Friday, August 17, 2012

What's Hot?


Acer palmatum 'Ruby Stars'


What's hot these days? Well, it was 102 degrees a week ago, but with adequate water, most plants fared well. But that's not what I mean. What I mean is which plants are "hot." Which plants are selling well?

The entire web log could be devoted to maples alone, but it won't be. Not to brag (at all), but we just don't have enough maples to satisfy the demand. Ok, we're still long on large red laceleafs, but not by that many, really. The business model has always been to grow many things, but nothing in very large numbers.

A grower friend stopped by to visit a longtime customer. But the long-time buyer was no longer with this customer. My friend explained who he was and what he sold, and especially that he had been selling to them for many years. The new buyer responded that "we're mostly buying what is "discounted." My friend replied that his prices were fair, and that the buyer might be wary of discounted plants, that perhaps they are cheap for a reason. The retort from this new buyer was: "Everyone is discounting, even M _ _ _ _ _ _ a!"

My friend wanted to choke him; but he reservedly handed Mr. Buyer a price list, repeated that his prices were a good value, then wished him well. So that's the economic atmosphere that we are in. I too have lost sales, due to competition from the dissssscounters, but we have thankfully made up for it with new customers, to those who appear to have more brains, imagination and professionalism. All in all, we have prospered from the recession, as it has forced us to improved in every aspect of our business. It has also revealed to us just who our good customers are; and "good" has nothing to do with the volume of business, but more a matter of who appreciates the quality and value of our plants and our relationship. We're actually happy that some of the knuckleheads have drifted away.



Acer conspicuum 'Phoenix'

Acer conspicuum 'Phoenix'





























Acer saccharum 'Monumentale'




Acer saccharum 'Monumentale'



Acer palmatum 'Phoenix'


Acer palmatum 'Phoenix'



Back to hot-selling maples, Acer conspicuum 'Phoenix' and Acer saccharum 'Monumentale' are both difficult to propagate, unfortunately, but they always sell out the very day they are put on the availability. Happily, but for unknown reasons, last year's propagation for 'Phoenix' was unusually successful, so we hope to meet the demand in the future. Conspicuum 'Phoenix' should not be confused with Acer palmatum 'Phoenix', a pretty pink-red maple, but also one that we're sold out on.


























Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'



Funny, but we sold all of our Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'. These were large field transplants with beautiful canopies. Truthfully, I wondered if any would sell, as most growers are very long on 'Bloodgood', at all sizes. The Oregon Nursery Association buyer's guide lists 112 sellers of 'Bloodgood', and many, like me, do not even participate in this guide. So, there are thousands of them available from others, as you all know, but it pleases me that my modest amount went first. The only problem, then, is how can I predict what will be in demand five to ten years hence?



























Acer palmatum 'Red Emperor'





At Buchholz Nursery, Acer palmatum 'Red Emperor' is a little faster, usually with a superior form, than 'Bloodgood'. We've sold a lot so far this year, with just a few left. Again, these are being produced at a modest rate, so we'll never have too many.


























Acer palmatum 'Ruby Stars'



All Acer palmatum 'Ruby Stars', an introduction from the late Harry Olsen, are long gone. This is a beautiful dwarf cultivar, which everybody wants, but it takes us ten to twelve years to get one five feet tall. I price accordingly--they're expensive--but still they sell. They are particularly nice in our bonsai pots, mini boxes, and pumice planters. I have mentioned in a prior post that 'Ruby Stars' begins the spring with its lush ruby color, then older leaves fade to a greenish red by July, and wonderfully, by August new growth emerges like little red stars, and redeems the creature yet again. The largest 'Ruby Stars' I ever sold was about eight feet tall, and was my first tree. I wish I would have had foresight, years ago, to have saved a hundred to get as big.


Acer palmatum 'Bihou'



Acer palmatum 'Bihou' "blew up," as the young people say, meaning that there continues to be overwhelming response to it, and sorry, no more left for this season. Nevertheless, I'll continue to be cautious with our production numbers. A specimen in our garden has survived a near-zero-degree winter night, but still I suspect that they are a zone less hardy than most palmatums, and many gardeners may have to learn that the hard way.



























Acer palmatum 'Geisha Gone Wild'



The Acer palmatum 'Geisha Gone Wild' was featured in Buchholz Introductions, so I won't go into detail, and I'll only report that they're gone, gone, totally gone. Such fun you can have with these wild girls, apparently.


Acer palmatum 'Hana matoi'


Acer palmatum 'Hana matoi'


Likewise, Acer palmatum 'Hana matoi' is a goner. This is the marvelous new laceleaf with variegated foliage. It forms a neat mound besides, and grows to whatever height you stake it. It was also a cinch to sell out of the full heads grafted at six-to-eight feet tall. But then, nowhere else in the world could something like that be found, at a reasonable price no less.

I revealed last fall that the Japanese name Hana was "flower," while matoi meant "adorned with, or wearing." This was according to my Japanese wife, who has been speaking the language beautifully for over thirty years. However, not so; for she was not privy to the characters of 'Hana matoi', and that's the only way to know, even if knowing is entirely possible. Hana also means "nose," for example. The more likely meaning of matoi goes back to the 17th century Edo period, or the Tokyo period. Since houses were very close, and constructed with wood, bamboo and paper, the threat of fire was obvious, and these fires were known as "The Flowers of Edo." The matoi was the standard the firefighters carried, which varied in color and shape. Imagine crazed ruffians, those who prevailed at the fireman's profession, running through the streets with their inverted mops, their hana matoies. And woe to the Edo denizens who lived near the fire, for one method of fire containment was to tear down nearby houses. Take one look at the color and form of 'Hana matoi' for an Edo adventure, but get out of the way of the firemen!



























Acer palmatum 'Ryu sei'



It didn't take long for the Acer palmatum 'Ryu sei' to go. This is the new weeping green palmatum with a very strict form. If grafted high, or trained up from the ground, it will become a nice, narrow weeping tree. If left unstaked, 'Ryu sei' will creep along the ground.



Acer shirasawanum 'Moonrise'




























Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon'


Acer shirasawanum 'Autumn Moon'


Just one more maple that quickly disappeared: Acer shirasawanum 'Moonrise'. This patented cultivar has a growth habit much like 'Autumn Moon', but the new growth is more deeply red for 'Moonrise'. As with some other shirasawanum cultivars, best form can be achieved through knowledgeable pruning, rather than by staking.


Abies koreana 'Ice Breaker'

Abies koreana 'Ice Breaker'


What about conifers, what's hot? All visitors to the nursery are amazed by Abies koreana 'Ice Breaker', a new compact witch's broom from the ubiquitous Abies koreana 'Silberlocke'. 'Ice Breaker' originated at the Kohout Nursery in Eastern Germany. It grows low to the ground, so you'll always look down on it, onto the glittery shoots. It's a fantastic winter conifer, impossible to miss in the landscape; and in summer the reflection is practically blinding. Only two more are available in our pumice gardens, and they'll probably be gone by the time you read this.


Cedrus deodara 'Feelin Blue'

Cedrus deodara 'Feelin Blue'


Our Cedrus deodara 'Feelin Blue' were all snapped up, but we'll dig more for winter-spring sales. We find that they are best as a ball-and-burlap item...potted into our rich (and expensive!) potting soil. They recover from the digging shock and look great by summer. In Europe I've seen 'Feelin Blue' commonly grown as a low spreader, which is fine. But we like to stake ours into weeping trees which are dwarf and tidy. This cultivar originated as a seedling by Trimp and Zonen in Boskoop, Holland, and was introduced in 1986. We propagate by grafting onto Cedrus deodara seedlings, and also by rooted cuttings in winter.




Akira Shibamichi, Japan's plant godfather



























Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Korean Gold'


I was surprised that we are out of Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Korean Gold' this early. This variety was found at Shibamichi Nursery in Japan, and was introduced into the USA in the 1970's. Foliage is a soft yellow, or greenish yellow if grown in shade. It is hardy to USDA zone 5, and is very slow growing. In Oregon we cannot place it in full sun; maybe in more humid climates it is possible.



The original 'Miss Grace'





Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Miss Grace'
















The mutt and daughters Laura and Saya


Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Miss Grace' remains popular (in reasonable numbers). Other growers would buy their starts, or specimen plants from me, then bang out large numbers on their own. I concede that is their right on any unpatented plant, but c'mon, if everyone is doing it, even a fantastic plant can be overproduced. I have never patented anything, and it looks like I never will. I featured 'Miss Grace' in the recent Buchholz Introductions blog, which showed one of the original trees. My daughter, Laura, reads the blogs for her perverted amusement, wondering what Old Pops is up to, so she knows 'Miss Grace' from a blog point of view, only. But this past week she visited the nursery after a long absence. She pointed to a tree in the Display Garden, one that caught her fancy--but only it did--and asked what kind of tree it was, that it looked cool. I beamed with pride that my interesting, intelligent daughter, but one who is not "into" trees, pointed at 'Miss Grace'.






















Picea abies 'Acro Yellow'




























Picea abies 'Acro Yellow'


Picea abies 'Pusch'

Picea abies 'Pusch'

Picea abies 'Pusch'



Picea abies 'Acrocona'





Picea abies 'Accronz Odd Seedling'

















Where are the Picea abies 'Acro Yellow'? They're gone too. This conifer is a new selection from Greg Williams in Vermont. It is a dwarf, but a large dwarf, and I think will grow at near pace with the old 'Acrocona', its parent. 'Acro Yellow' has a pretty frosting of gold, but not so gold that it burns. Cones are purple in spring and stand erect, then flop by summer and turn brown. Picea abies 'Pusch' was a miniature mutant found on 'Acrocona'. Wouldn't it be great to find one on 'Acro Yellow'? Mr. Williams has also sent to me 'Accronz Odd Seedling', another offspring from 'Acrocona'. It's full of cones too, but the green needles are very short and thin. We're growing a few of these for sales in the future.



























Sciadopitys verticillata


Sciadopitys verticillata 'Joe Kozey'




Sciadopitys verticillata 'Picola'

















Sciadopitys verticillata 'Fatso'





Sciadopitys verticillata 'Green Star'































 Sciadopitys verticillata 'Green Star'





























Sciadopitys verticillata 'Winter Green'


Most of the Sciadopitys are gone, of course, everything from the regular Sciadopitys verticillata to the cultivars 'Fatso', 'Green Star', 'Joe Kozey', Picola' and most, but not all, of the 'Winter Green'.




Sequoia sempervirens 'Kelly's Prostrate'

Sequoia sempervirens 'Kelly's Prostrate'



Where hardy, a flat "redwood," Sequoia sempervirens 'Kelly's Prostrate', is a must. This selection is disinclined to produce a leader, which seems remarkable. How can the tallest tree on earth produce a ground-hugging form? My largest are 8 feet wide by only 1.5 feet tall.






















Pinus strobus 'Mini Twists'























Pinus strobus 'Squiggles'



Pinus strobus 'Tiny Kurls'





Pinus strobus 'Wiggles'









































Pinus strobus 'Vercurve'


Most of the Pinus strobus 'Mini Twists' are sold, and it has always been a favorite of the many dwarf eastern white pine cultivars. One parent was the old Pinus strobus 'Torulosa', a tree that growers liked, but apparently the public did not. Well, it got too big, it got so huge that the curiously curled needles were lost in the sky. 'Mini Twists', 'Vercurve' and 'Tiny Kurls', the three sisters from the cross, are all far more dwarf and ornamentally useful. You can look down at the plants, and appreciate their wonderful characteristics. Pinus strobus 'Green Twist', 'Squiggles' and 'Wiggles' are more or less the same.























Ginkgo biloba 'Jade Butterflies'


Ginkgo biloba 'Marieken'

Ginkgo biloba 'Marieken'



























Ginkgo biloba 'Munchkin'






















Ginkgo biloba 'Troll'























Ginkgo biloba 'Tschi tschi'


Ginkgo biloba 'Tschi tschi'


Ginkgo biloba 'Tschi tschi'


Various Ginkgoes, all dwarves, are hot sellers. 'Tschi tschi', 'Marieken', 'Troll' and 'Munchkin' are cute and always in demand. 'Jade Butterflies', with an intermediate rate of growth, is also very popular. Sales for the larger cultivars, such as 'Autumn Gold' and 'Saratoga', used to be good, but for the past ten years we can hardly give them away, so we'll stick with little guys.


Carpinus betulus 'Columnaris Nana' in Arboretum Wespelaar




























Carpinus betulus 'Columnaris Nana'


We explain our product listing as three kinds of plants: maples, conifers and "everything else." Carpinus betulus 'Columnaris Nana' is one such everything else, with the larger sizes all gone (A few in 7" mini boxes are still available). This dwarf form of the "Common Hornbeam" is from Europe, I expect, but I don't know its history. The largest tree I have ever seen was at Arboretum Wespelaar in Belgium. Would somebody tell me of another in Europe more grand? I certainly would pay it a visit.


























Cornus kousa 'KLVW'



























Cornus kousa 'Summer Fun'


Cornus kousa 'Summer Fun'


The patented Cornus kousa 'KLVW', or "Kristin Lipka's Variegated Weeper'--geeze what a cumbersome name--have all been purchased. Its leaves are not nearly as pretty as our Cornus kousa 'Summer Fun', but still we're out. The 'Summer Funs' are virtually sold out too, and I started this sales season fretting that I had too many. We prefer to harvest this cultivar, and all dogwoods really, from the field where they develop sturdy calipers. We then hold them for a full year in pots, to recover from the digging shock, so they'll be fresh and saleable immediately at the retail end. That costs us extra profit compared to the B&B sellers, but, then, we're sold out.


Daphne burkwoodii 'Brigg's Moonlight'

Daphne burkwoodii 'Brigg's Moonlight'



























Daphne burkwoodii from Nelis Kools


We had a beautiful crop of Daphne burkwoodii 'Brigg's Moonlight' that are no more. Perhaps they were priced too low, but not from your point of view. There was a group of fifty, at good size, filling a sizeable portion of Greenhouse 20, and visitors would gasp when they saw the sparkling crop. Even today a few blossoms remain, enough to turn your head at the fragrance. A Daphne discovery from Nelis Kools in Holland is equally wonderful, but features green in the middle of the leaf, with a yellow margin. I saw this years ago and must find out what he ever did with it, as I've not seen it since.


Fagus sylvatica 'Aurea Pendula'



























Fagus sylvatica 'Aurea Pendula'


Predictably, the Fagus sylvatica 'Aurea Pendulas' have all been snatched up by the early birds. This "golden weeping European Beech" will always be rare due to its slow rate of growth and difficulty of propagation. Or maybe not; perhaps someone else will figure it out better than we have. An old specimen in the Display Garden was especially attractive this spring, and a favorite customer received a photo of it, of the one depicted above. The best specimen I have ever seen, and indeed, the source of my first scions, was growing in Howard Hughes's garden. No, no, not the filthy-rich eccentric who built huge airplanes and bedded movie stars, but the down-to-earth hobbyist-grower from Washington state who was a Vertrees maple contemporary, as well as a purveyor of other choice trees. Mr. Hughes was in his 90's when I first (and only time) met him. He seemed bemused by my youthful enthusiasm for plants, but God bless him, he only encouraged my ardor. Yes, I was in my youth, but I quickly realized that I should shut up and focus on what he had to say, that he could gain very little from me, just as Vertrees; but that they were both desirous to set me on the right path and to succor me. I regret today's entitled, spoiled young kids--too many of whom I have employed--previously--who act as if they can just toss us geezers aside, that they have it all figured out....but...then, all old people from all walks of life would say the same; so that's just the way it is.



Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa'


Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa Purpurea'



All right, enough of my deplorable history with the malcontents. There appears to be no more of Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa Purpurea'. This is a great tree, but no more wonderful than the green form, simply known as 'Tortuosa'. The photo above of 'Tortuosa' was taken at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston in the early 1990's, and must now be truly magnificent. Unfortunately, at Buchholz Nursery, 'Tortuosa Purpurea' bolts at a young age, growing without much contortion, and requires age to develop into its weird twisting form.


Rubus spectabilis 'Golden Ruby'























Rubus spectabilis 'Golden Ruby'

Surprisingly, for me, is that we're sold out of Rubus spectabilis 'Golden Ruby'. I like the plant, but the species is an Oregon native weed, and just a golden form of weed. Leaves are yellow, blooms are ruby-red, hence the name. The "Salmonberry" produces edible fruits, but they are rather tepid. Still, they are food for the hungry hiker in summer, as they were for native Americans. The species can be found growing along streambeds in western Oregon and Washington.



Calycanthus 'Venus'
























Sinocalycanthus raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine'



The Sinocalycanthus 'Hartlage Wine' are sold out again. This purple-flowered cultivar resulted as a hybrid between the American and Chinese species of "Allspice." I love the flowers, and the fact that it blooms from spring until fall, but it is ultimately an unruly bush, one that must be whacked upon to keep in bounds. I wonder if growing 100 per year is too many, but apparently not, at least for now. The same could be said for Caylcanthus 'Venus', and while it is disparaged in the American southeast as being worthless, or less than worthless--was it a mildew problem?--for me it has been trouble free.

Ok, there it is: a partial list of what is "hot." I'm sorry for you if your experience is different. I'll admit that I don't fully trust this year's sales experience, and that it is something that I cannot depend upon for the future. We still have many more plants to sell, but I'm thankful for what has been booked so far. Thanks to Seth, Eric, Phil our grower, and all the employees who make this a famous place to own.








Phil, Eric and Seth


But. But if any of my employees had spent an entire blog promoting what is already gone, I would have growled, "Dammit, don't brag about what you have sold; instead promote what is still for sale. Anybody could have sold what you have sold, but what about the rest? Get with it...or I'll make you work Sundays without pay. Dammit, dammit you slackers!"


Angry Buchholz

 P.S. Actually, a few of the sold out items will be added to our availability next week.

2 comments:

  1. What a marketing genius!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful pictures and a fun commentary. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete