Best in Show

Posted on Tue., March 8, 2011 by Lisa Blackburn
"The Big O"
'The Big O'—voted "Best in Show" for blooming clivia last year.

What does it take to win "Best in Show?" The flower judges will have the answer this weekend when the North American Clivia Society presents its 8th annual Clivia Show and Sale at The Huntington. The event will be held in the Botanical Center on Saturday and Sunday, March 12–13, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

More than a hundred plants will be displayed, representing numerous species and hybrids, including Clivia miniata, the most popular late winter, spring blooming member of the genus. Experts will be on hand to answer questions about selection, cultivation, and care. In addition, vendors will have a wide variety of plants available for purchase. Entry is included with general admission.

Most Southern Californians have at least a passing familiarity with the shade-loving clivia, which in winter and spring bears bright clusters of flowers in orange, yellow, or cream. Native to southern Africa, the plant was introduced into Europe in the early 1800s. The first named species, Clivia nobilis, was christened in 1828 by Kew botanist John Lindley in honor of Lady Charlotte Clive, Duchess of Northumberland. Clivias reached the height of their popularity as house plants in the Victorian era, and have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity as landscape plants since the 1980s. Their colorful blooms, evergreen foliage, ease of care, and preference for mild winters make them a favorite with local gardeners.

"La Creme"
'Peach 04-09-07-11," voted "Best in Show" for blooming clivia in 2009.

But you won't find mere "garden variety" blooms at this year's show. "You'll see some exotic color patterns that you will never see in the nursery, let alone in anyone's back yard," says Jim Folsom, the Telleen/Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens. "This is a great chance to see the newest colors, patterns, and forms." Look for unusual colors such as salmon and deep red, bi-colored blooms, variegated leaves, and atypical forms.

While you're here, be sure to save time to explore the gardens, too, where you will find blooming displays of clivia in the northern Jungle Garden, North Vista, and other well-shaded areas. And about that judging.... After checking out the judge's choices, visitors are invited to cast their own votes for the "People's Choice" award.

Lisa Blackburn is communications coordinator at The Huntington.