The ones that get away....
I should have known not to have hogged it. I got seed of it years ago (I think I got seed from Gert Boehme in the former East Germany). The plant is very local in Uzbekistan, and I don't know anyone else who grew it. I grew the seed at home, got several plants: these pictures show the plant when it was in its glory years, some time ago:
The name: Incarvillea semiretschenskia. The lesson: share.
The Himalayas are full of wonderful incarvilleas--tiny herbaceous cousins to Catalpa. Most are herbaceous, stemless and lovely. But I've never seen one as graceful and lissome and just generally charming as this frilly queen of the steppes. And she's gone back to the wild steppes of Central Asia once more.
I don't know why I didn't bother to share germ plasm. I did give some to the propagator at work and we had a few plants at the Gardens for a couple of years. But the parent plants, the original ones that taunt me now with their feathery leaves and irridescent pink bells--I enjoyed them year after year and just let them sit there. All mine! I knew that if and when I let someone get cuttings from the abundant basal shoots in the spring, or if I gave someone some of the frustrating seed (a challenge to bust out of the rock hard seedpods), I knew that soon everyone would have it. Of course I Wanted Everyone to Have it...eventually. But in the meantime she was all mine...Mine...MINE (Brahaahahahahaha! To be shouted out with maniacal evil tones).
And now I only have a few dozen seed in an envelope from before my marriage breakup that I've not had time to sow, and Heaven only knows if it's even viable any more. Did I mention that these seed are produced in the most decorative seedpods imaginable: they look like fluted, ornamented, sculpted Christmas ornaments, and they last all summer. And they are as hard as rocks to break open to remove a smattering of seed.
The chances of getting fresh seed are pretty slim.
The moral of the story is....share. Share lots. Plants are not the province of an individual. They should not be owned by nations or countries (despite the Rome Accord). Plants--especially beautiful and easily propagated plants--should be passed around and become the universal treasure of gardeners anywhere. That is the secret of propagation. If I'd only done with this what I have done with dozens of other gems, you and I might both have it in our gardens today.
Instead, just look at those pictures and tell me if it doesn't make you feel a tad sad too...sniff.