Monday, April 7, 2014



Hey Mr. A.,



The word anonymous has been in English use for five hundred years. It is derived from Latin anonymus, and that from Greek anonymos, meaning "without name (onyma)." It can also be used to denote one "lacking interesting or unusual characteristics."
Mmm...

Personally, I say what I say, I do what I do...but never anonymously, although at times I am surely "lacking in interest." Any comments delivered to me – if they are signed by Anonymous – are first received by my office staff. Most are quickly deleted, but if they are sufficiently strange, amusing, clever or dumb enough, my guys will print it out for me; and for their humor they invest in a sheet of paper and wait for my response. Yes, we spend a good deal of time chuckling at how weird the Mr. A.'s can be.

Last week's Blue Ginkgo blog generated an enormous amount of mail, both positive and negative, and we thoroughly enjoyed your passion, whatever opinion you held. My favorite comment was "F*** you." Well, that's directly to the point, isn't it? I truly thank you, Mr. A., for your fervid message. I know that you are a good guy, at least most of the time. Of course, of course you are subject to road rage at times, and you're known to burst out with obscenities at the umpire in your daughter's softball games, and you are forever riled up at the weatherman for his incorrect prognoses, but at Buchholz Nursery we greatly cherish the fact that you feel compelled to make your opinion known. For my part, I will endeavor to get f***ed, or to go f*** myself (but just how do I do that?). If I'm somehow f***ed, will you be happier for it? It is fantastic to realize that the internet medium will preserve your command-suggestion-wish for all time, and that your progeny – if they don't end up in an evolutionary cul-de-sac like the Neanderthals – can reflect on their Anonymous forbearer. F***ing-A-mazing.

Last Friday the Flora Wonder Blog was prepared per usual, but the office staff felt that some of you needed additional time to settle your ire (from Latin ira, and that possibly from Greek oistros for "frenzy"). If your spleen* is now clean, you may continue with my truthful blog (for a change), a discussion of Magnolias.

*I can refer you to an interesting article by Natalie Angier (thankfully not Angrier), Finally the Spleen Gets Some Respect, published August 3, 2009 in The New York Times.



"Wow!, Talon, You're not always nice."


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Marvelous Magnolias




Ten thousand tepals

It's the first week of April and you can't ignore the magnolias. Driving through Anytown, America, they all pop into existence this month, while a few weeks ago we weren't aware that so many landscapes contained them. Driving through my local neighborhoods, I see mostly the white "Stars," Magnolia kobus var. stellata, and the "Saucers," Magnolia x soulangeana cultivars. Occasionally I pass one even more lovely – say a pink-flowered tree glowing in ephemeral sunlight, or the deep rich-red of another specimen that looks positively regal, but I would be hard pressed to guess their identity. You see: there are so many wonderful cultivars, many new and some quite old, and a non-expert such as myself can never know them all.

Magnolia x 'Caerhay's Surprise'




Heck, even in my own garden, I have to resort to the labels to remember the trees. On Sunday, a week ago, I let the dog out to do his business, and while waiting at the door for him to complete his morning constitutional, I gazed one hundred yards up the hill...into the Magnolia section of the Upper Gardens, where something purple was throbbing against the darkened sky. I was positive it was a magnolia, but just which one? I have let the dog out many dozens of April mornings, but I couldn't recall a flower so brightly purple before in that portion of the garden. I donned my coat, assured my wife and kids that I wasn't leaving them, that I wasn't leaving them forever, that I would surely return to eat my breakfast...but that I just had to investigate something first.



Magnolia x 'Caerhay's Surprise'


Rhododendron williamsianum

Rhododendron williamsianum

Camellia x williamsii


Magnolia x 'Caerhay's Surprise' was my delight. I thought, "Oh yeah, that's right, I have rediscovered you," but "why did I ever forget you?" In any case: 'Caerhay's Surprise' it was, and I was thankful. Today's avid gardener should know something about the significance of the Caerhay's Estate – located at the southwestern tip of England (Cornwall), which is positioned just a short distance from Land's End itself. The Caerhay's Castle (caerhays is English for "enclosed castle") hosts the largest collection of magnolias in England. The Estate was eventually inherited by John Charles Williams who developed into a serious plantsman, one who helped to sponsor plant hunting expeditions in exchange for new species. I'd do the same if I had lots of money. In the case of Williams, he was honored (or honored himself) with the hybrid Camellia x williamsii, a cross of C. saluenensis (a Chinese species) with C. japonica. Plant explorer George Forrest discovered the saluenensis species in 1918. Rhododendron williamsianum was discovered by E.H. Wilson in China in 1908, adding further to this plantsman's glory. I am deflated to note that there are no buchholzianum species or hybrids in horticulture.

Magnolia x 'Caerhay's Belle'


























Magnolia x 'Caerhay's Belle'


Magnolia x 'Caerhay's Belle'


Back to magnolias, I suppose my favorite from Caerhays is x 'Caerhay's Belle', a hybrid of Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta with Magnolia sprengeri 'Diva'. As you read this, my 'Caerhay's Belle' has finished blooming, as it is the first to flower of all of my magnolias. Some years a frost will ruin the fun, but this past month it flowered the best ever.

A fun trick to pull on friends is to cut off a magnolia blossom just as it is beginning to open, but a bloom that is still quite narrow. But first, purchase a cheap glass vase with a narrow opening and a larger body – my wife shops for these things at the local Dollar Tree or Target stores, places that I am not mentally prepared to enter and patronize, not that I have anything against Chinese workers supplying us with cheap shit, since we are apparently gullible for it. Place the opening bud into the vase with a few inches of water. The large 'Caerhay's Belle' – or choose any other magnolia blossom – will continue to open and expand. Then give it to a good friend when fully opened, and they will greatly thank you*...but eventually ask, "How did you get it in there?" It's fun to puzzle kids too, because they already assume that their parents possess magical powers.

*Or give it to your worst enemy to either confound him, or to win him over.

**The word enemy is from Old French enemi, and that from Latin inimicus, for "in" or "not," and amicus for "friend."
























Magnolia x 'Galaxy'


Again, back to the magnolias. I spend a lot of time observing the back of co-worker Seth's head and neck, when I'm really just trying to look past his corporal presence, and out the window to a magnificent Magnolia x 'Galaxy' thirty steps into the garden. The back of Seth's head is boring and tiresome, but the magnolia beyond is a source of delight. Even this winter I appreciated the flow of the gray branches, and now in April my 'Galaxy' is ablaze with its deep red orbs. And what a great cultivar name is 'Galaxy'. It was a U.S. National Arboretum Introduction which was awarded the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Award in 1992. I acquired my tree at about the same date. The cultivar resulted from a cross between M. liliiflora (yes, three i's) 'Nigra' and M. sprengeri 'Diva'. I love my 'Galaxy', but alas, you potential customers wouldn't support me and buy my trees, so I discontinued to propagate the clone. Too bad for all of us.


























Magnolia x 'Star Wars'


Magnolia x 'Star Wars'


Magnolia x 'Star Wars'


Seth's rear-head aside, let's continue further into the Flora Wonder Arboretum, to the Deciduous Lands, and in particular to my impressive Magnolia x 'Star Wars'. Just as with 'Galaxy', 'Star Wars' demonstrates a strong central leader and glossy ruby-pink blossoms in April. It is unfortunately only hardy to -10 degrees F, USDA zone 6. 'Star Wars' was bred in New Zealand by Oswald Blumhardt, and what a great name for a magnolia man. It is M. liliiflora (hardy) crossed with M. campbellii (not hardy). Blumhardt wrote in the Journal of the Magnolia Society (18/2 1982) "The flowers are fairly large and the outer tepals are rolled into tubes or spikes sticking out all around the buds and the opening blooms. As they are borne freely and point in all directions, I call the plant 'Star Wars'."

Magnolia 'Galaxy' in center hogging space with 'Spring Snow' on left and 'Waterlily' on right.

Magnolia kobus var. stellata 'Royal Star'

Magnolia kobus var. stellata 'Royal Star'

























Magnolia kobus var. stellata 'Waterlily' with x 'Galaxy' behind


























Magnolia kobus var. loebneri 'Spring Snow'


Pictured above is the first magnolia in my collection. I bought an eight-year-old kobus var. stellata 'Royal Star' thirty four years ago. 'Royal Star' sets the standard for the white "star magnolias," and was raised from a seedling of 'Waterlily' in 1947. John Vermeulen and Sons Nursery from New Jersey introduced 'Royal Star' in 1960. It's wonderful to have a small tree with the most pure white flowers. 'Waterlily' is not bad either, and I have one planted next to the aforementioned 'Galaxy'. The 'Galaxy' is quite a thug, though, and it has eaten up about 75% of the 'Waterlily'. Magnolia kobus var. loebneri 'Spring Snow' is on the other side of 'Galaxy', and it too is disappearing. All three of these magnolias are about twenty years old, with 'Waterlily' being the smallest cultivar. None are currently in production because I lack a market for them.

Magnolia kobus var. stellata 'Jane Platt'

Magnolia kobus var. stellata 'Jane Platt'


I do, however, have a market for Magnolia kobus var. stellata 'Jane Platt', a deep-pink clone named and introduced by Roger Gossler, from a tree he discovered in the late Jane Platt's Portland, Oregon garden. It was grown by Mrs. Platt as 'Rosea', but Gossler believed it to be superior. In Magnolias, A Gardener's Guide by Jim Gardiner (another great name), he suggests that 'Rosea' is synonymous with 'Jane Platt'. But he also says that "Almost certainly the name 'Rosea' has been attributed to more than one clone." Gardiner continues, "The Domoto Brothers of Oakland, California, imported plants [of 'Rosea'] from Japan soon after 1885, while Veitch imported them into the British Isles in 1893." One of the rare times that America has imported an exotic plant ahead of the British.

Magnolia x 'Gold Star'

























Magnolia x 'Golden Gala'




























Magnolia x 'Golden Rain'

























Magnolia x 'Golden Rain'

Magnolia x 'Golden Sun'


























Magnolia x 'Goldfinch'























Magnolia x 'Goldfinch'

Magnolia x 'Ultimate Yellow'


Quite a number of magnolia cultivars begin with "Gold" or "Golden." x 'Gold Star', x 'Golden Gala', x 'Golden Rain', x 'Golden Sun' and x 'Goldfinch' are some that I have produced, but none of them currently. Another yellow that I bought about twelve years ago is 'Ultimate Yellow' and I purchased it solely because of its name. Every breeder hopes, I suppose, to find the best, the most deep-yellow of all, but it takes nerve to announce that yours is the "ultimate." It resulted as a cross of M. brooklynensis with M. acuminata, raised by Professor Joe McDaniel and selected by Harry Heineman of Massachusetts in 1991. I'm not sure if either one of them is responsible for the name, but I don't find it to be ultimate anything.

























Magnolia x 'Ultimate Yellow'


As you can see from the photos above, 'Ultimate Yellow' is not precocious, meaning that it blooms at the same time that leaves appear. However, for some reason its blossoms have opened this year ahead of the foliage. Gee, ain't horticulture fun!

Magnolia x 'Butterflies'

Magnolia x 'Butterflies'


In my growing experience (and mine only), I find the best yellow to be Magnolia x 'Butterflies', a cross of M. 'Fertile Myrtle' (now there's a crappy cultivar name) with M. denudata. The breeder was the late Phil Savage, a plantsman who sadly died from a mosquito bite when he contracted the 'West Nile' virus. 'Butterflies' is indeed precocious here in Oregon and the blossoms are a very deep yellow. Keep in mind that other growers in different climates, with different soils, consider the fragrant blossoms to be pale yellow. I've heard that in England – with their dreary climate – that 'Butterflies' is not particularly attractive. I am not a Magnolia expert, but I suppose that the tepid English assessment was from a novice seeing 'Butterflies' on a bad year, or after it had mostly gone-over. I'll conclude to say: that on my sixty acres at Flora Farm, I planted a 'Butterflies' right next to my main entrance, and no tree has made me more happy.


Magnolia x 'Coral Lake'
























Magnolia x 'Coral Lake'


I'll continue with the theme that magnolia blossoms can appear different due to many factors, such as tree age, climate, soil and just with the whim of a particular season. Plus, all of our cameras, as well as our eyes-to-brains record colors differently. The cultivar Magnolia x 'Coral Lake' is a good example of this. Some years it impresses me greatly – in particular one spring about six years ago – and in other years I can't understand what the fuss is about. On a good year I think it resembles one of the interesting new hybrids of Tulipa, like what you see pictured in some Dutch bulb company's spring catalog. 'Coral Lake' is a David Leach hybrid with flowers pink, yellow, apricot and green. It is pretty hardy, so I would encourage you to patronize one of my retail customers and purchase one.

Magnolia x 'Manchu Fan'

What is my favorite magnolia? I don't know, I change my mind frequently. Like with pretty girls, they're all special in their own way. One spring I chose x 'Manchu Fan', a Todd Gresham selection that was a cross of M. x soulangeana 'Lennei Alba' with M. veitchii. I like it so much that I planted one next to my house, but once again I no longer have it in production due to lack of sales.






















Magnolia x 'Genie'

Magnolia x 'Genie'


One magnolia that is a doer for sales is the new x 'Genie', which is patented unfortunately; so I cannot propagate it, and must buy in my starts. The cultivar features tulip-shaped blossoms of dark maroon on a compact tree, so it is perfect for a smaller garden. The sweetly fragrant flowers are beginning to open now, but later in summer we often get a second flush of flowers. The hybrid was produced by New Zealand plantsman Vance Hooper, and arose from crossing cultivars of M. soulangeana with M. liliiflora. It should be planted in full sun, and is hardy to -20 degrees F, USDA zone 5.




















Magnolia x 'Kiki's Broom'


Another most favorite magnolia is 'Kiki's Broom', a dwarf that originated as a witch's broom mutation on an x soulangeana. Flowers are smaller than the typical x soulangeana, but they can be loaded on the bush.































Magnolia macrophylla


But ok, if I'm really pressed to declare my favorite, I would have to go with Magnolia macrophylla. Over the years it has delivered the most joy and amazement, and I'll let the photos speak for themselves.



























Magnolia macrophylla ssp. ashei

1 comment:

  1. I wish you would offer your selections directly to individuals. So many great selections. Don't know where to find them :(. Individual gardeners would probably buy many of your selections that wholesale clients don't, after all, they are trying to predict what their customers will want.

    ReplyDelete