2018, November 24th at 17:31 #22011PaulParticipant
Came across some seedlings while exploring D. Steve Varner’s 8 acres. They are not the typical peony which one sees in catalogs so I’m wondering if they are just ‘junk’ which should be discarded or if there is an interest in what I consider novelty type peonies.
2018, November 26th at 01:30 #22020BobParticipant
I’m not sure there is anything special about these flowers per say , but as they are seedlings, given some of the things that Steve was using as parents in his breeding program, if we knew what the parents were they might be of interest to hybridizers.
I know that Steve formally registered several varieties with interesting parentages, but as far as I know, none of them ever entered commercial distribution. In your explorations, were you able to identify any of his registered things ?
2018, November 26th at 02:32 #22022PaulParticipant
There were a few tags with numbers on them but since I don’t know his numbering system, the numbers aren’t much help. For example, the tag on the second picture was H21. I assume it was some type of hybrid, but not much more than that.
I’m also not sure how much faith to put in the labels. I found a marker which said ‘CONNIE’ which I assumed was his ‘Connie Varner’ but when it bloomed it was white and not hot pink as described in the registration.
That being said , I did dig some plants that I am still hopeful will be true. I dug one which was America x Moonrise #6015 which is how he registered Inspiration and another which had on the tag ‘Devoted Greta or Sib’. Another tag which intrigued me was ‘MR x S Boy’ which I am assuming is his Major Steve x Sunny Boy. I’ve probably got about 100 plants, but can’t be certain what they are or if they might even be other people’s plants. Makes me wonder if dna testing will be practical some day for plants.
2018, November 27th at 13:58 #22042khurtekantModerator
The peony images in the word document are not particularly appealing to my eyes. If they would be growing in my seedling field, I’m pretty sure they would be discarded. I’m not opposed against single flowered peonies, although the market for them is far smaller, but I do prefer well formed petals. The red one is more or less interesting for further hybridizing I think. A few years ago Peter Waltz registered some peonies and wrote an article about them in the APS bulletin. There was one peony that comes to mind, Red Compass Rose, that resembles its more or less, although I think I remember it having pointed petal ends. I’ve never seen it offered anywhere.
As Bob says, they may have interesting genetics in them, but if it is unknown what the parents are, then I’m not sure if it’s worthwhile keeping them. That changes if you do know it, Major Steve x Sunny Boy would be interesting for many hybridizers, even if it were a poor plant.
I’m pretty sure DNA testing will be practical in the near future. If it reasonably priced and the (partial) DNA sequence that sets it apart from all other cultivars is uploaded to a central database (the APS?) at registration time (or thereafter), then it will be possible to compare a plant to see it being true-to-name , even from bare root plants. Of course if you only have a DNA sequence from your plant and nothing to compare it with, it’s not very useful, thus I’m already appealing to the APS to make this a possibility in the future 😉 I’m not familiar with DNA sequencing, but a google search shows me that you can buy a home DNA genetic testing kit at several places for about 70-100 US$. Perhaps it’s more expensive for plants (the genome is sometimes longer). But if you’re a professional grower of peonies and you want to invest into a large number of a particular variety, it might be interesting if you could check it this way so there would not be any discussion as to what has been delivered to you. Also for discussions whether a new (protected) cultivar is different from another one (The Fawn vs Pietertje Vriend Wagenaar), it might be interesting. Not to mention that if you know where in the DNA sequence lies some resistance to some disease, you could use it to hybridize for this resistance.
Major Steve from Steve Varner is quite a breaktrough of course and there are a (very) few people that grow it (not me). Do you know anything of its history or how it is getting distributed? Since you have access to his gardens, I would suppose that you may know more about it than others?
All the best,
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