R. 'Lem's Cameo'
Edwin C. Brockenbrough, M.D., Seattle, WA
R. 'Lem's Cameo'
Photo by E. C. Brockenbrough, M.D.
Although 'Lem's Cameo' first bloomed in 1959 and has been highly prized by the few growers fortunate enough to own a propagation. It has only recently received very widespread attention. Since its first public debut this spring in the Seattle and Tacoma shows, there has been such interest in the plant that it seems worthwhile to tell something of its story to those who may not yet be familiar with it.
The cross is listed as 'Dido' x 'Anna' but it seems more probable that 'Dido' was the pollen parent, since little or no pollen can be obtained from 'Anna'. The trusses are enormous, containing 22-25 seven-lobed frilled florets in a well spaced, dome-shaped head. The color can probably best be described as a pink-cream blend with a red flare in the throat. Unlike most plants with such large flowers, the branches are quite stout and hold the trusses upright. 'Lem's Cameo' is a prolific bloomer and begins when still a small plant. It doesn't develop its largest trusses, however, until the plant reaches a height of three or four feet.
The new growth is an attractive deep bronze color, and quite glossy, but loses some of its distinctiveness as it matures. The plant is a good but not robust grower and the foliage has a tendency to reflect adverse conditions earlier than more vigorous hybrids. It is also moderately difficult to propagate and does not make a great quantity of cutting wood, explaining its limited distribution.
'Lem's Cameo' was awarded the A. E. in 1968 and was nominated for the Superior Plant Award this past spring. A four foot plant displayed by Don McClure at the 1971 Seattle Show was a crowd stopper and, in stiff competition, was awarded trophies for the best Washington State hybrid and the best hybrid plant exhibited by an amateur. A truss exhibited by Britt Smith at the Tacoma Show the same weekend was selected as the Best Truss in Show. In a recent poll of the Seattle Chapter membership, 'Lem's Cameo' made its first appearance in the "top twenty" favorite plants and outstripped all others on the "want list." Unfortunately, although several nurserymen are propagating it. I am sure it will be some time before the demand is met.
Of the many outstanding hybrids that the late Halfdan Lem produced during his lifetime, 'Lem's Cameo' may well be the best. According to Mrs. Lem there were only four seedlings from that cross raised to maturity. Of the remaining three, one has not yet bloomed, one is distinctly inferior, and one is an only average garden plant. I think this is a cross clearly worth repeating and will try to get some seed for the next Seed Exchange. Maybe an even better one will turn up in some fortunate member's garden!