Monday, December 12, 2016

Fall Planting

Fall harvesting

Our allotment of dry days in the fall is never enough. One wonders whether to plant, work on weed control or to dig and harvest. We accomplished some of all three, but this year's autumn effort went to an unusual amount of planting, not only into the fields for future capitalistic sales, but also into the keep them interesting and relevant. Why does all of the new stuff, or the marginally hardy have to stay holed up in the greenhouses where there's never enough space anyway? The overall fiscal management of Buchholz Nursery would probably be better off in more capable hands instead of with me who enjoys the gardens (apparently) more than turning a profit. Most plants that went into the ground would have been in demand and could have been sold at a profit, and if the employees knew that fact they would probably rebel and demand higher wages or my ouster.

Styrax japonicus 'Evening Lights'

Ok then, what were some of the highlights that got stuck into the dirt instead of into my retirement account or into higher wages? One plant that I have been itching to get planted is Styrax japonicus 'Evening Lights', the Japanese “snowbell tree” with purple leaves instead of the typical green. The tree photographed above was taken at Oregon's Sebright Gardens, and its attractive vigor inspired me to finally plant one of my own, kind of like a counter-punch to their wonderful place. Spring's white campanulate blooms appear more luscious as they dangle among purple leaves compared to the normal green. What a great name too: with cream-white lantern-lights glowing in the darkness.

Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose'

Acer macrophyllum 'Santiam Snow'

Acer macrophyllum 'Golden Riddle'

In the Quercus section at Flora Farm I repositioned an Acer macrophyllum 'Mocha Rose', for it would eventually have collided with a Pseudotsuga cultivar. Then, on its flanks we planted Acer macrophyllum 'Santiam Snow' and A. m. 'Golden Riddle'. So let's see what happens. 'Mocha Rose' is proven and wonderful, and even plant-dumb truck drivers will lumber out of their rigs to inspect and ask about it in April-May. It will still look good in June before turning chocolate – not burnt though – in July after a few 100 degree F days. Heritage Seedlings of Salem, Oregon introduced the variegated A. m. 'Santiam Snow' and they say that it does “fairly well” in full sun in the summer. I suspect that my newly-planted specimen will burn like hell the first year, and then less so in subsequent years. And I predict the same with the yellow-leaved 'Golden Riddle'. If I live long enough I will witness all three of these macros' canopies growing into each other, and that will be a small price to pay for a long life.

Quercus garryanas at Flora Farm

Hamamelis x intermedia
'Strawberries & Cream'
Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'
The “Quercus” garden at Flora Farm is so-named because it is dominated by three 100 year plus Quercus garryana, two of which appear in the photo above. The section is about 50' wide by 500' long, so I can cram a lot of trees into it. Whenever my wife or I head to an eastern destination from our home we take the route along FF Quercus so I am very mindful about what I plant there. Even though we have been married since ancient history, I still strive to please and entertain her. What would Haruko like to see on a cold but sunny February day when she drives to the grocery store? I know – how about Hamamelis x intermedia 'Strawberries and Cream'? Or perhaps Garrya elliptica 'James Roof'? We're only two months away from their flower show, and the anticipation keeps me going on these cold winter days.

Stewartia x henryae 'Skyrocket'

Acer palmatum 'Beni shigitatsu sawa'

Stewartia x henryae 'Skyrocket' replaced a dead Acer palmatum 'Beni shigitatsu sawa'. The maple was healthy and happy for at least 25 years. Two summers ago it produced an inordinate amount of seed – hundreds of thousands maybe – and they were absolutely beautiful. Then this past spring only 10% of the tree leafed out with the rest dead, and since I don't run a plant hospital it was edited entirely. 'Skyrocket' had spent its entire life inside Greenhouse 20 where I was trying to push the best scionwood, but with my dismal propagation results year after year I'm giving up on putting it into cultivation. It was selected from seedlings raised at Polly Hill Arboretum in Massachusetts, and with its narrow form it has obvious garden potential. The x henryae hybrid occurred spontaneously at the Henry Foundation for Botanical Research in Pennsylvania and was first described in 1964. I hope that whatever afflicted the maple won't harm the Stewartia because it is the only 'Skyrocket' I have.

Crinum 'White Queen'

We planted a group of Crinum 'White Queen' in our Far East garden. They were also hanging out in GH20, and we supposed that at some point we would divide them and become purveyors of Crinum. I don't know why but they never really thrived indoors, and the flopping strap leaves took up a lot of room. 'White Queen' is a Luther Burbank cross using Crinum x powellii 'Alba' x Crinum macowanii. Crinums are known as “Cape lilies” (from South Africa) and not surprisingly are in the Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis) Family. The name crinum originates from New Latin, coming from the Greek word krinon meaning lily.

Zephyranthes candida

Like Crinum, Zephyranthes candida is another bulb and it is commonly called a “Rain lily.” It is also in the Amaryllidaceae Family and ranges from the southern USA all the way down to Argentina. Its name is derived from Zephyrus, the Greek god of the west wind and anthos meaning “flower.” Zephyranthes was on our sales list for two years in a row, and to date no one has ever bought even one, so that is why we put some into the garden. Fortunately we didn't grow too many, but there are a few still left if you would like one at no charge. They are only marginally hardy in Oregon, but you can put it into your GH20.

Osmunda regalis

I only had one Osmunda regalis, and it was given to me by Roger of Gossler Farms Nursery. We planted the “Royal fern” down by the pond because this deciduous plant is native to bogs and stream-banks in Europe, Africa and Asia. Roger has a vigorous specimen in his large – non bog – garden and every time I visit he enthuses about it, and for all I know he maybe eats it in his salads.* The name Osmunda is possibly from Osmunder, a Saxon name for the god – excuse me, The God Thor; furthermore it is possible that Osmunda evolved in the southern continent of Gondwana, but nevertheless a fossil has been found in Sweden. Sue Olsen in Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns lists a number of species of Osmunda and one, claytoniana, “is one seriously old species with fossil records, found in the Antarctic, dating back 200 million years to the Triassic era, the longest continuous life span of any living fern.”

*Osmunda regalis is said to taste like asparagus.

Acer palmatum 'Ikandi' in spring

Acer palmatum 'Ikandi' in summer

There are a number of maple cultivars that have never seen the ground at Buchholz Nursery, and they have only lounged in the benign atmosphere in our containers and greenhouses. But before I get too enthusiastic about them I need to test them in the out-of-doors “real world.” Acer palmatum 'Ikandi' – a Buchholz introduction – really impressed me this past spring and summer at Flora Farm, and so I planted a couple more at the nursery, with one located at our company's entrance. I was (most) pleased that the New York Botanic Garden in the Bronx planted one also, and their woody plant curator, Deanna Curtis, describes it as “unfurling in a carnival of pink, white and green.” Just wait until it becomes established in their climate and soil, and I predict that all visitors, in the spring and fall especially, will want to acquire one. Really I like it, and don't think that I mention it in the Flora Wonder Blog to promote myself or my company, although it is great if I can accomplish that as well. A seedling from Acer palmatum 'Higasayama' – which seemed to be an improvement over the parent, was raised at Baltzer's Nursery in Oregon and was named 'Alpenweiss', and then a seedling from 'Alpenweiss' was selected and named 'Ikandi' at Buchholz Nursery. I look forward to one day germinating seed of 'Ikandi' to see how much further we can take her desirable attributes.

Acer sieboldianum 'Seki no kegon'

Acer sieboldianum 'Seki no kegon' was planted into the original Display Garden with enough room for about five years. After that it will have to be pruned hard for the rest of its life, or dug and moved elsewhere. Who knows, maybe someone else will own the nursery at that point? The cultivar is billed as a “weeper,” but really it is a spreading “archer” that vigorously grows sideways, and then the long branches do fall downward. According to the Nichols brothers at – and yes, they're retail so buy something from them! – “The name 'Seki' comes from the family name of Mr. Kazuo Seki who originally found this phenomenal tree. 'Kegon' comes from the famous cascading waterfall 'Kegon-no-taki'.” Apparently it was discovered in 1970, and when over 30 years old it stood only 10' tall. I graft ours on the compatible Acer palmatum and list 'Seki no kegon' as hardy to USDA zone 5. At Mr. Maple they go one better and use Acer sieboldianum rootstock, so their trees can withstand cold of -30 degrees F (USDA zone 4). My original tree grew to 3' tall by 7' wide in only eight years, and while I was sorry to part with it, it is now happily growing at the wonderful Iroki Garden in New York state.

Acer buergerianum 'Michael Steinhardt'

And speaking of Iroki, the garden is owned by Michael Steinhardt, and in our Long Road section I planted Acer buergerianum 'Michael Steinhardt', a cultivar discovered and named by Don Shadow of Tennessee. As you can see the cultivar features golden leaves, and Shadow reports that it doesn't burn in full sun. The photo above is of the original tree, and I was giddy with excitement when Don gave me a start. Now that I have five progeny one will be tested in an Oregon summer. 100 degrees in Tennessee is different than in Oregon – we have less humidity so many of their golden plants take the heat better than here.

Iris douglasiana

In my Grandfather's garden is a patch of Iris douglasiana which was spreading enough so that he could spare some starts for me. It is a common perennial wildflower native to the coast of southern Oregon to central California. It is a variable species that usually produces purple-blue flowers from April to June, but I prefer the milk-white form. My favorite place to see Iris douglasiana is at Point Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco, but hang on to your hat as it is perpetually windy there. I overheard a park ranger tell a group of students that Point Reyes was the most biologically diverse location in the USA, which takes into account the marine life as well as that on land.

Abies koreana 'Vengels'
Abies koreana 'Nigrans'

Along the main road into the nursery we planted Abies koreana 'Vengels'. I have had larger ones than the 3' tree we planted, but I sold them a couple years ago...then instantly regretted it. The cultivar is slow and compact, but not dwarf, and the main feature is the skinny bracts on the narrow gray-green cones. You can see from the photos above how 'Vengels' differs from the type. I received my start as scionwood only, and I never had read or heard about the cultivar, or why it was selected. I had a couple of 4' trees in wood boxes. I walked past them one spring day and was amazed to see a crop of cones, and then it was obvious why it was selected. I assume the cultivar was discovered in Europe – they love Abies koreana there – but I don't know who or what Vengels is. Please: help from the Flora Wonder readership!

Styphnolobium japonicum 'Pendulum'

Somewhere along the way Sophora japonica 'Pendula' – in the Leguminosae family (Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs 5th Edition) – was changed to Styphnolobium japonicum 'Pendulum' in the Papilionaceae family (Hillier 8th Edition). It is rarely seen in America for some reason, but many of the European plant collections contain it. It is commonly called the “Weeping Japanese Pagoda tree” and it makes a neat mound. Hillier calls it “picturesque” and “an admirable lawn specimen, also suitable for forming a natural arbour.” The species is “native to China, but widely planted in Japan.” The reason the species is known as the “pagoda tree” is because they were often planted near Buddhist temples. It was introduced to Britain in 1753 by the nurseryman James Gordon, and one specimen at Kew is one of the original five planted in 1760.

Liriodendron tulipifera 'Little Volunteer'

A Liriodendron tulipifera 'Little Volunteer' was planted in the Upper Gardens at Flora Farm, and it replaced a Magnolia that wasn't faring well. Again, I don't run a plant hospital. In any case the replacement is also a member of the Magnoliaceae family, and 'Little Volunteer' is a more compact form of an otherwise huge species. The “volunteer”* part is because that is the state nickname of Tennessee, the location of the finder at Hidden Hollow Nursery. It is estimated to grow at 1/3 the size of the species and should make a good street tree, except Liriodendron is notorious for dripping aphid juice. It is said to bloom in midsummer, but when I visited the Neubauers at Hidden Hollow in May I took the flower photo above.

*The nickname originated during the War of 1812 when thousands of volunteers from Tennessee played a prominent role, especially during the Battle of New Orleans. Then during the Mexican War, the Secretary of State asked for 2,800 volunteers and got 30,000 respondents. Maybe they just like to fight.

Daphne odora 'Maejima'

Daphne odora 'Maejima'

Maejima Island, Japan

Daphne and Apollo
I put another Daphne odora 'Maejima' into the ground to keep it away from potential customers who visit the nursery and want to buy the few containers that I have. I bought ten from another nursery so that I could propagate and sell them also. Then a good customer came along and wanted all ten – groan – so I parted with five, thus reducing my cutting stock in half. The customer in question has a knack for finding my newly acquired – and not for sale – stock plants that are never put on the sales list, and since she is a happy good-looking female I usually relent. Daphne odora is an evergreen shrub with glossy foliage and deliciously-smelling winter (February-March) flowers. In Korea the plant is called churihyang, meaning “a thousand mile scent.” There are other variegated Daphne odora cultivars such as 'Marginata' and 'Aureomarginata', but 'Maejima' displays the most impressive variegation of all. The specific name odora was given for obvious reason, while the generic name Daphne is derived from the Roman myth of the nymph who was turned into a laurel bush – which is Daphne-like – to escape Apollo's amorous advances. Maejima, according to my Japanese wife, is a beautiful island located between Honshu and Shikoku in waters known in Japan as the “Inland Sea.”

Cornus florida 'Autumn Gold'

Cornus florida 'Autumn Gold'

The late Dennis Dodge asked me if I would like scions of Cornus florida 'Autumn Gold', and the truth is that I didn't particularly want them. The reason is that the florida species is susceptible to the anthracnose disease which afflicts the East Coast dogwoods, and so for my entire career I chose to produce only the kousa species which is more resistant. But Mr. Dodge was a well-known plant connoisseur with a taste for the very best. In short, I'm now glad that I accepted the scions because my 'Autumn Gold' starts have turned out to be wonderful trees. The white flowers don't impress me very much as they are not very conspicuous against the light green foliage, but the autumn color can be outstanding, ranging from bright yellow to purple-red. I planted a specimen at Flora Farm last year, and a month ago we shoe-horned another into the Display Garden. Thank you Mr. Dodge.

Again, I kind of wonder why I was in such a frenzy to jam more bushes into the garden, especially when less can appear to be more in a tasteful landscape. I have not created world class gardens even though they are filled with world class plants. My scapes are admittedly “too busy,” but what else can a hortiholic do?

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