Sempervivum and Jovibarba forum: Kevin Vaughn (Vignettes)

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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 22, 2012 8:42 PM CST

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I look forward to having Kevin Vaughn share some of his stories about the sempervivum we love so, and the people that brought us so many amazing plants.
I think he should write a book. : )
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Jun 23, 2012 3:36 PM CST
Lynn and forum readers,

As many of you know, i started breeding semps at the ripe old age of 10 (now 58!). Polly Bishop already had an extensive colllection and was starting to breed them in earnest when I rode by on my bike one day and asked what she was doing as i saw all these bags and tags and brushes. At the end of showing me how she was crossing, she said "come back tomorrow and you can cross your own." I was already a science geek and the thought of doing science was irresistible to me. From the crosses made that next day the Semps 'Silvertone' and the Jovibarba 'Emerald Spring' arose. Many would follow, including my most famous two, 'Lipstick' and 'Jungle Shadows'. The inspiration for the name Jungle Shadows came from a border bearded iris very popular at the time that was in essentially the same colors. When the semp known as "Jungle Shadows' appeared, it looked SO like it it had to be given that same name. 'Jungle Fires' is a red from 'Jungle Shadows' and has many of its qualities. Besides Polly, Pat Drown (now Pat Drown Warner) lived on my street and she also was growing and breeding semps. You may remember her 'Missouri Rose' and 'Tamberlane'. Bill Nixon would come at least once each year to see the new seedlings and give his opinions. After we had decided ones we liked , they would be shipped to Helen Payne where the final decisions on marketing them would occur. We also had a large test planting at Crane Estate in Dalton MA where the cultivars were judged for their correct names and new ones were compared with all the varieties then available in the US to make sure they were distinct.

As i was showing Cynda and Lynn around my garden yesterday I was talking about 'Dark Cloud' and 'Plumb Rose' and their origins. Polly loved my 'Jungle Shadows' and wanted one deeper and with wider leaves, but figured that we didn't know enough about semp genetics to figure out the route to the darkest colors. Instead she took the blooming rosettes from at least 8 different cultivars ('Jungle Shadws' being one) and planted them all in close proximity so that all the darkest ones could be intercrossed by the bees. She raised several thousand seedlings and the ones known as 'Dark Cloud' and 'Plumb Rose' came out of that planting but there were probably a dozen more that should've been introduced. 'Plumb Rose' had an unusual gauze effect over the leaf color that was very prominent in MA but I find it fleeting even here in cool Oregon.

I am gradually getting my cultivars back and have my first couple years of seedlings since moving to Oregon in '10. It is SUCH FUN!

Kevin Vaughn

[Last edited by valleylynn - Jun 23, 2012 3:54 PM (+)]
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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Jun 23, 2012 4:15 PM CST

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Kevin I love the name you chose from your screen name. : )
I look forward to seeing the new crop of semps. Your excitement for these plants is contagious.
Do you have a photo of Plume Rose that shows the gauze effect? It must be beautiful. One of our members has this semp
Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
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goldfinch4
Jun 23, 2012 4:26 PM CST

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Hi Kevin, Welcome!

How exciting to have you join us! Talk about an exciting childhood and learning from the best. Wow, I'm speechless. I would absolutely love to try my hand at crossing. Do you have lots of cultivars that haven't been marketed but are still part of your private collection?

I have both Jungle Shadows and Jungle Fire and love them both, and I also have Dark Cloud and Plumb Rose. Smiling Would love to see pictures of some of your crosses that aren't available to the public yet.

Looking forward to learning lots from you. Great to have you here.

Chris
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Name: Janice
Cape Cod, MA, USA (Zone 7a)
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sandnsea2
Jun 23, 2012 4:31 PM CST
I agree

Wonderful to have you here, Kevin!

Are you originally from MA? So am I! Smiling

Only wish I had lived on your street and learned to cross as a child. What fun!!!

Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 23, 2012 4:42 PM CST

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It's never to late Janice. Maybe Kevin could encourage a new generation of semp breeders. Whistling
Name: Sandi
Denver, Colorado (Zone 5b)
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picklepuff
Jun 23, 2012 7:30 PM CST
Welcome Kevin!
It is very nice to have you join us in this forum. I didn't realize that I own several of your semps! Please let me know if I can be of any help in recovering some of the older varieties that you have lost.
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Jun 23, 2012 9:29 PM CST
Hi friends!

I have been taking pictures of some of the new seedlings from the '10 seed crop. the ones from the '11 seed crop are too small to tell much at this point although the cobwebs are showing cobwebs already. They are so cute. I remember the first time Pat Drown's 'Denise's Cobweb' germinated and we were shocked to see the cobwebs occurring so early in development. We both figured it would take a while to appear. Not so. As Lynn and Cynda can tell you there are several interesting things coming along and i'l make decisions next spring when I have had a chance to see them for a couple seasons.

and yes I grew up in a small town called Athol, MA. It is right on the edge of Quabbin Reservoir and close to Amherst MA. Horticulturally it was a great time and place to be in MA as Frances Williams, the hosta guru, gave me my start in that genus too. Have a number of these on the market. And yes it was very cool to have so many sempaholics in such a close area. Pat Drown now lives in the Seattle area and is an aerospace engineer. Am hoping to visit with her this summer and get her started again.

I sent most of my last selections onto Helen Payne although there were seedlings left behind that were lost when the artesian well died in the winter one year. The rock garden was right over the well and I lost those last seedlings. That happened after I had moved to MS. Luckily many of my hybrids are still on the market and I've bee able to get a majority of them back.

As Lynn can tell you, there are lots of seedlings coming along in my patch and I have plans for a much more extensive planting. The previous owner of this property had a yard service business and created a graveled area for his trucks. That should be an ideal semp planting site when raised beds are constructed above it.

I am still looking for 'Greenwich Time', 'Michael', 'Prairie Sunset', 'Devil's Advocate', 'Dusky', 'Sharon's Pencil', 'Royal Flush', 'Pistachio', 'Risque', and Polly's 'Pink Lemonade' and Pat's 'Spring Mist'. think that would recapture most of my old ones.

I have discovered there are two plants named 'Minaret' in circulation. one is red-flushed, the other is not. i think the red-flushed one is actually a sib to 'Mulberry Wine'. Skrocki #51 was the parent of 'Mulberry Wine' and was grown right next to 'Minaret'. I gathered seed of both of them and some of the seedlings had characteristics of the other parent. The red-flushed version of 'Minaret' is probably the sib to 'Mulberry Wine'. when I sent the plant to Helen, i noted on the label " Skrocki #51 X Minaret?" and i'm sure the 'Minaret' portion must have been transferred to this seedling when Helen sold her plants.

It is such fun getting back into the semps. I was in MS for 30 years working for the USDA and they were not happy in that climate (nor was I!). I did breed a lot of LA irises and daylilies though.

Kevin
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Jun 23, 2012 9:56 PM CST

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Kevin can you share with us how you came about some of the names of your plants? Like 'Devil's Advocate', 'Sharon's Pencil' and one I just saw today called 'Just Plain Crazy'. My curiosity is overflowing. : )

I have seen photos by Erwin Geiger of the light colored 'Minaret', it is a beauty. The photos are here in the database.

Wish all of you could have been there with me yesterday looking at all those very tiny seedlings. And to think one of them may become the next big craze in the semp world. Here is a
sneak peak at one of the cobweb seedling. As tiny as they are you can already see differences in some of them.
Thumb of 2012-06-24/valleylynn/61be71

Kevin, we are sure glad you are back here where semps thrive. We look forward to seeing your new creations.

Looking forward to seeing the seedling photos from 2010.
[Last edited by valleylynn - Jun 23, 2012 10:00 PM (+)]
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Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
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goldfinch4
Jun 24, 2012 1:21 AM CST

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There is a lot of webbing on that seedling already. I bet it will be beautiful!
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twitcher
Jun 24, 2012 10:23 AM CST
Kevin, It's nice to see you here. By any chance, do you know the parentage of Emerald Springs? I have it as a hirta and did not know it was a hybrid.

Have you done any work with formalizing semp genetics, e.g. defining inherited characteristics, dominance and recessives, etc? That information could be very helpful to other would-be tinkerers. I don't want you to give away any trade secrets, but am curious. Was also curious as to what you think about the variegated Red Lion and what's going on with that one.

Have you ever compiled an "all-in-one" list of the ones you created?
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Jun 24, 2012 5:01 PM CST
Hi!

First let me comment on a couple of my names. As many of you know Helen was a Mennonite and when i shipped the plant known as 'Devil's Advocate' for her to grow she was rather torn as she wasn't sure she wanted anything with the devil in the name as her fellow parishioners might object to "glorifying Lucifer" as she described it! Pat's original name for 'Missouri Rose' was 'Wine and Roses' but it came out as 'Missouri Rose'! Helen must have mellowed by the time 'Mulberry Wine' was introduced as its name was unchanged!'Minaret' was introduced by Betty Bronow as Helen didn't want to "celebrate Islam".

Speaking of 'Mulberry Wine', I think I know a bit more about what happened to a sib of this plant. 'Mulberry Wine' was from bee seed of a Skrocki seedling he numbered #51 but blooming right next to it was a plant of 'Minaret'. When I sent 'Mulberry wine' I also sent the sibling that was labelled "Skrocki 51 x probably Minaret" and I'm guessing in the moves and sales this plant assumed the name 'Minaret' and was distributed as such. if you look at the Japanese web site there are two 'Minaret's pictured. One is the right plant, a silvery blue with dark tips, and the red-based one which is most likely the 'Mulberry Wine' sib. If you have the red-based plant, please adjust your label. It too is a beautiful plant and was about the time Helen was selling off to the new owners. It is a lovely plant and probably should be given a real name.

'Sharon's Pencil' was named because i NEVER had a pencil and I was always borrowing a friend's pencil. She suggested I name a plant for her and I said "I should really name it for your pencil." It was one of the largest of my early hybrids, getting to 8" across and it bloomed easily and had not ugly flowers. I don't think we need every semp red nor do I want them all small.

'Just plain Crazy' started out as a very erratic plant. it was the only seedling i ever obtained from 'Minto's seedling' so I'm betting that plant was probably of mixed ploidy. Some plants of 'Just plain Crazy' continue the erratic condition, whereas others are more normal tufted types.

Emerald Spring is a hybrid from a hirta which at the time we called "histoni" X sobolifera (now a subspecies of hirta). There were several from this cross, one or two were like multi-leaved hirtas. Helen was delighted that 'Emerald Spring' was the colors of hirta but the size of sobolifera in the hybrid.

Bill Nixon and I published a paper on the inheritance of a least a few characteristics in an early Sempervivum Society publication (~'72) that included what we knew at the the time. That would be a good start. Since then I've gotten a PhD in botany/ genetics but I haven't had a chance to put my talents toward the semps until I moved to Salem in '10. This last season I purposely selfed a number of cultivars to see what sort of things segregated out of them so I could learn a bit about the genetics of these plants. The cobweb that is shown in the picture is from a tufted type that has been selfed. It was a rather large plant and I hoped to get a very large red cobweb out of it if the genes for cobwebbing and size segregated independently. i'm HOPING they do!

The list published on the Slovenian site is mostly right although they have credited Shirley Rempel with 'Jungle Fires'. She did introduce it for me but it is definitely my hybrid.

OK I'm turning the tables on you LYnn. What did you like/ find interesting when you came to my yard??

Kevin

[Last edited by valleylynn - Jun 24, 2012 5:13 PM (+)]
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Name: Julia
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springcolor
Jun 24, 2012 5:38 PM CST
Loved reading this thread. Fun to hear how the plants get a name. I bought 'Lipstick' at sorticulture ( big plant and art sale near me) from Phocas Farms Stonecrops. She said it was new.
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[Last edited by valleylynn - Jun 24, 2012 6:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 24, 2012 6:50 PM CST

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It is really hard to sort through all I saw when I came to visit you Kevin.
I think what really stood out in my mind when I got home was the proof of your love of plants, and hybridizing them to see what you can get.
Thus the Broadleaf Plantain comes to mind. You took a common native plant and turned it into something very interesting. It is such a clear picture in my mind of the interesting dark leaves of your creation. I found it fascinating and lovely to look at. I'm not sure why that plant made such an impression on me? I didn't think to ask at the time how you got that unusual color into the plant?
Thumb of 2012-06-24/valleylynn/ff75eb

Does that surprise you Kevin?

But then I start going through the photos I took while I was there.
This was the sweetest very tiny, unnamed daylily seedling. It touched my heart.
Thumb of 2012-06-24/valleylynn/05284b

And how could I not fall in love with these seedlings?
Thumb of 2012-06-24/valleylynn/df3093
Thumb of 2012-06-24/valleylynn/a78b5b
Thumb of 2012-06-24/valleylynn/f1acd7Be still my heart Lovey dubby
Thumb of 2012-06-24/valleylynn/de5b63

There are many more photos of your creations. All are amazing. But you showed me the work you are doing on hardy geraniums. Some of the tiny seedlings are already showing differences in leaf shape and color patterns.

Sidalcea, which I had never seen or heard of before. Another group of seedlings that are already showing varying leaf patterns. It was like looking at treasures in the making.

I got to see Sedum rubens 'Lizard' for the first time. What an interesting sedum. Is it an annual or perennial in our area?


Then there was the sempervivum seedlings. The semps of the future, right there in front of me. Wish I had taken a photo of the entire bed. I wonder which of those tiny things will become the new star of the sempervivum world?

New things keep coming to me each day. Each thought is like another treasure found. Thank you so much Kevin the for the most interesting day.

Oh, did I mention what a thrill it was to see S. 'Weirdo'?


[Last edited by valleylynn - Jun 24, 2012 7:33 PM (+)]
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Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Jun 24, 2012 9:24 PM CST
Lynn,

OK I enjoyed your pictures of things in my yard especially since it was NOT all semp pictures.Most people that know me from one group of plants think I am not a "one genus guy". However, i have hybridized everything under the sun. Cynda came when there was a huge bed of daffodil seedlings in bloom and Lynn captured some of the spuria and Japanese iris seedlings. As I have said to many people that come to the yard "Nothing with pollen is safe."

'Weirdo' can look much weirder than that. Even though the rosettes appear to have a center they actually don't and they can divide like a semp or split the crown like heufellii , sometimes on the same plant. It can also have tubular leaves like 'Grigg's Surprise' or 'Oddity'. It is more unusual than beautiful. These types tend to be lethal and the only two that survived for me were 'Weirdo' and a sister seedling that was identical other than size. Helen thought the bigger one would sell better because it was easier to see the weird behavior. I think she was right. It is one semp you can grow in a pot in the house. It turns more greenish but it performs even more bizarre behavior! One pot grew these odd stolons that grew straight up out of the center of the rosette. I have never seen it bloom but I have been told it has a strange bloom as well, almost like a fasciated plant.

'weirdo' was named for a guy in my school that was nicknamed Weirdo but actually he wasn't too weird!

The daylily seedling will get a name as it is so tiny and such a pretty color. Also opens perfectly here in the Pacific NW and many do not.

The hardy geraniums have fascinated a lot of people as they have never seen the variety of colors and sizes. Those new ones with heavily patterned leaves should be exciting.

More anon!

Kevin
[Last edited by valleylynn - Jun 24, 2012 9:52 PM (+)]
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Name: Chris
Ripon, Wisconsin
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goldfinch4
Jun 25, 2012 1:40 AM CST

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Love, love that tiny daylily!

Great comment: "Nothing with pollen is safe." Rolling on the floor laughing I can only imagine all the beautiful creations you have. It must have been a treat indeed to visit you.
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Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Jun 29, 2012 4:12 PM CST
I should tell you all about the name 'Jungle Shadows' as certainly semps are NOT from the jungle! About the time that S.'Jungle Shadows' appeared in my seedling bed, there was a border bearded iris in these same shades of dark purple and grey, It was unlike anything else and a very popular plant and was the same shades as this semp seedling and so the semp was named after thwe border bearded iris. I think it was a good name as it captured some of the mystery of the look of the semp.

'Jungle Shadows' was rather unique when it was born and I still find it a very pleasing semp. Visitors to my garden have really enjoyed it. It is also proving to be a very interesting parent as well. I raised a large crop from both hand crosses and bee set seed when I was in MA and 'Jungle Fires' came out of the bee seed which has the 'Jungle Shadows' shape but a red color and 'Edge of Night' a light green with very black tips came out of the hand crosses. There were about 50 seedlings from 'Jungle Shadows' bee seed that Erwin Geiger kindly sent me in '10 and there were a number of beautiful seedlings from that group as well. The plant in my yard is about to start blooming and I hope to make many hand crosses with it this year. It's fun to go back and recapture some of my old breeding lines and extend them in new directions. There certainly are more kinds of very dark semps to use in crosses these days. What fun!

Kevin
[Last edited by valleylynn - Jun 29, 2012 4:18 PM (+)]
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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Jun 29, 2012 4:24 PM CST

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Which of your semps are you still looking for Kevin?

Can you explain the process of pollinating the semps? How do you choose the mother plant?
How do you choose the father plant.

When do you know the blooms are ready to pollinate?

I love hearing the stories behind the names.

Today I took photos of all the semps that are blooming today. The beds are so pretty right now with all the bloom color.
Name: Kevin Vaughn
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
JungleShadows
Jun 30, 2012 1:41 PM CST
Lynn,

OK here's the pollinating question answer.

The biggest problem in MA was getting the pollen to the right state as we had fairly heavy dew in the morning, but not so here. In MA I would often take a piece of the blooming stem into the house for the pollen to develop. Here it seem to mature ~9AM in the morning and be quite fluffy and the insects don't seem so tenacious in the way they gathered pollen like they did in MA as there seems to be plenty at least until noon. It does mature earlier as we get into warmer days. If you live in a different climate put a bag over the pollen parent or bring a branch inside for the pollen to mature.

The pod parent needs to be covered so the insects don't pollinate them. The day before the flower is to open remove all the anthers on the flower to be pollinated. I use Dumont #5 tweezers as they have a very fine tip and you can just pluck them right off. I only remove the pollen containing areas, not the whole stamen as that injures the flower less. In the Jovibarbas I remove the petals too as they get in the way of fertilization. You will notice that the stigmas sort of glistens the morning the flower will open as it has a little bit of secretion that will aid in pollen germination. Using a fine paint brush or by holding a blossom with pollen rub it on the stamens and then re-cover the pod parent. I generally remove the other flowers on that area of the stem that I have not hand pollinated just to make sure I'm not confused when it comes time to gather the seed. Often i will repeat the cross the next morning just to make sure that I did get some pollen on those stigma. I also tend to pollinate all flowers on a given branch of a stalk so as to have more chances for successful pollinations. I have found that relatively few semps, even hybrids are completely sterile. A few do have greatly reduced normal pollen, however.

Leave the bag on the stalk until the flower has withered and then allow to ripen as usual.

My still searching list:

Silvertone, Greenwich Time, Dusky, Michael, Devil's Advocate, Royal Flush, Pistachio, Sharon's Pencil and Prairie Sunset plus Polly Bishop's Pink Lemonade. A couple of these might be in England and I'm ordering from them this summer.

While I'm writing I was wondering if any of you had ordered from Alpine Gardens in WI. I sent $2 for a list back in April but haven't received anything yet. Odd that I didn't even get a list back as they advertised in the NARGS Quarterly. Anyway, comments from any on that source would be welcome!

Ordered two more pallets of stone to make raised beds and hope to fill the ugly graveled area created by the former owner into pretty garden beds.

Kevin

Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Jun 30, 2012 1:58 PM CST

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I will have to give pollination a try Kevin, just to see if I can do it. : )

I can't wait to see you new beds all planted up. Let me know if I can come help.

Kevin do you have a link for that nursery?

I'll keep a watch for the above list of semps.

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