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NZ Gardener - 2021-10-01

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The most elusive colour

PLANTS

Plant breeders are always trying to create a colour break from the normal shades, so rose growers try to create a blue rose and magnolia breeders want a true red. In the hydrangea world, we’re looking for yellow and I thought I’d found it. Peter Wharton from the Botanical Garden Vancouver sent me seeds collected in Taiwan. The plant forms a wide shrub with bristly thumb size leaves and rich golden yellow lacecap flowers. American colleagues were desperate to grow this plant and when I sent them cuttings, it refused to perform and came up with white flowers. I’ve tried hybridising it with other species in the hope I could transfer the yellow genes, but no luck so far.

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