Interaction with Phlox breeder, Charles Oliver

July 26, 2011

Over the weekend of July 9-10, graduate student Peter Zale visited and toured Primrose Path Nursery in Scottdale, Pennsylvania following a visit to the OPGC by the nursery owners. The proprietors, Charles and Martha Oliver, are well known for their breeding work with Heuchera and Tiarella, and have introduced over 25 plants to the nursery trade; some of these have attained international recognition. Primrose Path Nursery sits on over 100 acres. Spread throughout the property are numerous trial gardens, prairie restoration projects, and notably, a fully restored stone-walled house originally constructed during the early part of the 18th century. Currently the Oliver’s are experimenting with hybridization in the genus Phlox, with an emphasis on species native east of the Rocky Mountains. Their Phlox hybridization program was started 4 years ago and emphasizes hybrid crosses with increased disease resistance, and novel flower colors and plant habits, and adaptability to production through tissue culture. Numerous trial gardens contained hybrid progeny being tested and compared; some of these are being considered for introduction to the nursery trade. During the trip, we also visited a population of Phlox maculata along the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle State Park (see image below). In addition to the Phlox, there were many other interesting plants, such as: Trautvettaria caroliniensis, Marshallia grandiflora, Rhododendron arborescens, and many others. Charles also mentioned that this region is particularly rich in Phlox species, and that Phlox stolonifera, Phlox paniculata, and Phlox divaricata can also be found in many places.