Friday, March 1, 2013

It's Still Winter




Winter at Buchholz Nursery, 1982


February just doesn't last long enough, and I feel that I don't completely get my money's worth on my monthly transactions. On the other hand: good riddance to everyone's least favorite month. March is supposed to "come in like a lion," but then to "go out like a lamb." Oregon's weather can be benign, even sultry at times, but you can also get bitch-slapped and quickly reduced to a whimper. Recently I see on the news about the nation's white-outs and blizzards – and I don't mean the Dairy Queen kind – but rather the horrible reality of power outages and closed freeways, and crushed trees reduced to smithereens. For those of you weathering such conditions, you surely don't want to hear about buds breaking here, the colors of spring rushing forth, or the smell of the prima vera. Should I just skip the blog for a month, until we can all be happy?

Before we can smell the roses, we have winter projects to finish first. It seems like we can complete our winter propagation soon – it should already be done – but there's at least another week. Harvesting trees from the field will also continue throughout March. I made lists of projects last October, like pruning trees, that was to keep the crew busy in crappy winter weather. We've had our crappy weather, but still have not tackled item one. It's amazing how powerless the president/owner of a company can be, like in a bad dream where you're paralyzed with inaction.

I have an urge to brag about what is occurring recently, especially in the greenhouses, where today it is already April 1st, but I don't want to spring the future upon you when you're still under snow. I shouldn't be your "April Fool" on the first day of March. So instead, I'll look back to winter, and I'll describe some of the plants that we have propagated; and, hoping for success, that will suffice as my "spring tease."


Hamamelis x intermedia 'Strawberries & Cream'


I have two "Witch Hazel" cultivars that are in bloom now, and both have been grafted onto Hamamelis virginiana rootstock. 'Strawberries & Cream' is an x intermedia hybrid, as are most of our Hamamelis cultivars, and it features flowers that are reddish at their base, but end in cream-white. The two-toned coloration resulted in an excellent cultivar name, and who in the gardening public wouldn't want to grow this winter treat? I purposely planted 'Strawberries & Cream' next to my home driveway so that my wife, all visitors and I can enjoy its two-to-three weeks in bloom.


Hamamelis vernalis 'Blue Moon'



The other new cultivar that we have propagated is Hamamelis vernalis 'Blue Moon'. The Latin name vernalis means "spring flowering," where the flower clusters begin in mid-winter, and continue until early spring. Hamamelis vernalis is native to Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas, but apparently does not hybridize with nearby Hamamelis virginiana. It is noted for its strongly scented flowers, and 'Blue Moon' is no exception. The only problem that I have with 'Blue Moon' is that it is in no way "blue." No, not at all, and shame on the perpetrator of the suggestion. A recent visitor saw our 'Blue Moons' in flower, and said, "Oh, is that [the cultivar] 'Amethyst'? " "No," was my answer, "it's Blue Moon." "Mmm," was her reply. I don't grow 'Amethyst', but probably I should, instead of growing the imposter, 'Blue Moon'. But in spite of this confession, look at the 'Blue Moon' photo above, and I suppose you would want it in your garden too, under whatever name.



























Acer palmatum 'Manyo no sato'


Acer palmatum 'Manyo no sato'


Our winter records indicate that we propagated some more Acer palmatum 'Manyo no sato', in spite of grafting a few hundred also in summer. Well, I'm banking on the cultivar, supposing that 400 plus is not too many. We'll sell them as one-year grafts, then as one or three-gallon pots in our Maple Program, then beyond...into our larger specimen sizes. It's amazing how four hundred of a well-chosen plant can disappear in just a few nursery years. Remember that we are a dinky small-size nursery...out there (somewhere) in Gaston.



























Acer x conspicuum 'Phoenix'



























Acer x conspicuum 'Phoenix'


We also propagated various maple species which are noted for their ornamental-bark cultivars. Acer x conspicuum 'Phoenix', hardy to -20 degrees F, USDA zone 5, is spectacular in the winter landscape. You can graft 'Phoenix' onto any stripe-bark maple, and a seedling rootstock such as Acer pensylvanicum, Acer tegmentosum, Acer rufinerve or Acer davidii will result in a stronger tree than if 'Phoenix' were on its own roots, I suspect. Seldom are red-bark freaks as hardy and strong as a tree with a "borrowed" root system. I know that 'Phoenix' is currently being propagated via tissue culture, and though I don't have any science to prove my hardiness theory, I just can't imagine they're as tough as my grafts, once they are outside the coddling nursery-greenhouse environment. I wouldn't grow tissue-culture 'Phoenix' even if they were free. By the way, the species x conspicuum is a hybrid between Acer davidii x Acer pensylvanicum, and yes, it is spelled with two u's.




























Acer x conspicuum 'Silver Vein'




























Acer 'Silver Cardinal'


























Acer 'Silver Cardinal'


Another x conspicuum cultivar is 'Silver Vein', which was selected at Hillier's in England in the mid 1970's. 'Silver Cardinal' is a variegated cultivar, selected in England in the mid 1980's. I doubt that it is truly a x conspicuum, as indicated by De Beaulieu in An Illustrated Guide to Maples, because it is not as winter hardy as either parent. In fact it doesn't even make it through a typical Oregon winter.




























Acer tegmentosum 'White Tigress'




























Acer tegmentosum 'White Tigress'


Acer tegmentosum is a tough species from Eastern Asia, Siberia and Korea. The species name is from Latin tegmentosus, meaning covered or hidden, as the leaves tend to cover and hide the branches. There is nothing really special about 'White Tigress' compared to the type. It originated as a seedling in an Ohio nursery, where the owner simply wanted to promote the species in his area.



























Acer tegmentosum 'Joe Witt'


Acer tegmentosum 'Joe Witt'

Acer tegmentosum 'Joe Witt'


So tegmentosum 'White Tigress' may not have deserved cultivar status, but the selection 'Joe Witt' certainly does. Joe Witt discovered an outstanding seedling while he was employed at the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, Washington, and eventually it was named for him. The bark is notable for being chalk white, a bloom that you can actually rub off. I've never seen the late Mr. Witt's original seedling, which I think was planted at his house. He passed away, and as Mrs. Witt aged, the home was sold, and I don't know if the new resident knows about or values the tree. I'm privy to the history because Mr. Witt's daughter, Martha, used to work here years ago. The cultivar name was chosen by plantsman Dan Hinkley of Washington state.




























Acer rufinerve 'Erythrocladum'


Acer rufinerve 'Erythrocladum' is known for red winter bark, from Greek erythros, red, and cladum, clad. Unfortunately there is also an Acer pensylvanicum 'Erythrocladum', so you have to identify your cultivar carefully. The rufinerve is not as colorful as one might wish; on the other hand it makes a strong vigorous tree.




























Acer davidii 'Serpentine'


A final stripe bark is Acer davidii 'Serpentine', a small to medium-size tree with purple and white bark, especially on the young shoots. It has been around awhile, having been selected in a Boskoop, Holland nursery in the mid 1970's.


Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose'





























Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose'




























Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose'


Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose' in May


Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose' in July


Harumi and Saya with Harriette Hatch


It has been a few years since we propagated Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose', but we grafted fifty this past month, and it will be nice to get some back at specimen size, which won't take long. 'Mocha Rose' is our seedling selection of about twenty years ago, and the original seedling sits proudly at the north end of the Blue Forest, next to our parking lot and loading dock. Even the scroungy truck drivers get off their ass to get a closer look in spring. By summer the shrimp-rose coloration changes to a light brown, and I suppose the cultivar name would have been more apt as 'Rose Mocha', but too late. Friend Harriette Hatch observed the tree many years ago, and I mentioned I was seeking an official name; and she offered the name 'Mocha Rose', which I accepted. I deserve no credit for finding 'Mocha Rose', for it was bombastically pink in a group of otherwise green seedlings, and any fool could have spotted it. The original seedling is (of course) on its own roots, and I estimate it to be only 25% the size of the type. Even with green macrophyllum rootstock, 'Mocha Rose' should not grow to gigantic size.


Acer pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset'

Acer pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset'

Acer pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset'

Acer pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset'


And of course we again propagated some Acer pseudoplatanus 'Eskimo Sunset', which many suggest should be 'Esk Sunset'. I don't know which is correct; I'm just going by the label in JD Vertrees's garden, where a small plant was growing in deep shade. I think that was the year after Vertrees died in 1993, so I couldn't discuss it further with him. Our first graft is still at the nursery, in the Far East Garden, and it is rather large now. 'Eskimo Sunset' is loved by many, but reviled by some plant snobs for its gaudy variegation. I always appreciate it at the end of a spring day, when a slight breeze puts the creature into motion, and when the purple undersides reveal themselves. Come on over some evening; I'll provide the cheese and wine, and we'll have an 'Eskimo Sunset' party. Notice: happy females with pretty smiles only.


Magnolia 'Black Beauty'


Speaking of pretty, the Magnolias will be blooming soon. We propagated five cultivars only, and all in fairly small numbers. At one point we were known for a great number of cultivars, and many of them still exist in our upper gardens, but we've recently greatly reduced the output. The reason is that they grow so damn fast, and most have finished blooming before we ship customers' orders. But it's nice to have a handful to offer of some well-chosen selections. Flowers on 'Black Beauty' aren't truly black, but rather dark red, and we've always been able to sell out our modest amounts.





























Magnolia 'Coral Lake'




























Magnolia 'Coral Lake'





























Magnolia 'Red Baron'


Magnolia 'Star Wars'

Magnolia kobus var. stellata 'Jane Platt'

Magnolia kobus var. stellata 'Jane Platt'

Fothergilla gardenii 'Jane Platt'

Magnolia 'Coral Lake' reminds me of a modern tulip hybrid, with its pink and green flowers. 'Red Baron' blooms a strong red color, while 'Star Wars' is pinkish-red. Magnolia kobus var. stellata 'Jane Platt' is a delightful "Star Magnolia," forming a smaller, more compact tree than the other selections previously mentioned. Roger Gossler of Gossler Farms in Oregon observed the original (a Magnolia stellata var. rosea) in Mrs. Platt's Portland garden, and concluded that it was a more deep pink blossom than the typical var. rosea. In my opinion, it is one of the ten best of any flowering tree, and I too have seen it in the late Jane Platt's garden. We also grow a Fothergilla gardenii 'Jane Platt', which makes a dwarf little mound.

We have grafted thousands of conifers this winter, and I don't buy it when fellow growers complain that "people don't buy conifers anymore." My experience differs, as long as you're growing the best cultivars. Yes, gone are the days when Weeping Norway Spruce, dwarf Scotch Pine and Blue Atlas Cedar were mainstays in the garden centers; gone partly because you can also buy them cheap in the disgusting box stores. The fast-growing, large size conifers have also been in decline, thanks to America's general economic mismanagement. One serious reason some growers can't sell their conifers is because they're competing with bankrupt and desperate nurseries, who have slashed prices and sell at less than cost. Thanks, sleezeballs.




























Picea glauca 'Daisy's White'


The Buchholz philosophy of growing many choice conifers, but all in small numbers, has ensured that we can sell what we have. And I don't expect, and can accept, that I don't make the same profit on everything; in fact, some of our product is probably sold at a loss. Take Picea glauca 'Daisy's White' for example. It's a cool, very colorful dwarf conifer, but I sell six-year-old one-gallon pots for only $8.50. That's not going to get the kids through college. But we're one of the few nurseries to supply this plant, and I like it, and so we sell our small numbers every year.

Pinus parviflora 'Aoi'

Pinus parviflora 'Aoi'


























And we don't make much profit on the dwarf Pinus parviflora cultivars either, but they are a defining group for us. 'Aoi', which means "blue" in Japanese, graces our Blue Forest, and the tree in the photo above is just three feet tall by five feet wide at over twenty years of age. Growing a plant like 'Aoi' perhaps helps us to sell other items which do have a profit.




























Pinus parviflora 'Blue Giant'


Pinus parviflora 'Blue Giant' will grow to six feet tall in ten years, and has been extremely popular with customers who have seen it. Needles are longer than with most parviflora cultivars, and are colored a silvery-blue. We also grow a specimen in the Blue Forest, and it shines brightly in the winter landscape, really more than any other parviflora cultivar.

Pinus parviflora 'Cleary'





























Pinus parviflora 'Cleary'


Our best Pinus parviflora for field production is 'Cleary', although it makes a great container plant too. I received my start years ago from the late Ed Rezek, a conifer hobbyist who shared a lot of choice plants with other plantsmen, and who was noted for his good taste in plants. Unfortunately I don't know where the name 'Cleary' came from, and I would prefer that it had a "catchy" name instead, but 'Cleary' is what we have.

Pinus parviflora 'Tanima no yuki'

Pinus parviflora 'Tanima no yuki'

A final parviflora that I'll mention is 'Tanima no yuki', which translates to "snow of the valley" in Japanese. The plant came on the scene many years ago, but the spelling was butchered, including words that don't exist in Japanese. I'm proud that my wife was the first in America (I think) to straighten it out, and only because I happened to walk past our oldest specimen with her and asked what it meant. Thank you, dear. 'Tanima no yuki' will grow to about the size of a basketball in ten years, but eventually will become twice as wide as tall. Afternoon shade will keep the white growth more fresh looking, but in too much shade you won't have any color.




























Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Sparkling Arrow'


I brag endlessly about our introduction of a "Weeping Alaskan Cedar," Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Sparkling Arrow', and I remember when I snipped off the one, small variegated shoot from an eighteen-foot 'Green Arrow'; and that little twig actually was the origin, the beginning of a great cultivar. Again, I shouldn't receive credit for that, as most of my little snippings lead to nothing, and it is pure dumb luck when one actually turns out to be great.




























Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Chirimen'


Cedrus brevifolia 'Kenwith'


An exciting new "Hinoki" is Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Chirimen'. It is a dwarf with very refined foliage, and is really unlike any other Chamaecyparis I have seen. We root 'Chirimen', and it makes a nice little container plant; but we also graft it onto the more durable and hardy Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd', which allows it to be grown in more extreme conditions. The greatest accolade that I can give 'Chirimen', from a marketing point of view, is that it is cute, damn cute. It reminds me of Cedrus brevifolia 'Kenwith', a dwarf English selection which is equally cute; and I would think irresistible to the gardening public, or to gardening connoisseurs anyway.






















Nandina domestica filamentosa 'Chirimen'


"Chirimen" refers to a special type of Japanese fabric, which describes a dull crepe made with a course yarn. Good for you, if you can see that in the photo above. I've never seen Acer palmatum 'Chirimen' or 'Chirimen nishiki', except in the Vertrees Japanese Maple book. But, besides the Chamaecyparis cultivar, I also grow Nandina domestica filamentosa 'Chirimen', a delightful dwarf with thread-like leaves.




























Picea orientalis 'Sulphur Flush'


Picea orientalis 'Sulphur Flush'


I'll finish the blog with a variegated form of the "Oriental Spruce," Picea orientalis 'Sulphur Flush'. It also goes by another name, as 'Silver Seedling', but I don't know which name takes precedence; and besides, both names are stupid anyway. But it's a colorful dwarf spruce. "Sulphur" implies that it is yellowish, while "silver" implies that it is more white, and indeed it is. The only problem with the plant is that it displays varying amounts of the light variegation, so that some propagules can be mostly green, while others feature more of the white.


Spring 2012 at Fl


So there you have it: I didn't get ahead of myself and rub spring in your faces. But, you know it's coming.

2 comments:

  1. I'm definately forward to spring! I guess we're getting bitch slapped with winter in the south. lol. It's snowing today. A year ago on this day it was in the low 80's. I love reading your blog! I find it educational and a bit humorous.
    Kindest regards,
    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
  2. Joe Witt is in my personal dream list is possible send in EU a little number?

    ReplyDelete