Friday, February 8, 2013

February Optimism

Another February, ah well: I've had nearly forty of them in my horticultural career. I don't count the Februaries of my youth, when I was carefree (except for going to school), because I wasn't responsible for anything then. Now I tend plants, and any number of calamities can befall them, and I worry about them all.

In spite of our failed political leadership and our sour economy, the end for me horticulturally is not in sight. I persist, I continue to propagate. I consult with Pedro and Pablo, and Eric and Seth and Phil, but ultimately I make all of the decisions. So, what is Buchholz speculating on/upon that might be of interest to you? A glance at the rooted-cutting list and the graft list will reveal "what is up," what I'm banking on/upon, what I pin my future on/upon.

Catalpa bignonioides 'Nana'

Catalpa fargesii

Catalpa ovata

Years ago I collected a dwarf form of the "Indian Bean Tree," Catalpa bignonioides 'Nana', and this is the first year we have attempted to propagate it. After fifteen years it is approximately 6' tall by 5' wide, and it is very dense. New growth is purplish, but soon develops into large lustrous green leaves. My little dwarf has not flowered yet, so far as I know, but the type blooms in July and August with panicles of white with yellow and purple markings. Catalpa fargesii is similar, but from China, as is Catalpa ovata.

The "Indian Bean Tree" produces bean-like pods, but not real beans. Also, it is not from India as you might suppose, but rather from the southeast of the United States. It was originally named for native American Indians, and should really be called Catawba; there was an error in the transcription of the Indian name. I love these types of nomenclatural mistakes.

Pinus bungeana at Martin Brooks Nursery Rare Plant Nursery

Another Catalpa is the Chinese species bungei, which I have seen but do not grow. But I do grow Pinus bungeana and its myriad of cultivars. The pine is named for Alexander von Bunge, a Baltic German botanist who explored for plants in Asia in the 1800's. Pinus bungeana is commonly known as the "Lacebark Pine" due to its multi-colored exfoliating bark. I have seen Pinus bungeana, which comes from northeastern and central China, all over the world in various tree collections, and the species seems to adapt to many climates, as long as good drainage occurs. The most colorfully-trunked specimen that I've ever encountered was at Martin Brooks Rare Plant Nursery in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Mr. Brooks would smoke several cigars per day, and maybe that accounts for the splendid coloration.

Pinus bungeana 'Silver Ghost'

An impressive cultivar of bungeana is growing at the Dawes Arboretum in Ohio, one they named 'Silver Ghost' for apparent reason. I've had it for about twelve years, but it remains to be seen if it will show the same type of trunk as the original, or if perhaps that has more to do with climate or soil type.

Pinus bungeana at Kew Gardens

Pinus bungeana in the Forbidden City

The largest bungeana I have seen is growing at Kew Gardens in London, but I have no idea how old it is. Another venerable specimen resides in a courtyard in Beijing's Forbidden City, and somehow survives the smog and litter and the tiniest amount of compacted soil at its base. When I was there twenty five years ago, a goofy Chinese tourist had just peeled off a piece of the bark, and then gave me a bewildered look when I yelled at him. Probably thousands of others had done the same.

Pinus gerardiana

There are two other species of "Lacebark Pine" besides the best known bungeana: Pinus gerardiana from northern India and Tibet, and Pinus squamata from northeastern Yunnan in China. Pinus squamata was recently discovered, and only 36 trees remain; it is considered the world's most rare pine, and I hope that someday I can have one, for I have the other two. Pinus bungeana and gerardiana are more pinyon-pine-like, with needles in fascicles of three, while squamata has long drooping needles in fascicles of five.

Pinus bungeana 'Diamant'

Pinus bungeana 'Diamant'

Pinus bungeana 'REL WB'

Pinus bungeana 'Compact Form'

Pinus bungeana 'Temple Gem'

Pinus bungeana 'Temple Gem'

A couple of Pinus bungeana cultivars 'Diamant' and 'REL WB' probably originated as witch's broom mutations, while 'Compact Form' and 'Temple Gem' arose as seedlings. I figure that our introduction of 'Temple Gem' grows at about 25% the rate of a normal bungeana, and though it takes time, its trunk will eventually develop the colorful patchwork of exfoliating bark. The original seedling is now twelve feet tall at thirty years of age. All of its brethren seedlings were sold twenty years ago, while I kept the lowly runt. 'Temple Gem' also has the tendency to cone at a young age. We graft all bungeana onto Pinus strobus or strobiformis, but neither are perfect rootstocks. Mostly the grafts grow well, but sometimes a tree will be yellowish, and while it doesn't necessarily die, it doesn't look like a tree I want to keep in my nursery.

Picea breweriana with Mt. Shasta
Picea breweriana at the Hoyt Arboretum

Picea breweriana

Picea breweriana 'Mt. Magic'

Another conifers species that I'm fond of is Picea breweriana, and I do my best to champion it, even though it is so slow to grow. In other words, I make no profit, but I grow it anyway. The cultivar 'Mt. Magic' looks like the type and I'm not sure why it was given a name. I don't know of any 'Mt. Magic' in its native range of southern Oregon to northern California.

Picea breweriana 'Emerald Midget'

An attractive dwarf selection of breweriana is 'Emerald Midget', our seedling from about thirty years ago. Perhaps that wasn't a good name, for while it certainly is a "midget," the "emerald" coloration is only at the tops of the needles, and the silvery undersides are what you mostly notice. It amuses me that certain European plantsmen e-mail me to verify that the photos above are truly breweriana and not an omorika. Yes, it truly is a breweriana, as its buds will show.

Picea omorika x breweriana

Picea breweriana 'Kohout's Dwarf'

Picea breweriana 'Wustemeyer'

But speaking of Picea omorika, we also grow an omorika-breweriana hybrid. So far it's just a novelty, and I don't have one very large, but I assume that it will attain a narrow form with nodding branchlets. 'Kohout's Dwarf' and 'Wustemeyer' are of European origin, probably both are from witch's brooms.

Pinus contorta 'Frisian Gold' at Jeddeloh Nursery

This winter we have begun to propagate various cultivars of Pinus contorta. The photos of 'Frisian Gold' were taken at Jeddeloh Nursery in Germany, showing the original golden mutation on an otherwise normal green pine. It is considered a dwarf, and for us only grows to 18" tall by 24" wide in ten years.

Dan with Pinus contorta 'Mt. Hood Variegated'

Pinus contorta 'Mt. Hood Variegated' was discovered by Dan Luscombe of the Bedgebury Arboretum in southern England, the home of the largest collection of coniferous species and cultivars in the world, or so they reckon. We were making a loop around Mt. Hood on the main highway, when Dan blurted out that he saw a variegated tree...and then he grew nervous in case he was wrong. I turned around anyway in case he was right. And he was right. Eventually I returned for the scionwood, and the offspring are doing nicely. Time will tell if it's a tree worth having, but in case it is, we will be ready with stock trees. There are a lot of "in cases" in horticulture.

Pinus thunbergii 'War Bonnet'

Pinus thunbergii 'War Bonnet'

Pinus contorta 'Chief Joseph'

We are propagating 'War Bonnet', a golden cultivar of the "Japanese Black Pine." So far it appears more vigorous than the well-known 'Chief Joseph', and hopefully it will propagate to better success than 'Chief Joseph'. How the two cultivars compare in color will have to wait until I plant them side by side.

Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst'

Pinus contorta 'Taylor's Sunburst'

One final Pinus contorta is 'Taylor's Sunburst', discovered by Dr. Taylor of Colorado. Most of the year it is a non-event, but in spring new shoots are butter yellow, and most visitors think it is the most fantastic tree ever.

Acer platanoides 'Maltese Cross'

Acer platanoides 'Maltese Cross'

We have some interesting maples in production, and Acer platanoides 'Maltese Cross' is one such. Leaves appear on long petioles in the shape of a cross, like the symbol of the Knights of St. John who fought for the Holy Land during the Crusades. The Knights lived on a small island in the Mediterranean named Malta. Our maple is no dwarf, and will require adequate room in the landscape.

Acer x 'Cinnamon Flake'

We recently grafted some hybrid maples. All are fascinating to me, but I'm cautious, and only propagate them in small numbers. Acer x 'Cinnamon Flake' is the griseum/maximowiczianum hybrid, a tree described to be a "griseum on steroids" by Dean Linderman, the former owner of Birchwood Arboretum in Virginia.

Acer x 'Purple Haze'

'Purple Haze' is the hybrid between Acer pseudoplatanus and Acer griseum, a hybrid that cannot exist if you believe the Eurocentric experts (de Jong) who have analyzed maples up one side and down the other. I'm pretty sure Mr. de Jong has triple my IQ and a whole lot more of scientific acumen beyond this lowly Gastonite, but all too often the brilliant intellectuals are not able to even tie their own shoes or drive a car, such as Einstein and others, and common sense can often evade them. So, I admit that 'Purple Haze' could just be a variant of Acer pseudoplatanus, and maybe I'm getting too excited to suggest that it also has griseum blood, even though it originated in a griseum seed bed.

Acer x 'Sugarflake'

Acer x 'Sugarflake'

Similarly, I'll mention the hybrid of Acer saccharum with Acer griseum, which we have named 'Sugarflake', which is also dismissed as just a varietal form of saccharum by the same Euro smartypants. I don't have the definitive answer, and I don't really know anything botanically for sure; but then who does? Who is open to inquiry, to unbiased judgment, and the skill to provide us with the correct botanical information? As always, I stand to be corrected, so come forth with your arguments, your evidence! In the meantime I'll just mention that 'Sugarflake' looks to be absolutely intermediate between the two species saccharum and griseum, and don't you also think so from the photos displayed above?

Acer griseum 'Susanna'

Another interesting maple is Acer griseum 'Susanna' which is growing at Susanna Farm Nursery in Maryland. It is unusual for its squat-oval canopy. Acer griseum is not known for any cultivars (as far as I know), except for 'Susanna', and another, 'Narrow Form', which we also grow. If there are others, please let me know. I can fantasize about a weeping griseum, or one with red leaves, or maybe a compact dwarf. There could already be a little nursery down the road that grows one of these.

Disanthus cercidifolius

Disanthus cercidifolius 'Ena nishiki'
Disanthus cercidifolius 'Ena nishiki'

We are producing some interesting deciduous trees and shrubs, and one is Disanthus (not to be confused with Dianthus) cercidifolius 'Ena nishiki', a variegated cultivar in the Hamamelidaceae family. Our bush has just finished flowering, tiny reddish-purple things, but it is the cute white and green variegated leaves that make it unique. Disanthus has no common name to my knowledge, maybe because it's fairly rare in American landscapes. It is mainly grown for its fall color, orange, red and purple at the same time, and 'Ena nishiki' is fantastic in fall as well. One can root Disanthus, but they're a bit touchy on their own roots, so we graft on the more adaptable Parrotia persica.

Parrotia persica in Iran

Parrotia persica trunk

Parrotia persica 'Vanessa'

Parrotia persica 'Vanessa'

Parrotia persica 'Pendula'

Parrotia persica 'Pendula'

Parrotia persica 'Pendula'

Parrotia persica 'Pendula'

Parrotia persica 'Select'

And speaking of Parrotia persica, they are beginning to flower now, which are also small, but a mature tree can have thousands of red blooms. 'Vanessa' was selected for its pillar form, which is far more useful for landscape situations than the type. 'Pendula' forms a neat haystack, and 'Select' was a Buchholz Nursery seedling introduction of twenty five years ago, notable for a rich purple margin on spring leaves, more so than the type. Parrotia is native to Iran (hence persica) and is also in the Hamamelidaceae family, and it roots readily so we don't have to graft it on anything. Parrotia is commonly called the "Ironwood Tree," and it will quickly dull a saw. In Iran branches are woven together to make impenetrable fences to keep the livestock either in or out.

Fagus sylvatica 'Aurea Pendula'

I'm partial to the many cultivars of Fagus sylvatica. We have weepers, narrow uprights and variegates; and I suppose my favorite is the golden weeper, Fagus sylvatica 'Aurea Pendula'. If sited in full sun (in Oregon) it can burn, but if in too much shade it will have greenish leaves. The photo above is a specimen sited perfectly in our original Display Garden. It is not for sale unless you buy the entire nursery, which is for sale, always is for sale.

Fagus sylvatica 'Dawyck Gold'

Fagus sylvatica 'Dawyck Purple'
Fagus sylvatica 'Red Obelisk'

Fagus sylvatic 'Dawyck Gold' and 'Dawyck Purple' are narrow pillars from the Dawyck Botanic Garden in Scotland. Our largest 'Dawyck Gold' specimen is also in our original Display Garden, and it is about forty feet tall at only twenty years of age, so, good that it is narrow. 'Red Obelisk' is also narrow, and is distinguished by rugose leaves that are dark purple.

Fagus sylvatica 'Albovariegata'

Fagus sylvatica 'Marmo Star'

Fagus sylvatica 'Tricolor'

Fagus sylvatica 'Tricolor'

Fagus sylvatica 'Albovariegata' is an old cultivar with gorgeous cream-white markings on the green leaves, as is the newer 'Marmo Star'. 'Tricolor' is an old favorite with purple and bright red variegation. There is controversy over who grows the "real" 'Tricolor', as most in the trade only display two colors. Some experts insist that they have the correct cultivar, and all of us others are wrong Wrong. All I know is that I once got some of the "correct" scions, and carefully kept them separate from the others, but five years later they all looked the same.

Fagus sylvatica 'Fau de Verzy'

Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa Purpurea'

Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa Purpurea'

Fagus sylvatica 'Pendula'

Fagus sylvatica 'Tortuosa' at the Arnold Arboretum

'Fau de Verzy' is a dwarf spreading weeper, and ideal for a small garden compared to the old 'Pendula' which can grow to enormous size. 'Tortuosa' features branches that can zigzag in various directions, as does the purple-leaf 'Tortuosa Purpurea'. Both can get large, and the photo above of 'Tortuosa' was taken at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.

Fagus sylvatica 'Ansorgei'

Fagus sylvatica 'Ansorgei'

One final "Beech" is slow-growing and cute, Fagus sylvatica 'Ansorgei'. The tree has an airy appearance due to brown-red leaves that are lanceolate. It was discovered by Ansorge in 1891 in Hamburg, Germany, but still is rather rare in American landscapes. In October, 2000, I was on the Conifer Society bus that drove past the location of the Ansorge nursery, but the company was long gone.

The Internet suggests that Fagus is an old Irish word meaning "a whale's vagina," but it is actually the name for the Celtic god of Beech trees. According to the Encyclopedia of Stanford Trees, beech and Fagus share the same Latin root, which is from the Greek phegos which means beech and edible. In German B├╝che is beech, while Buch is book, and perhaps because German barbarians were once writing on beechen tablets. So Buchholz is "bookwood" or "beechwood," and as I've revealed before, my father would frequently call me a "son of a beechwood." And I'll end the blog on that note.

Talon, son of a beechwood


  1. Hello from Germany
    first of all sorry for my bad englisch. It´s a long time ago I learned it in school... I saw at the homepage of Buchholz nursery that they offer "abies beshanzuensis" In Europe I only know ONE tree of this rare tree. Can anybody give me informations where I can get seeds or parts of the tree. A big nursery in Germany will help me if I get some parts of this tree. It is very difficult (better impossible) to export/import living plants from USA to Europe. Best solution would be seed.
    Thanks to the one who can help me!
    Werner Schmitt

  2. Your Pinus contorta War Bonnet is not a contorta. It is Pinus thunbergii. Have a closer look at the buds, better yet, put it next to Pinus thunbergii Ogon. I bet you cant see a difference.

    It was introduced by Collectors Nursery in Washington state, unfortunately it is most likely a miss-named thumbergii Ogon.

    Best of luck!

  3. lovely pinus bungeana i have one ,amazing Acer x cinnamon!!