Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Moonshine'
Like bowel movements, I try to be regular with the Flora Wonder Blog, meaning that I try every weak to exude one...knowing that skipping a week could become a regular habit that would likely end it altogether. It hogs time from Seth who's just trying to do his job, and he has occasionally snarled, “Do you want me to make money today or focus on your damn blog?” – or something to that effect. I reply, “Calm down Seth, and besides, it's not my blog, it's our blog,” to which he replies, “Whatever.” Really, I persist because I learn a lot, and not just about plants, but about myself also. Nevertheless, I will admit to creating a Buchholz persona that doesn't totally exist, but hopefully it leads me in the direction of who I want to be.
Well, enough of that. What with Christmas – er...the holidays, as p.c. would have it – heavily upon us, and my desire to appear nice and involved with the extended family, there was no blog theme that absolutely jumped out at me, so I invented one. At times I will go to our website's photo library and a certain plant will help generate a theme. If you go to “Our Plants,” then to “Explore Our Plant Library,” you will find the first entry to be Abelia grandiflora 'Radiance', but today I don't care about that bush, and so at random I chose Browse: and in particular the letter “C.” Punch on the “C” and you get Dacrycarpus sp. because your fat finger hits the “D” tab instead of the “C.” When you correctly re-orient yourself and explore the “C” section – not as in the Roman Emperor's surgical birth, but rather the group of plants – the genera that begins with the letter “C,” you will discover a wealth of photos that begin with Cactus sp. and ends with Cytisus scopiarus. In between you have Cedrus, Chamaecyparis, Crinum and much, much more. The moments that I took to photographically wander through the “C's,” I noticed that quite a few consisted of variegated plants.
|Callicarpa dichotoma 'Duet'|
Ok: variegated plants that begin with “C” then – and I have a theme. The genus Callicarpa received its name from Latin callis, a “narrow footpath” or “track,” and carpa for “fruit,” as the beautyberries align themselves along the stems of the shrub. C. dichotoma is a species found in China, Korea and Japan, and the specific epithet means “divided or forked in pairs,” referring to the arrangement of the opposite leaves. The berries – which are pink-purple-to-white – cluster themselves at the intersection of the leaves and stem, and botanically they are known as drupes because they encase a pit or stone...like a peach (but inedible). C.d. 'Duet' was an introduction in 2006 from the U.S. National Arboretum, with cooperation from the Tennessee Technological University. The flowers are inconspicuous due to the variegated foliage, and almost too are the little white berries, so one grows 'Duet' mainly for the splashy foliage. I don't know if 'Duet' is patented or not – probably so – but I probably wouldn't propagate it anyway because it is too “easy” to produce, and therefore cheap to market, and I'm better off to leave it to the large bankrupt – or nearly so – firms that like to flood the market with these types of plants. Still, I like 'Duet', but just one in the collection is sufficient.
Calocedrus decurrens 'Maupin Glow'
Calocedrus decurrens 'Maupin Glow' is a deliciously variegated “incense cedar” with rich gold coloration at the tips of the lush green branchlets. Discovered by Greg Rigby near Maupin*, Oregon, the columnar evergreen will not burn in full sun, and once established it will not require frequent irrigation. I consider it superior to the old C.d. 'Aureovariegata' which grows more broad, and 'Aureovariegata' is plagued with large yellow portions that do burn in full sun. 'Berrima Gold' is a nice selection with entirely golden foliage, but I find it more boring than 'Maupin Glow'. Some suggest that 'Maupin Glow' will grow to 8' tall in 10 years, and that's about right for it is slow to start, but to suggest that it will top out at 12 to 15' is nonsense, and I would guess to 60 to 80' at least. The species is noteworthy for its aromatic wood and straight grain – cultivars are fun to graft – and it is ideal for the manufacture of pencils which are easily whittled. The genus name has nothing to do botanically with the true “cedars” – Cedrus – but is derived from the Greek word meaning “beautiful,” while the specific name decurrens means “extending down,” in reference to the drooping branchlets.
|Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh|
*The city – no, the town of Maupin – is located along the Deschutes River (French for the “shoots” or “rapids”) east of Mt. Hood. It was named for Howard Maupin who came to Oregon in 1863 and who settled in Antelope Valley, in the same general area as the infamously nefarious Rajneeshee cult over 100 years later. Besides being the town's first postmaster, Maupin was considered a crack shot, and it was he who dispatched the famous native Chief Paulina, who had been a pesky sore for the white, Manifestly-Destined invaders.
|Camellia 'Eleanor McCown'|
|Camellia 'Haru no utena'|
I only grow three cultivars of Camellia, so far, and they were all acquired in the past two years from Gossler Farms Nursery, a good source for wonderful plants. Google them and buy something for heaven's sake, so that they'll continue to buy from me. Previously Camellias were never my kind of plant, or maybe you could say that I just wasn't ready for them yet, but I sure do enjoy my 'Black Opal', 'Water Lily' and 'Kujaku tsubaki'. As far as variegated varieties go, I don't know of any with variegated leaves, but I wouldn't be surprised if one existed. The photos above are blossoms that I have seen at a Camellia show, where if you are friends with the judge you are more likely to win the blue ribbon. You'll notice that Camellia names are like those of Rhododendrons, where the breeder feels compelled to honor himself or a family member or some other person. I'm sure that Eleanor McCown is a wonderful woman and all, but why does the variegated plant have to be saddled with her name? 'Finlandia' is a catchy, likable name, and I never tire of Japanese names even though deciphering their meanings can be a challenge. 'Ohkan' means “king's crown,” but we also have a Cornus kousa 'Ohkan'*, and while I can see the name for Camellia, I cannot fathom why the dogwood cultivar is so named. 'Haru no utena' is a little more vague, but my Japanese wife/scholar explains Haru no means “spring of” – when blossoms appear – and utena meaning a “special seat for the Buddha,” like on a lotus blossom. She also reports that 'Haru no utena' – pronounced “ootena” – is a very popular cultivar in Japan, so take that Eleanor!
*Interestingly, the Japanese characters for “ohkan” are the same as for the generic name of “Cornus.” The Latin word “cornu” means “horn,” hence unicorn, while the Greek name for horn is “keras,” hence Rhinoceros.
|Cedrus atlantica 'Sahara Ice'|
The late Bill Janssen of Collector's Nursery in Washington state was keen on variegated plants, and those kind of plantsmen are usually the ones who find them. He discovered and introduced a variegated “Atlas cedar,” Cedrus atlantica 'Sahara Ice', and I think (but don't know positively) that it was a mutation from a C. a. 'Glauca'. Even though it has silver portions to the needles it can be grown in full sun in Oregon. I have never seen one large however, for I always sell mine before they exceed 10' tall. They are fast-growing and skinny when young, as with C.a. 'Glauca', and I know 'Glauca' broadens tremendously with age. The problem is that many homeowners and knuckle-head landscapers plant too close to buildings or under power lines because they think the atlas species will forever remain narrow. We propagate 'Sahara Ice' by grafting onto Cedrus deodara rootstock, as we do all of our Cedrus cultivars. What has always puzzled me is that we can root Cedrus deodara and Cedrus brevifolia, but not Cedrus libani or Cedrus atlantica. Anyone with a different experience? Could a botanist weigh in? Actually no botanists have ever weighed in, as they would deem my experiences with plants as insufficiently scientific. We both make our living with plants, but I am the one with the dirty finger nails and tired back, and they get to be “experts” with the higher salary and stay clean.
|Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Variegated Selection'|
I noticed variegation, rather subtle, on a seedling rootstock of Cercidiphyllum japonicum, so I set it aside to watch, and now it is about 12' tall. It is housed in the unreal world of BAG9 where it receives lush treatment, so lush that some vigorous shoots were not variegated by the end of last summer. I'm curious how it would do outside, but I should probably propagate a few first before letting an Oregon summer have its way with it. I have been “setting things aside” for 35 years and there have been wonderful successes, but most of the time it turns out to be a waste of time and money. Many other plantsmen give me stuff that they find, so there's a whole lot of fooling around going on at the nursery.
Variegated Corylopsis spicata
I grow a number of species of Corylopsis, some with names that are still used, such as spicata, and some which have changed, such as willmottiae...becoming sinensis. The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs even lists C. sinensis var. calvescens f. veitchiana, and try to fit that onto a label. Frankly I can't tell one species from another, and most I don't propagate anymore, but since they are in my garden I always like to have the correct name. As I alluded to earlier, it is part of my persona that I know my plants completely, but no one notifies me when reclassification occurs; and I've never known two botanists to agree anyway. I purchased a plant of Corylopsis glaucophylla from the old Heronswood Nursery about 15 years ago, and the underside of the leaf is kind of glaucous – if that was the cause of its specific name – but I've never seen it elsewhere, or ever listed by anyone else. Krussmann in Manual of Cultivated Broad-Leaved Trees and Shrubs says that there are about 20 species native to Japan, China and the Himalaya, but then he only mentions 11 of them – and no glaucophylla. I tease you with photos of C. spicata with variegated foliage, but alas I don't have it and I don't know if the variegation is stable. I don't know if it now has a Japanese name – I don't know anything – but it sure was pretty when I saw it 12 years ago in Japan. “Every garden should have a Corylopsis” has been said by every garden writer. Hillier notes gloriously: “These exquisitely beautiful plants are easily grown and should be much more widely planted. The conspicuous, drooping racemes of fragrant primrose-yellow, cup-shaped flowers are regularly produced just before the leaves in early spring.” Perfect: poetry from Sir Harold Hillier.
|Variegated Cotinus coggygria|
Cotinus coggygria 'Young Lady'
Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'
I think it was also in Japan where I saw a variegated Cotinus coggygria, but likewise I have never seen it again, so I don't know if it is a worthy selection or not. Generally they are not, especially with such a vigorous weed as Cotinus. We used to grow 'Royal Purple' and they were very popular as a tree form. Not many other nurseries knew at the time that the key to propagating via rooted cuttings was to use the tips of new wood – max 4 leaves – when they were very soft (mid-May) under mist. Some years all would root and some years only half would, and maybe a plugged mister for an hour was the culprit. There is also an American Cotinus – obovatus – which is native to southeastern USA, while the coggygria species is from Europe and Asia. The word Cotinus is from Greek kotinos meaning “wild olive,” and coggygria is from Greek kokkugia for the name of “smoke tree.”
Cyclamen persicum is known as the “Florist's Cyclamen,” or it's at least one of the parents of many large-flowered hybrids that are sold at the grocery store even. It's not hardy in Oregon, but that's why I have a GH20 for tender plants. Flowers are nice while the foliage is exceptionally marked. The name of cyclamen originated from Greek kyklaminos which has a root kyklos for “circle” due to the round tuber. The specific name persicum means that it is native to Persia, or modern day Iran, and surrounding countries.
|Cornus kousa 'Summer Fun'|
|Cornus kousa 'Wolf Eyes'|
|Cornus kousa 'Ohkan'|
Cornus kousa 'Akatsuki'
|Cornus kousa 'KLVW'|
|Cornus alternifolia 'Moonlight'|
|Cornus controversa 'Variegata'|
|Cornus florida 'Welchii'|
|Cornus mas 'Variegata'|
Of course the Cornus genus is well represented with variegation, and I suppose that every species contains at least one cultivar with multi-colored forms. The kousas are led by 'Summer Fun' – much better than 'Wolf Eyes' – ,'Ohkan' mentioned earlier, 'Akatsuki' and 'KLVW' or 'Kristen Lipka's Variegated Weeper'. Cornus alba features 'Spaethii' while C. alternifolia can brag with 'Moonlight'. C. controversa is represented elegantly with C. controversa 'Variegata' and C. florida has 'Welchii'. The “variegated Cornelian cherry,” Cornus mas 'Variegata' is a small deciduous tree with glossy green leaves with cream-white margins. The tree is covered with golden-yellow flowers in early spring, followed by edible red berries in fall, and in-between the fun foliage carries you through the summer.
Cornus alternifolia 'Saya'
Cornus alternifolia 'Saya'
My favorite of all variegated dogwoods could have been C. alternifolia 'Saya', named after my daughter whose Japanese name means “a field of flowers,” but while it can look sumptuously alluring the truth is that it is weak, and in fact we no longer propagate it. Now I am sorry to have named it 'Saya', because she is strong and beautiful, and there's no doubt that Saya, my daughter, will become far more wonderful and long-lasting than my dogwood selection. Fool around and you will win a few...while you squander a lot.
Flora Wonder Blog readers might be interested in Variegated Trees and Shrubs by Ronald Houtman, in association with the Royal Boskoop Horticultural Society. Descriptions are brief and the text contains a number of nomenclatural errors, while the photographs range from good – from van Hoey Smith mainly – to horrible. It's like they were all “batched” together in production, which is cheaper, but that gives many photos a dull look, when probably the photos really were of better quality. Still I found dozens of variegated cultivars that I never knew about before, and would certainly like to acquire.