Member Spotlight: Interview with Brenda Sipher
Interviewed by Delisa Harvey
April 25, 2010
Brenda, what year did you start growing Brugmansia?
What is your first recollection of the start of your love for Brugmansia?
I was working in a flower shop when a customer told me about Brugmansia. I looked it up on the internet, and knew I had to have one. I found a garden center in New York that advertised Brugmansia and my husband and I went to New York for a plant. I was terrified that they would have none left. Upon entering the garden center I saw a tall versicolor peach loaded with at least 1,000 blooms. I left with two (over-priced) Brugmansia: a versicolor peach, and an 'Ecuador Pink'. I covered them from the cold, got them home, and at once displayed them in my living room. I enjoyed looking at them all day as if I were a child looking at unopened presents under the Christmas tree. The next morning I went down to the living room to look at them again and all the blooms were on the floor!
What is your single most favorite Brugmansia?
After considerable thought, I'd have to say ‘ Fleming Island Jewel’.
Tell me about the young Brugmansia hybridizer from Canada with whom you are friends.
Danny is a really smart young man that I helped start a Brugmansia program. His nickname for me is Mother Christmas. Danny and all young growers are our future.
Brenda, when did you realize you wanted to hybridize Brugmansia?
My Brugmansia are like my children, and I would like to have that one Brugmansia to be proud of: a perfect, yellow, disease-resistant cross.
You have told me that your granddaughter shares your love of gardening. Has she tried her hand at hybridizing?
Emily’s favorite Brugmansia is 'Velvet Rose' by JT Sessions, on which she has started two pods of her own. Emily also adores Brugmansia variegates.
Tell me about your seedlings for this year.
Right now I have 116 Brugmansia warm weather seedlings and over 50 cold weather (Sphaerocarpium) seedlings. I have just perfected my medium for growing out the Sphaerocarpium. Two important components are coir and volcanic gravel. Coir has made a huge difference in seedling germination and growth. It (coir) helps drain water and keeps the medium moist.
You live in the northeastern United States. How do you start your seedlings and over-winter your Brugmansia?
I have a large basement for over-wintering my Brugmansia, and I use T5 fluorescent grow lights.
What are your other plant passions?
I also have collections of Hemerocallis (daylilies) and Hosta.
What plans are in your near future?
A trip in May to the Montreal Garden Festival for a look at hydroponic systems!
Brenda, do you have anything you would like to add to our interview?
Yes, I am truly blessed to have a husband who shares my love of gardening. Without him none of this would be possible. I would surely have lost everything last year when I had heart surgery; it was a long time before I could take care of my plants again.
Brenda, it’s been a pleasure interviewing you and I would love to talk to you about hydroponics in the future.
Brenda’s first Brugmansia versicolor peach and ‘Ecuador Pink’
Brenda's beautiful seedlings!