Friday, October 3, 2014

My History With Pines

Johann-Dietrich Jeddeloh

Pinus mugo 'Mini Mini'

Pinus mugo 'Mini Mini'

"Ohh what a pretty little penis," the plantsman said – in German – as he crouched low to the pet a diminutive pine in my field. He was the late Johann-Dietrich Jeddeloh from zu Jeddeloh Pflanzen near Oldenburg, and I was honored to meet him. The pine that attracted him was our introduction of Pinus mugo 'Mini Mini' which originated as a congested mutation on Pinus mugo 'Mops'. At the time our Far East field was filled with one-to-ten per variety of the newest and best conifers. Old Jeddeloh wandered from tree to tree with sparkling eyes, and perhaps he thought back to his beginning as a nurseryman. That day was my last chance to know him, but subsequently I have visited his nursery three times, and now it is run under the capable leadership of son Jan-Dieter Jeddeloh.

For an avid plantsman like Herr Jeddeloh, a walk through another's field is a marvelous adventure. One discovers a variegated this, a weeping that and a narrow dwarf of something else. I love to visit nurseries and garden in Europe, Japan, Tennessee or wherever, and many of my discoveries eventually make their way into my nursery. The pines that I have gathered represent a significant chapter in my career.

Pinus densiflora var. umbraculifera 'Tanyosho'

Pinus densiflora var. umbraculifera 'Tanyosho'

I'll re-run the 1984 newspaper photo from last week of me and my daughter in a field of pines. These were Pinus densiflora var. umbraculifera 'Tanyosho' which we grafted on two-foot standards. They were like gold then, one of the hottest exotics of all conifers, and I could sell them by the hundreds. Generally speaking the cultivars of pine must be grafted rather than rooted, and of course a true cultivar cannot be raised from seed. I was self-taught about grafting, but pines were easy to begin with. Only a few Dutchmen and a couple of others – besides myself – could put together a grafting program, so I didn't have much competition to sell lining-out plants. All of that has changed now – in two ways: 1) there are now a lot of grafting companies and 2) the 'Tanyosho' pine has fallen out of favor. I still have one old specimen in the garden, 20' tall by 24' wide with a massive trunk. It's actually very attractive, and thanks 'Tanyosho', thanks for the memories.

Pinus bungeana at Kew Gardens

Pinus bungeana

Young Buchholz saw a large Pinus bungeana in an old tree collection, and I fell in love with the species straight away. I was allowed to harvest scions – and I chose a time when no one was around. Cutting one hundred scions from a large tree in no way harms or disfigures it, but not everyone knows that. I sold half of the grafts and grew on the remainder. When they were ten years old, I had larger bungeanas than anyone on the West Coast (probably). When there was only fifteen left, I stopped selling, which made buyers even more anxious to acquire them; and I smugly declared that when they reached twenty years old I would begin to sell again, and of course for a huge price. That winter we experienced a severe ice storm, and I found out how brittle the branches were, and indeed, how tenuous my career was. I learned my lesson and sold them the next year after they had recovered. Now we only grow cultivars of bungeana, as the straight species is not in much demand.

Pinus bungeana 'Temple Gem'

Pinus bungeana 'Silver Ghost'

Pinus bungeana 'REL WB'

Pinus bungeana 'Diamant'

Catalpa bungei

Euonymus bungeanus

Alexander Bunge
Pinus bungeana 'Temple Gem' was selected from a group of seedlings at Buchholz Nursery which germinated about thirty years ago. It grows at about one-fourth the rate of the type with a dense pyramidal form. The trunk attractively exfoliates, as much as any other cultivar. We also produce P. b. 'Silver Ghost', mainly because cultivars with catchy names always outsell the straight species, even if they are not really worthy of cultivar status. For dwarves we propagate 'Diamant' and 'REL WB'. 'Diamant' originated as a witch's broom in Hungary and the word itself means "diamond" in some languages. The plant is a dense spreading dwarf bush, and largely unnecessary since we'll all be dead before an attractive trunk appears. 'REL WB' is even more dwarf, and furthermore it is saddled with a crappy name. These dwarves are freaky things that are popular with some conifer collectors, but we never really sell very many. Pinus bungeana was named for Alexander Bunge (1803-1890), a Baltic German with Russian citizenship. Besides the pine, he was commemorated for Catalpa bungei, Clerodendrum bungei, Fraxinus bungeana, Euonymus bungeanus and others.

Pinus gerardiana

Pinus gerardiana is similar to P. bungeana and it was named for Captain Patrick Gerard who was stationed in India. The species, commonly called "Chilgoza Pine," is native to Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest India. I've never been to Afg. or Pak. – nor do I ever intend to – but I did see gerardiana in India. I have a 30' tree in my pinetum, but it's really just a BIO plant (Botanical Interest Only). The bark doesn't exfoliate as attractively as bungeana, and my old specimen has been riddled by sapsuckers.

Solburger Arboretum

Abies pindrow

Abies cilicica

Pseudotsuga menziesii 'Skyline'

My start of gerardiana came from the late Otto Solburger's wonderful collection of conifers. He was a Christmas tree farmer located only twenty miles away from my nursery, but he set aside some land for an arboretum. I never met Mr. Solburger, but his wife allowed me to harvest scionwood. His collection was known on the East Coast and Europe, and it contained such conifers as Abies pindrow, Abies cilicica, the original Pseudotsuga menziesii 'Skyline' and much more. Solburger's son was a logger, and the last time I visited the Abies pindrow was reduced to a stump. Some of the trees were crowding, so son Solburger thinned them out. The pindrow was competing with a "Norway Spruce," Picea abies, and logger-son thought the Norway was more impressive than the pindrow. Ouch!

Pinus kwangtungensis

Over thirty years ago I was visiting the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle when I discovered a small parviflora-like tree with a narrow crown when young, then later with a broad canopy. I met a tree that I didn't know existed before, labelled Pinus kwangtungensis. When I returned home I found a plastic bag in my pocket, and somehow a few scions were inside. Needles were arranged in fascicles of five, so I grafted it onto Pinus strobus. I looked up the species but my Hillier's and Krussmann manuals didn't record it. I assumed it was from China, probably named for a province or other location, but I couldn't find Kwangtung on a China map. Remember, this investigation was pre-internet. Later I saw a map of China with older names and their modern equivalents, for example Peking becoming Beijing. Kwangtung was now Guangdong, located in the southeast portion of China (and it's also from other provinces). In Conifers Rushforth suggests that it is only hardy to zone 8, or ten degrees F. In my collection it has survived 0 degrees F, with absolutely no damage. Maybe its vigor is aided by the P. strobus rootstock. On my own website I claim it is hardy to -10 degrees F, but I don't remember where I got that information. Anyway, the species has very attractive foliage, with three-sided needles – two glossy jade-green and one bluish-silver. Too bad it has an awkward name, the fault of Chen ex Tsiang.

Pinus koraiensis 'Morris Blue'

Pinus koraiensis 'Silveray'

Pinus koraiensis is a very attractive species as well, and since it comes from Korea, Manchuria and eastern Russia it is hardy to -40 degrees, USDA zone 3. Needles are silver blue-green, but they are longer and more lush than with kwangtungensis. Rushforth says that koraiensis is "amenable to cultivation, although slow-growing as a young plant and preferring a cool moist climate." I don't buy that, and we've sold koraiensis cultivars all over the United States and Canada for years. P. k. 'Morris Blue' originated as a seedling specimen at the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia. I saw it there twenty years ago, and was struck by the blue foliage, and scions were sent to me the following winter. I had to label the grafts something, so I chose 'Morris Blue', and I imagine I was the person responsible for its introduction into horticulture; and even Tony Aiello, the current director of horticulture at the arboretum, didn't know the history of its introduction until I told him. Another very blue cultivar is 'Silveray', and I saw the original (I think) at the Gimborn Arboretum in Holland, although it was nurseryman Hesse from Hanover, Germany who originally distributed it. 'Silveray' and 'Morris Blue' are similar, but the latter is more bushy and full. Be wary of buying 'Silveray' from any nursery – except mine – as some imposters have entered into the trade. I won't go into the details of how I know, unless you ask, but the true 'Silveray' is the better tree, or at least more blue.

Pinus koraiensis 'Oculis Draconis'

Pinus koraiensis 'Jack Korbit'

Pinus koraiensis 'Gee Broom'

Pinus koraiensis 'Oculis Draconis' and 'Jack Korbit' feature blue-green curved needles with yellow banding. In my fields in Oregon the variegation is faint, but on more mature specimens located in more stressful climates the coloring is more pronounced. 'Nana' and 'Dwarf' may be the same – I can't tell them apart. Neither are "dwarf," but they are not as fast as 'Morris Blue' and 'Silveray'. Very dwarf is 'Gee Broom', discovered as a witch's broom mutation at Gee Farms in Michigan. I saw the broom about seven years ago – and thank you Gary Gee for sending wood – but I think the original broom had died out. We propagate quite a few 'Gee Broom' now, and though slow, we find the market good.

Pinus patula

Pinus patula

Benito Juarez
I first encountered the "Mexican Weeping Pine," Pinus patula, in the garden of Dr. Bump of Forest Grove, Oregon, and it was remarkable for its long, softly-drooping green needles. Patula is Latin for "spreading," as the needles part on the stem and fall from both sides, kind of like an Afghan hound (which is our nickname for my daughter!). Krussmann lists it as hardy to zone 9 while Rushforth gives it a zone 8 rating, but it is hardy to zone 7 in Oregon when grafted onto Pinus sylvestris.* Patula is extremely fast growing when young, for it keeps adding new shoots throughout the spring and summer. We were particularly cold last winter, and I feared that the newest growth was too soft and would die back, but it came through unscathed. I encountered patula in the wild, or something similar to patula, on the road from Oaxaca city to Veracruz, just beyond the birthplace of Benito Juarez, a full-blooded native (who spoke no Spanish), and who was considered the "Abraham Lincoln of Mexico." If one cares about Mexican pines I would recommend The Pines of Mexico and Central America by Jesse Perry, a detailed book that does more than just describe the species, but even tells you what road to take to go see them. From this book I learned that patula consists of the subspecies tecunumanii and longepedunculata, but I'm not sure which one I have.

*Another example of botanists and nurserymen looking at the same plant differently.

Pinus parviflora 'Glauca'

Pinus parviflora cultivars have played an important part in the history of Buchholz Nursery, and they are featured prominently in the Flora Wonder Arboretum. The first one that I acquired was 'Glauca', and it was already being grown by a few Oregon nurseries. It was easy to propagate and sales were good. When you see a five-to-seven-year-old-tree you can't help but to admire it – such a perky little thing – especially when it already sports a couple of cones.

Pinus parviflora 'Cleary'

Pinus parviflora 'Cleary'

Also a slow-growing (but not dwarf) P. parviflora is 'Cleary', and I prefer it to 'Glauca', 'Tempelhof', 'Gimborn's Ideal' 'Negishi' etc. I mentioned Jan-Dieter Jeddeloh earlier, and I expressed that 'Cleary was the "best," at least in Oregon, in my opinion. He said that the preferred parviflora in Europe was 'Negishi' – this was ten years ago. I took him to Flora Farm and showed him one row of 'Negishi' purposely planted next to a row of 'Cleary'. "Ah," he muttered, and I promised to send him scions. Did I ever remember to do that?

Pinus parviflora 'Ogon janome'

I was speechless the first time I saw P. parviflora 'Ogon janome', the "Golden Snake-Eyed Pine," and it was about three feet tall and wide. The Japanese common name is obvious when one looks straight down at the candles. According to my wife ja = snake, no = of and me = eye. "Snake of eye" sounds backwards to me, but I've learned that she is always right. Remember that she corrected the conifer world in the spelling of parviflora 'Tanima no yuki', which I have previously discussed. I now have 'Ogon janome' eight feet tall by ten feet wide in the original Display Garden. There is some burn on the south side after our brutal summer, but it will look fresh again with new growth next spring.

Pinus parviflora 'Aoi'

About the same time I acquired 'Ogon janome', I bought starts of Pinus parviflora 'Adcock's Dwarf' from the now-vanished Mitsch Nursery of Aurora, Oregon. 'Adcock's Dwarf' was selected and propagated at Hillier's Nursery in England, and named for the propagator Graham Adcock in 1961. Early on I grafted one on a 20" standard; it grew fast and eventually reached 5' tall by 5' wide and the foliage reached the soil. An interesting story is that van Hoey Smith of Arboretum Trompenburg in Rotterdam was visiting. When he saw my specimen he tsk tsked me, and said, that was NOT 'Adcock's Dwarf', while wagging his finger. Well, welcome to Buchholz Nursery in Oregon, a grower with his large specimen in a wooden box, where 'Adcock's Dwarf' DOES get that big. Later that winter he sent some "correct" scionwood – unsolicited, since that was illegal – but I tossed them into the trash, then wrote him a letter to thank him for his kindness. I grafted a few last winter, after a ten-year hiatus, mainly just for memory's sake. The reason we have largely discontinued 'Adcock's Dwarf' is because of its propensity to shed needles ( in wet-spring Oregon) just about in the middle of our shipping season. Other dwarves like 'Aoi' and 'Blue Lou' don't experience that problem, plus they are more blue anyway.

I won't continue, but I could go on and on about my history with pine cultivars, and I estimate that we have grafted 40-50 thousand since Buchholz Nursery began. I don't know how many cultivars we have amassed since then, but very often their inclusion into our propagating program is due to the kindness of generous plantsmen. And I thank all of you.

Charles de Gaulle

Sorry if you were offended by this blog's first sentence, and if you were, stop reading right now. The following might or might not be true. Supposedly Harold Macmillan, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1957-1963), and his wife were dining with Charles de Gaulle and his wife. Madame de Gaulle was asked what she was looking forward to in the years ahead. She replied, "A penis." Everyone was shocked and an embarrassed silence followed. Le Grand Charles broke the silence by saying, "My dear, I think the English don't pronounce the word quite like that. It's 'appiness."

I know, I know: just stick to plants.

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