White wallflowers

I seem to be going through a thoughtful period. I am not sure quite why but it may have something to do with lots of heavy work in the garden. I hoped this would help me sleep at night but that is not the case and nightmares have been common. I mentioned the other day about worrying about the plants in the garden and that seemed to be the focus of last night’s dream. I had a collection of buttercups and they were dying. What is odd is that they were all forms of the horrendous weed, Ranunculus repens, the creeping buttercup. I know that the origin of the dream was probably that I had been weeding some of the horrors out of the garden but somehow my mind had hybridised these with the various forms of the common Lesser celandine, which have double flowers and variously coloured leaves. And so in my dream I had buttercups with purple leaves, doubles and orange-flowered forms. And I was in a panic because they were disappearing and dying.

Very strange. In other times I would say that I ought to get out more – but we aren’t allowed!

But the other thought I was having came to me when I was doing my weekly jobs photo shoot for Garden News and planting a seasonal hanging basket. It is difficult to get out to to buy anything for these shoots so I had a limited choice but managed to dig a few out of the garden and pick up a few plants including a rather strange Erysimum. It was not till I had planted it that I realised that the flowers were white. Admittedly they have a lilac eye but they are white. And I have never seen a white wallflower.

In fact I am sure they don’t exist. You can get creamy ones but no white. Chreiranthus wallflowers, the taxonomy is confusing, are in hot colours, from cream through yellow to range and red to almost purple and the perennial Erysimums now encompass mauve, red and yellow and every variation in between, but I have never seen a white.

I find this strange since white flowers – albinos – are common in most plants. And yet there are some genera that seem to resist the temptation to produce white forms. White hemerocallis are the Holy Grail of plant breeders – there are pale creams but no white. The same is true of hypericums – how I wish there was some variation from the same shade of yellow hypericum! (I know there are a few ‘citrina’ forms but they are basically resolutely hypericum yellow).

Brassicaceae is easily capable of producing white flowers – look at stocks, alyssum and so many more. So why not wallflowers. Have you known one?

And that means that this plant I bought – one of the ‘Winter’ Series that I can’t find anything about – is very strange indeed. And stranger still is that I don’t like it much!

But I promise I won’t lose sleep over it.


2 Comments on “White wallflowers”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    April 2, 2021 at 10:37 pm #

    Might you be able to keep the white going with seed?

    • thebikinggardener
      April 3, 2021 at 8:38 am #

      A lot of these perennial wallflowers do not set seed – but some do make a few pods. I have a seedling from Red Jep that I have propagated and kept so if this one does set some seed it may be interesting to see what is produced. I suspect the commercial breeders may be ahead of the curve there though!

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