Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Random plant event: Two coleuses with memory problems

These are not nearly as impressive as the three-leafed one from a few days back, but still worthy of attention.

The first is a 'Gays Delight' that forgot what variety it was for a moment, before remembering and going on. One pair of leaves -- but only the one pair of leaves -- looks a lot like 'Merlot' (in person, you can even tell that the color is detectably different from the sort of brick red in the "normal" leaves; the photo doesn't really show this that well), but the stuff before and after that pair look just like all the others. I didn't buy it, but I did notice it.

The second one is a 'Kong Rose' that has forgotten how to make a color. The normal 'Kong Rose' has very large (up to 8" long, the tag says) leaves in three colors: a sort of fuchsia near the center, a chartreuse margin, and a dark red in between the two. We got plugs in this spring, and of the 36 plugs we got, one of them has forgotten how to make the fuchsia color. The result is a leaf that develops a weird, ink-stain-on-a-wet-paper-towel burgundy line, and is otherwise more or less chartreuse.

I've gone back and forth about whether or not I find it an attractive plant in its own right. At the moment, I lean toward no, it's not especially pretty.

Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Kong Rose' (L) and the sport, which I hereby designate S. s. 'Kong Aline.' (R) The sport is larger than the regular 'Kong Rose' plants just because these are the last of the 'Kong Roses:' we'd been putting the biggest ones out for sale first, and we're now at the end of the batch, so only the runtiest ones remain. Also -- and this may or may not be significant -- 'Aline' has always been slightly bigger than the others.

But I bought it anyway. Partly, this is because I like to have plants that I'm fairly sure nobody else has, even if they're not particularly interesting plants. But also it's because I have something of a soft spot for the plants that I can see trying to think for themselves. It's sort of the same logic that causes you to praise the short story your eleven-year-old just wrote even though it's a transparent rip-off of the last two movies s/he saw and they misspelled the main character's name throughout. At least s/he's trying.

We'll see how 'Kong Aline' develops over the summer, assuming I don't inadvertently kill it first.


Garden Devi said...

I do so love sports - I do the same thing. Then again I am a collector of most thinsg plants and animals that just dont look quite right.

I love how you phrased it , a lant who's trying to think for it's self. That is always how I have viewed a few of my favorite plant friends.

Anonymous said...

Who says everything has to be pretty? I like interesting, myself, and that's an interesting Coleus.

I'll take character in a man's face over pretty any day; same with my plants.

'm just sayin'...


Ivynettle said...

Oh yessss... collecting the "unique" plants... that's how I ended up with a coleus recently. It was probably just a stray seed that ended up with the "Wizard Mixed" ones, but it was unique in our greenhouse, so off it went into my "private" corner and then to my balcony. Days after I'd sworn I wouldn't start buying coleuses after talking with a guy who used to collect them. Bad enough I'm collecting ivy cultivars.

Lance said...

I like the oddities too - the Japanese phrase Wabi-Sabi refers to the beauty of things imperfect - or the art of perfecting the imperfections. Something - only ready about it.

I like the stain, it's interesting - like a bleach that only worked on the fuchsia.