Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dinky Plants























Mrs. and Mr. Jeddeloh


Pinus mugo 'Mini Mini'

Pinus mugo 'Mini Mini'

The late Herr Johann-Dietrich Jeddeloh from...yes, Jeddeloh, Germany paid me a visit about eighteen years ago. We were in my Far East section looking at conifers and I wondered what the international tree celebrity would find of interest. He was happy it seemed, just to be in a tree collection, and it didn't bother him that I was a small dwarf in the plant world. Suddenly Mr. J. stopped at a weeny pine, a Pinus mugo 'Mini Mini' grafted on a short standard. The little dink was only ten inches wide at ten years of age. He fell to his knees in rapture and petted the little bun. In German he said "What a beautiful little Pinus," except the Europeans pronounce Pinus as "Peenus." Indeed it was a beautiful pine, but I did detect a slight blush on Mrs. Jeddeloh's face.

I don't grow mugo 'Mini Mini' anymore, for it is just too damn dwarf. A one gallon pot should wholesale for at least thirty dollars, but who's going to buy onto that? At least I still have some in the gardens, and I remember discovering the miniscule mugo as a witch's broom mutation on Pinus mugo 'Mops', which is itself an unprofitable dwarf.

Picea glauca 'Blue Planet'

Picea glauca 'Blue Planet'


I'll continue with the unprofitable miniature theme, but it's tough to explain why I persist to grow them. They do combine well with other plants, and are wonderful in our pumice gardens and alpine troughs. They certainly don't grow too large and hog grandiose space in the garden. But garden centers wince if I charge fourteen dollars for a one gallon conifer, regardless that it's ten years old or more. Picea glauca 'Blue Planet' is an example of a true runt, but it sure is cute. It will form a flat bun and might grow to only eight inches wide in ten years. It was found in Germany as a sport of Picea glauca 'Echiniformis', and if any of its thin stems grow to over one inch, they should be considered a reversion and pruned out. While the many cultivars of dwarf "Alberta Spruce" are prone to mite attack, I've never seen it on 'Blue Planet'. Foliage is dark blue-green, and is especially nice with its lighter dots of spring new-growth.

Pinus mugo 'Mr. Wood'

One of the most generous of any plantsman that we've ever met was the late Edsal Wood of Oregon. He was fond of hemlocks and found quite a number of dwarf and white-tip forms. Mr. Wood was a regular at the Copper Kettle Bar, where they say his 4 PM cocktail always awaited him. I once showed up at his nursery, called Bonsai Village, at 3:50 but he had already left, and I learned my lesson to never be late. Another time he called me over to see something special which he had found. He handed me an impossibly miniature dwarf pine, to take it home to "try." With its blue foliage I assumed that it was a Pinus parviflora, but Edsal said it was a mugo seedling. I wondered if he had jumped the gun on cocktail time, but I nodded in agreement and took the treasure home. It sat in my greenhouse for a while; then one day I pinched off a fascicle and to my surprise it contained only two needles, and was indeed a blue mugo. The temporary name I gave to it when first propagated was 'Mr. Wood'. Eventually I sold or gave some away, so the name has stuck, even though I hypocritically advise that peoples' names should not be used for plants. Years later I discovered that Mr. Wood gave a sister seedling to Larry of Stanley and Sons Nursery, who named his 'Fishhook', as it features a slight curve to the tiny needles. Stanley chose the better name I think, but the main point is that they are two distinct clones, even if they look almost alike, and it somewhat galls me that some "plantsmen" knowingly insist that they are the same. They absolutely are not! And "real" plantsmen never insist anyway.

























Acer palmatum 'Hupp's Dwarf'



























Acer palmatum 'Hupp's Dwarf'


Acer palmatum 'Sir Happy'























Styrax japonicus 'Frosted Emerald'


Cornus kousa 'Summer Gold'























Cornus kousa 'Ohkan'


Acer palmatum 'Hupp's Dwarf' originated as a seedling at Oregon's Drake's Crossing Nursery. It is so dwarf that it is difficult to find scionwood, and it does not propagate to high success due to its short internodes. But it's a likable dwarf with an irregular shape and pretty pinkish new growth. We also root 'Hupp's Dwarf', and that makes for an even more dwarf tree, or "shrub" I should rather say. But there is another maple cultivar, Acer palmatum 'Sir Happy', that makes 'Hupp's Dwarf' look like a giant. They are similar, both with small crinkled green leaves, but 'Sir Happy' is far more dwarf. It was found at Crispin Silva's nursery in Molalla, Oregon, the same creative company that has introduced Davidia involucrata 'Lady Sunshine', Styrax japonicus 'Frosted Emerald' and Cornus kousa 'Summer Gold', the latter being similar to Cornus kousa 'Ohkan', an unpatented dogwood that we peddle. Mr. Silva has discovered an improbable number of variegated broadleaf trees due to his keen eyes and hands-on approach to plants, although one person laughingly suggested that his nursery sits atop what was once a toxic waste site, hence the "mutations."


























Ginkgo biloba 'Munchkin'


Mr. Silva also introduced Ginkgo biloba 'Munchkin', the most dwarf Ginkgo we grow, with the most tiny leaf. Typically the leaves are smaller than my little finger's nail, but they are crowded on a little tree that may grow to one foot tall by one foot wide in ten years; but don't worry, as fall color is as fantastic as on any Ginkgo. 'Munchkin' is very cute, and for us more dwarf than the cultivar 'Chase Manhattan'. The latter is a good dwarf, but I wouldn't call it a "miniature," and how 'Chase M." got named is most uninspiring: someone claimed that it was "worth more than all the money held in Chase Manhattan's bank." Later the truth of that prophecy was revealed, as many banks failed because they were ultimately empty.



























Salix boydii


A couple of willows fall into the miniature category, Salix boydii and Salix lindleyana. The boydii was found in the mountains of Scotland by William Boyd, and is thought to be a natural hybrid between Salix reticulata and Salix lapponica. It forms a multi-branched upright shrub with tiny gray-green leaves, and perhaps is the plant most perfectly suited for bonsai in our entire collection. We push boydii in the greenhouse, where we can achieve two-to-three inches of growth per year, and then the new shoots are promptly cut off to make more cuttings; outside in the garden we are lucky to get one inch of new growth. Take note: Salix boydii is not the same as the sprawling groundcover, Salix repens 'Boyd's Pendula'.

Salix lindleyana

Salix lindleyana

Salix lindleyana is a choice creeping willow that loves life in our pumice gardens and alpine troughs. Hugging reddish-brown branches with bright green leaves are adorable. Tiny catkins are cute, and begin cream-white and mature to red. The species is usually found in moist rock crevices in Bhutan and Nepal at elevations over 12,000', but nevertheless it performs well in our garden at almost sea level. Lindleyana was first described by Nathanial Wallich, then validly published by Nils Andersson (1821-1880), a Swedish botanist who was particularly interested in Salix. I assume the species was named for John Lindley (1799-1865), the noted English botanist, who more importantly was also a horticulturalist. Today the Lindley Library is the largest horticultural library in the world, but I've never visited even though I'm a member of the Royal Horticulture Society. There are so many wonderful gardens to see in England – with live plants – that I have never taken the time to spend the afternoon in the musty library. But really I should, one day.

Abies lasiocarpa 'Duflon' in spring

Abies lasiocarpa 'Duflon' in winter


There is probably at least one miniscule cultivar of "True Fir" for every Abies species, but I can think of none more dwarf than Abies lasiocarpa 'Duflon'. This was discovered by the Duflon sisters of Washington state, and distributed by E.H. Lohbrunner of British Columbia. My first start of 'Duflon' was given to me by the late Jean Iseli when it was the size of a golf ball, at about five years of age. It was planted in my original Display Garden and prospered. Imagine my horror when I discovered one day that some knucklehead had stepped on it. It was crushed and so was I. The broken twigs were carefully pruned out, but I left it in place. It totally recovered, filled in, and now is 15" by 18" wide, and only 10" tall at 35 years. Propagation is difficult, as the grafter must search for a straight section of three-year-old wood, which is usually found on the outer perimeter of the plant. 'Duflon' has made a wonderful inclusion into my collection, in spite of its tragic history.


Abies concolor 'Masonic Broom'

Abies concolor 'Masonic Broom'

Abies concolor 'King's Gap'

Abies concolor 'King's Gap'

Abies concolor 'Z-Mark'


Abies concolor is the "White Fir," a western USA native. For years 'Masonic Broom', a tiny cultivar from a witch's broom mutation, was what we all attempted to grow. I've seen the original broom – or what's left of it – at a Masonic Home in Pennsylvania. Ultimately it is a poor selection – or at least here in Oregon, due to sudden death or significant die-back. We finally quit in frustration, but fortunately a replacement, 'King's Gap', has become available. 'King's Gap' forms a dense squat bun, and features brilliant powder-blue foliage. Other similar "do-ers" are 'Hidden Lakes WB' from the Hidden Lakes Arboretum in Michigan and 'Z-Mark'. For us, all cultivars are best placed in full sun, in well-drained soil, and they make wonderful additions to our rock garden.

Abies koreana 'Ice Breaker'

Abies koreana 'Cis'

Abies koreana 'Cis'

Abies koreana 'Tundra'

Abies koreana 'Tundra'

Miniatures in the "Korean Fir" species include 'Ice Breaker', but I've written about that cultivar plenty in the past year. It is certainly the most dazzling, but two others are attractive, 'Cis' and 'Tundra', though they feature short glossy dark-green foliage. What keeps these two from being boring are their perky white buds. 'Cis' was selected as a seedling in Holland in 1975 by a Mr. Roelvink, and is short for "Ciska" (for Francisca) who was Roelvink's mother. 'Tundra' is a little more vigorous than 'Cis' with a slow compact-spreading form, and displays rich dark-green foliage. All of the miniature firs are great fun, as long as garden visitors keep their feet off of them, and I suppose that selling a few plants at a loss is ok, but not too many please.

Dianthus 'White Crown'

Asperula sintenisii

Draba brunifolia

We also produce some "alpines" that are attractive creatures, as long as the grower is patient. Dianthus 'White Crown' is a cutie, a ground hugger that grows to only a few inches wide in three years. Asperula sintenisii displays a pulvinate (cushion-growing) habit and is adorned with profuse solitary pink tubular flowers in June and July. This priceless bun is native to northwestern Turkey in full sun or partially shady locations. Draba brunifolia is a cheerful tight mat that also comes from Turkey and blooms with deep yellow flowers.

Rhododendron keiskei 'Yaku Fairy'

Rhododendron keiskei 'Yaku Fairy'


Keisuke Ito


We are propagating a miniature Rhododendron, keiskei 'Yaku Fairy', which I received from friend and fellow plantsman Reuben Hatch. Actually it is one of the first in America, and when Hatch scalped it out of his garden when his property was being developed, he left another foot of diameter behind. I planted the jewel in a display box, and it is now four feet in diameter. Britain's Royal Horticultural Society selected 'Yaku Fairy' for its AGM, the Award of Garden Merit, but suggested that the ultimate spread would be about 0.5 meters to one meter. Ha! to you Royals, the Hatch plant is now larger than your ultimate size. Thousands of lemon-yellow blossoms literally cover the tiny olive-green leaves in May. The species keiskei is named for the Meiji Era botanist Keisuke Ito (1803-1901), and in the southern Yakushima Mountains it can be found growing in trees as an epiphyte. Mr. K. Wada described the prostrate Rhododendron as the "Fairy Rhododendron of Yaku," and it was thus named by Barry Starling of England. We did some rooted cuttings of 'Yaku Fairy' this past July, and to my amazement they all produced roots and have recently been potted up, so you can look forward to seeing them listed on future availabilities.
























Ilex serrata 'Koshobai'




























Ilex crenata 'Dwarf Pagoda'


Ilex aquifolium 'Pixie'

Ilex 'Rock Garden'

Ilex 'Rock Garden'


Dr. Forrest Bump of Forest Grove, Oregon is a fellow plantsman who I have known for many years. On one visit he announced that he was becoming very interested in the Ilex genus. I thought, "poor fellow, are you that bored?" But eventually I got into them too. When thinking about Ilex miniatures, I immediately considered serrata 'Koshobai'. But 'Koshobai', the "Peppercorn Bush," is dwarf but not miniature. It's really just the berries that are diminutive. Crenata 'Dwarf Pagoda' takes forever to fill a one gallon pot, but eventually it can grow to ten feet tall. Aquifolium 'Pixie' has the overused cultivar name, but it too can grow to ten feet tall, while hogging space at ten feet wide. Probably the only true miniature Ilex I grow is 'Rock Garden'. Notice that I don't list a species, and that's because it is a hybrid, the parents being x aquipernyi crossed with integra, and was a Rutgers University introduction. 'Rock Garden' is a female clone, and so requires a male to produce fruit. You won't be awed by the berries, because even mature plants are so small.

My fascination with these tiny plants explains why I am not wealthy. There are many times when a ten-year-old conifer is sold for less than two-year-old maple. But at least we don't break our backs loading them into the truck. By the way, the term dinky has meant "neat, trim, dainty, small" since 1788, and is from the Scottish dialectal dink meaning "finely dressed, trim." Dinkadee do da, join in the fun.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bits and Pieces




























Ginkgo biloba 'Marieken'


Ginkgo biloba 'Mariken' or 'Marieken', which spelling is correct? I've seen labels from Europe where both spellings are employed. One was from Holland and the other from Germany, but I forget which came from which country. I know a Marieke of Dutch origin, and she says that the ie would be correct, and that's what we have used over the years. It doesn't matter really, because we're talking about the same plant.

Ginkgo biloba 'Marieken'




















Ginkgo biloba 'Marieken'


Mareike Van Nymwegen


But maybe I'll change to 'Mariken' and be more cooperative with what most other nurseries use. The origin of the plant was as a witch's broom mutation on a Ginkgo in Kronenburger Park in Nijmegen, Netherlands. In 1998 nurseryman Piet Vergeldt (who has been mentioned in Flora Wonder Blog many times) gave it the name of Mariken Van Nieumegen, after a famous female from medieval literature. I'm not certain how he went from Nijmegen to Nieumegen though. The female in question spends seven years with the devil, and then she is miraculously released. The earliest known version of the story was printed in Antwerp in 1515, and although the exact origins of the story are not known, it became wide-spread quickly. To add further confusion to the spelling, Eugen d'Albert put the story to opera in 1923, and named it Mareike Van Nymwegen. I don't know the story or the opera any more than that, or why the devil released the girl, but maybe she was just too much for him to handle. I've met women like that.



























Cupressus cashmeriana


Cupressus cashmeriana is a beautiful species of "Cypress," although its origin is absolutely not in Kashmir. The species features long pendulous sprays of soft gray-blue foliage and rich brown exfoliating bark. Cashmeriana was originally thought to be from Kashmir because it is found around sacred places there. Natural stands have recently been discovered in Bhutan where it occurs exclusively, or in mixed evergreen broad-leaf forests at low elevation. Sadly the species will not take Oregon's cold winters, so I no longer grow it; but when I sold my last tree I felt some remorse. To propagate cashmeriana, we would use Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd' as rootstock, and the root and top were perfectly compatible, or they "copulated perfectly," as the Europeans say. One could also graft onto other Cupressus species of course, but I found it odd that the use of Thuja occidentalis 'Pyramidalis' did not lead to a successful graft union., What difference does it make, I wondered, why one occidentalis cultivar would be perfect, and the other not. It also seems odd that the species was discovered (or rediscovered) only in recent times, since five trees in Bhutan's Yangri Chu Gorge measure between 242-311 feet (74-95 meters) tall, making cashmeriana one of the tallest coniferous species on earth. What else is hiding in there?























2,475,576,000 ticks (if we're lucky)


Employee Seth did the above feet-to-meter conversion for me, and accomplished the task in just one second via google. The meter has been officially defined as the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458ths of a second. Seth is fast, but not that fast. Speaking of numbers, the number of seconds that the average American has to live is 2,475,576,000, which is also the approximate number of times an American's heart will beat. But more if you are one who gets excited easily.

Aquilegia longiflora

Ilex aquifolium 'Britebush'

Ilex aquifolium 'Night Glow'


Back to plants, the name Aquilegia is derived from Aquila, the Latin word for "eagle," because their spur-like appendages can appear like the outstretched talons of an eagle. The common name "Columbine" is from Latin columba which refers to "doves," as the inverted flower looks like five doves nestled together. I have read that Ilex aquifolium received its specific name for the barbed tip of the leaf which resembles the beak of the Aquila, or eagle, and has nothing to do with "water." But I've also read that "aquifolium" is from Latin acus, or "needle."

Mahonia aquifolium


Thomas Jefferson



























Cornus nuttallii 'Colrigo'


We also have Mahonia aquifolium, which is a genus of American and Asian shrubs in the Berberidaceae family. Mahonia is named for Bernard McMahon (1775-1816), an Irish-American horticulturalist who dealt with some of the plant collections from the Lewis and Clark expedition. McMahon was considered to be Thomas Jefferson's gardening mentor, and his classic work, The American Gardener's Calendar was Jefferson's horticultural "Bible." In 1818 the botanist Thomas Nuttall honored McMahon by naming the West Coast shrub for him. Nuttall was himself honored with the name for Cornus nuttallii, our "Western or Pacific Dogwood." The flower of this "dogwood" is the official flower of Canada's British Columbia, while the flower of relative Cornus florida is the state flower of Virginia, Missouri and North Carolina. In the Victorian era, the flowers of dogwoods were presented to women by interested suitors to indicate interest; but if not accepted it meant "Buzz off, buddy." God...gawd, women can be so cruel.

I sweated and froze while I trudged on ignominiously. That is my summation of my experience working in a Dutchman's nursery in Oregon in the early 1980's, when at the same time I was starting my own business. I learned quite a lot about what not to do with my company, so the experience was priceless, actually. The Dutchman's son was a total knucklehead, and he was fond of the saying, "If you're not Dutch, you're not much." If he had to write down that statement, he would use your instead of you're. With a head the size of a schoolbus, there was actually very little inside. But times were good and so he prospered...but now times are not good.


Masayoshi Yano
Peter Gregory





















Reuben Hatch
Nelis Kools



























Talon with Mr. & Mrs. Van Hoey Smith

Steve Hootman


...I continue, although I'm no more smart than the Dutchman's son. We were simply dumb in different ways. Besides, his late father was elected (hoisted or foisted?) into the Oregon Association of Nurserymen's Hall of Fame. I would never be considered for that award, for which I am very grateful. Believe me: if elected, I will not serve. I do observe my own Plantsman's Hall of Fame, however, and you won't find any of my inductees included in the OAN's hollow...er hallowed enshrinement. My Hall of Famers don't carry the OAN's signature bruised back, which results from patting each other on the back so many times.


Picea glauca 'Albertiana Conica'


I've searched in vain for the article I read years ago about the origin of Picea glauca 'Albertiana Conica', the very common "Alberta Spruce." I thought it was in Songberg's The Reunion of Trees, an excellent account about the introduction and dissemination of plant species from the wild into our gardens. The particular focus of the book is to highlight how Harvard's Arnold Arboretum was most instrumental in the process. Or maybe I read it in Arnoldia, the official publication of the Arnold Arboretum. In any case, it detailed the adventure in 1904 of two Arnold Arboretum botanists, J.G. Jack and Alfred Rehder, who were waiting for a train in the northern Rockies near Lake Laggan, Alberta. The train was delayed, so they decided to botanize the area. Four individual spruce plants were noticed that were dwarf, compact pyramids. One or all of the trees, presumed to be seedlings from a witch's broom, were taken back to the Arnold, propagated, and hence a popular garden plant came into existence. One must wonder, then, if all Alberta Spruce today are derived from one particular clone, or from all four. How convenient it was in the old days, when you could dig up plants and transport them into the USA without any paperwork or government bureaucrat getting involved. The government exists now primarily to indulge itself, rather than to serve the public.


John Mitsch


Picea glauca 'Blue Wonder'
Picea glauca 'Sander's Blue'



























Concerning Alberta Spruce, at the beginning of my career I discovered that John Mitsch of the famous Mitsch Nursery was growing a blue form. I didn't understand why he was unenthusiastic about it, because I supposed that it should be worth millions. He explained the reversion problem, and also that the ones that were most vibrantly blue would soon perish. I bought starts anyway – I think it was Picea glauca var. conica 'Sander's Blue' that I started with, and I was going to show John Mitsch a thing or two. Eventually I discovered the problems for myself, and of course old Mitsch was correct. I've tried others too, for example 'Arneson's Blue', 'Blue Wonder' and 'Alberta Blue', but all of them eventually died of excessive blueness or reverted. Monrovia Nursery – or I should say Lowe's Box Store – claims that 'Alberta Blue' "does not revert back to green." Ok, go for it Box Store, maybe I just don't know how to garden correctly.



























Calocedrus decurrens


Calocedrus decurrens 'Berrima Gold'
Calocedrus decurrens 'Variegata'



























I like the Calocedrus genus, the "Incense Cedars," and we grow two species, decurrens and macrolepis. Calocedrus comes from the Greek word callos, meaning "beautiful" or "nice," because of its resinous characteristic, and kedros, Latin for "Cedrus." Trees are usually tall and narrow and some specimens can live up to 1,000 years. The foliage gives off a pleasant odor when crushed, and the wood is the preference for cedar chests and pencils. It is soft with a straight grain, and it can be whittled down easily, a plus for pencils. One of my most favorite of heroes, Henry David Thoreau, had parents who ran a pencil-making factory in Massachusetts, and Henry made a significant improvement in pencil design. He also invented raisin bread: what a guy.


Calocedrus macrolepis

Calocedrus macrolepis

Calocedrus decurrens is a West Coast native, extending all the way down to Mexico, but my favorite place to see the species is on the little side road into the origin of the Metolius river in central Oregon. Calocedrus macrolepis is the Asian version of Calocedrus, but unfortunately it is hardy to only zone 8, and I've never planted one outside. Last winter we successfully grafted some onto decurrens, and in a year or two I will plant one of these into the garden. Macrolepis has larger sprays of foliage than decurrens, and they are a beautiful silver blue on the undersides.

Cathaya argyrophylla

Cathaya argyrophylla


























Cathaya argyrophylla



























Cathaya argyrophylla


I walked past my oldest Cathaya argyrophylla and noticed a fresh batch of small cones, silver-green in color, and clustered into groups of three or more. The old pollen flowers from spring are withered and brown. Cathay is the English version of Catai, another name for China. This evergreen conifer was discovered in 1955, but it was held onto tightly by the Chinese. There were even reports that four men were executed for trying to smuggle Cathaya out of the country. Whether true or not, it served notice to Chinese plant smugglers I suppose. I received seed from an unnamed source in the 1990's, and that was the beginning of my oldest specimen. We have attempted to propagate by rooted cuttings in winter, but the success rate is very low. Cathaya is very beautiful for its soft green needle color with silvery undersides (argyrophylla = "silvery leaves" in Latin), and is hardy to at least USDA zone 7, possibly 6. Cathaya is its own conifer, different from all others; with perhaps Pseudotsuga being its closest relative.

Seattle, Washington


Sell the Land?

How can you sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

Chief Seattle 1854

Seattle, Washington