Friday, May 31, 2019

A May Day at the RSBG



Reuben Hatch


I'm a regular visitor to the Rhododendron Species Botanic Garden in Washington state, a world-treasure plant collection that contains far more than Rhododendron (“Rose tree”) bushes. It's quite a commitment as the journey is a four-hour drive to get there, and sometimes a five-hour drive back due to heavy PM traffic. Frequently I'm accompanied by long-time friend, Plantsman Reuben Hatch, but we don't stay long in the garden because he tuckers out quickly due to 84 years of age. But the drive is enjoyable – or interesting anyway – because we continue to learn from each other while we attempt to solve the world's problems. We're geeks for plants and we've travelled to most states west of the Mississippi, to Mexico, China and the Himalaya a couple of times. And when you think about it, the RSBG is a microcosm of all of those places; and so, as a Flora Wonder Blog reader, you have a passport and invitation to join us old white-haired geezers on our floral adventure.






















Rhododendron glanduliferum


Upon arrival we quickly march past the admission window by announcing that we're Garden Members, and the various Ladies of the Till let us pass without question. The first stop is the sales yard, filled with Rhododendron species and hybrids plus a multitude of companion plants. I mentally catalog what I will purchase when I exit, and this time I couldn't pass on two Rhododendrons: R. glanduliferum and R. polytrichum. The R. glanduliferum is a species native to northeastern Yunnan, China, and besides its pinkish-white flowers I bought it for the new oblong-lanceolate leaves which were deliciously red-brown at the end of May. This species has been in cultivation since 1995, and was first described nearly 100 years before by botanist Franchett. The technical specific name is due to the pedicles (flower stalks), corolla and calyx being covered in stalked glands. The late Peter Wharton, curator of the Asian garden at the University of British Columbia Botanic Garden, discovered some specimens in China which grew to over 20 m tall. I definitely don't have room for such a thug in my garden without editing something else, but I was so taken with the color of the new leaves that I'll deal with that problem later.

Rhododendron polytrichum


I guess I was in a lush reddish-brown mood last week because I also fell for a Rhododendron polytrichum which also featured glandular young shoots. It was as if the culprit operators of the Species Garden knew I would be visiting with my cash, so they hauled these wonderful species from their growing houses up to the sales yard. Thankfully this polytrichum species (from China) won't get as large as the glanduliferum species. Nevertheless, Jens Nielsen, who has seen it in the wild, called it “a great beast of a plant.” So now both of these new species are in pots under the shaded overhang in front of my office, and already a number of visitors have expressed admiration, assuming that old Buchholz is a wizard at sourcing beautiful exotic plants. Well, join the Species Botanic Garden yourself – wherever you are in the world – and you can become a Rhododendron snob like me.

Rhododendron davidsonianum


I was tempted to make another purchase, but didn't, of R. davidsonianum, and the label described it well. It is a Chinese (Sichuan) species known as the “Concave-leaf rhododendron” which is native to forests between 1,500-2,800 m (4,900-9200 ft). Damn – I really should have bought it – and so would agree the Royal Horticultural Society since they praised it with the Award of Garden Merit. One would initially presume that the species was named in honor of Pere Armand David (1826-1900), the French priest, botanist and zoologist (he introduced the Panda bear to Europe)...but not so. The Rhododendron was actually named for Dr. W. Henry Davidson who was in China as a missionary doctor – in the right place at the right time – who administered treatment* to the injured plant explorer E.H. “Chinese” Wilson in 1910.

Lilium regale

E.H. Wilson

*At this point I should elaborate on Wilson's injury which occurred because he discovered (in 1903) the “Regal lily,” Lilium regale, in western Sichuan along the Min River. In 1910 he returned to the Min Valley to collect bulbs, but his leg was crushed during an avalanche of boulders. Wilson's leg was set with the tripod of his camera and he was carried back (to Davidson) on a three-day forced march. Thereafter Wilson referred to his “lily limp,” but it was this shipment of bulbs that established L. regale into cultivation. My plants of L. regale are not yet in flower – that occurs when it is 95 degrees F in July – so I'll talk about it again at that time.



Speirantha convalarioides


Also in the RSBG sales yard was Speirantha convallarioides, surprisingly, since it is a genus of only one-known species from southeast China. Commonly known as the “False Lily of the Valley,”* the evergreen's one-foot leaves can accumulate on a three-foot diameter clump. The flowers are strikingly white and sweetly fragrant...and I should have bought one of those also.

*The specific name of “convallarioides” is due to the resemblance to Convallaria, the Lily of the Valley, an herbaceous perennial in the Asparagaceae family which is hardy to USDA zone 3, or minus 40 degrees F. The genus name comes from the Latin word meaning “valley,” but be careful because all parts of this plant are very poisonous, containing cardiac glycoside.

Sorbus sargentiana

Sorbus sargentiana


Charles Sprague Sargent
Reuben and I visited the RSBG about a month ago, but the new growth on Sorbus sargentiana was not present then. I hurried to it on last week's visit because the new growth is a lush purple-brown...but I was too late and the young leaves had already turned to green. What a short window then, and I wonder if some garden employees or volunteers have ever seen the color that I like so much. The fruits didn't impress me last fall with their orange color, but maybe they were still developing. In the Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs I read that the fruits are small, but scarlet, and that they are late in ripening. Hillier also promises “Rich red autumn colour,” but I've never seen it in autumn glory. The “rowan” was discovered by E.H. Wilson in 1903 and introduced by him in 1908 when he was employed by the Arnold Arboretum of Boston. The specific name honors Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927), the first director of the Arnold. Maybe a few berries will find their way into my pocket if I visit the tree this winter.

Viburnum sargentii


I was in time, however, to see Sargent's Viburnum in bloom. It says that V. sargentii is in the Caprifoliaceae family, but Hillier places it in Adoxaceae. I've steered clear of Viburnum production in my career even though I have a few in the Flora Wonder Arboretum, and my reason is that the genus is a root weevil magnet, plus it is susceptible to Sudden Oak Death, and who needs either of those two problems? Maybe you've heard of the old adage: “Viburnum when you can mulch 'em?”

Persea thunbergii


A plant I was hoping to see, Persea thunbergii, features red-brown new growth somewhat like the Sorbus sargentiana. I couldn't find the tree though, so maybe it too had already turned green, and I admit that the photo above was from a previous trip. The Persea is in the Lauraceae family, and with the specific name of thunbergii you know it is native to Japan, and was first described by Siebold and Zuccarini. It is listed as hardy to USDA zone 7, unlike Persea americana – the avocado – which is from Mexico and is hardy to only zone 10. The Persea name (Greek) is due to a related species, a sacred fruit-bearing tree of Egypt and Persia. A synonym for Persea thunbergii is Machilus thunbergii, and that generic name is thought to be from a Moluccan* name, or possibly the name of an insect (Machilis).

*Moluccas or the Maluku Islands are an archipelago in eastern Indonesia.

Clintonia andrewsiana

DeWitt Clinton

Clintonia andrewsiana was a fun discovery – I had never seen it before; that's embarrassing because it is native to Oregon and northern California, growing in shady areas of the Sequoia sempervirens forests where I have been plenty of times. I hope to find the rhizomatous perennial again in autumn to see its bright blue berries (about 1 cm long). The genus is distributed across North America and eastern Asia, and was first described in 1818 and named after DeWitt Clinton, an 18th century botanist and politician.* He was a US Senator, Mayor of New York City and the 6th Governor of New York.






*Oddly, Clinton managed his personal financial affairs poorly, but nevertheless he appeared on the 1880 United States bank note for $1,000.00

Dryopteris polylepis


The Species Garden is famous for its ferns, and they absolutely thrive in the woodland setting. On every visit I discover a new species that has eluded me before; that is, if I can trust the labels. Dryopteris polylepis is from Japan, I read, and I wish my wife could be with me and perhaps tell me more. When I think of her, if she was a plant she would probably be a fern. Anyway the specific name polylepis means “many scales,” and I know that thanks to Sue Olsen's Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns (Timber Press 2007). I like her concise description: “Grow this fern for the excitement the scaly new foliage brings to the springtime garden and the assured ornamental contribution of the foliar black and green highlights throughout the rest of the year. It is an undemanding citizen of the woodland garden with a preference for light shade.” Earlier I learned that the name Dryopteris is from the Greek drys for “oak or forest” and pteris for “fern.”

Dryopteris lepidopoda


Another attractive Dryopteris is the species lepidopoda from the Himalaya, China and Taiwan, with the specific name meaning “scaly feet.” Sue describes the emerging fronds as possessing “warm sunset tones” and adds, “Additional colorful new fronds are produced throughout the summer giving continued buoyancy to the display.” I could stay in the woodland garden all day admiring the ferns and reading Sue's poetry.

Lilium mackliniae

Frank Kingdon Ward

A sweetheart in the garden is Lilium mackliniae, commonly called the “Shirui lily” because the rare species is found only in the upper reaches of the Shirui ranges in northeastern India at 5,680-8,500 ft (1,730-2590 m). You know from the suffix of the specific name that it honors a woman, and indeed the flower was discovered by plant explorer Frank Kingdon Ward who named it for his wife Jean Macklin. I was pleased to acquire the lily last year at the RSBG's plant sales yard. I have not looked myself, but I have read that if you look through a microscope you can observe seven colors, but to my eye I just see bluish-pink petals. Locally the flower is called Kashong Timrawon and it represents kindness, prosperity and a happy life.



Primula flaccida...or ?


The charm of Lilium mackliniae is that its bell-shaped flowers bow in modesty. More dramatic was a Primula with the label reading flaccida for the specific name. There was nothing “flaccid” about it however, so I don't know its true identity. Maybe the label was for a species that no longer grows near that spot, or was not yet in flower.

Primula pulverulenta 'Bartley Strain'


Another primula was in flower, P. pulverulenta 'Bartley Strain', and the species is native to damp habitats in China. The specific name means “dust” (as in pulverized into fine powder) and refers to the white layer (farina) covering the stems. Normally these candelabra flowers are colored from deep red to mauve, but I liked the pale pink of the 'Bartley's Strain', and it demonstrates that subtly-colored flowers have a place in a sophisticated garden.

Kalmia 'Little Linda'


Peter Kalm
The outer petals of Kalmia 'Little Linda' were fiery-red but the blossoms were not fully open, so maybe she dulls somewhat when they are. I don't recall seeing other Kalmia in the garden, which is strange for a rhododendron garden like the RSBG. Since the label didn't mention a species I presume that 'Little Linda' is a hybrid. I have read that Kalmia is a genus of about ten species, native to North American and Cuba. On britannica.com, it says there are “about seven species which occur in North America and the West Indies.” I don't know anything about Cuban or the West Indies Kalmia, but there are two species native to the Pacific Northwest, K. occidentalis and K. polifolia var. microphylla which are low shrubs commonly called “Bog laurels.” The genus name was bestowed by Linnaeus and honors Pehr Kalm, a Finnish disciple of Linnaeus. Kalm (1716-1779) was an explorer and botanist who was commissioned by the Royal Swedish Academy to travel in North America to bring back seeds and plants that might be useful for agriculture. He covered a lot of territory, and is credited with the first description of Niagara Falls written by a trained scientist.

Huodendron tibeticum

Alfred Rehder

Huodendron tibeticum is in the Styracaceae family and it was first described by Alfred Rehder,* the German-American botanist who worked at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. It is native to China, Tibet and Vietnam, and though hardy to only USDA zone 8 (10 degrees F) the garden's recently planted bush will probably survive, judging from other tender RSBG plants that would likely die for me. It has been called a “False Styrax,” with its small white hanging flowers, but there were no blossoms evident at my visit, while our plants of Styrax japonicus are blooming at this time. The word huo means “fire” in Chinese, so huodendron is “fire tree,” and that is due to the leaves' brown-red new growth – the color I like so much.

*Rehder is honored with the genus Rehderodendron which is also a Chinese tree in the Styracaceae family.

Acer palmatum 'Emerald Lace'

Acer circinatum 'Burgundy Jewel'


Maples fit in well at the RSBG, and the Japanese maples especially so as understory trees under the Douglas fir canopy. A healthy specimen of Acer palmatum 'Emerald Lace' is spreading lustfully, and they probably planted it too close to the path just as I have done at the nursery. Wisely an Acer circinatum 'Burgundy Jewel' was placed in full sun which is necessary for the purple-red foliage to develop. I was happy to donate it to the garden because 1)it's a great selection and 2) because it was discovered in Washington state by Gordy Halgren of Peacedale Nursery. The original seedling of 'Burgundy Jewel', however, was supplied to Peacedale by an Oregon nursery, namely Drake's Crossing.

Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'


I have long admired a large specimen of Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'. I have grown the cultivar longer than the Species Garden but I don't have any nearly as large because I always sell mine. On this visit I didn't focus on the canopy, but rather I was attracted to the trunk, and the light on it was perfect. I can't imagine any sculpture more beautiful.

The RSBG is a wonderful resource for plants, and today's blog only highlights a few things that I saw. We stayed in the garden for less than two hours, but the following photos reveal that there was much more to be seen. I encourage all readers to visit the garden, and if you do you will probably end up as a member like I did.

Rhododendron wardii var. wardii

Dryopteris wallichiana

Rhododendron irroratum

Rhododendron liliiflorum

Rhododendron insigne

Rhododendron fulvum ssp. fulvum

Rhododendron calophytum var. openshawianum

Iris ensata

Blechnum penna-marina

Rhododendron kesangiae

Acer palmatum 'Red Pygmy'

Dryopteris expansa

Carex siderosticha 'Variegata'

Rhododendron excellens

Rhododendron kiusianum

Rhododendron 'Titian Beauty'

Rhododendron dalhousiae var. rhabdotum


Friday, May 24, 2019

Book For Maples

Masayoshi Yano




























I was paging through Masayoshi Yano's Book for Maples (2003). The photographs are good – he was by his previous career a food photographer – but the brief plant descriptions are in Japanese with an awkward English translation. There are hundreds of plants listed, and even though some have finally made their way into America, there are still quite a few that I don't grow.

Acer palmatum 'Kotobuki'






















Acer palmatum 'Ilarian'


Acer palmatum 'Murasaki Shikibu' is photographed and described, but I wonder why Yano (or the publisher) capitalizes the “S” of shikibu?* The cultivar was introduced in 1985, and as Yano writes, “As there are several similar cultivars, it is difficult to distinguish among them.” A.p. 'Kotobuki' is not in the book, but it, 'Mardi Gras' and 'Ilarian' can look similar – without labels I wouldn't know them apart. There can be quite a bit of variation in a crop of 'Kotobuki', with the most colorful usually growing smaller than those with more sparse variegation, and the same is true with 'Ilarian' and 'Mardi Gras'. At their best they can all look fantastic in the spring, with the photographer choosing to depict the most colorful portions.

Murasaki Shikibu


*Murasaki Shikibu was a Japanese novelist, poet and Lady-In-Waiting at the Imperial Court during the Heian period. She was author of The Tale of Genji (written between 1000-1012), considered the world's first psychological novel.

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa'

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa'

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa'


I'm always alert to any information about Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa' – listed as 'Mikawa yatsufusa' in Yano's book. He describes it as first recorded in the Sakata Shubyo Catalogue in 1972, a cultivar from Aichi Prefecture, located on the Pacific coast in central Honshu.* I'm keen on 'Mikawa yatsubusa' because 1)I've made tons of money growing it, 2) the world's largest is growing along the main road into Buchholz Nursery and 3) my champion is the seedling mother tree for many interesting offspring (such as 'Mayday' and 'Japanese Princess'). Yano doesn't reveal much else, just saying that “it is a dwarf suitable for bonsai” and that “the autumn foliage is beautiful deep red to yellow.” For me, it colors reliably orange in autumn.

*AKA the Tokai region, where it was found in the wild. The area used to be part of an older province called Mikawa. “Yatsubusa” usually refers to “dwarf” in maple cultivar names, but it actually means “eight tufts,” referring to its tufted branches. According to Vertrees/Gregory in Japanese Maples, 'Mikawa yatsubusa' means a “small cluster of three rivers.”




























Acer platanoides 'Princeton Gold'


Oddly both Yano and Vertrees include a few species in their books that are not from Japan, even though both books are purportedly about maples from Japan. In their zeal for the Acer genus they just can't help themselves, and both authors include Acer circinatum, the west-coast North American “Vine maple.” Yano also includes Acer campestre, the “Field maple” from Europe, with the variegated cultivar 'Pulverulentum'. The old cultivar (1859) is one of my least-favorite of variegated maples and I don't produce it anymore. Yano also presents Acer platanoides – the “Norway maple” – 'Prinstone Gold' [sic] which has nothing to do with Japan but at least he has a most delicious photo. Yano obviously means 'Princeton Gold', the patented shade tree from the now defunct Princeton Nurseries of New Jersey.

Acer palmatum 'Red Filigree Lace'


According to Yano, the American selection Acer palmatum (matsumurae) 'Red Filigree Lace' has the Japanese synonym of 'Beni saiho shidare'. An example of the book's poor translation is rendered: “This is a weeping form with leaves, feeling of only veins. The spring leaves are red-brown, later deep red-brown throughout summer. In the autumn, the leaves are deep red. A slow-growing.” My wife says that a bilingual “professor” supplied the translation, but it's a shame that it wasn't shown to an English-speaking audience first.

Acer palmatum 'Satsuki beni'


Yano's Maple Collection
Acer palmatum (amoenum) 'Satsuki beni' is described as a “good leaf form of Acer amoenum f. latilobatum. The spring foliage is young green [sic] with red-brown tipped lobes...” The photo above was taken at Yano's original collection near Nara, Japan. Everything – his hundreds and hundreds of cultivars – was/were growing in ceramic pots which resulted in a dwarfing “bonsai-like” size to the leaves. Though smaller than when grown at Buchholz Nursery in plastic containers, Yano's plants appeared to me to be more vividly colored, and I was sure that he gave long thought to the pots' shape and color to match with each particular maple. Satsuki can mean the “month of May,” and indeed early May was when I visited Yano, and it is also the word used for an “azalea” which usually blooms in May.

Acer palmatum 'Beni sazanami'

Acer palmatum 'Beni sazanami'


Acer palmatum (matsumurae) 'Beni sazanami' is a relatively new (1991) seedling offspring from the old cultivar 'Sazanami' which was known since 1732. I don't grow many of the 'Beni sazanami' because, as Yano says, “The leaves in spring are red-brown, turning green in summer.” So invariably gardeners will describe it as not “holding” its color in summer, therefore it is a difficult sell for me. On a hopeful note though, Yano adds, “The form of the leaf gives a refreshing feel,” or at least that's what the translation reads. Hmm...I'll have to revisit the “refreshing feel.”

Acer palmatum 'Beni komachi'

Acer palmatum 'Otome zakura'


For Acer palmatum 'Beni komachi' – selected in 1975 – Yano lists the synonym of 'Otome zakura' (1975), but does not list the latter in his book. I wonder if 'Beni komachi' originated as a mutation from 'Otome zakura' because the former reverts with growth like the latter. Because of that I don't produce 'Beni komachi' any more, because all of mine would eventually revert. Two weeks ago I saw 'Beni komachi' at Munn Nursery in Oregon – not many, but some, and his looked fine. It was too early in the season for his plants to develop mildew, but mine usually did by June-July. For 'Beni komachi' or “beautiful red-haired dancing girl,” Yano writes, “This cultivar needs a skill of cultivation....At the very least, this tree should be carefully long rain protected,” but I don't have a clue as to what he is trying to say.






















Acer palmatum 'Akane'


Acer palmatum 'Akane' is everybody's favorite maple in May, but it can defoliate and/or develop mildew after the onset of hot weather. Yano agrees, saying “It is very beautiful but weak. At the yellow coloration time, avoiding water on the leaves is needed because it is susceptible to diseases, such as powdery mildew.”* The Japanese name akane refers to the “madder plant,” Rubia in the family Rubiaceae, with R. tinctorum being the common madder, R. peregrina the wild madder and R. cordifolia the Indian madder, and according to Vertrees in Japanese Maples, “Because of the color of the dye [from Rubia]...the name has also come to mean 'glowing evening sky,' which describes perfectly the foliage color in spring.

*Interestingly, I used to think that powdery mildew, which some cultivars and species are highly susceptible to, develops because of constant watering of nursery containers. When I discussed the matter with an agriculture rep, he said the opposite was true, that mildew hates water, and that's why it can run rampant in dry summers on our native Acer circinatum and Acer macrophyllum in the wild.






















Acer palmatum 'Taimin nishiki'


Acer palmatum 'Hinode nishiki'
Acer palmatum 'Rainbow'





























I have grown a couple of Japanese-originating variegated Acer palmatum cultivars such as 'Taimin nishiki' and 'Hinode nishiki', but for me, along with my own variegated 'Rainbow', the colors are not stable and you eventually end up with an entirely purple-red tree. For 'Taimin nishiki', Yano reveals that the cultivar has been “recorded in the old catalog.” (1882). He adds, “For preserving its variegation for long time, it needs cultural techniques.” Unfortunately there is no further mention of these techniques. Maple nurserymen and hobbyists generally agree that one should use fertilizers sparingly, but who has employees that can process those “techniques?” I have sold 'Rainbow' to small one-man nurseries, and guess what? – their 'Rainbow' remain vividly colored.






















Acer buergerianum 'Toyo tricolor'


Acer buergerianum 'Toyo tricolor' has an invalid cultivar name with the combination of two languages. Toyo can mean a number of things, but one is “plentiful,” and of course tricolor refers to the colors of the variegation. The photo above was taken at Yano's place, but I have never grown the trident to know if it would revert for me, as does 'Taimin nishiki' and the others.

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa nishiki'


Yano has a beautiful photo of a variegated portion of Acer palmatum 'Mikawa nishiki', but he says, “The variegation is unstable, so it does not regularly appear every year.” I would agree, furthermore in my experience the variegation is more apparent on under-potted trees that are enduring a little stress. Not to be too negative about my employees, but in their mindless condition they have been known to pull A.p. 'Mikawa yatsubusa' for orders instead of 'Mikawa nishiki', in spite of the tremendous difference, so that's another strike against the cultivar.






















Acer palmatum 'Aizumi nishiki'


Acer palmatum 'Aizumi nishiki' is a relatively new (2001) cultivar. As Yano says, “A very beautiful cultivar has white variegations, tinged pink in spring, As the variegation tends to disappear in a long spell of rainy weather, cultivating the plant under covering is recommended.” I don't know about that since our containers receive overhead irrigation nearly every day of summer and the variegation never subsides. Nevertheless, if Yano says it disappears I believe him, for everything is possible in his Oriental situation.





























Acer shirasawanum 'Sensu' 



Yano lists Acer x shirasawanum 'Kalmthout', a European selection and a probable hybrid with A. palmatum. It is named for Arboretum Kalmthout near Antwerp, Belgium, home to more Hamamelis cultivars than you can keep track of. I don't grow 'Kalmthout', but I would gladly accept scions if someone else does. My interest is because my introduction of A.s. 'Sensu' looks identical in foliage, except that 'Sensu' probably grows more tall than 'Kalmthout'. Yano does not give the year of 'Kalmthout's' introduction.

Acer palmatum 'Bonfire'
Acer palmatum 'Wilson's Pink Dwarf'




























If you look for Acer palmatum 'Bonfire' in either the Yano or Vertrees/Gregory book you won't find it. Instead both list A.p. 'Wilson's Pink Dwarf'. I used to keep the two separate even though they looked exactly the same. 'Bonfire' is popular in California while 'Wilson's Pink Dwarf' was selected as a seedling by James Wilson of California, so I suppose Wilson or some other grower decided that 'Bonfire' was a more commercial and descriptive name. Of course it is possible that they're two sister seedlings with similar colors and growth habits. I don't know which name takes precedence but we're selling it as simply 'Bonfire'. My production is limited as I find it difficult to propagate by grafting, and if rooted (which it does) I suspect it wouldn't be as hardy in the outside garden.

Acer palmatum 'Nuresagi'

Acer palmatum 'Nuresagi' (Japanese version)


I look out the office window and see a large specimen of Acer palmatum 'Nuresagi' which I got from Vertrees over 35 years ago. V. writes, “This excellent purple cultivar has large leaves with five to seven lobes which radiate strongly outward, like widely spreading fingers.” Later he says, “The deep, rich black-purple-red is unusual.” Not really – a lot of atro seedlings can have that color. We discontinued production years ago because 'Nuresagi' did not favorably compare with 'Bloodgood' or 'Red Emperor' for holding the deep, rich color. In Yano's book it is listed as 'Nure sagi', “a cultivar from old times (1882).” However, Yano presents a yellow-green colored plant, even though the leaves are shaped the same. According to Vertrees the name means “wet heron,” but neither the red nor the green form evoke a “wet heron” for me.






















Acer palmatum 'Murakumo'


So, red or green – who is the real 'Nuresagi'? Similarly, who is the real Acer palmatum 'Murakumo'? Is it 'Murakumo' or 'Marakumo' anyway? Vertrees lists both as separate cultivars with 'Murakumo' being red-leaved with the name meaning “village in the clouds.” No translation is given for 'Marakumo's' name, and if it's indeed a real Japanese word, my Japanese wife doesn't know it. Vertrees's 'Marakumo' looks like my 'Murakumo', and my wife says the latter name translates as “gathering clouds.” You have to admit, since 'Ukigumo' means “floating clouds,” that photos of my 'Murakumo' look more like “gathering clouds” than Yano's version. When Yano visited me about ten years ago I brought up the matter, and with my wife translating Yano apologized for the confusion, as if the green, reticulated tree should be the correct 'Murakumo'. I don't know: maybe he was just being nice because he was on my soil. For what it's worth, in the Vertrees 1st edition (1978) 'Murakumo' (or 'Muragumo') is described as the red-leaved palmatum with 'Marakumo' being the green form, so at least he is consistent, along with co-author Peter Gregory, in the four editions. My start of the green 'Murakumo' came from the late Howard Hughes of Washington state, a keen hobbyist who was instrumental with Vertrees in sorting out cultivar names. Too bad Vertrees and Hughes are no longer with us, but they would both probably despair that correct nomenclature continues as befuddled today as it has ever been.

A.p. 'Ryu sei' or A.p.' Ryusen' would be a current example.

Acer palmatum 'Purple Ghost'

Acer palmatum 'Tsuma gaki'

Acer palmatum 'Festival'

Acer rubrum 'Drake'

Acer pseudosieboldianum


Anyway there are a lot of choice cultivars, judging by Yano's excellent photographs, of maple selections that I do not have. But then I remember speaking with a novice potential maple-liner customer who wanted to learn more. After perusing my photo library he concluded that it was difficult to make a decision on what to buy. He said, “It seems your photographs are taken when the tree looks its best, not how it looks the rest of the year.” I replied, “Guilty.”