Friday, June 7, 2013

Flora Farm Quercus (The Oak Section)



Quercus garryana, one of the Three Amigos

Last night I walked along the road at the eastern edge of my farm, also known as Flora Farm. All sections are mapped and named, and the employees quickly learn to navigate. FF Quercus is this eastern strip, a piece that is dominated by three native Quercus garryana, the "Oregon Oak," and the trees are probably over one hundred years old. This strip of land is 30 feet deep by 500 feet long, and I have planted a number of interesting species, all of them intended to remain for the long-haul. The collection serves little financial purpose, as nothing was planted for harvest, but I drive or walk past the trees – and have done so literally thousands of times – and I never tire of acknowledging these friends.



Harumi Buchholz
Saya Buchholz



























I wanted to give the "Oregon Oaks" some company, and no better choice than to add a Japanese species (also Korea & China), Quercus dentata, the "Daimyo Oak." Both species now inhabit the eastern realm, and I wonder if they will ever hybridize, as my Japanese species Haruko has with me. All three of the garryanas certainly have their eye on the Japanese sweetheart, but whether they'll be able to do anything about it, especially at their advanced age, remains to be seen. Old geezer Buchholz was able to maintain his virility and managed to produce daughters Harumi and Saya; and, as they say, you have to do it one thousand times to make each kid.

Quercus dentata 'C.F. Miller'




























Quercus dentata 'C.F. Miller'


Some on-line information suggests that the selection we grow, Quercus dentata 'Carl Ferris Miller', is "slow-growing" and "not for instant gratification." I would disagree, as I've enjoyed mine from a three-year-old size...on up to my fifteen-year-old specimens. Rich-green leaves are large and deeply-lobed, and I find the species to be vigorous, and I suspect that it will grow at least to "medium size." Autumn foliage is at first yellow, then evolves to a rich apricot-brown, and the leaves persist throughout much of winter.

Carl Ferris Miller (1921-2002) liked Korea so much that he took on a Korean name, Min Byung Gal, and he became a citizen. He bought land near the fishing village of Chollipo and planted a few trees, then some more, then some many more. Almost by accident he produced a full-fledged arboretum, which today contains over 13,000 species, and the Chollipo Arboretum is now internationally acclaimed. I don't know how 'CF Miller' differs from the type, as I haven't seen seedling-raised Daimyos at a mature size. The term daimyo refers to Japan's feudal lords who were subordinate to only the Shogun, as dai means "large," and myo means "private land." They were defended by samurai, who were paid off with food and land.


Quercus dentata 'Pinnatifida'

Quercus dentata 'Pinnatifida'




























Quercus dentata 'Pinnatifida'


Quercus dentata 'Pinnatifida' is an amazing freak, and two specimens of it inhabit FF Quercus. Also known as the "Feather-Leaf Japanese Oak," I think it would look more appropriate in the Amazon jungle, looking Philodendron-like. New leaves are pinkish and small, but soon enough they mature into huge green monstrosities, very unlike any other oak I've ever seen.

Quercus phellos

Quercus phellos is the "Willow Oak," and you really might suppose it to be a Salix. It is native to eastern USA, and it forms a broad medium-size canopy. Long slender green leaves turn yellow in autumn. The species name phellos is from Greek phloos for "bark," while pantophellos are "shoes made of cork." Anyway my Quercus phellos are too young to display interesting bark, but I enjoy the bamboo-like bushes of the young trees.


Quercus vaccinifolia

Quercus vaccinifolia is the "Huckleberry Oak," a scrubby shrub from western North America, growing in mountain forests and mountain chaparral. For me it is entirely a bio plant, a term that was used in the previous week's blog. My specimen was almost obligatorily included in the FF Quercus section, but it has proven more vigorous than I allowed space for, and I might eventually dump the ten foot tall and wide beast. In nature animals make use of vaccinifolia, as deer eat the evergreen leaves and the American black bear has learned to relish the bitter acorns. I guess you can tell that I really don't like this scrub oak, but why don't I find something better to put in its place?



























Quercus robur 'Concordia'


Another oak is clearly more interesting for me, and that is Quercus robur 'Concordia', the "Golden English Oak." While Quercus robur is called the "English Oak," it can be found throughout Europe to the Caucasus, and the species name is from a Latin word for "robust," referring to the strength of the tree and its wood. With golden foliage, 'Concordia' will attain a lesser size than the type, but it's no pretty wimp either, and a thirty-year-old specimen will grow to twenty feet tall by thirty feet wide. One such exists at Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum – or whatever the collection is called these days. I don't know how 'Concordia' received its cultivar name, but it was discovered growing (in 1842) in a nursery in my most favorite town on earth, in Ghent, Belgium. My connection to "Gaau," as the Belgians pronounce it, can be explored by the Flora Wonder Blog of December 9th, 2011, and I strongly suppose that this small Euro city still holds a place in my future...perhaps at the last month of my life.

Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'

All right, enough of Quercus, enough of oaks; but not quite, if you consider Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'. This oak-like shrub is native to southern Oregon and northern California, and can be found growing among the true oaks of that region. As with Quercus garryana, Garrya elliptica honors Nicholas Garry of the Hudson's Bay Company, one who helped David Douglass immensely during D.D.'s botanizing travels in the American northwest. Unlike the mighty "Oregon Oak," the Garrya is a mere bush, unattractive really, but 'James Roof' features nearly foot-long silver catkins in late winter, thus earning the common name of "Silk Tassel Tree." So, just after the "trimming" of your Christmas tree, you can receive a second decorative event two months later, and I purposely planted one next to our driveway to brighten wife Haruko's late winter A.M. school run with the kids.

Haruko, age nine, in the middle of two friends

Actually, almost everything I do in life – these days – has Haruko in mind...and no better partner could I ever serve. We continuously exceed each other, and there's certainly no better way to run a marriage.

Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose'

Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose'

Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose'

But back to the FF Quercus section, where we'll celebrate some outstanding Acer selections. Acer macrophyllum – the "Oregon Big-Leaf Maple" – is represented by one of the most choice of any garden cultivar (in my opinion) with our selection 'Mocha Rose'. Reconsider what I just said, what I just claimed: that 'Mocha Rose' is one of the most choice of any garden cultivar, and I don't just mean a maple selection, but really, any plant ever. Well, in my biased opinion. This is a vigorous, but compact small tree, and the original is planted 100 feet away from our specimen-tree loading dock, and it's somewhat gratifying to watch the fat-ass truck drivers lumber out of their rigs to get a closer look at it. The only downside is that it is hardy to only -10 degrees F, or USDA zone 6, as I suppose, though none of us has ever comprehensively tested its winter tolerance.

Acer micranthum

Acer micranthum



























Acer micranthum


Acer micranthum has become one of my favorite Japanese maple species since I first saw a good-sized specimen at Westonbirt Arboretum in England eleven years ago. Portions of the tree had already changed to red, while other sections were still glossy green. Numerous pink samaras added to the October excitement. The species name is due to the small flowers, and it also has the smallest seed of any maple. In Japan it is the "Komine Maple," and is native to Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu Islands, and surprisingly it is hardy to -20 degrees F, USDA zone 5. Acer micranthum is in the "Snakebark Maple" group, and it does display some minor trunk striping on young trees. For fun I plan to top graft it onto Acer conspicuum 'Phoenix' rootstock, and perhaps also onto Acer tegmentosum 'White Tigress'. Boy, I sure know how to have fun.

Acer palmatum 'Taimen nishiki'




























Acer palmatum 'Taimen nishiki'


Acer palmatum 'Taimen nishiki'

Acer palmatum 'Hinode nishiki'

Acer palmatum 'Hinode nishiki'



























Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo'






















Acer palmatum 'Beni tsukasa'


I planted a couple of Japanese disappointments in the FF Quercus, again for the long-haul, just to see what would happen. Acer palmatums 'Taimen nishiki' and 'Hinode nishiki' were a couple of cultivar prospects with deep purple foliage variegated with white and pink. Some specimens in Japan were outstandingly colorful, and I was most pleased to get some starts. Unfortunately, like my own Acer palmatum 'Rainbow', the instability of these selections, especially when grown under Buchholz Nursery's lush conditions, predispose them to reversion. In other words, you are teased with the variegation possibilities, but ultimately you will have to endure a predominately purple bush. Add another, Acer palmatum 'Fujinami nishiki' to that equation. I had supposed that the more lean soil in the Quercus section would prompt a return to variegated coloration, but so far nothing has improved. My hopeful theory was based upon recent sightings in the Rhododendron Species Garden, were a soil-planted Acer palmatum 'Ukigumo' was marvelously white, and truly hovered in the 'scape like a "floating cloud." I used to grow Acer palmatum 'Beni tsukasa', but dismissed it twenty years ago as a "non-event." But a medium-sized specimen in the Species Garden finally revealed to me how spectacular it could be.




























Acer japonicum 'Taki no gawa'

One Acer japonicum exists in FF Quercus: 'Taki no gawa'. It is a cultivar I can find little information about, although it is vended by a number of mail-order and retail nurseries. The Vertrees/Gregory Japanese Maples, 4th Edition, lists 'Taki no gawa' as a palmatum in the matsumurae group, with green leaves turning to "deep scarlet" in fall. I've never seen this palmatum, and the same-named maple I grow is clearly a japonicum. Furthermore, I saw a japonicum 'Taki no gawa' two years ago at the Arboretum Wespelaar in Belgium. Why does Vertrees/Gregory list it with dashes, as in 'Taki-no-gawa'? Do the Japanese employ dashes in plant names? The book lists a few others with dashes, such as Acer palmatum 'Koto-no-ito'. I don't want to make a big deal about it, but will the editor please step forward?

Acer griseum 'Susanna'

Acer griseum 'Susanna'


Near to 'Taki no gawa' are some trifoliate maples. Acer griseum is represented by the cultivar 'Susanna', which originated as a seedling-grown tree, and is noted for a broad, low canopy. The shape is different from any other mature griseum that I have seen, and there have been many. Scionwood was kindly sent by Brant of Susanna Farms in Maryland, and the photos above are of his original.

Acer x 'Sugarflake'


Acer x 'Sugarflake'





























Acer x 'Sugarflake'


Acer x 'Sugarflake' displays trifoliate leaves, and it originated as a chance hybrid of Acer saccharum ("Sugar Maple") with Acer griseum ("Paperbark Maple"). Interestingly, this hybrid is dismissed by the botanical cognoscenti as either "not likely" or "impossible." I keep a more open mind to the myriad possibilities of nature, and indeed I look for a way to profit from them. I find that children are occasionally more observant and knowledgeable than the educated experts, and I often exhibit childish tendencies as well. But back to 'Sugarflake', if it is 100% Acer saccharum, as de Jong (the eminent Dutch botanist) claims, why is the trunk furrowed? What has caused a sugar maple to exfoliate? The original seedling was found in a bed of griseum seedlings, which is why I assume that it is not a hybrid with Acer triflorum, maximowiczianum etc. Again, no big deal for me to pin it down, and my career will continue all the same.

Acer triflorum




























Acer triflorum


Acer triflorum is the last of the trifoliates in the Quercus section. The species was named for its flowers, however, and not for its three leaves per petiole. In other words, it features three flowers per each inflorescence. The botanist to name it was the Russian Vladimir Komarov (1869-1945), who served as the President of the Academy of Sciences of USSR. For us, Acer triflorum is the first maple to leaf out in spring, and also one of the first to show fall color, being a month ahead of most others. It is a beautiful species year-round, and is especially attractive in winter for its gray-brown exfoliating bark. Every park or large garden should have one, but they are rarely seen in landscapes. For what it's worth, Acer triflorum was always very difficult to sell at Buchholz Nursery, in spite of our excellent quality and fair price.



























Liquidambar acalycina




























Nyssa sinensis


Nyssa sinensis

Prunus maackii

Well, that's about one half of the trees in the long eastern strip at Flora Farm. Other notables include Liquidambar acalycina, a fast-growing "Sweet Gum" from China; Nyssa sinensis, the "Chinese Tupelo," with the genus named for one of the water nymphs of Greek mythology; and Prunus maackii, the "Manchurian Cherry," known for its russet-brown exfoliating bark.

Pseudotsuga menziesii 'Glauca Pendula'

Perhaps the most curious of any of the trees is an old specimen of Pseudotsuga menziesii 'Glauca Pendula'. It looks something like a giraffe wearing a cape, and I have had conversations with it. The tree has followed my entire career with amusement, and hopefully it will outlive me.

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