Southern Indiana Living

JUL-AUG 2018

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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Jul/Aug 2018 • 11 better known for pig pottery pick that day and place to become part of horticultural history? Mysteries, indeed, and mostly unsolvable. But all that really matters is that Harriet and Amy agreed this plant was special, dug it up and took it home to Anna, where they shared it with neigh- bors and friends — the classic "pass- along" plant. It didn't have a name yet — and naming it Harriet or Kirkpatrick never would have worked — but it became a fa- vorite all over the Anna community, and even in surrounding towns. So fast-forward about 50 years to a legendary plantsman, Joseph C. McDan- iel, a professor of horticulture at the Uni- versity of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Much of what people like McDan- iel do is wander the world seeking new plants, new cultivars and new stuff. In this care he didn't have to go too far as he first saw this incredible snowball hydrangea in 1960 growing in a garden in Urbana. He cared enough to run down its history, learned it was first found near Anna and ventured over to find to learn more about. He met with Hubbard Kirk- patrick, Harriet's son, who told him of his mom's fabled horseback ride. McDaniel also found clumps of then original planting still alive 50 years later. Being well-connected to the whole- sale gardening world, in 1962 he helped introduce the plant to the rest of us. His first thought was to name the plant "Ballerina" because ot its very round shape — which, upon second thought, does not seem to say nice things about ballerinas. But considering its history, and the ladies who first brought it to light, he introduced it under the under the name ... drum roll here …'Annabelle.' The story doesn't end there, either. Annabelle, go figure, became way too popular. It had too many things going for it, and believe it or not, people began to get tired of those same old white snowball blooms. Thus plant geeks and geneticists went to work to develop an even bet- ter Annabelle — the first being patented plants commercially named "Incrediball" and "Invincibelle Spirit." Yes, the innocent fun was be- ing lost in all this, but big money was involved. What was Annabelle became Hydrangea Incrediball — arborescens 'Abetwo'PP#20,571 — the sexiest name in the plant business. It was touted as having presidentially "huge" flowers more than a foot in diameter on stronger, non-floppy stems that bloom all summer and fall. What became Invincebelle Spirit, or 'NACH1' in the plant business world, was developed at the North Carolina State University's Mountain Horticulture Crops Research Station. It was "the first pink" Annabelle, although the jury is still out on its retail possibilities, if not its pink- ness. This led, of course, to an Invin- cibelle Spirit II, a second-generation hydrangea with stronger stems and ac- tual pink flowers that can be grown from "Manitoba to Mobile." The good news is Anna, Illinois, now has an annual "Annabelle Festival," featuring the usual car shows, art exhibits, live music, carriage rides, flower shows, an Opera Fest and, yes, an Annabelle hy- drangea exhibit. Harriet Kirkpatrick rides on. • Bob Hill owns Hidden Hill Nursery and can be reached at farmerbob@ hiddenhillnursery.com. For more information, including nursery hours and event information, go to www.hiddenhillnursery. com About the Author One day in 1910 she was out horseback-riding in the nearby woods with her sister-in-law, Amy, and saw this wild hydrangea bursting with those white, snowball blooms. 'Annabelle' Hydrangea

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