Abbey Brook Echinopsis hybrids are the results of
35 years work by Brian Fearn
I am not alone in working on the genus Echinopsis. There have
been hybridizers in America, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, Japan and
elsewhere. There have also been a number of ‘dippers’ – hybridizers
who have made a few crosses and then moved on. As far as I am aware,
few have kept long term records of their crosses, so that the precise
parentage of any hybrid is known, and no one else has produced a comparable
range of colour combinations and certainly nothing like ‘Ruffles’ and
Echinopsis hybrids are grown mainly for their very large and beautiful
flowers. The plants usually take about 4 years to flower from seed,
although sometimes it can be less. The taxonomy of this group is not
easy, as the delimitation of the various related genera overlaps to
the extent that some taxonomists have lumped them all together into
the single genus Echinopsis. This includes for example Lobivia, Chamaecereus,
Trichocereus, Pseudolobivia, Helianthocetreus, and Acanthocalycium.
Like all committed hybridizers I have attempted to improve on nature
by hybridization between species and groups of plants that never meet
in the wild. I started this work over 35 years ago in the late 1960’s
At that time I only had a limited range of material to work with. In
1980, 120 different hybrid crosses were mnade by which time I was using
third generation hybrids as well as 30 different species of Echinopsis,
Lobivia and Trichocereus.
By 1986, successful hybrid crosses were being made which involved 4
different hybrids, each of which involved 2 or more other parents. It
is not always possible to propagate vegetatively all the hybrids, as
some of them never produce offsets. One can only be sure of a name by
this way of propagation, as seedlings are invariably different from
their parents. This means that years may elapse before sufficient plants
are available for sale, which is reflected in the price.
I am still, after 35 years, continually hybridizing and selecting offspring.
Since the start of the new millenium, 8 new hybrids have been named.
These are either completely different from previous hybrids, for example
‘Streaky’, ‘Turkish Delight,’ ‘Gilly’s Favourite’, ‘Golden Wedding’
and ‘Tango’ or great improvements on previous attemps. ‘Golden Wedding
‘ is another of my ‘xTricho- Lobivia- Echinopsis’ hybrids in the second
generation, but it still does not surpass my original ‘Chelsea Girl’,
which according to Professor Groner was the first reported hybrid with
yellow flowers in this group. Over the years 150,000 seedlings have
been flowered and only 110 have been named.