Friday, January 29, 2016

My Contributories

Reuben "Gerald" Hatch

I am not original, rather I am a composite of others, trying to copy from the best. Likewise, my horticultural career has had its inspirational experiences, where many others have given to me more than I have given to them. Perhaps I should start with “Gerald” Hatch, more correctly known as “Reuben” Hatch (AKA my “Grandfather”). I have walked with him almost once a week for the past 25 years, where we observe nature, comment on the world's problems – without solution – and discuss his Toto toilet problem where the Japanese brand doesn't flush his crap down adequately.

What's Gerald doing back there?

Why do I call him “Gerald?” The answer is that he takes a daily walk near his home...where he meets many regulars on his morning constitutional. One couple who frequently passed him finally asked him for his name, and my Grandfather replied, “Reuben.” Upon the next encounter on the trail his acquaintances fell into confusion and uttered, “Good morning Gerald.” Reuben didn't correct them because it didn't really matter to him. I found the situation most hilarious and I told my wife about it, with our two children sneakily listening. Harumi said – emphatically, because she is Miss Emphatic – that “it is his own fault – he [Reuben] should have corrected it in the first place!” Yep that is Harumi. Saya and Haruko countered that “Yeah, well, these situations just happen...they, la, la etc.” What amazes me is that the whole Japanese community in the greater Portland area has weighed in on the matter – it has gone Orientally viral – and that includes thousands of people. “Gerald,” to be or not to be? Reuben himself shrugs it off, because at age 82 he doesn't care about it so much, and just taking a short walk in the morning is his primary objective. How do you think he should have handled it? For my part I basically side (rarely) with Reuben with “who cares?” but I relish the kerfuffle that has polarized the community. Grandfather's life continues on, and he has made no adjustments with regards to his pseudonym; he has his own eyes, ears and heart, and he does not require the validation or correct naming from others.

Rhododendron campanulatum ssp. aeruginosum

Rhododendron campanulatum ssp. aeruginosum

Rhododendron x 'Taurus'

Rhododendron x 'Taurus'

Rhododendron x 'Seta'

Reuben is retired now, but in his prime he operated a one-man nursery growing “Rhododendrons for the discerning gardener.” His legacy can be seen in the Flora Wonder Arboretum where many choice species and cultivars reside. One of my favorite species is R. campanulatum ssp. aeruginosum, a compact shrub with metallic-blue spring leaves; its blossoms only add clutter to the bush. It is native to Sikkim and Bhutan, and impressive plantings of it can be found at the Rhododendron Species Foundation in Washington state. Reuben was also the source for my two forms of R. orbiculare, 'Edinburgh' and 'Exbury' which were featured in a previous blog. Since I am a fan of the skinny I appreciate R. roxieanum var. oreonastes with its long narrow leaves, and again, who cares if it ever flowers? For hybrids it is hard to beat 'Taurus' which was bred by the late Frank Mossman, using the species R. strigillosum – which I also like – and crossing it with R. 'Jean Marie de Montague' – which I hate. 'Taurus' makes a sizeable bush with large good-looking green leaves and a sturdy form. R. 'Seta' is a pretty Bodnant hybrid with R. moupinense crossed by R. spinuliferum, and it will begin to flower in about a month. All of these were gifts from “Gerald,” so I guess you could say that I am a discerning gardener – which is one step short of being a gardening snob.

Polystichum setiferum 'Bevis'

Gaultheria wardii

Roger Gossler
I don't remember the first time I met Roger at Gossler Farms Nursery, but sometime in the distant past we became plant friends. He would buy stuff from me for his retail/mail-order nursery and his mother Marj made sure that all invoices were paid on time. Then the relationship evolved to where he was always bringing me new plants to try, the most recent being a Polystichum setiferum 'Bevis', Gaultheria wardii and a Bergenia alata 'Dixter'. I have never seen any of these before but it will be fun to see what they will develop into. Actually his recent gifts are what would describe Gossler Nursery: a lot of solid garden choices, plus scads of things that you have never heard of before. The solid garden choices can be found in his Gossler Guide to the Best Hardy Shrubs, a Timber Press publication from 2009. I try to reciprocate with Roger and bring him new plants, but he always manages to keep ahead of me. Clearly Buchholz Nursery and the Flora Wonder Arboretum would be much more shallow without Gossler's input.

Corylopsis glaucophylla

Thuja plicata 'Holly Turner'

Thuja plicata 'Holly Turner'

Rosa moyesii 'Regalia'

When I look at my Master Plant List, an alphabetical listing of all plants in the collection, whether they are propagated or not, on the right hand side is the source for my plant. Very often I see Heronswood, the quirky nursery from Washington state that is no more. I don't call them quirky in disparagement, not at all, but rather because there was no other like it, and I looked forward to their inch-thick catalog with tiny type. Within 24 hours I would have marked a dozen or so items to purchase, and then the next day I would add a few more. Thus I acquired Corylopsis glaucophylla, Thuja plicata 'Holly Turner', Rosa moyesii 'Regalia' and many more. Then throughout the year I would read about plants, even if I already had a particular plant and knew it well...just to get owner Dan Hinkley's view of it. For example, with Thuja plicata 'Holly Turner' Dan writes, “This cultivar was found on Whidbey Island, Wa., where it produced a wide spreading specimen that tried desperately to muster a leader, but opted in the end to produce only additional lateral branches that wept gracefully downward.” Hinkley named it for H.T., in memory of a “superb gardener, plantswoman and friend...”

Tsuga heterophylla 'Iron Springs'

Hinkley was right about the 'Holly Turner', but his forte really wasn't conifers. For Tsuga heterophylla 'Iron Springs' he describes, “From a towering Northwest native species comes this charming dwarf, which produces dense, irregular branches of dark green foliage to 5' over a long period of time.” I've just returned from a stroll down to my pond house to eyeball the size of my 30-year-old specimen, and good lord, it is over 30' tall; so, not dwarf. Still I have good memories of Heronswood Nursery: I still grow many plants from them and I learned a lot. I have saved all of their old catalogs; I'll never throw them out in my lifetime, and in fact I use them from time to time as a reference book much as I do the Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs.

Sciadopitys verticillata 'Gold Rush'

Sciadopitys verticillata 'Green Star'

The late Dennis Dodge from Connecticut was generous with new plant material for me, and I with him, and that makes for a great win-win relationship. His connections in Europe provided him with the best collection of Sciadopitys cultivars in America, and a number of them were then passed on to me. I gave starts of my S. 'Mr. Happy', and Dennis sent to me my first S. 'Gold Rush' and 'Green Star'. Many of his plants from Europe were illegal to import, and usually they arrived in small packages that made it through the post without inspection. He reasoned that healthy propagating wood coming from an established European nursery to his small hobby nursery did not require governmental intervention. I agreed with him, though I was much less bold, as the consequences for me would be much greater.

Cercis canadensis 'Ruby Falls'

My relationship with Heritage Nursery of Oregon is different than with Mr. Dodge. They are a much larger company than mine, and they propagate in far greater numbers, although overall I probably produce 10-20 times as many different plants than they. Their company model is that they are the “middle-man” for many new – and patented – trees and shrubs that are discovered by other plantsmen around America. Since they attend trade shows and have national exposure they can sell a lot of plants...which is good for the patent holder. No one seeks out Buchholz Nursery to distribute large numbers of plants. A lot of the “new” plants available at Heritage are eventually dropped, but others such as Cercis canadensis 'Ruby Falls' will probably stand the test of time. I buy a modest amount, grow them on for two or three years, then I am able to sell them all. But of course I am not allowed to propagate my own. I like Heritage's Acer macrophyllum 'Santiam Snow' which is not patented, but I won't propagate any, or not many, because the macrophyllum species is not sales friendly. If I buy 10 to 20 to 30 of any one variety, usually one makes it into the Flora Wonder Arboretum, even though that entity is the black hole of my horticultural profit. The owner of Heritage is Mark Krautmann, and I fondly remember when we toiled in the fields of the Dutchman's nursery together, and what sustained us while we dug hundreds of boring boxwoods was our chatter about tree species. Overall Heritage Nursery has made my nursery a better place, but who would ever have guessed that 35 years later we would be two old geezers still in the nursery business?

Campanula latiloba 'Alba'

Woodwardia unigemmata mature fronds

Woodwardia unigemmata new fronds

Cardiocrinum giganteum var. yunnanense

I have received a lot of goodies from Far Reaches Nursery in Washington state, but it's all for fun since I don't think that I've propagated and sold anything from them. Their plants all end up in GH20 or out in the garden, but even there they make Flora Wonder more varied and perhaps more valid. I know nothing about many of their plants until I encounter them at Far Reaches for the first time. My most recent haul included Campanula latiloba 'Alba' and Woodwardia unigemmata, and a year before I scored a seedling from their discovery of Cardiocrinum giganteum var. yunnanense 'Big and Pink'. There is no guarantee that my seedling Cardio will also flower pink, but then owners Sue and Kelly offer that it could perhaps flower red. In the past I received the vine Billardiera longifolia from them, but B. l. 'Red Berried' disappeared without a trace, as well as a few other plants that are on my Master Plant List but somehow walked away. There will always be “new” plants from Far Reaches because they collect (responsibly) in Asia, and in fact Sue and Kelly were in China this past fall. One can cover the globe – horticulturally – with a visit to their nursery, but if that's not possible then google them and discover the hundreds of fantastic plants available online.

Abies concolor 'Hidden Lakes WB'

Abies concolor 'Z-Mark'

Pinus flexilis 'Chickasaw'
Pinus flexilis 'Comanche'

Rich's Foxwillow Pines in Illinois is a long-time customer who* pays their bill and never complains, so if for no other reason I would consider them beneficial for Talon Buchholz and family. Owners Rich and Susan Eyre are certified conifer addicts – coneheads – and besides supplying Midwest landscapes they have acres of large specimens in their collection, and I'm sure they consider that some are definitely for sale, some are sorta for sale, and that others are definitely not for sale – the same as with my collection. As we all grow older the lines blur, for there are plenty of conifers in heaven, and so if someone really wants my tree while I am still here, why deny them the pleasure? So, while Rich's Foxwillow is a good customer, the Eyre's have also blessed my endeavors by giving me starts of new plants, and then further blessing me 5-to-10-years later by buying the mature offspring. Some of the gifted sticks include Abies concolor 'Hidden Lakes WB', a dwarf powder-blue conifer that originated as a witch's broom mutation in the Hidden Lakes Arboretum in Michigan, and Abies concolor 'Z-Mark' – a great dwarf, but I can't remember its story. For dwarf pines I have received Pinus flexilis 'Cherokee', although Pinus flexilis does not exist in the Cherokee Nation's realm? Also from Rich came Pinus flexilis 'Chickasaw' and 'Comanche', and though I don't know their origins, I support the naming of anything Native American for their trees, rivers or mountains before we invaded their lands and designated them with our European names. As they say, “keep it real.”

*At first I wrote that “Rich's Foxwillow Pines is a long-time customer that pays their bills on time; but then I changed it to who pays their bills on time, for they are real people who choose to do so, to my benefit and appreciation, and I enjoy working with good people rather than with soulless corporations driven by the dictates of raw capitalism. I too am a capitalist, but never soulless, since I try to live by the Golden Rule.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Lutea'

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Fernspray Gold'

In my business beginning I was told that if I wanted to start a nursery I should go see John Mitsch at Mitsch Nursery, only an hour's drive away. He sold lining-out plants, primarily conifers, and many other wholesale nurseries would buy their starts from him. John had East Coast connections, and East was the place in America to get new cultivars. Thirty five years ago there was hardly any restrictions on bringing plants in from Europe, and the Dutch nurseries from New Jersey – the Flower State – were probably John's source. In any case I scheduled a visit, but after an hour my head was spinning from the Latin names and the fact that he grew hundreds of cultivars that I had never seen before. I think that Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Lutea' came to Oregon first by Mitsch Nursery, for example. John could root hemlocks, unheard of in the early days; I tried successfully also, and suddenly I was in the chain of demand. In the mid 1980's two things happened that put Buchholz Nursery into the realm of validation: 1) I sold maple liners to J.D. Vertrees and 2) I supplied Mitsch Nursery with rooted cuttings of Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Fernspray Gold'. I stumbled into my stock of 'Fernspray Gold' via a circuitous route from New Zealand, and I may have been the first nursery in America to have had it for sale.

John Mitsch
In 1980 I humbly asked Mr. Mitsch – who is probably now in his upper 80's – if I could buy plants from him. He replied, “Of course, why not?” Well, “why not” is because I wanted to copy him, and eventually I probably took business away from him. He was a mild man but his propagating skills were sharp, and he was a solid reason why Oregon's nursery industry eventually grossed a billion – yes, with a “b” – dollars in sales per year. The Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) supposedly represents the interests of its members, and annually celebrates Hall of Fame inductees into its hallowed ranks. John Mitsch is not included, which is a travesty when you consider those who have been inducted. While I am less deserving than John, I too will never be inducted because I am an outspoken critic of the trinket organization, but then...I know you don't care. What I am trying to say in this blog is that I didn't just drop from the become a nurseryman, a plantsman; rather it resulted from an attempt to copy from the skill, knowledge and efforts of the floristically gifted people that – err...who – I was so privileged to meet. Again, I am not original, and many thanks to my numerous contributories.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Keeping Floristically Fresh

In The Garden – an English magazine I subscribe to – I read a review of A Natural History of English Gardening by Min Wood (the reviewer) who wrote, “Many people have no closer encounter with nature than a wasp lurking on the rim of a glass of chardonnay. Gardeners are more fortunate. For us, nature is a much-loved, if sometimes belligerent partner.”

Partner, eh? I have a lot of plants in my “garden,” but I'm certainly no partner with nature. Gardeners can afford to consider nature as a partner, where losing a tree or trees doesn't much affect their net domestic happiness. Look, Flora has admonished me in the past for whining about my relationship with nature; she reminds me that I was never coerced into horticulture, that I went into my nursery career by my own volition; but truthfully I would say that I stumbled into horticulture because I was unfit to enter into anything else. I won't go so far as to say that I am a victim of nature, but the belligerent bitch has slapped me around on numerous occasions. But ya, I love her from time to time too.

Mother Nature
In other words, though I direct a huge garden, the Flora Wonder Arboretum, I am first a nurseryman who must feed my family – and my employees' families – with the sale of plants. Day after day, year after year...with no end in sight. I never developed an exit strategy because of the constant presence of impending circumstances, situations where imminent business survival outweighed any long-term strategy. So, I am not a partner with nature, but I do deal with her. And with people too. Notice that I designate nature as feminine, and maybe that's from the common term of “Mother Nature,” but never in my life have I ever been in control of anything feminine; it is not possible.

Plant life on earth

The origin of the word “mother” is from Old English modor, and that from Proto-Germanic moder, and that ultimately from Proto-Indo-European mehter. The word nature is derived from Latin natura for “essential qualities” or “innate disposition,” and it is a translation of the earlier Greek word physics. Over 90% of the total biomass on Earth is plant life, which we animals require for our existence. More than 2 million species of plant and animal life have been identified as of 2006, but of course new species are constantly being added while others disappear forever.

The same can be said for my nursery, with new species coming and others leaving. They “leave” by natural death, execution via chainsaw, or when I knowingly/unknowingly sell my last tree. I got over my Noah's Ark mentality some years back, where with every plant I wanted to keep at least one. Now, with far fewer years remaining in my career than have passed, I have a less acquisitive nature while I have grown more inquisitive hopefully. Actually, just seeing a new (to me) species somewhere, to make its acquaintance so to speak, satisfies my lust, and I don't have to find room for it in the garden. I am only “borrowing” trees anyway, as I hope that all trees on my property will outlive me.

Halesia tetraptera

A tree that left my sphere of influence years ago was Halesia tetraptera. I liked it, but somehow it was finally gone, but just as well as the species is now considered to be of the H. carolina group. I was unable to sell the “silverbells” worth a damn, and it was a shame to see them finish flowering in Oregon before we shipped east. No retail customer wants to unload a Buchholz truck and have a tree sit there until it blooms the following year, and only then would someone buy it.

Stephen Hales
The name Halesia is derived from New Latin for Stephen Hales, a 1700's English physiologist. Hales lived a long 83 years, born in Kent in 1677 and died in Teddington in 1761. Typical of his learned day, he was an English clergyman who contributed to the fields of botany and chemistry besides physiology. Somebody had to first understand the measurement of blood pressure, and indeed it was Hales. Apparently, “He bled a sheep to death and then led a gun-barrel from the neck vessels into the still-beating heart. Through this, he filled the hollow chambers with molten wax and then measured from the resultant cast the volume of the heartbeat and the minute-volume of the heart, which he calculated from the pulse-beat.”

The Halesia genus was named for Hales by John Ellis in 1759. The classical scholar Thomas Twining (1735-1804) penned the verse:

Green Teddington's serene retreat
For Philosophic studies meet,
Where the good Pastor Stephen Hales
Weighed moisture in a pair of scales,
to lingering death put Mares and Dogs,
And stripped the Skins from living Frogs,
Nature, he loved, her Works intent
To search or sometimes to torment.”

Halesia carolina

Hales was not beloved by all, and the poet Alexander Pope said of Hales, “He commits most of these barbarities with the thought of its being of use to man.” I love the Halesia genus more than you do, apparently, and hopefully I haven't disserviced it with an unfair depiction of Stephen Hales's life. I was most pleased to see the Halesia genus in the Carolina wild, and though I no longer grow it, I continue to admire it in the gardens of others.

Keteleeria davidiana var. davidiana
Keteleeria davidiana 'Collector's Red'

Also terminated from the Buchholz scene is Keteleeria davidiana, and I grew the cultivar 'Collector's Red', given to me by the late Bill Janssen of Washington state who supposed its spring growth was more reddish than the type. Maybe that is the characteristic of the species, or not, I don't know as I've never studied other Keteleeria in the spring. I successfully propagated it via rooted cuttings in the winter, and sold all of the offspring since I reasoned it wouldn't be hardy for me in Oregon. One winter about 20 years ago we received an Arctic blast with 0 degrees F plus 30 MPH winds.* My 'Collector's Red' perished in its pot even though the species is listed as hardy to USDA zone 7, or 0 degrees F. Bets are off for hardiness when the roots are above ground. Imagine my surprise when I saw a large tree at Plant Delights Nursery in Charlotte, North Carolina, when the low of 5 degrees F was recorded in 2014. I would have been better off with my plant in the ground. 'Collector's Red' is gone, Mr. Janssen is gone and I'll never have another in the collection.

*The same winter I had Picea pungens cultivars above ground in 1 gallon pots, can-tight in beds of 10 pots wide. They were grafted onto Picea abies – hardiness to USDA zone 2, -50 degrees F – but the outer row on both sides died. The asshole owner of T----- Nursery in Portland called me in summer and demanded to know what rootstock I used because the spruce he purchased had all died. I replied, “Picea abies.” “No it wasn't,” he countered. “Yes it was, that's the only rootstock I have ever used for spruce.” “No it wasn't, I want my money back.” “Nope” – phone slams. And now he is dead too, and I didn't attend the funeral.

Euonymus oxyphyllus

I used to grow a number of Euonymus species, and one of my favorites was oxyphyllus. Sales were slow because no one comes to me for “cheap” trees, as all species of Euonymus are deemed to be low-priced but mine were not. At some point I had only one left and a customer saw it ablaze in fall and wanted to buy it. Alright, I reasoned, since I don't plan to propagate it anymore – adios to E. oxyphyllus. The species name is derived from Greek for leaves that are “sharp, acute” pointed. The term Euonymus was coined by Linnaeus from the Latin name of the “spindle tree,” and that originated from Greek euonumos meaning “of good name.”

Euonymus sieboldianus

No more Euonymus sieboldianus either, for pretty much the same story as above.

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum

I lost a Leucadendron argenteum when the heater failed in GH20. Known as the “silver tree” due to its foliage, the species is native to South Africa where it is called Silwerboom in Afrikaans. I bought my tree at a retail nursery in California after seeing the species at the Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco and later at the Santa Cruz Botanic Garden. One can burn a lot of pixels when photographing the tree as the light dances off the evergreen leaves and every angle gives you something interesting. Even under the white poly in GH20 it was a shimmering show-off. The silver tree's leaves feel soft and silky, and the leaf color is due to soft hairs. I won't go out of my way to replace my Leucadendron, but it was fun while it lasted.

Pinellia tripartita 'Free Tibet'

Dracunculus vulgaris

Amorphophallus titanum

Sir David Attenborough with Amorphophallus titanum
Ok, enough for the extinct species at Buchholz Nursery, I'll discuss some relatively new additions. I had never seen nor knew anything about Pinellia tripartita until a year ago when I purchased the cultivar 'Free Tibet' from Plant Delights Nursery. Pinellia is in the Araceae family, commonly known as aroids, with Philodendron perhaps its most well-known member. With Pinellia its “flower” is known as the spadix, and it is housed in a modified leaf known as the spathe. The photo above doesn't show it, but 'Free Tibet' is attractive with yellow and yellow/green variegated leaves. We also recently acquired a related genus, Dracunculus vulgaris, which bloomed last summer. The flowers stink to high-heaven which is their way of attracting pollinating insects, but they disintegrate within a few days. The most impressive aroid is the huge species Amorphophallus titanum whose flower can reach over 10' tall and whose “fragrance” smells like rotting meat. It is native to Sumatra and Indonesia and in the latter it is known as bunga (for flower) bangkai (for corpse). Scientifically Amorphophallus is from Greek amorphos meaning “without form, misshapen” and phallos meaning “phallus” and titanum meaning “giant.” I remember seeing the program where naturalist Sir David Attenborough, in his series The Private Life of Plants, showed the flowering of the “titan arum” – a name he coined as he felt the word Amorphophallus was not appropriate for family television.

Silene davidii

Silene virginica

Silene davidii is native to Sichuan and was named for the prolific French missionary Armand David. It grows in high alpine meadows where it forms low mats with pretty purple-pinkish flowers in summer. In spite of its alpine home it is easily grown and propagated at Buchholz Nursery – altitude 200'. A word of caution though – in winter the green foliage turns blond-brown and you're sure the plant is dead. However by early spring tiny specks of green begin to appear within the “dead” mat, and these expand until it is totally green again. The word silene (pronounced “syleenee”) is derived from Latin silenus viscaria and that refers to a “catchfly” plant, one which has a viscid secretion on the stem and calyx that can trap small insects, but Silene is not carnivorous however. One wonders about the connection in the Pastorals of Virgil where “the old silene sings about the chaos and organization of the world,” and what that has to do with the genus in question. Silene virginica is the “fire pink,” a short-lived perennial from eastern America, from Ontario, Canada south to Florida where it grows in open woods and rocky slopes. Its principal pollinator is the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), and I remember when my Japanese wife was thrilled to see her first hummingbird – not on a fire-red Silene – but on my plastic-red hummingbird feeder. You just don't have that kind of fun in Tokyo.

Acer pubipalmatum

Tim and Matt Nichols
Acer pubipalmatum is a species I knew absolutely nothing about until I saw it at Arboretum Wespelaar in Belgium a few years ago. It can best be described as the Chinese “Japanese maple,” and indeed Acer palmatum is an acceptable rootstock. To quote from Mr. – the Nichols Boys from North Carolina, the source for my new plant – “Acer pubipalmatum is a rare Chinese maple...This Chinese tree leafs out in the early spring with a pubescent bluish green leaf. Midsummer flushes are bright to deep red. Fall colors are more amazing than 'Osakazuki' with a bright fire-ry [sic] red. Acer pubipalmatum is estimated to get 15' in 20 years. Mature specimens have white striations in the bark giving an addled year-round and especially winter interest.” Usually when a nurseryman sings the praises of a plant it is because he has a crop that is slow to sell, but those of us who know the Nichols Boys understand that if they recommend a particular species it is for valid reasons.

Rhododendron orbiculare

Rhododendron yuefengense

Rhododendron yuefengense

I acquired a Rhododendron yuefengense from the Rhododendron Species Foundation in Washington state two years ago, based solely on its cheerfully-green rounded leaves. They described that its origin is from southwest China (1800-2150 m.) and that its corolla is “funnel-campanulate,” i.e. bell-shaped. My favorite Rhododendron species is probably R. orbiculare, and R. yuefengense can be considered a R. orbiculare on steroids. When I saw the yuef. in flower the following spring I suppose my “favorite” Rhododendron had changed. Scottish expert Kenneth Cox relates that “more than 50 new species of Rhododendron have been introduced from the wild since 1981 and some are significant garden plants, worthy of cultivation,” and R. yuefengense is one of the best recent discoveries. Remember that a species of Rhododendron can vary in the wild, as with most plants, and the keen plant collector will seek out the “best” form to introduce into our gardens. For example, for R. orbiculare I have two selections – one that I identify as 'Edinburgh' and the other as 'Exbury', even though they are not really cultivars.

Salix magnifica

Salix magnifica

It's fun to discuss my “new” plants, but in the case of Salix magnifica it is not “new,” but rather “renewed.” I grew it for many years and admired it greatly, but it was difficult to find buyers. My last tree disappeared via sales – which later I regretted – and a dozen years passed before I found it again at Gossler Farms Nursery in Oregon. It is native to Sichuan, China where it grows at an altitude of 6,000 to nearly 10,000 feet. When first collected by E.H. Wilson it was thought to be a Magnolia...until it Salixly flowered, and later it proved to be dioecious with male and female catkins on separate plants. S. magnifica is grown mainly for its bold foliage and it possesses the largest leaves of any willow.

I don't know if my new plants are necessarily better than my departed, but at least it's a change of scenery that keeps me floristically fresh, and energetic with my difficult career. Not whining, of course, about the career.