Friday, January 18, 2013

The New Era

Buchholz looking into the future

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about plants that we used to propagate, as revealed in grafting records from the 1980's. We continue with some, but many were from a bygone era that has now eluded us. So, were any from the old days any good then? I think so, many were good. But you now come to me looking for what nobody else can supply, as if I hold the crystal ball into your future business success. I use the analogy that Buchholz Nursery is now the "pregnant widow," that the old days are gone, dead, but that we will be bearing wonderful plants for your future. The seeds have been sown, we diligently labor…and I'll give you a preview of what's to come.

The foremost requirement for the "new era" is to run a tight ship. Gone are the days of wild speculation, where production usually resulted in profit. Many nurserymen were smart then, or so they thought, but had to come to grips with stark reality when the bottom line wasn't working out. Companies were obese and plodding, mine included, so with sharpened focus we cut the fat. Gone are the "good" employees; we have only kept the "great." One casual employee (now an ex) said to me that "you worry too much." My reply was "I don't think you worry enough." Of course he is an ex-employee.

Even if we have now tamed our speculation, still one must speculate. My model of growing a huge selection of plants, and most of them in small numbers, has served me well, I think. Less profit for sure, but then no massive burn piles or bankruptcy. This past summer, and now this winter, I've been forced to present the propagation lists. What to grow, and how many?

Acer circinatum 'Burgundy Jewel'

Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose'

Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose'

Let's begin with maples, which comprise one third of our propagation (another third is conifers, and the final third is "everything else"). While not spanking new, our production for Acer circinatum 'Burgundy Jewel' is at an all-time high. This purple-leaf upright "Vine Maple" was discovered and introduced by Gordy Halgren of Washington state. How could he miss it?, as it stood out vividly in a group of otherwise green vines, much the same as my Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose' did years ago.

Acer palmatum 'Ikandi'

Acer palmatum 'Ikandi'

Acer palmatum 'Ikandi' is very new and shows a lot of promise. Of course I can't say that it is a winner, for it is largely untested at this time. Will it be mildew prone, will it revert, will it stay colorful in all climates? I should announce that 'Ikandi' arose as a seedling from Acer palmatum 'Alpenweiss', itself a very colorful cultivar.

Acer palmatum 'Koyasan'

I've grown to admire Acer palmatum 'Koyasan', a Dick van der Maat (from Boskoop, Netherlands) selection. Leaves are bronze-green, but new growth is reddish-yellow which contrasts delightfully with the older foliage. Leaves sort of resemble the well-known Acer palmatum 'Kamagata', and van der Maat claims that 'Koyasan' forms "a small dense mound." It may in Holland, but at Buchholz Nursery it grows into a compressed pillar, reaching six feet tall by two and a half feet wide in ten years. Autumn color is a vibrant straw-yellow.

Acer palmatum 'Taylor'

Acer palmatum 'Taylor'

Acer palmatum 'Marlo'

Acer palmatum 'Beni kosode'

Another van der Maat introduction is Acer palmatum 'Taylor' PP15943, named for his great niece. It is a willowy shrub with thin arching branchlets. Sparkling pink leaves, with some green, are individually beautiful, but the dense form of a well-grown specimen ensures the most color; so, prune to keep full. 'Taylor' requires a certain culture in greenhouse production so as not to be afflicted with mildew, but if grown outdoors with some afternoon shade, mildew should be less of a problem. In mild Holland, I saw a nursery's group of a few thousand, grown in pots in full sun, and they were still marvelous in mid-October. Another cultivar, Acer palmatum 'Marlo', is also new from Holland and even less prone to mildew. Acer palmatum 'Beni kosode', from Japan, is equally spectacular, and although introduced in 1968, it is only now finding its way into American collections.

Acer palmatum 'Peve Multicolor'

Taxodium distichum 'Peve Minaret'

Picea omorika 'Peve Tijn'
Ginkgo biloba 'Peve Maribo'

Acer palmatum 'Peve Multicolor' is new from Piet (Pete) Vergeldt in Holland. The first year or two I was not impressed. It grew lushly in our greenhouse, always with greenish foliage. But once I grew the plant large enough, I was rewarded with pale-white speckled onto green with prominent green veins. Note that most plants from Vergeldt begin with Peve, which obviously refers to Pete Vergeldt, such as Taxodium distichum 'Peve Minaret', Picea omorika 'Peve Tijn', Ginkgo biloba 'Peve Maribo' and others.

Acer pictum 'Usugumo'

One final maple that I consider "new era," although there easily could be a hundred more, is Acer pictum 'Usugumo', or 'Usu gumo'. It was introduced as long ago as 1882, and while maybe it occurs in a few American collections, probably only Buchholz Nursery has it in full production. 'Usugumo' is as hardy as Acer palmatum cultivars, and ultimately grows into a small, somewhat irregularly-shaped tree. In the right garden setting it can shine with brilliance. I must admit that I don't have absolute confidence in the specific nomenclature. Acer mono and Acer pictum are both used for 'Usugumo', then you have Acer truncatum ssp. mono to add to my confusion. For the record, Beaulieu's An Illustrated Guide to Maples records 'Usugumo' as a cultivar of Acer mono.

Davidia involucrata 'Sonoma'

Davidia involucrata 'White Dust'

Davidia involucrata 'Aya nishiki'

Enough of maples, let's now consider cultivars of the "Dove Tree," Davidia involucrata. 'Sonoma' has been around for a while, but we still keep producing it, as well as the Japanese selections 'White Dust' and 'Aya nishiki'. 'Sonoma' was introduced by the Sonoma Horticulture Nursery of California, and was originally selected for the large size of its flower bracts. An additional bonus is that propagated offspring tend to bloom at a young age, in fact sometimes on one or two-year-old grafts. 'White Dust' is lovely and can take full sun, but I'm especially impressed with the reddish new growth. 'Aya nishiki' can be spectacular, but after a 100 degree F day in Oregon – with little humidity – it can burn, although it looked wonderful in Japan at the end of summer, and believe me: the Tokyo area can scald in summer.

Davidia involucrata 'Lady Sunshine'

My favorite of the new Davidia cultivars is easily 'Lady Sunshine', a selection from Crispin Silva of Oregon. I've never seen one in bloom, but no matter, as the white flower bracts would be completely lost in the dazzling variegated foliage. Surprisingly – but fortunately – 'Lady Sunshine' will not burn if placed in dappled afternoon shade, with adequate moisture. Last year, I had a group in our famous GH20, about 100 feet from the door. Visitors would gawk with stupefaction, then race past all the other smelly flowers and rare plants, to zero in on the spectacular foliage of 'Lady Sunshine'. This cultivar will not grow as large as a typical Davidia, but it is no dwarf either. I recommend to prune 'Lady Sunshine' to keep it short and full…so that you look directly at the colorful foliage, rather than up at it against the sky. I've mentioned before that Davidia was first discovered by the French missionary Armand David in China in 1869, and eventually rediscovered and introduced into cultivation by E.H. Wilson in 1904. Wouldn't both of these historic plantsmen be shocked if they could have foreseen 'Lady Sunshine'!

Cornus kousa 'Summer Gold'

Cornus kousa 'Ohkan'

Cornus kousa 'Ohkan' in autumn

Cornus kousa 'Summer Fun'

Cornus kousa 'Summer Fun' in autumn

Yuto Hiroshima is displeased with Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes'

Goodbye 'Wolf Eyes', Hello 'Summer Fun'

Mr. Silva also discovered and introduced Cornus kousa 'Summer Gold' PP 22765, but that's no big deal. True, it is a nice variegated tree, but it is patented, and we already have a similar, unpatented cultivar, 'Ohkan' from Japan, which I like better. 'Summer Gold' need not have been introduced, let alone patented, at all; but who's to know these things, especially when you find it in your own field? Who's to know that you are late to the party? Similarly, the patented Cornus kousa 'Samaritan' is late to the 'Summer Fun' party, while the sickly 'Wolf Eyes' can entirely go away. Of course, the "new era" will be cluttered with look-alikes and not-quites, where unbiased trial and error will reveal the superior clone.

Cedrus brevifolia 'Kenwith'

Cedrus atlantica 'Sapphire Nymph'

A cute little conifer, Cedrus brevifolia 'Kenwith', has a promising future. It was found and named by Gordon Haddow, a Scottish conifer enthusiast at Kenwith Castle Nursery. It is perfect for a rock garden or in a trough. Cedrus atlantica 'Sapphire Nymph' has similar use, but is even more dazzling with its glittery silver-blue foliage. I have seen some claim 'Sapphire Nymph' to have a pyramidal form; if you stake it, it can, but left to its own it is horizontal.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Filip's Golden Tears'

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Van den Akker'
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Green Arrow'

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Filip's Golden Tears' is a beautiful narrow weeping tree from E. Smits in Holland. It resembles Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Green Arrow' or 'Van den Akker' in form, except foliage is rich yellow and can be grown in full sun. 'Filip's Tearful is similar, except with refined green foliage. I repeat ad nauseam: that all "Lawson Cypress" cultivars should be grafted onto disease resistant rootstock, otherwise the home gardener will acquire a tree prone to death via Phytophthora lateralis. Instead of growing 'Filip's Golden Tears', why not just produce a golden form of Chamaecyparis nootkatensis? The answer is that I do not know of any nootkatensis that is nearly as slender and richly golden as 'Filip's Golden Tears'.

Picea abies 'Gold Drift'

Picea abies 'Reflexa'

Picea abies 'Acro-yellow'

Picea abies 'Acro-yellow'

Picea glauca 'Burkwitch'
Picea abies 'Acro-yellow'

A new weeping "Norway Spruce," Picea abies 'Gold Drift', features short green needles with a frosting of gold. It has just enough golden color to make it exciting, but not so much as to burn. We grow 'Gold Drift' in full sun, otherwise the foliage is green. It makes a wonderful weeping tree if staked, or a ground cover if left to ramble. It was discovered as yellow shoots on the otherwise green Picea abies 'Reflexa' by Coenosium Gardens of Washington state. Another golden Norway is Picea abies 'Acro-yellow', a Greg Williams selection which cones heavily on a semi-dwarf tree. We grow Picea glauca 'Burkwitch', also from Greg Williams – or at least first given to me by him. I don't know the 'Burkwitch' story, except I'll mention that one year we had to dump the scionwood as we got it mixed up with 'Acro-yellow', and it was impossible to tell the sticks apart.

Pinus leucodermis 'Wayne'

A field of Pinus leucodermis seedlings was the source for a diminutive selection, discovered by Wayne Staehely, now owner of  Columbia Nursery in Oregon. We have the original plant, and it is so tight that moss and weeds sprout on its surface. The grafts look very good however, strong with rich green color, and it appears more dwarf than the well-known 'Schmidtii'. We temporarily call it 'Wayne' for our propagation records, but the final cultivar name must be provided by Mr. Staehely himself; so for now we are the only two who grow it.

Sciadopitys verticillata 'Gold Rush'

Sciadopitys verticillata 'Ossorio's Gold'

A golden form of the Japanese "Umbrella Pine," Sciadopitys verticillata 'Gold Rush', is lighting up the landscape this winter. Of course Sciadopitys is not a "true pine," but rather a monotypic genus from the Japanese island of Honshu, and famous for its needles which are uniquely arranged in a whorl, like the spokes of an umbrella. 'Gold Rush' has completely replaced the old cultivar 'Ossorio's Gold' which is barely yellow, and always looks sickly.

Sciadopitys verticillata 'Mr. Happy'

Sciadopitys verticillata 'Mr. Happy'

Sciadopitys verticillata 'Fireworks'

Sciadopitys verticillata 'Green Star'

Sciadopitys verticillata 'Green Star'

Our variegated selection of Sciadopitys is 'Mr. Happy', and we sell it for an obscene amount, but no one ever cries about the price. "Fireworks' is another interesting cultivar, with bronze-orange tips on otherwise green needles. 'Green Star' is noteworthy for its stout branching structure, as well as wide dark-green needles, and is also known in Europe as 'Sternschnuppe'. Indeed, they could be two separate clones, but they look alike to me.

Sempervivum 'Lotus'

Sempervivum arachnoideum var. pittonii

Sempervivum arachnoideum var. pittonii

Jovibarba hirta var. prusiana

Sempervivum 'Spinel'

Sempervivum 'Spinel'

Jovibarba heuffelii 'Gold Bug'

Jovibarba heuffelii 'Gold Bug'

Finally, and perhaps to your surprise, we have begun producing "alpine" plants. These often accompany our pumice stones, pumice gardens and alpine troughs. Three Sempervivums have impressed me these past few years: 'Lotus', 'Spinel' and arachnoideum var. pittonii, the latter commonly known as the "Pittonii Cobweb Houseleek." Jovibarba heuffelii 'Gold Bug' pairs well with the red of Sempervivum 'Spinel', don't you agree? Jovibarba hirta var. prusiana features small frosty-green rosettes with lavender leaf undersides.

Aubrieta gracilis ssp. scardica

Aubrieta gracilis ssp. scardica

Aubrieta gracilis ssp. scardica is a slowly-spreading groundcover, growing only a few inches tall. Cute lavender flowers rise above the green foliage, each featuring four tiny petals. Who needs to find a four-leaf clover when you grow this alpine gem?

Dianthus 'Bath's Pink'

Dianthus 'Blue Hills'

Dianthus 'Blue Hills'

Dianthus 'Dainty Dame'

Dianthus 'Fire Star'

Dianthus 'Fire Star'

Dianthus 'Inshriach Dazzler'

Dianthus 'Inshriach Dazzler'

Equally cute are some of the hardy Dianthus. We prefer those that are hardy to at least USDA zone 5. 'Bath's Pink', 'Blue Hills', 'Dainty Dame', 'Fire Star' and 'Inshriach Dazzler' are some of my favorites. When combining alpines with other woody plants, like maples and conifers, it is important that they all tolerate the same temperatures, light requirements and water needs.

There you have it: a few examples of our "new era" approach to horticulture. Of course, many judgment mistakes, failures and wrath-of-god occurrences await us, just like always, but you can see why we're optimistic about the future of Buchholz Nursery.

1 comment:

  1. Love Acer palmatum 'Ikanki', 'Taylor' and 'Marlo'. Will any of these be available in the spring?