Many years ago the then owner of DUNO, bred a Sarco. hartmannii of unusually strong growth with flowers to match. On seeing the seedling in flower and being assured it was indeed genuine Robert Lewry’s response was “BS”, or words to that effect. In most regards it resembled the species so, despite being such an unusually robust example, was readily accepted as genuine. Down the track it was Awarded and named S. hartmannii ‘Bee Ess’ HCC/AOC a slight variation on the name but in keeping with the ”BS” connotation.
The parents used were S. hartmannii ‘Snow White’ (a Blue Knob style seedling from Ken Russell) and S. hartmannii ‘Red Snow’ (a superior Numinbah form). He grew on sixty or more of the seedlings, all of which progressed normally except for one which really tested his patience, being slow to grow and the last to flower. All was forgiven, however, when its stunning first flowers were revealed!
However S. hartmannii ‘Bee Ess’ continues to be a slow plant to grow to a substantial size and it can at times prove difficult to flower well. In some seasons it is shy to flower while in others it can be a bit bunched. As a parent it has been successful in passing on its robust character with the progeny being highly sought-after for both breeding and display.
Species breeding - exceptional babies.
The Selfing of S. hartmannii ‘Bee Ess’ proved to be strokes of inspired breeding. As the first seedlings began to flower it could even be said that a new pinnacle in S. hartmannii line-breeding had been reached. These Selfings varied, as is the usual nature of siblings, but on average were superior to S. hartmannii ‘Bee Ess’ itself, being equally robust but with improved flowers better displayed and less bunchy on the raceme. I was fortunate to obtain two flasks of the Selfings from which the better seedlings were then selected for use in future breeding programs. These I called ‘Baby BS’ as it was important to differentiate the Selfings from S. hartmannii ‘Bee Ess’ itself. Of those selected seedlings the best examples included S. hartmannii‘Baby BS #2’ AM/ANOS and S. hartmannii ‘Baby BS Wow’ both of which have proved to be worthy parents.
In further species breeding the Selfings have been crossed with S. hartmannii ‘Red Snow’, S. hartmannii ‘Gold Spot’ and the like, an example being S. hartmannii ‘Beaut’ which is (S. hartmannii ‘Gold Spot’ x S. hartmannii ‘Baby BS Wow’). As well, the Selfings have been crossed amongst themselves resulting in crosses such as (S. hartmannii‘Baby BS #3’ x S. hartmannii ‘Baby BS #2’). I have called seedlings of this cross S. hartmannii ‘BBS #3 x #2 …...’ to denote their continuing affinity with S. hartmannii ‘Bee Ess’ but it’s all getting rather too complicated.
Breeding which involves S. hartmannii ‘Bee Ess’ and its progeny requires extra patience, the seedlings taking longer to mature than I would have expected, but breeding continues, and patience is rewarded with outstanding results.
Hybrid breeding - the obvious next step
Good examples of line-bred S. hartmannii are hard to beat but as hybridisers we like to imagine the next step, their use in hybrid breeding with its endless possibilities. Of the several hybrids flowered to date using S. hartmannii ‘Bee Ess’ and its Selfings many have been white with a red centre, but the flowers are large and shapely with great texture and a special ‘presence’. Further, these hybrids are almost always crystalline and glimmer in the light when fresh. To a lesser extent other colours are showing up, the most notable being the clear yellows and splashes of S. Galaxy. Selected seedlings from these hybrids have now been used in further breeding with many of their progeny now in spike to flower this year.
As each generation matures and flowers the best seedlings become parents in both species line-breeding and hybridising programs giving growers the excitement and anticipation which accompanies each flowering cycle. No doubt S. hartmannii ‘Bee Ess’ and its progeny will continue to play such a role in the future development of modern Sarcochilus. And it all started with the arrival of a special S. hartmannii seedling named ‘Bee Ess’!
Neil Finch, the founder of DUNO and proud breeder of S. hartmannii ‘Bee Ess’ has most helpfully detailed its early history and parentage.
Callyn Farrell, now the owner of DUNO, has kindly provided invaluable assistance in the researching and writing of this article.
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