Friday, July 26, 2019

For Sale or Not For Sale

Acer palmatum 'Yuki yama'

It's a monumental task to compile our two sales lists: 1) Liners Ready Now and 2) the Specimen List, with the latter ranging from pots at one-gallon size up to a huge wood box of Stewartia pseudocamellia at $24,000. The liner list (LRN) is far more simple, with plants constantly appearing on the list...which often sell out quickly. The specimen availability is released at one time in July, whenever Seth and I can finish the task. I walk up and down the rows and count and price, and try to keep a balance between what we can part with and what we need to keep for future propagation needs. For example I could sell a thousand Acer palmatum 'Yuki yama' in the size of my one largest specimen, but then I would be cutting my own throat for future production if I was to sell it.

No way!                            Me neither

I'm a true capitalist and I love money, but the sales department is always fighting with the production department. Since I head both departments, neither gets their entire way. Micromanaging the balance is my responsibility, as no other employee is capable or wants the job. The notion of “incapable” might sound demeaning, but one cannot be capable if one does not wholeheartedly want to do said task, and they don't, believe me.

Acer japonicum 'Maiku nishiki'

Acer japonicum 'Maiku nishiki'

Acer japonicum 'Kujaku nishiki'

Let's look at what's not for sale, for there are some fantastic plants, and it's mostly that I need more time to build up my stock. I have one plant each of Acer japonicums 'Maiku nishiki' and 'Kujaku nishiki'. Originally I assumed that they were the same since kujaku is Japanese for “peacock” and maiku jaku means “dancing peacock,” and the latter is the Japanese name for what we Westerners call 'Aconitifolium'. Now that my stock is older it appears that 'Maiku nishiki' and 'Kujaku nishiki' are separate cultivars, but then sometimes variegation in a cultivar does not always look the same, with some trees being sparsely colored and others lustfully so.

Acer x 'Gossamer' 

Another maple that I won't part with yet is x 'Gossamer', a supposed hybrid between A. japonicum and A. palmatum f. dissectum. A. japonicum was the mother tree and that is quite obvious with the brilliant orange-to-red autumn color. According to “'Gossamer' was found as a chance seedling by one of our good friends, Billy Schwartz, under a large Acer japonicum at the original Red Maple Nursery in Lima, Pennsylvania.”

Acer palmatum 'Bloody Talons' in July

Acer palmatum 'Bloody Talons' in November

You can't have Acer palmatum 'Bloody Talons' either, but my original seedling discovery has fascinated me since it was tiny and its future looks very promising. Today in mid July, the leaves are an unusual olive-green with just a hint of red along the center of the downward-curling lobes, then they will turn absolutely bloody-red in autumn. We kicked around names for this seedling for a couple of days before office manager Eric hit the homerun. The mother tree for 'Bloody Talons' was Acer palmatum 'Amber Ghost' which is famous for being a great source for new cultivars.

Acer oliverianum 'Hot Blonde'

Augustine Henry
Acer oliverianum 'Hot Blonde' should probably be listed as Acer x 'Hot Blonde' since it was “found by the brothers at Mr. Maple as a chance hybrid between Acer oliverianum and a golden Japanese maple.” The Nichols brothers from North Carolina was my source and thankfully they didn't patent it as they once considered. A. oliverianum is a central-Chinese species discovered by Augustine Henry and introduced in 1901 by E.H. Wilson while the latter toiled for Veitch Nursery. It was named in honor of the English botanist Daniel Oliver (1830-1916) who was Librarian of the Herbarium, RBG Kew from 1860-1890. In the greenhouse the foliage of 'Hot Blonde' is a light yellow with orange-peach new growth, then in autumn it will flame to brilliant red. Chatting with Tim Nichols about 'Hot Blonde', I expressed the worry that some women in the “new-order” squad might take offense at the name, but Tim dismissed the comment because it was named for brother Matt's wife who is a hot blonde, and “she's fine with the name.” I love the North Carolinians, or at least those from East Flat Rock, y'all.

Acer palmatum 'Red Whisper'

Acer palmatum 'Red Whisper' originated as a seedling from A.p. 'Fairy Hair' and the offspring is similar to its mother except for being a little more red. I've never propagated 'Red Whisper' because my one tree never puts on suitable new growth for scionwood, but it is named in case I try propagating with older scionwood, which I probably should by this summer; in any case keep your hands off of it in the meantime.

Cardiocrinum giganteum

You can't buy a Cardiocrinum giganteum which produced a bizarre fasciated flower stalk – we want to collect seed this fall to see if any of its offspring will replicate with fasciations. Probably they won't, and in fact our one plant may never do so again. A fasciation is a banded or bundled portion of growth, a deformity, which is believed to be caused by a hormonal imbalance. It can occur from random mutation or may be caused by insects or physical injury to the plant, but fortunately it doesn't spread to other plants. Some cultivars such as Cryptomeria japonica 'Cristata' and Taxodium distichum 'Peve Minaret' regularly produce fasciations, at least at Buchholz Nursery. As you can see from the seed-head (above), the Cardiocrinum in question contained far more flowers than normal, but they were of smaller size. For us it takes about six years for a Cardiocrinum to germinate from seed until it reaches flowering size. When small they are grown in the greenhouse, and every year they are potted into a larger size. We move them outside under shade when they are ready to flower because the flower head seems to resent the heat and humidity of a daily-watered greenhouse and they will often rot. Cardiocrinum (from Greek for “heart lily”) is another one of our “crops,” but we all ooed and aahed to see the one plant freak out.

Poncirus trifoliata 'Snow Dragon'

I received my start of Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon' years ago from a California nursery and I have sold quite a few myself. In The Hiller Manual of Trees and Shrubs, back with the old 1st edition...and at least continuing until the 5th, Hillier goes with the generic name of Poncirus which is probably derived from Latin pomum fruit & citreum (or citron), from “Citrus tree.” In the Hillier's 8th edition (2014) we have somehow arrived at an improved classification, and today we are instructed that the Poncirus genus (in the Rutaceae family), is more accurately included in the Citrus genus (also in the Rutaceae family). The “Japanese bitter orange” flowers white, then evolves into the production of enticing little oranges, but which are impossible to eat. I was gifted two dwarf cultivars of P. trifoliata, 'Tiny Dragon' and 'Snow Dragon', with the former exhibiting diminutive green growth, and the latter with a similar dwarf habit, but also featuring variegated leaves and stems. The new treasures are from Japan I think, for the gifter, Rick Crowder of Hawksridge Nursery in North Carolina, is a frequent visitor to the eastern Islands. Our cutting propagation, unfortunately, is not very successful, so every visitor who wants to purchase my original stock plants must be turned away.

Stewartia monadelpha 'Fuji shidare'

One reason that Buchholz plants are not for sale is because they have not reached a profitable point on the price curve. I used to hide a dozen older Stewartia monadelpha 'Fuji shidare' at Flora Farm because I knew that visitors to the main nursery would want to order them and I would have to disappoint. I needed them for scionwood if I was to continue with the rare weeping cultivar at all. Sadly our graft takes are so poor that the small percentage that make it must be grown to a larger, more profitable size. A few female plants hounds are adept at sniffing out these back-corner treasures, and if happy and attractive they always seem able to wheedle a few plants out from under me. My original two plants came from A. Shibamichi in Japan, and I was successful to acquire them because my happy, attractive wife was able to charm the old geezer into sending them, plus other choice plants. Nothing is off limits if the right woman asks.

Picea engelmannii 'Snake' 

I can sell the bizarre Picea engelmannii 'Snake' with ease, but I refused to part with my few stock plants that remain. It is such a strange Dr. Seuss-like creature that I can understand why plantsmen are attracted to it, but it is a tuff cultivar to get into production. The long, arching “snake-branches” often contain only one suitable scion for reproduction, but if you cut that off the rest of the branch will cease and eventually die completely. No two specimens will look alike, and honestly, it is one of the ugliest trees we grow, like a pathetic Charlie Brown-Christmas tree. Again, I wish I owned some secret property where I could house that which is not for sale. I once toured with an arrogant nursery big-shot who condescendingly advised me that anything not for sale should be placed on one side of the nursery, and what was for sale should be on the other...because most of what he wanted was not on the sales list. He never did buy anything from me – even though I thought I had a wonderful for sale group of plants. He had no understanding or appreciation of the difficulty to manage a wholesale nursery/arboretum, and certainly he did not have the drive and intelligence to organize my nursery any better. And by the way, I have discarded a number of employees who fit into the same category. There's nothing more useless than employing a smart-pants, college-educated knuckle-head who proclaims: “If it was my nursery I would, or would not, do this or that.” When you ask the question: “Then what would you do?” you find that the simpleton never sufficiently developed an opinion that would resolve the matter.

Pleione alishan 'Mt. Fuji'
Pleione askia 'Cinnabar'
We grow about 50 species or cultivars of Pleione, the (relatively) hardy terrestrial or epiphytic orchid. The intention is to eventually offer all of them for sale, but for most we don't yet have sufficient stock. Most species will thrive outdoors in western Oregon (USDA zone 7, 0 F), but do prefer part-shade and protection from winter wet. They are often grown in containers in a greenhouse or cold frame, then brought indoors and put on the window seal to bloom. The photo of the attractive couple above was taken on March 24, their wedding date.

Gustave Dore - Les Oceanides (Les Naiades de la mer)

Pleione 'Riah Shan'
Pleione 'Irazu'
As I wrote a couple of years ago:
The name Pleione originates in Greek mythology, and as a star she was the mother of seven daughters known as the Pleiades. At the same time the Greeks knew Pleione as an Oceanid nymph, and naturally I am partial to her when I consider her depiction in a painting by French artist Gustave Dore. There are other possible origins to the name Pleione – all of them great stories – but her name is associated with grace, speed and elegance.

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa'

Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa'

All right, one tree that is absolutely NOT for sale, but IS for sale, is perhaps the large Acer palmatum 'Mikawa yatsubusa' which lines the main road into the nursery. No plantsman from America, Japan or Europe can report of one larger or more attractive. I admit that it would be a shame to move it – to sell it – as there is the possibility that it would succumb. It's better to leave it alone, so, it's not for sale...well, unless you buy the entire nursery, which is always for sale.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for showing us all your wonderfull acers!!! Whish I could buy some of these in Norway.