Friday, July 31, 2020

Blessed by The Hands



Young Buchholz in the 1980s


Not just engaged in horticulture, but actually inventing it. That thought applies to certain innovative, intelligent and experienced plants(people), and I consider myself fortunate to have known many. All the better if they're somewhat humble and don't preach about how great they are, but I can even tolerate some amount of boasting if the idea, method or plant factoid has merit. Upon the summation of my career – no, not yet – I can imagine another nurseryman, a detractor, conclude that “Old Buchholz basically copied others and just put his own spin on it.” And I would agree with that sentiment: I haven't invented anything; I haven't honed horticulture to a higher level either. Sure, you can learn a few things from me, but remember I've already copied from someone before. Certainly, though, I have set a human record for how much one can worry and still remain alive.



So, where am I going with this blog? I guess nowhere. You can consider it an unnecessary blogette. Even though we're sizzling in the mid-90s I'll go out and cut maple scions this evening – that's what I feel like doing. Keep pushing the plants through the pipeline. The best part is that the bagsful of maple sticks are set on the ping-pong table in the garage, while I go inside and collapse in my chair with a well-deserved cold beer. Then later at night this old farmer's two daughters prepare the scions. They do a perfect job and keep the labels straight, and none of you can begin to keep up with them. Just think: every maple you buy from Buchholz Nursery these days has been blessed by the hands of a beautiful woman. Maybe that's why I am still in business.




Friday, July 24, 2020

Dog Daze








The month of July was named in honor of Julius Caesar (upon his death). The year's 7th month finally gets serious with heat and the nursery crew grows weary with the physical work and the constant need to dodge the irrigation department. Heat, exertion and the state mandated wearing of masks is not a healthy combination, yet the employees press on...much to my gratitude. Thankfully no one has fallen ill to the wicked C. virus as we constantly fuss and sanitize, well beyond the legal requirements.




Lilium leichtlinii var. maximowiczii


July may be the dog-days month, yet there are plenty of visual attractions that satisfy our senses. We have a collection of about 50 species and/or cultivars of Lilium. Currently in vibrant flower is L. leichtlinii var. maximowiczii and our clone is DJH 228 (collected by Dan Hinkley). The var. max is the orange (tiger lily) variant of Honshu, Japan's normally yellow-colored species and the max range extends into Korea and Manchuria as well. The specific epithet honors Max Leichtlin (1831-1910), a German horticulturist who founded a botanic garden in Baden Baden which specialized in bulbous plants.

Acer maximowiczianum
























Betula maximowicziana


Rhododendron schlippenbachii

Rhododendron schlippenbachii


Karl Maximovich
The variety L. l. maximowiczii honors Karl Johann Maximovich – no stranger to the Flora Wonder Blog – the Baltic-German-Russian botanist who discovered interesting new species and named many others from the Far East. Named in his honor include Acer maximowiczianum, Betula maximowicziana, Populus maximowiczii and more; but more impressively, plants named by him include Acer mono, Acer miyabei, Berberis thunbergii, Rhododendron schlippenbachii...to name just a few of the most notable. Herr Max was esteemed for his botanical acumen, while I was most impressed that his square head supported the most prodigious set of white sideburns in all of horticulture. Make no mistake, Max was highly connected in the world of science and he graduated in biology from the University of Tartu, Estonia in 1850 and was a pupil of Alexander von Bunge of Pinus bungeana fame. From 1859 to 1864 he visited China, Korea and Japan and became well-versed in the flora of Japan, following in the footsteps of Carl Peter Thunberg and Philipp Franz von Siebold. Max's assistant in Japan was Sukawa Chonosuke whose name was commemorated with the flower Trillium tschonoskii, and though equally difficult to pronounce, with Acer tschonoskii.

Lilium martagon 'Claude Shride'


A few weeks ago we hauled our large pot of Lilium martagon 'Claude Shride' from a far greenhouse to our office area so all could enjoy its blossoms. The martagon species is the “Turk's cap lily” and Shride's form blooms profusedly with deep red-to-mahogany flowers which are spotted with bright orange. The martagon species is native from Portugal to the mountain meadows of Switzerland and all the way to Mongolia. I usually despair when a cultivar is given the name of the discoverer or breeder, especially so with the given name of Clod...err, Claude, but Mr. Shride (1893-1976) seemed like a good guy, a lily breeder form Vashon Island, Washington who became President of the Lily Breeder's Association, and I'm sure he was quite proud of his creation.

Lilium species at Sebright Gardens


The common name of lily is from Old English lilie, from Latin lilia, and the latter name of lilia is plural of lilium. It is probably derived from Greek leirion, and perhaps that from an eastern Mediterranean word hleli. Across Europe the lily* name is beautifully rendered as Lelei in Dutch, Lis in French, Lirio in Spanish, Giglio in Italian and – my favorite – Liliya in Russian. Last week I was at Sebright Gardens, and owner Thomas Johnson's landscape was full of flamboyance as well as subtle beauty with dozens of Lilium hybrids. The photo above was one of my favorites but I couldn't find the label.

*The “lily” word was used as early as the 1500s for “white, pure and lovely,” but the greatest oxymoron of all is that my vile, welfare trailer-neighbor is surnamed “Lilywhite.” The old hag has hated me from the beginning since I wouldn't allow her mangy horses to graze in my newly planted Display Garden. “Nothing will grow there anyway,” she announced. See photo at the blog's beginning to see my response.

Hydrangea aspera 'Macrophylla'

Hydrangea aspera 'Macrophylla'

Hydrangea aspera 'Macrophylla'


A large Hydrangea aspera 'Macrophylla' has been growing near the office for over 30 years and it is in full flower at this time. It is a magnificent shrub, except that now it should be viewed from a distance as all of the blossoms are at the top. The specific epithet aspera* means “rough” or “coarse” but I find the leaves to be soft and velvety. Young shoots and the leaf petioles can be bristly however. The deciduous shrub, introduced from China by E.H. Wilson, makes a notable winter presence due to tan-to-cinnamon colored exfoliating bark. One wonders why it never received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit, or at least not to my knowledge. We used to propagate 'Macrophylla' but sales were always weak – maybe it required a more catchy cultivar name.

*I love the state motto of Kansas – ad astra aspera – which is Latin for “to the stars through hardship (or rough times).”

Fuchsia magellanica 'Pumila'


Magellan
Charles Plumier
I can't think of a plant with more cuteness per square inch than Fuchsia magellanica 'Pumila'. The Chilean/Argentinean dwarf dies back completely in winter and you're certain it's gone for good, but every spring it reappears and blooms lustfully in July and August. The magellanica species honors Ferdinand Magellan of course, and it occurs on Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. The genus Fuchsia was named in 1703 by French botanist Charles Plumier and honors German Botanist Leonhard Fuchs (1501-1566), and the German's surname literally means “fox.” Magellan himself didn't find time for flowers when passing through the Straights – he was preoccupied with wealth and survival instead – and it was Plumier who discovered Fuchsia (triphylla) on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) in about 1696.























Bletilla x yokohama 'Kate'


Bletilla striata 'Murasaki shikibu'


A frothy swath is a description I have never uttered nor written in my life, yet it's what comes to mind when I look out of the kitchen window at a large group of Bletilla x yokohama 'Kate'. She is a hybrid between B. striata 'Big Bob' x B. formosana, and thank you Big Bob to help beget the delightful Kate. The blossoms dance in the evening breeze about 3' above the ground on thin stems, and it's a performance that would fit right in with the Nutcracker ballet. 'Kate' isn't the only ballerina we grow, in fact we have amassed a nice collection that includes 'Pink Snow', 'Kuchi beni' (red lips), 'Murasaki shikibu', 'Sweet Lips', 'Ricky' and others. Most are hardy to USDA zone 5-6 and are a cinch to grow, even in full Oregon sun. The generic name honors Louis Blet, a botanist and apothecary at the Spanish court in the 1700s, while the illa is the diminutive suffix. Actually Dr. Blet was honored for the related orchid species now known as Bletia which is native to North, Central and South America, and the West Indies, while Bletilla is from China and other east Asian countries. I feel that Bletilla hybrids and cultivars are at the dawn of a new era, just as Japanese maples used to be, that one day there will be specialty nurseries and collectors who grow hundreds of cultivars. And why not? – they are easy and beautiful.

Aquilegia longiflora


Aquilegia longiflora (longissima) is aptly named and is commonly known as the “Long-Spur Columbine.” Old-timers used to call the genus “Granny's Bonnet” but women, neither young nor old, wear bonnets anymore. The genus name is derived from the Latin word aquila, for “eagle,” as the flower petals are said to resemble an eagle's claw. The common name of columbine is also from Latin, columbina, which is from columba for “dove,” as the flower resembles a group of five doves. I don't know, I think I would need someone to point out the doves for me. One old pot of A. longiflora is all that remains at Buchholz Nursery, and it happily thrives in a greenhouse that receives overhead watering every day of the summer, yet it is native to arid northern Mexico, west Texas and southern Arizona. I've never seen it in the wild – it is considered rare – but I know two Oregon gardeners (who don't know each other) and both complain that, though interesting in flower, the plant is a flopper.

Corylopsis wilmottiae 'Spring Purple'



Ellen Willmott
It's not only flowers that command attention in the hot summer, but plant foliage can also be spectacular. The blossoms of our Corylopsis pooped out months ago but the foliage gives you a half year of enjoyment. The genus has undergone considerable nomenclatural revision since I began my career, and honestly I don't know one species from another – I guess I'm afraid to pry into them. What I first collected as C. willmottiae is now considered C. sinensis Willmottiae Group, and with the suffix iae you know that it honors a woman. The dame in question is Ellen Ann Willmott (1858-1934), an English horticulturist and an influential member of the Royal Horticultural Society. In 1897 she was a recipient of the first Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH). Miss Willmott never married yet she employed over 100 gardeners, all male, and was once quoted as saying “women would be a disaster in the border.” Sadly she spent her way into poverty and was arrested for shoplifting in 1928. I think I could have gotten along with her, even though she carried a revolver in her handbag, but she had a demanding reputation and was quick to can any gardener who allowed a weed to grow among her flowers. I think of Miss (Ms. today) Willmott every time I walk past my specimen of 'Spring Purple', a Hillier introduction. The new leaves are especially purplish in spring, but even now shoots continue to grow and the new leaves are still somewhat purple, albeit with a little more brown in the coloration.

Corylopsis spicata 'Golden Spring'

Corylopsis spicata 'Golden Spring'


Corylopsis spicata 'Golden Spring' is fantastic in foliage from spring through summer, but you must carefully site it to retain the pleasing gold color while not damning it to scorch in full sun. Let's just say my plants are perfectly sited in a white-poly greenhouse (BAG9) and we can achieve beautiful shoots up to 4' long, with lush leaves twice the size as those grown out in the garden. 'Golden Spring' was discovered by Seiju Yamaguchi from Gifu, Japan, but it is also known as 'Ogon' or 'Aurea' which I suppose is a ploy around its patent (is that still valid?).























Acer palmatum 'Summer Gold'


I grow a fair number of Acer palmatum 'Summer Gold', an Italian selection from Ghirardelli Nursery (also famous for Acer palmatum 'Fireglow' and other worthy introductions). Earlier G. had also introduced the golden A. x 'Jordan', reputedly a palmatum/shirasawanum hybrid, but as 'Jordan' tends to burn 'Summer Gold' effectively put that hybrid out of business. The foliage of 'Summer Gold' is not boringly yellow – it is actually chartreuse in early spring with a thin red border, then becomes more golden in summer. I grow my crops in the greenhouse for faster growth – but be diligent to prune! A few years ago I purposely left a couple of wooden-boxed specimens outside in full sun to see how they would do. They fared well and did not burn, though I'll admit that they looked “tired” by mid August. Then they redeemed themselves with brilliant orange-red foliage in autumn. When I mentioned the pruning of 'Summer Gold', I didn't want to imply that only a professional horticulturist is able to grow it; actually the opposite, that any idiot can stand aside and it will produce a full, symmetrical canopy on its own.

Acer palmatum 'Anne Irene'


Similar to 'Summer Gold', but perhaps a little more feminine in appearance is Acer palmatum 'Anne Irene'. 'AI' originated as a sport from 'Summer Gold' so it is also golden, but is a little more dwarf than its parent. It is a worthy introduction – by Dick van der Maat of Boskoop, Holland – and I'll copy an apt description from the Mrmaple website: “Anne Irene leafs out with bright golden yellow leaves that can be outlined in a frilly red border. As the leaf matures, the red border fades but the leaf turns more and more yellow. The fall color is a bright fiery red to deep maroon.” 'AI' is an absolutely sweetheart and I've never yet seen it revert back to its parent's appearance.

Ginkgo biloba 'Snow Cloud'

Ginkgo biloba 'Snow Cloud'


Every year I place a number of prominent labels on certain plants that read: SORRY, NOT FOR SALE. First of all I already know that every customer who visits will want to buy them, but they are usually new selections that I want to build up on my stock before I will sell. One such is Ginkgo biloba 'Snow Cloud', a dwarf with cream-white variegated leaves. The color changes throughout the season, and now at the end of July, about 1/3 of the leaf end is colored like a puffy summer cloud which contrasts pleasantly with the otherwise green. On younger growth the entire leaf can be streaked with the variegation. For me, 'Snow Cloud' is like a first date where I like what I see but I don't really know much about her, or even if “she” is indeed female. I've never trialed it out in the garden, but I should plant one out this fall, and I'll site it with PM shade. Variegated ginkgoes are notorious for reverting – will 'Snow Cloud' too?

Ginkgo biloba 'Mariken'

Ginkgo biloba 'Mariken'


Speaking of variegated ginkgoes I walked past a group of 'Mariken' – the dwarf which was discovered as a witch's broom by P. Vergeldt in Holland – and I noticed a patch of bicolored leaves at the base of one. It is fun to see but I've never had success to keep the colored portion stable. The crop is about 8 years old and they were recently shifted up to a larger pot size, so one individual employee came into intimate contact with it, and perhaps another hauled it into the greenhouse. Did anyone notice the variegation? I don't have the answer about who sees what around here, I really don't. Before I wrote about 'Snow Cloud' I walked down to GH23 to take a closer look at my few plants and I discovered an old nail on the road, which obviously I picked up. “Nail bad, cost money!” But sadly I'm the only person who notices the nails.


"I float too high to see nails"

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P.S. If I ever do propagate the variegated 'Mariken' I think I'll call it 'Mariken Woman'.

Friday, July 17, 2020


Our customers have been clamoring this past month for our new specimen plant availability. I have done my part and the task to enter the data into our system is in Seth's hands. I didn't want to tamper with his mental energy by asking for too much, as in also preparing a blog, because I've been snarled at before: "Do you want me to do your damn blog, or do you want me to make money?!" Well Seth, I was actually hoping you could do both, but no, I realize that making the cash is the greater priority. So what follows is a rerun from a couple of years ago...



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Wandering Through Nomenclature


Pinus contorta var. contorta


Regular Flora Wonder Blog readers know that at the beginning of my career I worked for an enormous wholesale nursery – now bankrupt – that produced millions of boring trees and shrubs. In my six years there I went from being the new grunt to the manager of a farm that employed 110 men. To be honest I was appointed “manager” by default. It wasn't that I was so great, but rather that there was nobody else even half capable. But in my tenure there I never once used a botanic name for the plants we grew, and even the owner didn't know the botanic name of any of his plants. It didn't matter (to him), and he made scads of money anyway and died a multi-millionaire with a Rolls Royce in his garage. Seriously. It wasn't until I began my own nursery that I found scientific nomenclature to be not only important, but also interesting. For example the conifers were mainly all Pinus at one point, then eventually they were separated into Pinus, Abies, Picea, Pseudotsuga etc. I became fascinated with this naming of names*, and now botanical history has become a hobby that I will pursue until the day I die.



*The Naming of Names by British author Anna Pavord is an exciting adventure into botanical history, and though ten years my senior, she is probably the first person I would choose to spend an evening with if I could.


Picea polita





Abies procera


















Gustav Karl Wilhelm Hermann Karsten
One of my first nomenclatural lessons was that Picea was the generic name for “spruce” and Abies was for the “true” firs. To the general public they surely appear to be about the same – upright, evergreen trees that produce cones that are often full of sticky pitch. But of course the cones are erect on the branches of the firs, while the Picea cones are erect at first but then drop downward as they mature (I'm tempted, but wont make a joke here). And anybody who works with Picea and Abies knows that the former has prickly needles while the latter are more soft (again, no jokes). But at first I was confused. Let's see: Picea is spruce and Abies is fir...then what the hell is Picea abies? What a confusing name for the common “Norway spruce!” We can blame Linnaeus/Karsten for the problematic name. You all know about Linnaeus, but I'll tell you a little about Karsten – Gustav Karl Wilhelm Hermann Karsten (1817-1908), but why so many names? He was a German botanist and geologist who followed my hero, Alexander von Humboldt, and traveled in Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia from 1844 to 1856, and later served as professor of plant physiology at the University of Vienna. As follower of Linnaeus he was the binomial author of many botanic species.

Acer pensylvanicum
Scilla peruviana



























Last week's Flora Wonder Blog, The Allure of Lore, suggested that the more you know about the scientific name of a plant, the more you can appreciate it, and that no diminishment to its “magic” need occur. After all, the haughty botanists who bestowed most of the generic and specific names (after the Linnaeus binomial system) were allowed the award of “first name sticks” no matter how dumb or wrong it might seem to us today. Thus we have Acer pensylvanicum spelled rong – but too late – and Scilla peruviana that doesn't come from Peru.

Abies lasiocarpa


I'll admit that the botanic names are sometimes rather petty, or at least to me. We learned last week that Abies lasiocarpa was named for its hairy cone scales. If I looked at the fir for every day of my life I would never distinguish it for its hairy scales. On the other hand, the next time I see a cone I will certainly check the scales, and hopefully I will be with someone so I can boast of my botanic knowledge.























Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis rootstock


For the past few years we have been keeping track of the species of rootstock used as understock for our Abies grafts. Prior to that I could only tell you what we used for the current season, not what the rootstock might have been ten years ago. The choices could have been A. koreana, A. firma, A. balsamea or A. balsamea var. phanerolepis. To a customer in the humid southeast USA, he would be happy to know that the A. firma was the rootstock, and for someone in Oregon he probably wouldn't care. This past winter the majority of our grafts was on A. balsamea var. phanerolepis, commonly known as “Canaan fir.” It is native to isolated pockets in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia, and the common name comes from one location in the Canaan Valley northeast of Elkins, West Virginia. For you heathens in the readership, Canaan was a Semitic-speaking region in the ancient Near East that corresponds to modern-day Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Phanerolepis is derived from Greek phaner or phanero for “visible” or “manifest,” and lepis meaning “scale.” Therefore you have a fir with conspicuous bracts unlike the hairy cones of A. lasiocarpa mentioned previously.

Corydalis flexuosa 'Blue Panda'

Agonis flexuosa


Reuben Hatch
Let's take a look at some other plant names and see what we can learn. Last week we sold out of our crop of Corydalis flexuosa 'Blue Panda'. It was collected in China and named by my “grandfather” Reuben Hatch about 30 years ago. Later it was patented by Terra Nova Nursery of Oregon but it should not have been because 1) it was collected in the wild and 2) it had been sold under the 'Blue Panda' name for about five years prior to the patent. The specific name of flexuosa is a guess and I'm not sure if that was ever proven for certain. Flexuosa does not mean “flexible” in the botanic sense, rather it means “full of bends” in Latin. A few other flexuosa species include Agonis flexuosa (a tree species), Grevillea flexuosa (a shrub species), Deschampsia flexuosa (a bunch grass species), Scutellastra flexuosa (a sea snail) and others. I don't know what is so “bendful” with the Corydalis – the foliage or flower?

Corydalis scouleri

Fumaria officinalis (photo by Luis Nunes Alberto)


John Scouler
The origin of the word Corydalis is from Greek korudallis which is a variant of korudos for “crested lark” referring to the appearance of the flowers. The flowers are similar to an annual weed, Fumaria, whose name is from Latin fumus terrae, meaning “smoke of the earth.” Fumaria is a genus of about 60 species and it grows all over the world. Corydalis is native to Asia, Europe and North America and we even have a species in Oregon, C. scouleri, which honors Scottish naturalist John Scouler (1804-1871). Scouler was smarter than he looked, and after accompanying David Douglas on the Columbia River he returned to Europe and was appointed professor of mineralogy, geology, zoology, and botany to the Royal Dublin Society. I have traveled and botanized on the Columbia also, but I have never been appointed to any “professorship” ever.

Corylopsis glaucophylla
Corylopsis spicata 'Golden Spring'



























The entry following Corydalis on the Buchholz Master Plant List is Corylopsis, and the genus is commonly known as the “winter hazel.” That's obvious because the generic name comes from corylus for “hazel” and the Latin suffix opsis meaning “resembling.” Generally speaking I don't like naming plants for other plants that they resemble, and I think that the botanical namers should have been more original. Besides, Corylopsis is in the Hamamelaceae family and Corylus is in the Betulaceae family. Corylopsis spicata (Latin for “spiked”) is a species with the attractive cultivar 'Golden Spring' and it is the only winter hazel we currently propagate. I have a number of other species in the collection but they didn't sell very well. The nomenclature is murky for Corylopsis anyway, or at least it was for me. One species had beautiful foliage and was called glaucophylla by the now defunct Heronswood Nursery, but I've never seen it listed before or after I acquired my plant 15 years ago. Could it have been that glaucophylla was a cultivar name? If so it is an illegitimate name.

Crocus sieberi 'Firefly'


We have never sold Crocus at Buchholz Nursery, however the genus is no stranger to the Flora Wonder Arboretum. It is a member of the iris family which develops from corms and I am delighted to know that the plural of Crocus is Croci, pronounced as krō-kē. There are about 75 species native to the Alps, southern Europe and the Mediterranean and they perform spectacularly in Oregon...well, if you can keep the damn squirrels away from them. Crocus is the saffron plant and the name is from Greek krokos which is of Semitic origin, from the Akkadian* kurkanu for saffron. In particular I like Crocus sieberi, a late-winter bloomer also known as the “snow crocus.” The species is named for Franz Sieber (1789-1844), a botanist and collector from Prague who traveled to the Middle East, South Africa and Australia. In his later life Sieber went loony and wound up in the Prague insane asylum where he spent his final fourteen years, but don't blame the Croci for his dementia.


The Akkadian Empire (from the Ancient History Encyclopedia)


Bronze Head of an Akkadian Ruler
*The Akkadian Empire was the first or one of the first “empires” in history. The Semitic-speaking people were centered in the city of Akkad and they ruled across Mesopotamia, the Levant and Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). Sargon of Akkad (2296-2240 BCE) was the most famous of the bad-ass rulers, except that under his command women were actually respected and got to play important roles in religious matters. As with today's constant turmoil, the cities within the empire squabbled – I think it's a genetic thing – and the empire collapsed, and was then followed by the Babylonian Civilization.

























Aesculus hippocastanum 'Wisselink' at Sebright Gardens


What's the skinny on the variegated “Horse chestnut,” Aesculus hippocastanum 'Wisselink'? I first saw the cultivar at the Bellevue Botanic Garden near Seattle, then again at Sebright Gardens, Oregon, where a magnificent specimen was displayed. The foliage on the cultivar was nearly white (in spring) with enough green in the leaf veins to keep the selection from burning horribly in summer. Thomas Johnson of Sebright told me that his tree came from Lucile at Whitman Farms, Oregon. I begged one from Lucile and the other day we picked up our tree, but it was labeled A. h. 'Variegata'. So...I'm wondering if I have the real 'W.'?

Aesculus hippocastanum























Aesculus hippocastanum



Irina Boboshko
Vladimir Horowitz
I'm not a chestnut guy – I've always figured that I didn't have room for the various species in the collection, but Sebright's wonderful specimen allowed me to change my mind. Aesculus hippocastanum is the “Horse chestnut,” a species native to the “wild border region between Greece and Albania,” according to Hillier in the Manual of Trees and Shrubs (2014). Wow! – I was there when I was single in my 20's, but I didn't find the region so “wild,” except that I encountered a preponderance of hitch-hiking lesbians...to my dismay. The chestnut is cultivated for its shade-providing properties and for its white, yellow or red flowers. Hillier says that it is “Possibly the most beautiful of large, flowering trees in the British Isles,” but he doesn't mention the cultivars 'Variegata' or 'Wisselink'. The common name of “Horse chestnut” is because it was thought that horses ate the seeds to clear chest problems and to help with breathing. Nonsense to that because the fruit and seeds are actually poisonous to horses. Those so afflicted will be happy to know that A. hippocastanum has an anti-inflammatory property, and so it is effective in the treatment of hemorrhoids, a form of varicose veins. If only Napoleon could have known. Oh, lest I forget the subject of this blog, the name Aesculus is Latin for a variety of oak tree, although chestnuts and oaks are not in the same botanical family. Besides curing butt-itch, the tree is often found in Bavarian beer gardens, because in olden times, before refrigeration, brewers would dig cellars for lagering, and the chestnut's spreading, dense canopy would protect the cellars from summer heat and the shallow root-system would not grow into the caverns. Also, Ukranians love the species, and its flower is the symbol of the city of Kiev, the birthplace of pianist Vladimir Horowitz and home to the beautiful, former Buchholz Nursery intern, Irina Boboshko, one of our best ever.























Cotoneaster frigidus


The genus Cotoneaster is a useful small tree or shrub in the rose family, and the gardener (and his birds) is/are rewarded with glossy yellow-to-orange-to-red fruits in autumn and early winter. Oddly, the generic name is from Latin cotoneum for “quince” and aster which denotes “incomplete resemblance,” which implies that it is a plant that resembles a quince, but not quite. “Quince,” or Chaenomeles is a genus of shrubs also in the rose (Rosaceae) family. The generic name Chaenomeles is from New Latin chaemo, and that from Greek chainein and Greek meles for “apple” or “fruit.” Apple is generically Malus – not as in “Malice for None,” and also nothing bad – but rather a genus in the Rosaceae family distinguished by fruit without grit cells. Malus is derived from Latin malum for “apple,” and that from Doric Greek malon. If you were paying attention in high school or freshman college, you would know that “Doric” or “Dorian” was an ancient Greek dialect, and not just a type of architecturally-vertical column. I am particularly enamored with Cotoneaster frigidus which is native to the Himalaya, and I guess it was named because of its origin to a cold place? Frigidus is Latin from frigere “to be cold,” similar to Latin frigus for “frost,” and that from Greek rhigos. Anyway C. frigidus is a “tree” Cotoneaster, so give it plenty of room in the garden.

Caesalpinia gilliesii


If you want to attract hummingbirds you can do no better than grow a specimen of Caesalpinia gilliesii, the “bird of paradise” with yellow flowers and red filaments. This bush/tree is native to Argentina and Uruguay and some list it as hardy to USDA zone 6. Plant Delights Nursery reports that one survives at the Denver Botanic Garden, but PD rates it as zone 7a. Not only are the flowers very showy, but Caesalpinia is friendly to other plants. The genus has a symbiotic relationship with some soil bacteria, and nodules develop on the roots which provide nitrogen for other plants growing nearby. Caesalpinia was named for the Italian botanist Andrea Cesalpino (1519-1603), and it was bestowed by the Franciscan monk Charles Plumier. Linnaeus retained the name in his system and praised his predecessor with the following: Quisquis hic exstiterit primos concedat honores Casalpine Tibi primaque certa dabit.* Linnaeus honors the Scottish naval surgeon and botanist John Gillies (1792-1834) with the specific name. He was a wimp however, and suffered from poor health and died at age 42 in Edinburgh. While in South America he endured wars and civil unrest along with his chronic ill health, but he was able to send numerous plants to Hooker at the RBG Kew.

*Basically, Cesalpino was the best.



Botanical nomenclature and its history is fascinating, and if I haven't convinced you of that it's the fault of my presentation rather than the subject matter itself. Were we “Wandering Through Nomenclature,” or “Rambling Through Nomenclature?” – you can decide. The word nomenclature is derived from Latin nomen for “name” and calare meaning “to call.” Botanical nomenclature is really a means of communication, a way of mapping our natural world in a shared language. With this tool I can speak to Icelanders, South Americans and Asians about our earthian floral experience, and we can all learn from each other. My life has been a plebeian grind, and growing plants has not been an easy or secure way to feed my family, but along the way I have found happiness and satisfaction, and thank you Flora for your bountiful gifts.