Wednesday Vignette. My Latest Extravagance.

 Calycanthus  x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’

This is a new and extremely rare hybrid between Calycanthus floridus and the beautiful  Chinese Sinocalycanthus. I used to grow Calycanthus occidentalis and the flowers were small and a rather disappointing rusty red. I found  Sinocalycanthus was stunning, but a bit tricky.  I hope this will be less temperamental. These flowers are large and blood-red and sumptuous. It  looks a little bit like a red Magnolia. They are supposed to be lightly scented, but they smell of pepper to me.

This plant grows into a medium-sized shrub. It needs that well-known oxymoronic sort of  soil they call: ‘moist, but well drained’.  It must be fertile and humus-rich. It is said to be hardy in a sheltered position.

Actually, it wasn’t so much of an extravagance. The nursery where I bought it only had one. They didn’t know what it was, or how much it cost. In the end they let me have it for a very modest sum. I feel I should go back and offer them more money.

Who wouldn’t break open their piggy bank for this beauty?

Today I am joining in with the Wednesday Vignette meme hosted by Flutterandhum blog.

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51 Responses to Wednesday Vignette. My Latest Extravagance.

  1. Christina says:

    that’s a gorgeous colour! Well done you for knowing what it was!

  2. It looks like a hybrid we have here called ‘Hartlage Wine’.

  3. Silly me…I just saw you have the name above the photo! Very pretty. Easy to grow here. Doesn’t smell sweet to me either.

    • Chloris says:

      Calycanthus is native to America and I suppose that is why they grow well for you. You don’t see them so often here and this new hybrid is very rare and difficult to get hold of. It is a beauty though Do you grow it?

      • The native grows in thickets in my woodland garden. I also have a couple Hartlage Wine which where given to me last spring by a plant producer, but they are small yet and not blooming. And yes, the cross is well-known here and grown by many who value something “a bit different” and take to trouble to look for something new. The plant came out of the hort program at North Carolina State University; with the cross made in the early 90s by a student of Dr. JC Raulston named Richard Hartlage. The species name honors Raulston who helped develop and introduce the plant to the trade. Sadly, JC died in a car accident in December 1996 when he was only 56. He is much revered for his work and is best known for expanding plant selection in the trade by providing new plants to nurserymen. He was an only child and single and I remember the NY Times obit said he was survived by hundreds of friends and thousands of plants. Even now, 20 years later, he is a giant among gardeners in our region. I’m thrilled you have this little bit of Carolina in your garden.

      • Chloris says:

        Thank you so much for this Marian, I am always fascinated to learn stories about plant breeders. This was all new to me. I am going to write about this for my garden club website and now I have all the information I need.

  4. pbmgarden says:

    Great purchase. It is lovely.

  5. What a beauty, how lucky it was you that spotted it in the nursery and recognised such a rarity for what it was.

    • Chloris says:

      I had just been reading about it and so that is why I recognised it. I know Calycanthus occidentalis because I have grown it before,but this is far more beautiful.

  6. Sam says:

    What a lucky find. Beautiful flower colour and shape against the leaves. It sounds far too demanding for our garden, sadly, where the soil is definitely well-drained but rarely moist for long. Don’t feel too bad about the price – you’ve given it a good home and if the nursery didn’t know what it was, it may well have been consigned to the bargain bin anyway.

  7. It must be a hybrid by JC Raulston. How wonderful. We always called them Sweet Shrub and they grow like weeds in the woods in the Southeast US.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, Marian from Hortitopia has kindly filled me in on the background to this plant, it was all new to me. They are quite rare here, I don’ t know anyone who grows it.

  8. Julie says:

    What a really beautiful colour, I can see why you are so thrilled. Oxymoronic is a great description for that ever needed soil condition, folk with nutrient rich clay must despair.

  9. annamadeit says:

    Oh, that is lovely! I’m a big fan of those flowers too – so beautiful, and they seem to last a long time. Thanks for joining in, Chloris! 🙂

  10. Chloris says:

    I’ m glad to hear that these beautiful flowers are longlasting. And there are more buds still to open. All I need now is to find a spot with moist but well drained soil.

  11. gardenfancyblog says:

    What lovely, deep red flowers! And amazingly, this shrub is actually hardy (not just the “hardy” that many British garden writers call plants that can stand a bit of frost), but actually hardy to Z5 or Z6, according to various listings. Thanks for letting us know about it, and for showing how beautiful it is. -Beth

  12. Alison says:

    I have the North American native species here, but mine has never flowered. It keeps getting bigger every year, though, so maybe soon. Those flowers are spectacular. It does look very much like a red Magnolia.

  13. It really is a beauty and a phenomenal colour. How lucky and clever you were!

  14. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I fell in love with this when I saw it a few years ago. The poor thing is still sitting in a nursery pot but doing very well and blooming. They’re very popular here and I’ve seen them in quite a few gardens of people who like unusual plants. Sinocalycanthus seems much more of a rarity here and I feel lucky that, despite my ignorance and neglect, mine has grown very well for about nine years now and needs to be pruned.

  15. Now that is a gorgeous plant.

  16. Chloris says:

    It is stunning, a really gorgeous colour.

  17. hb says:

    A beautiful plant, not one that grows in my region, so I enjoyed seeing yours.

  18. Kris P says:

    What a lucky find! I’ve long admired the genus. There is a western species (C. occidentalis) but I seldom see it in garden centers and its water requirements make it a poor choice at present. I looked it up in my western garden guide, though, and was amused to find the scent described as “the fragrance of an old wine barrel”!

  19. Chloris says:

    The fragrance of an old wine barrel is a good description. It is a peppery, musty smell.

  20. Cathy says:

    It is intriguing to read the comments and realise that most of our US blogging friends know the plant and yet those this side of the Atlantic have never heard of it! Makes you wonder what else might be hiding at that nursery though…

    • Chloris says:

      I keep an eye on all the nurseries round here, you never know what may turn up. This plant seems so exotic here, but as you say it is a very familiar one in America.

  21. rusty duck says:

    What a beauty. No, never heard of it either. But having searched for it a bit I found a couple of (expensive) suppliers. It really does look lovely. Good find!

  22. Flighty says:

    Lovely flower. A good find. xx

  23. Worth every penny! (But I don’t think you should go back and offer more money.) Is this a fragrant flower?

    • Chloris says:

      Well, I probably won’ t go and offer them more money, I do like a bargain and you don’ t often get one at nurseries. It smells of pepper; a bit musty.

  24. Jim Stephens says:

    Many years ago, when I was working on a nursery whose name I cannot mention, an American gentleman came in, let it be known that he’d had a look around and that he approved of what he saw and asked me whether I would like a rooted cutting of a new plant that he had brought with him from America. I was given a two inch bare stick with roots on the bottom. I grew it on for a number of years and eventually propagated many more from it to sell on the nursery. The plant was Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’. Sadly I don’t know who the American gentleman was, perhaps Richard Hartlage himself. I always regarded it as an act of great generosity and only wish I still had a plant of it now I am retired. I have seen another related variety, called ‘Venus’, which is beautiful and I believe there are others.

    • Chloris says:

      How fascinating, so it looks as if we have you to thank for it then. It is still rare in this country but perhaps now it will become better known. I am intrigued by Venus, this is new to me too. Thank you for your comment.

  25. snowbird says:

    What a smashin’ bargain! Given that they didn’t know what it was you certainly shouldn’t offer more money….what a hawk eye you have!!! A real beauty, lucky you!xxx

  26. Dave says:

    Certainly, it seems odd in this age that a plant that is common (but largely ignored) in one area is rare in another. I have planted a variety of sweetshrubs, including ‘Hartlage Wine’, in a range from dry shade to waterlogged full sun, and from this experience it’s difficult to imagine it could be difficult in any circumstance.

    • Chloris says:

      From the comments it seems that this plant is well known in the States but here it is very rare. I have never come across it before and I spend a lot of time browsing at nurseries. I am glad to hear that it is not difficult.

  27. Anna says:

    Now that’s a beauty which was most well spotted by your eagle eyes. I came across a snippet about it recently in ‘The Garden’ and was struck by the colour of the flower in the accompanying photo.

  28. Lucky, lucky you! This is beautiful. 🙂

  29. Margaret Clare says:

    I have just checked my Hartlage Wine shrub in the greenhouse – one bud! last year … wait for it … 2 buds. The previous ones didn’t even make it to budding. I read all the comments about this plant and cannot understand why something that apparently ‘grows like a weed’ in some places, is so unbelievably picky for me. Sigh ….

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