White House Horticulturist Tells All about Amazon!
Celosia “Amazon” is a flower that I have grown for several years, and we also offer the seed for sale. It is one of those great staple flowers in the garden that is so reliable and uniform I just plain take it for granted. It is tall, growing over 8 feet in our garden. A single plant can produce over 80 stems of flowers in a season. Its flower is a two-tone magenta spike-type bloom. Its foliage has streaks of burgundy that turns even deeper colors in the fall. It’s like a nice quiet neighbor, just nice to have around.
Well here’s the beginning of the scoop: For years the story was that the plant had been discovered in the Amazon region. But some years ago, a story began circulating in the cut-flower-grower circles that Amazon didn’t really come from the Amazon. It was just named that because it grows so big and produces so many stems. This story seemed likely, so it stuck–
–until Thursday, Feb 21, 2008 at the Maymont Flower and Garden Show before the doors opened to the public. I was in my booth, busy getting ready for the grand opening, while the gardens were being judged by a panel of experts that included Wayne Amos, horticulturist of the White House. After the judging was completed, he came by my booth with one of our customers to check out our Cramer’s Lime Green Cockscomb seed. After looking it over, he offered that I should try growing a variety of Celosia called Amazon.
I said “I not only have grown it for years but also sold the seed”. He then offered, “You know it came from the Amazon.”
I replied, “We’ve been told in fact it didn’t, that it’s just named that because it grows so large.”
He said, “I brought the seed back from the Amazon.” I was stunned, and replied, “Really? We love that plant!”
He then shared the moment he spotted this amazing plant—- while powdering his nose in the bush he caught sight of this plant with variegated leaves and beautiful flowers. Lucky for all of us, the plant had begun to go to seed. He collected seeds and brought them back to the states.
He passed the seeds along to several garden enthusiasts, one of which made its way to Mr. Cramer, a cut flower farmer.
And that was the beginning of Cramer’s Amazon. To learn more about Amazon, visit my online garden shop.
Lisa Mason Ziegler is a commercial cut-flower farmer in Newport News, Virginia; she lectures and writes about organic and sustainable gardening. You can email Lisa at email@example.com, call her at 757-877-7159 or visit her website www.shoptgw.com.