Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

x Amarygia parkeri ‘Blando-Josephiniana’

A cultivar of x Amarygia parkeri (W.Watson) H.E.Moore. I have seen no descriptions of this cross in flower.  As a first generation cross between Amaryllis belladonna L. var. blanda and Brunsvigia josephinae it would presumably have resembled other clones of this cross, ‘Ameliae’ for example, which see.  It perhaps would have resembled the ‘Kew Belladonna’ described in detail in the Botanical and Horticultural History section, although the origin of this cross, the type x Amarygia parkeri, is still not fully understood.  For illustration I have used a beautiful form of x Amarygia which grows at Camden Park and very much resembles the first colour depiction of x Amarygia of which I am aware, a water colour painted by Miss Fletcher at Camden Park in 1866. 


Horticultural & Botanical History

This cross was first effected by William Herbert, who wrote in 1837: 'I have since obtained four seedlings from Josephini, impregnated by A. blanda. […] They are now ten or eleven years old, and have reached a larger size than a natural Josephiniana raised from the same scape, and they show some diversity of foliage amongst themselves.'  [Herbert].  It has long been assumed that Herbert’s cross was repeated by John Bidwill, possibly at Camden Park, but Bidwill wrote: 'In Herbert’s “Amaryllidaceae”, p. 278, mention is made of some seedlings raised from Amaryllis blanda by A. Josephiniana.  In 1843 Mr. Herbert had the kindness to give me one of these bulbs, which was then, he told me 20 years old, and was not so big as a goose’s egg.  It would not, in all probability, have flowered in England in 20 years more; in a more suitable climate, such as that of my present residence [Wide Bay, Queensland], it would probably have flowered in four years, but it was destroyed by accident.  I never saw A. blanda in flower, and now only possess two seedling bulbs, given to me by Mr. Herbert, which are expected to flower this season.  If it should flower, I will repeat Mr. Herbert’s experiment, and also raise crosses between it and belladonna.’  [GC p.470/1850].

This letter was probably written in late 1849 or early 1850 and, although it is possible that A. blanda flowered as predicted and the cross effected, it is very unlikely that Bidwill saw the hybrid in flower and no further information on this cross has been discovered.  The plants listed in the Camden Park catalogues as Amaryllis blanda and Amaryllis blando-Josephiniana are more likely to be the plants brought back from England by Bidwill in 1844 and grown on at Camden, as were so many of Bidwill’s plants. 

Amaryllis blando-Josephiniana in flower would no doubt have strongly resembled the well known x Amarygia parkeri (W.Watson) H.E.Moore, also called  x Brunsdonna parkeri (W.Watson) Worsley and Amaryllis x multiflora Hort., and believed to be an Amaryllis x Brunsvigia hybrid.  Most early authors assumed that it was a first cross between Amaryllis belladonna and Brunsvigia josephinae, although with reservations.  In 1898 W. Watson described the flower for the first time in some detail under the heading ‘The Kew Belladonna Lily’: 'This is far superior to all other known varieties of the Belladonna lily.  It was supposed to be a hybrid, Brunsvigia Josephinae being the other parent, but no trace of the characters of the latter can be found in it beyond the large number of flowers in each umbel. […] The Kew variety has leaves 2 inches wide, a scape 3 feet long and 1½ inches in diameter at the base, and an umbel of twenty or more flowers which are nearly all open together as in the Jersey Lily (Nerine sarniensis).  They are larger and have broader, less pointed segments than the type [Amaryllis belladonna], and their colour is bright rose-crimson, changing to almost pure crimson with age. […] Bulb fanciers generally who have seen this plant at Kew agree in calling it the handsomest of all outdoor bulbous plants.'  [The Garden p.414/1898].

Watson later called the plant Amaryllis Parkeri.  [GC p.92/1909].  The assumption that it was a first cross no doubt arose from the description given when it was first exhibited in 1875: 'We are informed that the Amaryllis exhibited by Mr. Boivell, gr. to Sir H. W. Parker, at the Royal Horticultural Society on August 18, is a seedling raised by Lady Parker in Australia from a cross between Amaryllis Belladonna and Brunsvigia Josephinae.  This cross was first effected by the late Mr. Bidwill, and has since been several times repeated by Lady Parker.  Some of the seedlings so raised were superior, both in the number and colour of the flowers, to the specimen exhibited on the 18th.' [GC p.302/1875].

This notice also led to the erroneous conclusion that Bidwill had himself raised seedlings similar to the plant exhibited, i.e. to x Amarygia parkeri.  Bidwill’s own description of his Amaryllis x Brunsvigia hybrids in The Gardeners’ Chronicle is sufficiently vague as to encourage this view: ‘Their colour is generally like that of Passiflora Kermesina but it varies in different specimens, and many are blotched with white.  There are from twenty to forty flowers on a scape.  The shape varies greatly, the crosses by B. multiflora being generally wider in the segments than the others, and of a better figure, shorter and more ringent.’  [GC p.470/1850]. 

But from Bidwill’s own more detailed notes we now know that his first generation hybrids were quite different from x Amarygia parkeri [See x Amarygia parkeri ‘Ameliae’] and the latter is more likely to be a second generation cross, perhaps a back-cross to Amaryllis belladonna.  Hannibal claims that such a backcross was made: 'Significantly A. x parkeri is simply a sibling backcross of Brunsdonna bidwellii onto A. belladonna effected by Lady Parker under Bidwell’s instructions.  Lady Parker was the daughter of the above John Macarthur of Camden Park which I have visited.  Sir Henry Parker and W Watson were in error stating B. josephinae was the parent used in the cross.'  [IBSA bulletin No. 30, p. 3/1980].

Hannibal does not state the source of this information.  Doutt repeats the claim that such a backcross was made, probably basing his information on Hannibal’s paper.  [Cape Bulbs, p.69/1994 (B. T. Batsford, Timber Press, London.].

In Holland in 1935 T. M. Hoog, of Van Tubergen’s nursery, Haarlem, reported successfully carrying out a very similar backcross: 'For many years we have tried to improve Amaryllis belladonna and what we have obtained is shown by the enclosed photograph.  Amaryllis belladonna was crossed with Brunsvigia josephinae and B. gigantea and this produced Amaryllis belladonna parkeri, which is a tall “Belladonna” with a large number (up to 20) of flowers.  Alas, owing to Brunsvigia, it will only grow and flower well in a climate which has a very hot summer and autumn, like the south of France, Italy or Spain.  As we have in Holland a variety of A. belladonna (var. purpurea major) which even in our cold climate always blooms regularly and, if well established, with several spikes, we obtained seeds from this by hybridisation with the said A. belladonna parkeri and this resulted in a strain of free blooming “Belladonnas” with numerous and large flowers of a very beautiful colouring, deep pink and white with yellowish throat, on strong stems.'  [Year Book of the American Amaryllis Society p.113/1935].

This hybrid was named Amaryllis belladonna parkeri var. zwanenburg.  Although this brief notice leaves important questions unanswered it is the only published record of such back-cross experiments that I have seen, and the product was a plant very similar, in description and in the black and white photograph, to x Amarygia parkeri.

x Amarygia parkeri is a robust plant resembling Amaryllis belladonna but with umbels of up to twenty or even more large, sometimes frilled flowers in summer, the leaves appearing after the flowers.  The flowers are somewhat variable in size and colour, ranging from a clear, deep rose suffused with carmine to much paler forms and pure white, perhaps depending on the extent to which self- or back-crossing has occurred in its background, but all with distinct yellow colouring in the throat.  There are many named cultivars.  [RHSE].

Hannibal has suggested that multiflora hybrids of Amaryllis belladonna, exemplified by x Amarygia parkeri, may be hybrids between A. belladonna and Cybistetes longifolia.  Central to his argument is that both Bidwill and the Parkers mistook Cybistetes longifolia for Brunsvigia species. [Australian Garden Journal. p.44, winter 1994].  In view of Bidwill’s own notes on his hybrids, and his notes on Ammocharis falcata [Cybistetes longifolia] it is very unlikely that he would have made this error.  His tutoring of Emmeline Parker makes it equally unlikely that she also made this mistake.  In addition we have Bidwill’s record of having crossed Ammocharis falcata (female) with Amaryllis belladonna (male), although he failed with the reciprocal cross.  Bidwill records that he ‘had once several capsules of this plant […] but they were stolen when just ripe and I have never had another opportunity of trying to cross it.’  [Bidwill p.51].  To my knowledge no one subsequently claimed to have germinated and flowered these seeds, although interestingly a plant that appears very similar to x Amarygia parkeri was exhibited in Sydney in 1866: 'Amaryllis hybrid.  This is an exceedingly ornamental flowering bulb, flowers scarlet and very numerous; the stem rises near two feet from the ground.  The subject is from a specimen furnished by Mr. Silas Sheather of Parramatta, and valued by him at one guinea per plant.' [NHM p.65/1866]. Click here to see a line drawing of this plant. Silas Sheather was a gardener at Camden Park for some years before opening his own nursery on Macarthur land at Parramatta in the 1840s, although he was an accomplished hybridist in his own right in later years.  John Baptiste and other nurserymen introduced other multiflora Amaryllis hybrids, of which Sheather’s plant is probably an example, into the Sydney nursery trade around this time but the origin of these plants is unknown. 

Very similar plants were grown in New Zealand, with one specimen flowering in 1911 in Britain.  It was again said to be a bigeneric hybrid between Brunsvigia josephinae and Amaryllis belladonna.  It was described as ‘practically synonymous with Amaryllis Belladonna Kew variety, but the flowers [of the New Zealand plant] possess more of the lovely orange yellow shade [at the base of the segments].  In this respect it may be regarded as an improved Kew variety.’  [The Garden p.460/1911].  John Bidwill had direct connections with New Zealand, his brother settling in the North Island in the 1840s on John’s advice, and it is possible that the New Zealand hybrids originated from his connection.

The earliest colour image of a plant purported to be an Amaryllis hybrid that I have seen is a water colour painted by Miss Fletcher in 1866.  [Mitchell Library collection, Sydney].  She was schoolmistress at the Menangle school on the Macarthur’s Camden Park estate.  Three flowering plants are depicted, fuchsia cultivars ‘Rifleman’ and ‘Empereur’ and an Amaryllis hybrid.  The Amaryllis depicted is very pale pink with a deeper throat, with orange-yellow tones.  Seventeen flowers are depicted in the scape, all at much the same state of openness.  The segments appear quite broad, reflexed at the tips and with somewhat wavy margins.  A very similar variety grows in the gardens of Camden Park today and is used as the illustration here.  The front of the painting is inscribed ‘To Mrs. Sanderson from Miss Fletcher, Sydney, NSW, 1866’.  A note on the back of the picture records it as being the first Amaryllis hybrid to flower at Camden Park.  Although the picture is a colour wash and the component plants apparently not drawn to scale, there seems no reason to doubt that it depicts an early x Amarygia parkeri hybrid.  Click here to view Miss fletcher's painting. If Silas Sheather’s scarlet-flowered plant is also accepted at face value then at least two varieties were present in Australia by 1866, markedly different in colour, and both strongly associated with the Camden Park gardens.


History at Camden Park

Although listed in both the 1850 and 1857 catalogues nothing is known of the subsequent history of x Amarygia parkeri (W.Watson) H.E.Moore ‘Blando-Josephiniana’.  At Camden Park today there are many hundreds of Amaryllis of unknown origin, although they appear to have been there for many years, some forming clumps several metres across.  Most show clear signs of hybridity, many of them typical x Amarygia parkeri-like hybrids, with twenty or more flowers per umbel, in shades varying from pure white to almost crimson, some with very pale pink segments with darker tips, all with yellow throats, many verging on orange.  It is obvious that much self-seeding has occurred over the years, producing plants that are indistinguishable from Amaryllis belladonna and in every shade of colour that occurs in the species, others resembling ‘typical’ x Amarygia parkeri in their more vibrant colouring, the former often differing only from the latter types in that they bear fewer flowers per scape.  Particularly striking are the drifts of Amaryllis that are naturalised under trees at the base of the slope known as Blarney. Click here to see another Camden Park clone.



Published Jan 14, 2009 - 03:42 PM | Last updated Aug 12, 2012 - 03:23 PM

The image shows shell pink trumpet-shaped flowers with a darker pink centre.  Camden Park, 2005.

x Amarygia parkeri (W.Watson) H.E.Moore | Camden Park - this form strongly resembles the plant depicted by Miss Fletcher in an 1866 water colour painted at Camden Park | Photograph Colin Mills


Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin

Garden origin, England



Common Name

Multiflora Amaryllis belladonna hybrid

Name in the Camden Park Record

Amaryllis blando-Josephiniana 


Confidence level high