Tim Roberts and myself flew into Prague on the 30th March for a three day "saxpedition". The Early Spring Show in the grounds of St. Jan Nepomucensis church is dedicated to Saxifrages, there are a few bulbs and dionysia, but 90% of the plants on show are porphyrion saxes.
Some outstanding specimen plants this year were; Ss 'Discovery', 'Naarden', and 'Evening Star'. 'Discovery' is a sister seedling to 'Naarden', some people have it labelled as 'Naarden 2', 'Naarden' (marginata x 'Magion') is strong yellow flushed Orange. 'Evening Star' (Večern?Hvězda) is a clear yellow, and a beautiful new cultivar from Karel Lang. It was good to see a well-grown plant of 'Isobel Young', it really is a strange fluorescent red.
'Wheatley Lion' was also on the bench, this seems to be a popular plant in the Czech Republic, it is a 'Mona Lisa' seedling I selected many years ago. Another British cross the Czech growers like is 'Allendale Charm' (wendelboi x poluniniana), it certainly stood out on the show bench. 'Thalia' ('W. Boyd' seedling) from F. Kraus impressed me with its strong colour and good form, it must be good, I bought one.
Jan Burgel displayed some of his new cultivars, 'Tenerife' (the same cross as 'Allendale Charm') a vigorous white flowered plant suitable for outside cultivation. 'Sherlock Holmes' looks interesting (poluniniana x kotschyi) pale yellow and very floriferous. 'Gina Lolabrigida' was outstanding, warm pink, how appropriate. (Tvuj Pritel x lowndesii). A botanically interesting plant was S. x columpoda, a wild hybrid of Ss columnaris and scleropoda from Upper Balkaria, also S. x dinninaris, an attractive hybrid of Ss dinniki x columnaris. These new binomials will be published shortly by Vojtech Holubec.
We spent a wet afternoon with Karel Lang, so many plants, old and new, grown perfectly, there must be something in the water. I was pleased to hear from Karel that he has found 'Romance' a Kraus plant we thought was lost. Mr Lang has been very busy with his paint brush, his canvas is many saxifrages, some crosses that look interesting; burseriana x dinnikii, luteo-purpurea SA21 x ACE2400, luteo-purpurea SA21 x dinnikii, marginata x columnaris, cinerea x dinnikii, diapensioides x columnaris, alpigena x columnaris, and a most interesting new cross, poluniniana x oppositifolia, if it's true, this will be the first time a kabschia has been crossed with oppositifolia.
I was pleased to see that Karel was growing some Silvers, not only growing them, but hybridising them, could this be the start of a new "Silver Age"; callosa 'Lattonica' x aizoides, 'Kathleen Pinsent' x aizoides, cartilagena x aizoides, aizoides x paniculata and aizoides x valdensis, most interesting.
Jiri Novak has a nice garden and a superb collection of saxifrages. Jiri grows some of the ACE collections from Yunnan, including ACE1714, 2401 & 2400 which is possibly pulchra.
We also spent some time with Oldrich Maixner ( I wish my Dentist had a garden full of rare alpines, I might spend more time there). Oldrich has a good collection of Himalayan saxes, Tim spent much time with his eye glass examining the finer details. I was interested to see the hybrid between clivorum and scleropoda, Oldrich made this cross several years ago, but did not name it, however it has spread around and many people are now growing it. Oldrich has chosen the name 'Merlin' for this plant.
We also visited Karel Pech who has a large collection of saxes, particularly cultivars raised by Frantisek Holenka, although the plant I came away with was 'Charles Darwin' (poluniniana x 'Martha') from Jan Burgel.
Many thanks to Jiri & Marus Novak for looking after us so well.