'Haag's Peppermint': A Seed Exchange Success Story
Brevard, North Carolina
According to our records, seeds of this cross were planted in early January 1973 and grown under fluorescent lights for a period of about 10 weeks. They were then transplanted into Flat #14, four rows or approximately 40 seedlings, along with four other crosses.
As we developed a schedule to fit into our retirement schedule, the seedlings were grown on in flats until May when frost no longer threatened. The lights and bench were draped with plastic to conserve heat and moisture. Seedlings were watered with sprinkling can of very dilute 20-20-20 Peters fertilizer often.
In May, the flats were placed outdoors in an area we call the Niche. The Niche is an area approximately 12 x 25 feet, cut into the north slope of the mountain, evidently for fill by some previous owner. The area provided a perfect shield against sun and wind. The flats were seldom watered as our average rainfall is 79 inches annually.
In winter the flats were covered with a wire hoop made of concrete reinforcing wire. This was in turn covered with a heavy nylon cloth, a by-product of a local weaving mill. Thus protected from the worst of the elements, they lived or died that first winter. Our winters normally register a -10°F to -12°F. However, 1985 recorded much worse with high winds and separated the weak from the strong. Recent winters have been very mild, but our weather can be very erratic - warm in February and March and then a plunge to 12°F. That really separates the "men from the boys."
'Haag's Peppermint', ARS Seed Exchange No. 73-509, was
grown by Russ and Velma Haag. It is an August Kehr cross
[('Pygmalion' x R. haematodes ) x R. yakushimanum , Exbury form].
These seedlings were planted out in Bed 18, Row 2, last ⅓ of row or approximately 8-10 plants. Beds approximately 25 feet long and 4 feet wide are planted with four rows of seedlings, spaced approximately 10 inches to 1 foot apart, averaging 100 seedlings to a bed - all this information recorded. Plants are not coddled and remain here until a very few are selected. There they grow with little attention except weeding. Only a summer or two have we had to water. A gravity flow pipe from our waterfall provided enough water to operate two home sprinklers - when they weren't stopped up with silt.
The years go by and each winter we anticipate our spring bloom. From over 100 beds, 25 of which have been planted a second time, we select 20 or so seedlings to move and evaluate. The number 83 (year)- 5 was the number given the plant which was later named 'Haag's Peppermint'* in 1987 when a local nurseryman wanted names for all our seedlings which he was growing.
Others of our plants which are making a name for themselves are 'Great Smoky'* a cross of R. vernicosum 18139 x 'Hardy Giant'; 'Whitewater North Carolina', a cross of 'Catalgla' x ( R. fortunei x 'Madonna'); 'Gratuity',* a cross of R. calostrotum x 'Arctic Pearl'; and the very popular 'Blue Ridge', a cross of 'Russautinii' x Gable's R. augustinii . All these crosses were made in New Jersey during the '60s.
I should like to express my thanks to Dr. Kehr's establishing the ARS Pollen Bank. That service has expedited hybridization many fold. Until its formation, it was a long process growing plants to obtain your desired pollen.
Velma and Russ Haag are members of the Southeastern Chapter. Their plant 'Haag's Peppermint' may be offered for sale at the ARS Annual Convention this spring in Asheville, N.C.
Editor's Note: * Unregistered but not in conflict with a registered name.