinningias to be distributed more quickly than any other way.

      My impression of auctions is that plants are always sold for more than they’re worth.

      Saying that is ridiculous, of course, because the winning bid is exactly what the plant is worth.

Friday, November 16, 2012

So what's it really like?

Sinningia 'An's Nyx' grown by Gary's Specialty Plants
Story # 72,

      This picture is the first flowering of Sinningia ‘An’s Nyx’ that was described in Story # 70.

      So what’s it really like?

      It is not as Yellow as I hoped that it would be.  More cream.

      It only has four possible flowers at first showing.

      It‘s unlikely to be a commercial plant.

     It will be lucky to be collector’s plant unless it produces better when more vigorous cuttings can be tested.  I’m glad that I get to see it first hand.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

100 Years old

Story # 71

      My Dad would have been 100 years old today.  Kenneth William Hunter was born November 15, 1912.  His parents, William and Clara Hunter, were Farmers and Dad was a Farmer.

     I was encouraged to leave the farm so that I would have an easier life.  It was decided for me when, in 1962, he had a heart attack and died.  At the time, treatment for heart problems was bed rest------ completely opposite of today’s angioplasty and stent treatments with full activity.

      The farm was gone and I was away from it but I eventually came back to growing things.  Through a great set of events, I ended up at Penn State studying horticulture and commercial flower production.

      In the greenhouse, I was farming in a building.

      Don’t let anybody tell you that we should go back to the ‘Good Old Days’.

      In the old days, there was no medical treatment for blocked arteries to the heart.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sinningia 'An's Nyx'

Sinningia 'An's Nyx'

Story # 70,

      Sinningia ‘An’s Nyx’ was one of the choice plants that I bought at the Gesneriad Society convention in Seattle in July.  Well my agent, Mary Schaeffer, was doing the bidding for me and was able to win the lot of Sinningias from Taiwan.

      We were unsure of what actual varieties were in the collection, but one was S. ‘An’s Nyx’.  This was a very lucky set of events since I had seen a picture of it on, a great source to see what’s going on with Sinningias in Taiwan.

      When Mary brought the plants back from the convention and got them to me, ‘An’s Nyx’ was a bare two little threads of a plant ------Will it survive?

      Of course it’s yes or there would be no need to tell the story.

      My interest in the plant is that it may be the first Yellow double calyx Sinningia in the world and the first clone of it in the United States.

      It remains to be seen if its other characteristics will be good enough, beyond Yellow?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Million Dollar Idea...

Miniature Indoor Garden

Story # 69, O T

      Back in our Grove City College days, a bunch of my fraternity brothers and I would have late night sessions where we brainstormed what great idea would bring us fame and fortune ------Well, mostly fortune.

      As far as I know none of us ever came up with the million dollar idea.

      What we were too naive to know then was that the idea is the easy part.  Execution is the hard part.

      In case you do have some idea that you are sure will work, you may want to go to and look at their free course on how to build a start-up business.  It will save you a lot of time doing the wrong things.

      I read that Intuit, the QuickBooks Company, gave an employee a million dollars for devising a product that turned into a 400 million dollar business.

      Where in the plant world is there a parallel story?

      Are indoor Miniature Gardens the next million dollar idea?

      Or will Sinningia ‘Li’l Georgie’, one of the world’s smallest flowering houseplants, be the next million dollar idea?

      Nobody knows.

                                                                                                      Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie'

Friday, November 2, 2012

'half-pint' Poinsettias are coming soon...

'half-pint' Poinsettia
Story # 68,

     ‘half-pint’ Poinsettias were introduced at Longwood Gardens Plant Shop last Christmas.

      The idea was to create a new size that customers would see as filling a need for small Poinsettias for small spaces.

     There was no need to compete with the very mini Poinsettias produced by Holtkamp’s Greenhouse in Nashville.  These are very cute and sell easily.

      The category in commercial production called 4” Poinsettias are usually in      4 ½” pots and branched to be smaller versions of the ubiquitous 6” pot that are the standard in the trade. (always wanted to have a use for the word ubiquitous).

      We wanted something that was smaller than a 4” and bigger than the 2’”minis.

      The name ‘half-pint’ was picked to suggest small and cute.  Many who grew up watching ‘Little House on the Prairie’ may remember Laura Ingalls’ little sister---- half-pint.

      A separate fact that’s not obvious is that this 3 ½” pot size holds one cup of dirt by volume-------- a ‘half-pint’.

     Several novelty varieties are being grown as single flowers or branched.

      Novelties like Jingle Bells, Cinnamon Star, Marble and Winter Rose will be there.

     But Ruby Frost and Ice Punch are the most popular.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

One third more...

Three leaf Sinningia 'Prudence Risley'
Story # 67,

      Most Sinningias have one pair of leaves per whorl.

      Sometimes something happens and you get 3 leaves per whorl which repeat up the shoot.

      Many Gesneriad followers have noticed this before and get excited that a super-clone has been discovered.

      Why does it matter?

      Well with this shoot of Sinningia ‘Prudence Risley’ we could get one third more flowers ----- 3 instead 2.

      In all the times that I have followed a 3-leaf shoot, it always fails me when the branches revert back to 2-leaves.

      Maybe this time will be different?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Will 'Cindy-ella' Return from the Past?

Sinningia 'Cindy-ella'
Story # 66,

      Sinningia ‘Cindy-ella’ is a plant I learned about some 40 years ago.  In the house plant boom of the 70's, plant shops sprang up on every street corner.  Gesneriads were among the hundreds of collector plants that people looked for.  Mini Sinningias were produced as rapidly as possible.

      S. ‘Cindy-ella’ was one that came true from seed which made it easily producible.  The original hybrid was S. ‘Cindy’, a cross between concinna and eumorpha. Since ‘Cindy’ was sterile it was doomed to slow propagation by division, tip cuttings and leaf rooting.

      Through the use of the mutation chemical, colchicine, a tetraploid version was created which restored fertility.  Through this particular technique, the seed produced by self-pollinating ‘Cindy-ella’ are identical to the parent.  A seed pod may have 40 – 60 seed.

      ‘Cindy-ella’ flowers easily and has pretty, slipper-shaped, spotted flowers.  It’s a good one.

      Will it return from the past?

Friday, October 19, 2012

What if nobody buys it?

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie'
Story # 65,

      A very big bet has been placed on S. ‘Li’l Georgie’.

      What if nobody buys it?

      Entrepreneur books always have a chapter with stories about products that were built that nobody wanted.  It’s the opposite of ‘Build it and they will come’

      Since nothing can be sold unless it has a name and a use, maybe we need 20 ways to use it.

      What could you possibly do with a miniature flowering house plant?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Can't shake the flowers off!

Sinningia 'Stone's Yulia' grown by Gary's Specialty Plants
Story # 64,

      Can’t shake the flowers off!

      It’s always a challenge to time the flowering of your entry into a flower show.  The frustration is when you get it in prime condition and then the flowers fall off during the packing and transport to the show    

     So here’s the plant for you.  In my very scientific experiment I’ve determined that you can not shake the flowers off of Sinningia ‘Stone's Yulia’.

      It traveled to the Mid-Atlantic Gesneriad show (1 hour), to Longwood Gardens (1 hour) and to the Delaware AVS meeting (1 hour) and home again (6 hours of bouncing) without losing a flower.

      The first flower to open has finally gone past after 15 days, but it has not fallen off. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Slipper Gloxinias are more interesting!

Sinningia 'Pristine' grown by Jon Lindstrom
Story # 63,

     Slipper Gloxinias are more interesting!

      Gloxinias (Sinningia speciosa) come in three flower shapes ----single bell, double bell and slipper.

      For years the most common was single upright bell in red, white, purple, bicolor speckled or ruffled.  When double flowered were hybridized the supply was limited because the seed lines were difficult and unstable.  Tissue culture changed that and select clones are produced in big quantities for showy pot plants.

      My favorite style is slipper-shaped, which are seldom grown.

      The hybrid by Charlene Marietti, Sinningia ‘Pristine’, was selected for tissue culture propagation and will be showing up soon.

      It is pink with many flowers possible.

      You’ll like it, too!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie' released without fanfare!

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie' ready for sale
Story # 62,

      Sinningia ‘Li’l Georgie’ released without fanfare!

      The first ever availability of flowering Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie’ occurred on Wednesday, 10 Oct 2012 at Longwood Gardens’ Plant Shop.  These plants were grown from the first propagations from the tissue culture lab.

      If this amazing little plant was in the consumer electronics industry, the internet news would be buzzing.  There would have been rumors of it being sighted last week (Mid-Atlantic Gesneriad Show).  There would be insider reports that production had been halted due to supply line snags (now corrected).  There would be reports that the production crew must work 7 days a week to keep up with the demand (Seriously-------Do you know anything about greenhouse production? ------- It’s always been 7 days a week).

      For now, there is a limited supply of ‘Li’l Georgie’ coming through to Longwood Gardens 

     It’s not an iPlant, but it should be!

Monday, October 8, 2012

1/2 Year!

Sinningia 'Gabriel's Horn'  looking very good.
½ Year!

      This blog was started 6 months ago.

      Anybody that tells you that it is easy probably isn’t writing theirs alone.

      I’ve read that most blogs stop at nine months.  We’ll see.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The best 'Li'l Georgie'!

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie' by Brian Conner
Story # 61,

     There were three ‘Li’l Georgie’ in the mini Sinningia class.  The fact that ‘Lil’ Georgie' had 3 out of 4 entries is interesting in itself.  The other one was 'Freckles', a showy multi-flowered plant.

      The winner by Brian Conner was perfect.  All the leaves were a uniform dark green.  It had flowers open and buds showing.

      Since ‘Li’l Georgie’ holds its flowers tight, it will be possible to have many flowers open at once.  Several people at the show told me that their ‘Georgie’ never goes dormant.  And mine at a North window has never stopped flowering.

      ‘Li’l Georgie’ will be showing up more in the mini Sinningia class because they are capable of being the best.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Be part of the story

Sinningia 'Colorado Sunset' for sale
     Yes, tomorrow, Sunday, 30 September is the Mid-Atlantic Gesneriad Show, Sale and Symposium at the University of Delaware.-------- 531 South College Ave, Newark------ 10 to 4

     Why read about it when you can go there and see unusual plants shown by skilled hobbyist.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

5 Million.....

Poinsettia with ting

Story # 60,

      5 Million…..  iPhone 5’s sold this weekend.

      Even if you don’t like Apple, this should be celebrated with headlines.  For a product to be produced, that fans will stand in line for, is free enterprise at its best.

      If there are 10,000 Garden Centers in the United States, and on a good December weekend each sell 500 Poinsettias, then we have a 5 Million Poinsettia sale.

     This never makes the headlines but it’s worth celebrating.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'Li'l Georgie is available Sunday

Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie'
Story # 59,

      Sinningia ‘Li’l Georgie’ will be for sale Sunday, 30 September, at the Mid –Atlantic Gesneriad Show, Sale and Symposium at the University of Delaware.

     Come there to get one and see for yourself if this is the miracle plant that I’ve been telling you about.

      Every miniature garden needs ‘Li’l Georgie’!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

10% unemployment means....

Table Top Garden
Story # 58,

 10% unemployment means…..

      That 90% are working.

      I worry about the unemployment and under-employed.  Times are tough for many people.

      But some days, I’m worrying about the wrong group.  Try to drive when it’s rush hour, try to find a causal restaurant where you don’t have to wait, try to get into an Apple store without tripping over people, try to find a parking space at our biggest mall, Park City.

      There are parts of our economy that are booming.  So why isn’t the boom absorbing the 10% who don’t have a job or the one that they want.

      Smart people can’t figure out what to do about this.

      Since an individual can’t affect any market, just be very good at what interests you and buy a plant occasionally.  It keeps the economy turning.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Catch up!

Euphorbia heterophylla with color

Story # 57,

     Catch up!

      Somehow you stumbled into this blog today about specialty plants like Sinningias and Streptocarpus.

      It is a loosely connected continuing story.

      You can read it from the beginning in less than 15 minutes.

Sinningia versus Streptocarpus?

Streptocarpus 'Fernwood's Cherries Jubilee'
Story # 56,

 Sinningias versus Streptocarpus?

      So what about categories?

      In the last year, Ferns as a category lead the list.  We always say that colorful beats green and flowering beats foliage.  So why do people buy Ferns?

      The total of Begonias (rhizomatous and Rex) are second best.  Again, non-flowering foliage plants.

      ‘half-pint’ Poinsettias (3 ½”) sell well but Crown of Thorns beat them.

      But this story wants to know about Sinningias versus Streptocarpus?

           It’s Streptocarpus 2 to 1 over Sinningias.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Second place is not bad

Sinningia 'Prudence Risley'
Story # 55,

 Second place is not bad!

      Sometimes it’s not obvious what’s selling until you add up the numbers.

      What is my top selling single plant?

      It’s always surprising to me that Geranium ‘Vancouver Centennial’ leads the list.  People buy this unique leaf pattern all year around.
        So what’s next?

      Sinningia ‘Prudence Risley’ was first available for sale for the Christmas season last year and has continually sold.  We never know why plants are bought.

      This hybrid has never been produced before so it can’t be repeat sales.  Is it because it is NEW or because it has RED flowers?

           Sinningia ‘Prudence Risley’ ---------   Second place finish!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Will Sinningia 'Magic Moment' make the cut?, Part III

Sinningia 'Magic Moment'
Story # 18, Part III,

 Will Sinningia ‘Magic Moment’ make the cut?

      ‘Magic Moment’ continues to impress.

     Back in July we had flowering on a short plant.  Now it has three tall flowering shoots.  It has flowered continuously. 

     It has a nice pink flower and high bud count to keep opening.  This could be worth trialing in commercial quantities.

          Flowers small --------------Flowers tall.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Let's drain the Ocean!, Part IV

Story # 54, Part IV, O.T.

      What did I expect to happen?

      First, almost nothing.

      The idea of draining the Ocean is a more direct solution to the problem of rising sea level, which is going to devastate millions of people around the world.

      Trying to reduce CO2 emissions by curtailing the engines of industrialized nations may be impossible.  Keep trying that, but the problem is the water.

      Dooms-day predictors warn that there will not be enough food for the world’s rising population.  That prediction is just silly.  Economics will ensure that there will always be food-------when the price goes ups, there will be more food produced.

     However, the limiting factor ----- water ----- will have to be dealt with.  We can continue to redistribute the fresh water or gain new water supplies from de-salting the ocean.

      When the cost of water for irrigation of farm crops becomes just another line item in the cost of production along with seed, fertilizer, fungicides and harvesting costs, then pumping from the Ocean will be feasible.

      The only hope to prevent the tide from rising over valuable shore line is if localized pumping is effective.

     I have no idea if this will work.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Let's drain the Ocean!, Part III

Story # 54, Part III, O. T.

Pumping the Ocean dry, Part III.

      One man believes……

      One man believes that the Ocean is going to rise and will have a vested interest in NOT pumping the Ocean dry.

      As reported in Fast Company, Paul van de Camp, Architect/ Developer believes that Maldives, a set of Islands in the Indian Ocean, 5 feet above sea level will disappear and will need to be replaced by a floating resort.

      If the Ocean could be pumped dry near Maldives, his floating golf course would be way less cool if it ended up on dry land.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Let's drain the Ocean!, Part II

     Pumping the Ocean dry, Part II

      It will never work!

      It is almost guaranteed that the wisdom of the crowd can tell you why this won’t work.

1.  Saltwater is very corrosive and difficult to manage. 

     Yes, but the U.S. Navy knows more about saltwater than anybody on Earth.  They can help.

2.  What will we do with the salt that is condensed out?

     We manage far more toxic chemicals than salt.

3a.  If we try to pump water inland from the Pacific Ocean we can not get it over the Rocky Mountains to the mid-west where we need water.

     Of course we can, it’s a matter of the cost.

3b.   A corn farmer in the Midwest who only loses his crop every 5 years due to drought   will never pay for water.

      Don’t be so sure.  Ask a farmer how he would plan the future if he had water available for irrigation for the next 50 years so he would never lose a crop.  Now that corn has gone from $2.00 to $8.00 a bushel, there is more incentive to not fail.

4.   What if we pipe it to drought areas and then they have rainy years?

     There will be a need for multiple drop points.  It will take time.  We have electricity going to every house in the U. S.  We have gas and oil pipe lines that cross the U. S.  We can have water pipe lines.

5.  The idea of combining a solar collector that uses water can not be adapted to saltwater.

     Ok.  That idea was obvious because it is a technology that exists in California and could help justify the cost.  If other desalination methods are cheaper, then do that, but increase the volume tremendously and pump the water inland.

6.  It will be cheaper for millions of people with beach front property to just move inland.


7.  Because water seeks its own level, it would be impossible to pump water away from the coastline fast enough to keep it from refilling.

     From the book, Deep Water, one scientist, Jerry Mitrovica, says that the ‘bathtub model’ is not true.  He says that local sea level almost never equals global sea level.

     Once again, smart engineers could give an opinion about gaining ground from localized water pumping.

8.  Since this will have to be a public works project of tremendous scale, many politicians will have to support it.  It will be seen as folly until a major city is underwater.

     This will be the major reason this will never happen in time to save our coastline.

How do you boil a live frog?

     Put him in a pot of water and slowly raise the heat.  He loves the nice warm water until it’s too late and he cooks.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Let's drain the Ocean!

Story # 54, O. T.

      Let’s pump the Oceans dry!

      The World may have a serious problem.  The consensus of many scientists is not if the Ocean’s water level is rising ------ But by how many feet?

      I have just read ‘Deep Water, As Polar Ice Melts, Scientists Debate How High Our Oceans Will Rise.’ by Daniel Grossman.  He rationally presents the various theories of the melting of ice formations as a result of global warning.

      The increase in Carbon Dioxide is believed to be the cause of the Earth’s increase in average temperature.

      Here are my assumptions about this problem:

     1.  The Ocean’s water level is rising.

     2. It may rise 3 – 37 feet in the next 100 years (The exact rise is irrelevant.  The fact is that much beach front property and most of Florida will be under water.) 

     3. The most common cry for action is to reduce the emission of Carbon Dioxide by curtailing fuel combustion.

     4. Reducing CO2 is unlikely to happen and may not stop the ice from melting anyway. (Before man, in past history, the ice melted and the Oceans rose.)

     Here is my proposal for a way to slow the tide from rising:

     1.  Pump the Ocean dry.

     70% of the Earth is covered by water.  But only 3% is fresh water that can be used by man, animals and crops.  Salt water is everywhere and we know how to get the salt out. 

      There are always areas of the Earth that do not have enough fresh water.

      What we have here is a distribution problem.

     2.  De-salt the water by distillation.

     There is a known system of solar collection that uses water to create steam that is used to drive steam generators for electricity.

     3. Use salt water in these solar arrays.

     If Ocean salt water was used in these solar collection systems, the steam produced would be condensed and collected as pure water.  It’s how you made distilled water in Chemistry lab.

     4.  The salt water solar collector would produce two salable products ---- fresh water and electricity.

     5.  Who is willing to pay for water?

     The true cost of normally free water is the price you would pay if you don’t have any. 

      There are areas of the U. S. that need water.  The Colorado River is said to run dry before the flow ever gets to the Gulf of Mexico.  What if we pumped water to the origin of the Colorado River and just let it feed all of the water users to the South.

      In the past in the Atlanta area, there was a 5 year drought.  What if we pumped water to the town reservoirs that could not supply enough water?

     There are known aquifers that supply water to wells.  What if we pumped fresh water into the aquifers?

     6.  Pumping water is a very difficult problem.

     Yes, but it is just an engineering problem.  Americans are very good at engineering things.

     7.  Pumping water is a very expensive project.

     Yes, but selling the electricity and the water will cover some of the costs.

     8.  Who will pay to drain the Ocean?

     It will have to be a government works project.  Individual land owners who will see the gradual erosion of their beach front property, to include their houses, will be in a panic but really can’t do anything about it except take the loss.  Cities with Ocean views will have to protect their dry land.  Half of the World’s population lives within 100 miles of the Ocean. 

      That is a lot of people who will need the collective government’s help.

     9.  Will this work?

     I don’t know.  There are many parts of the solution that are simple engineering questions.  Will pumping Ocean water inland 24/7 have any affect on the water level?  There is an infinite amount of water out there.

     Actually, we are already doing it.  Parts of New Orleans and a quarter of the Netherlands are below sea level and we are pumping the water out to have dry land.  That is continually bailing out the leaking boat.  My plan is to send the water inland so it doesn’t keep coming back.

     10.  Sum it up.

     The tide is rising at an unknown rate.  The cause may be Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere.  The reduction of CO2 may or may not stop global warming which is melting mega-trillions of tons of ice.  The Ocean water level has risen before man was here. 

      So whatever the cause, we need to redistribute the de-salted water inland to where it is needed for normal human activities and farm crops.

      An existing solar collection system using water converted to steam for generating electricity could be adapted to de-salt Ocean water.

      The resulting pure water must be pumped inland.  A network of canals could be used when practical.


           Pumping the Ocean dry is a solution to the impending rising tide!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I've trained my whole life for this!

Story # 54,  OT

      Nobody in the world knows what I know or what I see.

      In the same manner, I don’t know the same set of information that any other human has.  Since no two people have experienced the same set of events, it’s hard to know what other people are thinking unless they tell you.  In a way they are secrets.

      I’ve given away many secrets with this blog.  Should I worry that someone is going to steal my plan for plants?

      First, few are paying any attention.  Second, ideas are easy, action is hard.

      I have written some ideas that I have about a world problem.  These ideas have been baking for several years and now is the time for the internet world to see.

      This off-topic story will be out in a few days.

           The title------------ Let’s drain the Ocean!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I can see clearly now...

Miniature Garden at the trade show
Story # 53,

      I can see clearly now…..

           If you make something that people ‘remark’ about,
           then it could be remarkable. 

                          Paraphrasing Seth Godin

      Did you see it?

      If this is the buzz after a trade show, then something new and good must have happened.

       At the OFA International Horticultural Trade Show in July, there was a large segment of the 8,000 attendees that were collecting information about Fairy Gardens and Miniature Gardens.

      Presuming that this will carry into next year’s show with more products and players, I can see Sinningias flowing into this mix.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Being an opportunist is a good thing!

My orginial Sinningia 'Li'l Georgie'
Story # 52,

      Being an opportunist is a good thing!

      Back in my Scoutmaster days, there was a part of a Scout’s evaluation for promotion that was called ‘Scout Spirit’.  How could we use this vague ‘catch-all’ to encourage more success in the Scout program?

      It evolved that successful Scouts took advantage of every opportunity to fulfill requirements.  So as we announced activities we would always say ‘Don’t miss this opportunity’ ------- You don’t know when you’ll have the chance to do this again.

      Being an opportunist may sound like you are trying to take advantage of someone but I see it in the best possible light.

      I moved heavily into Sinningias when I saw the opportunity to have them propagated by tissue culture ------ the missing link.

      Never miss an opportunity.