My sweet Wester Flisk

Discussion in 'Plants: Nomenclature and Taxonomy' started by chuckrkc, Mar 11, 2006.

  1. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    Often the cultivar names of plants fester in my brain, making me wonder who or what is commemorated by them. This especially happens when it is a plant I take a hankering toward, like Helleborus foetidus ‘Wester Flisk.’ I found this information on the Royal Horticultural Society’s Web site http://www.gardening.org.uk/whatson/gardens/harlowcarr/archive/harlowcarrpom04jan.asp

    “This cultivar group has strikingly red-tinted stems and leaf stalks with greyish-green leaves. The plant from which the group is derived originated at Wester Flisk on the Firth of Tay, discovered by Mrs Mamie Walker in the early 1970s in her rectory garden. This garden had previously been tended by Rev Dr John Fleming in the early 1800s, who was a Professor of Natural Philosophy at Aberdeen, with a keen interest in botany. It is possible that the professor was responsible for bringing the plant to Wester Flisk from Spain, where similar plants occur in the wild.”

    I had to translate some of the Scottish references. Flisk is a rural parish in Scotland. The Firth of Tay is an estuary of the River Tay, Scotland’s longest river, which empties onto the east coast. It is in the general region of St. Andrews, where there is a botanic garden worthy of more recognition, by some accounts, and also some golf course favored by U.S. politicians.

    I like H. foetidus because it stands up so I can see it and its blooms are on top, also where I can see them. I like the fine palmate leaves, too, and the ‘Wester Flisk’ grayish-green leaves provide a good contrast.

    There are some H. Foetidus ‘Wester Flisk’ descendants that I would like to hear about, if anyone has any experience with them. Are these plants garden stars?

    H. foetidus 'Piccadilly' -- (Plant Delights) “From our friends Dick and Judith Tyler, we obtained this unique seedling that originated in the garden of Piccadilly Farm's Sam and Carleen Jones of Ga.”

    H. foetidus 'Sopron' -- A selection of the above species made by famous Hellebore explorer, Will Mclewin of Manchester England.

    H. foetidus 'Frenchy' -- Discovered by a friend of Sunshine Farms’s Barry Glick in the French Alps, it has delicate, lacy, silvery foliage with red tinges and interesting red veining on the floral sheaths, says the Web site catalog.

    H. foetidus ‘Red Silver’ -- Nursery owner Ernie O’Byrne in Eugene, Ore., introduced this cross between ‘Wester Flisk’ and ‘Sopran.’ “very narrow, slightly toothed foliage with a silvery sheen and red petioles. The flowers almost always have a large band of red on the distal end (bottom),” says Dirk Van der Werff’s Web site. This sounds wonderful.

    Chuck
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2006
  2. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    Why **** out the other Tyler's name? I am sure the quote from Plant Delights was correct.

    Any experience with the cultivars?
     
  3. silver_creek

    silver_creek Active Member

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    Chuck, I have heard that Wester Flisk can be more difficult and shorter lived than seedling H. foetidus. Have you had that experience?
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I don't think it was purposeful. We have some obscenity filters in place that the software does automatically (I've removed that particular one, but I don't think we'll run into the same problem with other censored words).
     
  5. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Re: O.T. word filter

    Daniel, I had it happen to me in a private message
    sent yesterday. I found the name "Dick" as in Dick
    Bush would be starred out. I realize a couple of
    words I've used in the past may have been one of
    the reasons the filter was implemented but there
    are times the word in reference to a familiar name
    is legitimate.

    Jim
     
  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Re: O.T. word filter

    Absolutely not. It had nothing to do with what anyone on here has said in the past - it was a preventative measure installed for the time while I'm on vacation.
     
  7. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    I think I have heard something similar, too. My Wester Flisks are still basking in the warmth of my atrium. However, I can tell you the H. foetidus pair I bought at the same time seems to have added more new growth than the Flisks, so they seem more vigorous in that regard. I think they will produce true-to-type seeds once they are established and happy, so I am looking forward to that.
     
  8. AlanE

    AlanE Member

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    It is extremely gratifying to find people interested in Helleborus foetidus Wester Flisk and it's origins. I now own Wester Flisk and am very glad to report that the hellebore continues to thrive -indeed it pops up all over the garden! It is particularly fond of growing in the gravel on the south side of the house where it is sunny and warm (this differs form the standard helleborus foetidus which is more fond of cool shady conditions) and this perhaps reflects the putative Mediterranean origins of the plant. Indeed it often appears growing well in the mortar joints of the garden wall!

    The clumps appear to be reasonably long lived, they seed very well and they provide most welcome robust flowers from November through to March. I am delighted to report that Mrs Walker who described the plant also continues to thrive and is a regular visitor. I note that some of the posts here describe growing both Helleborus foetidus along with the Wester Flisk variety, however whenever Maimie visits she always pulls out any stray standard H. foetidus as the ever promiscuous hellebores are very prone to cross and this will result in poor quality offspring with weak (and eventually no) colouration.
     
  9. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    I have a bed of H. foetidus about 30 feet away from my Wester Flisk prize. Do you think they are far enough apart not to contaminate pollination? I hate to take out the plain old stinking hellebores since they were quite cheery over the winter and the Wester Flisk hasn't gotten a winter to show its mettle.

    I am not good at tearing out "inferior" seedlings, I fear.
     
  10. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    By the way, it sounds like Mrs. Walker is getting around well. Do you have a little more filled-out story about how H. foetidus 'Wester Flisk' came to world renoun? Please tell her how pleased I am and other people are with the precious thing.
     
  11. AlanE

    AlanE Member

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    I have sent a couple of photographs of H. foetidus Wester Flisk (including one a young plant thriving in a mortar join in the garden wall) to Daniel Mosquin; he may post them.

    I would be wary of cross polination between the hellebores at a distance only 30 feet. That's not far for a bee! You will find out if your Wester Flisk seedlings lose their stem and petiole colour!

    Next time I speak to Maimie I will try to find out more about her discovery.
     
  12. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    Could you describe your garden at Wester Flisk, or a part of it? Maybe there is a part that particularly attracted you to it? Is Wester Flisk a large place?
     
  13. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  14. AlanE

    AlanE Member

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    Not too vast! About 3 acres with a couple that are more seriously gardened. The sheltered walled garden clinched it for us. The garden was "post-mature" when we took it over and I have spent some time making new beds and restoring the old beds. There are mixed areas-rhododenderons and azaleas, woodland areas (with a sprinkling of trilliums that are proving rather slow to establish) and a new late border with asters, rudbeckias and sedums.
     
  15. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    I think a walled garden would be wonderful. I can see it would protect the garden from the wind and allow you to push a zone or two. It sounds beautiful. It is heartening that someone with a bent for gardening took over a home with a garden. The brushes I have had with real estate suggest to me that real estate agents don't often assign value to gardens.

    I like the term "post mature."

    I feel a little self conscious, this thread named "My sweet Wester Flisk" when Wester Flisk isn't mine at all. You are generous to share.

    I have two trilliums that I am pleased survived the winter.
     
  16. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    From the book on Hellebores by Graham Rice and Elizabeth Strangham, page 110:

    "Mrs. Mamie Walker discovered this form when she moved ot Wester Flisk, an old Scottish rectory near Newburgh on the south side of the Firsth of Tay in Fife, in the early 1970s. She passed it on to Helen Ballard, who exhibited it at the RHS in 1980 when 'the committee felt that this plant was typical of the red-stemmed variants of the species' and did not give it an award. ...

    "Mrs. Walker, who at one time sent cut hellebores to Covent Garden on the train frm Perth, has noticed that in wet seasons the colour is less well developed than in dry ones. ...

    "In the last century the rectory at Wester Flisk was occupied by the Rev. Dr. John Fleming, professor of natural philosophy at Aberdeen University and later of natural sciences at Queen's College, Edinburgh. He lived at Wester Flisk from 1811 to 1832, and although his main interest was geology botany was also among his enthusiasms. Whether or not the professor had a special interest in the flora of Spain, we have not been able to discover, but Richard Nutt tells us that he has seen forms of H. Foetidus similar to 'Wester Flisk' growing in norhteast Spain. It seems possible that it came to the rectory via the professor and possible the botanic garden at Aberdeen or Edinburgh."

    Thsi is only a rough outline. I bet Mrs. Walker could still fill us in on some interesting and colorful stories.
     

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