Friday, September 22, 2017

Arrivals and Departures

It's not that I express a ruthless capitalistic bent, but it's true that I will occasionally peddle a tree for profit when my heart cries out to not do so. The largest of this, the first or original of that, the last one of something else... they have appeared on the Buchholz Nursery sales list and I try to not wince once one is loaded onto the truck and the back doors are closed. The tree goes off to someone else, and like with a child leaving home I must adjust to the situation and adapt to the absence that its departure creates.

Consider the late Mary Cornish's poem Numbers, where she explains, “Even subtraction is never loss, just addition somewhere else...”

I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.

I like the domesticity of addition--
add two cups of milk and stir--
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.

And multiplication's school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.

Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrows take away two,
the two in someone else's
garden now.

There's an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.

And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.

Three boys beyond their mothers' call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn't anywhere you look.

Acer palmatum 'Corallinum'

I don't know about the two Italians off to the sea, but I've always had at least one sock missing. Still, I don't let the selling-off of my arbor assets paralyze me. Once an office employee lamented when I announced that x company had just purchased a favorite tree, “Oh, how could you sell that? I just love it.” I responded with, “Me too, but I sold it to finance your next payroll check,” and I probably displayed a sardonic smirk on my face with the explanation. The tree in question was an Acer palmatum 'Corallinum' specimen planted just south of the office, and I got a couple thousand dollars for it. I'm now glad that it's gone, especially since it was planted too close to the road and the nearby parking lot. It was always a source of tension for me, because knucklehead delivery drivers, or my own employees even, might have backed a truck into it and smashed it to smithereens – such has occurred elsewhere on the property! In any case I still sort of possess it – at least digitally – and at least my photographic memory remains safe from delivery trucks.

Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Pendulum'

How could anyone separate himself from the sage characters depicted above? These three “Weeping Giant Redwoods” graced the very eastern border of the nursery – the Beyond Section – along with about 20 others, and as anyone who has ever grown them knows: no two look alike. But this group of three seemed to possess a spirit that went beyond that of normal plant life. When the “hedge” reached 15-20' tall, an Oregon re-wholesale nursery proposed to buy the lot, which would include their labor to dig, and with no required guarantee on my part that the plants would survive. My three friends had begun to change after the year of the photograph anyway, and new growth made them different, like they had no connection with each other any more. Their spirit had departed and they became mere trees to harvest, and surely I needed all of the cash I could get. It took two days for their removal, which also included the company filling in the craters. I stayed away the entire time, then sauntered out alone to inspect the grounds the following Sunday. The buyers had performed as promised, short of one broken water valve that we had to repair, but I was left feeling empty, like I hadn't given my old friends enough time to regroup or to form other connections with each regain their spirit.

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' made its appearance in Oregon nurseries in the mid-to-late 1970's, and although no one knows for certain the cultivar's origin, Vertrees in Japanese Maples suggests that “it appears to have been cultivated in the United States since well before World War II.” In any case it quickly became popular and is now the standard by which other similar cultivars are compared. Catchy name too. I suspect that it is the cultivar grown in the largest number – whether by rooted cuttings or by grafting – in the world. Unfortunately it has become a generic name where its seedling progeny have been offered for sale to me as 'Bloodgood' “at a good price.” I declined as any seedling – even if dark red with 'Bloodgood' as the mother tree – still is not a true 'Bloodgood'.

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'

The 'Bloodgood' above was the first I acquired – from a reputable source and originally from Holland. It grew near the office and displayed a particularly attractive canopy. A wheeler-dealer middle-man from Oregon saw it and wanted to buy it. “It's not for sale,” I said. “For $500 he countered?” “Ok sold.” The only problem was that it was April 25th and the tree was already in leaf. The buyer said he had experience digging trees in leaf, and that it should be ok if the rootball was sufficiently large. So with the money up-front we dug the tree, and apparently it did survive. I could afford to part with it because I had developed enough propagation stock from it, and sort of like with loaves and fishes I could still supply my multitude of customers with one-year-grafts. At one point, when we were America's preferred source of maple liners, we produced over 20,000 per year...all offspring from the one original tree.

Ginkgo biloba 'Jade Butterflies'

In the stead of the harvested 'Bloodgood' I planted a Ginkgo biloba 'Jade Butterflies'. Most consider it to be dwarf, but mine grew into a vigorous dense cone to about 16' tall. I didn't want to sell it because of its fantastic shape, but it was sandwiched between two fast-growing upright maples. Eventually the two maples – Acer palmatum 'Umegae' and 'Sherwood Flame' will co-mingle, but I may or may not be around to see it. 'Jade Butterflies' is described by Hillier in his Manual of Trees and Shrubs (2014) as “A slow-growing, dwarf, male cultivar, with dense, small, dark green leaves said to resemble butterfly wings.” Commas [sic] Hillier. It's funny because one of my past customers for 'Jade Butterflies' described the leaves in his catalog as being unusually large. The explanation is that he was buying our vigorous 3-year-old grafts that were housed in a greenhouse with lots of water and fertilizer, and indeed the leaves were large. The Hillier description of small leaves is correct; and beware of blind men describing an elephant. I didn't correct my customer because he knew that he was smarter than me – the “Oh well: win some, lose some” guy from a previous blog.

Picea engelmannii 'Snake'

Picea engelmannii 'Snake' is aptly named and a most bizarre tree. As with the “weeping giant redwood” no two are alike. I once had one grow to 12' tall (in 6 years) with absolutely no side branching, and naturally a customer for the unusual had to buy it. Often 'Snake' can be unattractive as the narrow branches flop about, and too often the terminal bud will abort so you're left with a long dead stem after a few years. It is not really profitable for nursery production because if you cut off a terminal shoot for scionwood no side branching develops, and again you have a dead stem. If a tree does occasionally shape up nicely, however, it is a cinch to sell. Out of a couple of hundred that I have grown, one tree in particular grew into a full well-proportioned shape, yet with the wild snakes twisting out and we named it “Medusa.” We dug the tree and landscaped I nicely in our booth at the Farwest Nursery Show in Portland, Oregon (about 15 years ago when the show was still valid). No single tree before or since at the 40-year-old show was as unique or drew more attention than our Medusa. Plant people from all over America were amazed that such a thing could exist. Buchholz Nursery deserved no credit for it of course; it was nature herself that produced the specimen...and it just happened to appear at Buchholz Nursery. Ultimately it was sold, and I can't elaborate further because I can't remember who bought it.

Acer palmatum 'Fairy Hair'

Acer palmatum 'Fairy Hair'

Acer palmatum 'Red Cloud'

Acer palmatum 'Fairy Hair' was discovered at Buchholz Nursery 35 years ago in a seed flat with A. p. 'Scolopendrifolium' as the seed mother. It survived in the flat with about 100 other germinants because it was located in the corner where it could get some light. If it had germinated in the middle it would have been overwhelmed by its rivals. Interestingly, in the opposite corner of the same flat was a seedling with red linearlobum foliage, and that eventually became 'Red Cloud'. I was amazed that both trees survived the pot-up process as they appeared very delicate. The first chance was taken to propagate from the originals, and after 10 years we had both cultivars for sale. I don't remember who bought the original 'Red Cloud', and I didn't really care because its offspring – on vigorous green rootstock – outgrew the original.

Acer palmatum 'Fairy Hair'

I kept the first 'Fairy Hair' however, and it was placed for years in GH19 along with the first two propagules from it. As to be expected, the offspring were at one time about 4 times the size as the mother tree. Actually the mother was more of a “bush” than a “tree,” being about 5' tall and 6' wide, but it had an interesting contorted trunk. About 10 years ago a maple hobbyist – Sal R. from New Jersey, a retired hockey player who owned an Audi dealership – fell in love with the mother 'Fairy Hair', which the day before I never thought I would ever sell. I was amused by the sight of a smash-bang hockey player so enamoured with the delicate plant that I agreed to sell it to him. I could see that he would appreciate it so much. You see: deep down I am really a softy, and I just want to make people happy, especially maple enthusiasts.

Acer palmatum 'Sister Ghost' 
Acer palmatum 'Sister Ghost'

Things didn't work out so well for another Buchholz Nursery discovery and introduction – Acer palmatum 'Sister Ghost'. I mean we grow lots of them now and they sell well, but the original tree was “never” for sale...but I sold it anyway. It was a beautiful specimen, and in its glory one spring day a customer of a few years – the boys from Garden of Eden Nursery from Puyallup, Washington – fell in love with the original during their visit. I need cash to operate, and they were so enthused by the tree that I relented and sold it, and at a low price besides. Again, I just want to see people happy. Our terms were 30 days, but after 45 days and no payment I grew worried. To make a long (2-year) story short, I received partial payments every month and then they stopped altogether, with about $4,000 short of their $8,000 total order. Even though they paid for half of their 200-tree order, in my mind one of the trees they didn't pay for was the original 'Sister Ghost'. I don't know if they still have my tree or if they sold it, but they will never be forgiven. For me it's personal. Wisely, however, I will never stop in to “visit” them as things could get ugly.

Pinus bungeana

Pinus bungeana 'Silver Ghost'

Portland Chinese Garden
Pinus bungeana was the Holy Grail of conifers, at least in Oregon when I began my nursery 37 years ago. It could be grafted onto Pinus strobus as rootstock – a 3-needle onto a 5-needle – but often the union is not sound. After tossing out a number of yellow-and-dying rejects I lined out about 25 healthy, green trees into the Far East section, and I deemed them to be my piggy bank, the trees that would prosper and finance my children's college educations. Many times customers would request to buy one or all, but I refused...waiting for the big payday. I was smug because no one else on the west coast had any large trees for sale. In the meantime I used these trees as scion stock and sold a couple thousand one-year grafts. So, Buchholz was one clever nurseryman, right? Ah, winter we experienced a severe ice storm and I discovered how brittle the Chinese species' branches can be. I decided to break the bank: we dug the trees and put them into expensive wooden boxes, then we pruned the damaged branches which thinned out the canopies considerably. I began to sell them one at a time...up to three for one customer. They actually recovered from the ice beating and the following year my price increased. When I had only one left the price was double from the beginning and it was purchased by the new Chinese Garden in Portland. Now I only grow cultivars of P. bungeana such as 'Silver Ghost' and some of the dwarves and our compact selection 'Temple Gem', and now I sell them all at smaller sizes.

Picea likiangensis

Picea likiangensis is a vigorous Chinese species and I saw it first-hand near Lijiang, Yunnan. Though it varies in the wild, the form I saw was neat and conical with short blue-green needles. Its main ornamental attribute in my opinion are the beautiful red cones which can appear on young trees. Indeed, one of the tricks of horticulture is to field-plant likiangensis, then winter harvest at 4-6' tall. The shock of digging will compel them to produce cones at the garden center the following spring, and no one can resist it then. Unfortunately it is only hardy to USDA zone 6 and most of my market is in colder areas, and a second problem is that no one can pronounce or remember its name. I discontinued it eventually because I could just as easily produce hardy spruce where sales were strong. One winter my one old specimen blew over in a windstorm, but I didn't propagate from it because I could suffice with a couple of one-gallon pots in the container area, so it was still on the Ark. But wrong it turns out – 20 years later I still can't find those trees. As with a couple of women in my life, my affair with P. likiangensis has evolved into a bittersweet memory.

Cryptomeria japonica 'Ryoku gyoku'

Another plant that “left” the nursery was Cryptomeria japonica 'Ryoku gyoku', a miniature selection made by the late Edsal Wood of Oregon, found as a witch's broom on C. j. 'Tansu'. The cultivar is usually mispelled – even the American Conifer Society has it incorrectly listed – but the name translates as “green (jade) ball.” I got my start from Mr. Wood about 20 years ago, and it is now about 14” tall by 18” wide – not really a “ball,” but a flattened globe. When I say that it “left” the nursery, I don't mean that I sold it because it's still here. I had a group of about 20 horticulture students visiting our Display Garden years ago. As they were milling about I saw from a distance an older woman reach down and pinch off a portion of my 'Ryoku gyoku' and put it in her coat pocket. I went to the little bush and I verified the theft, and later I stood next to her and I could see the piece poking from her pocket. The Administrator of the horticulture department was leading the tour, and since she was a friend I didn't want to make a scene and embarrass her, and I never did tell her about it. That was about 20 years ago, and what's funny is that the culprit hag went on to start a nursery, and she actually buys liners from us now. She doesn't like me at all, she just wants our plants, and she's always sour because she must pay up front.

I participated on a tour of gardens in Europe with the American Conifer Society. We were given the following as encouragement to behave.

We would like to draw your attention to a “Golden Rule” which should be adhered to by all our guests participating on any of our tours:

Under no circumstances should cuttings, seedlings or seeds be taken from any nursery or garden visited, without prior consent of the owner(s).

In case of non-compliance with this rule the following may apply:

Awake, my Muse, bring bell and book
To curse the hand that cuttings took.
May every sort of garden pest
His little plot of ground infest.
Let caterpillars, capsid bugs,
Leaf-hoppers, thrips, all sorts of slugs,
Play havoc with his garden plot,
And a late frost destroy the lot.”

Plants have come and gone in my life and it has been an interesting and challenging journey. I chose this career so I shouldn't complain about anything, but I often wonder what my relationship with trees would be like if commerce was not attached to it. Less intense, certainly.

Friday, September 15, 2017

9/11 and Hiroshima Ginkgos

My daughter and I drove through Forest Grove on September 11 and she knew why the American flag at the entrance of town was at half mast. She's only 11 years old, but nevertheless her previous school's teachers discussed the events. That school is located in the almost non-existent town of Dilley (really), just a mile south of Forest Grove, and it is considered one of the top public grade schools in Oregon. Now she attends (6th grade) in Forest Grove at a horribly mediocre school where she has to dumb down to fit in. S. made the observation that the Dilley school discussed the 9/11 events but that Forest Grove made no mention of it, and I understand the reason is the administration worried that it would be portraying Muslims as bad people. Today most Americans love the Japanese in spite of the fierce and brutal fighting that took place in the 1940's. Should schools skip teaching about World War II so as not to offend a touchy Nihonjin?

Hibakujumoku Ginkgo

I was recently given an op-ed article that appeared in the 8/5/2017 New York Times, known to some as the Failing New York Times. It was entitled The Tree That Survived Hiroshima and was written by Ariel Dorfman, an emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. The tree(s) in question are the "hibakujumoku" ginkgos, which translates as "atomic bomb survivors." In 1984 Dorfman visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and three of the nearby ginkgos, and then-Director Akihiro Takahashi – who had a flattened ear and gnarled fingers from the blast – declared that the ginkgos "expressed the endurance of hope, the need for peace and reconciliation."

Ginkgo biloba

Dorfman (age 75) is a Chilean-American novelist and human rights activist and he is naturally worried about how dumb and self-defeating humans can be. He concludes his article with the warning, "How paradoxical, how sad, how stupid it would be if, more than seven decades after Hiroshima opened the door to the possible suicide of  humanity, we did not understand that warning from the past, that call to the future, what the gentle leaves of the ginkgo trees are still trying to tell us."

The A-Bomb Dome

The Hiroshima Memorial Park was built on an open field that was created by the explosion. I have not visited the park but a structure – now called the A-Bomb Dome – partially withstood the blast and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.* The "Little Boy" bomb actually detonated over the city and the building and its vertical columns were able to resist the vertical downward force of the blast. Everyone inside the building was killed instantly, however.

*The Chinese delegates opposed the designation because it could be used to downplay the fact that Chinese people suffered even greater losses due to Japanese aggression during the war.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi

Tsutomu Yamaguchi (1916-2010) was visiting Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 on business for his employer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries when the bomb exploded. Though injured he returned to his home city of Nagasaki, and the following day he reported to work. That morning he told his supervisor how one bomb had destroyed all of Hiroshima, to which his supervisor told him that he was crazy, but at that very moment the Nagasaki bomb detonated. Yamaguchi was the only known survivor of both attacks, and he lived to the age of 93 and died of stomach cancer.

Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

Yamaguchi was well known in Japan and was naturally a proponent of nuclear disarmament. He told an interviewer "The reason that I hate the atomic bomb is because of what it does to the dignity of human beings. I can't understand why the world cannot understand the agony of the nuclear bombs. How can they keep developing these weapons?" The answer might be because of what happened at Pearl Harbor.

Torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine

Cinnamomum species, painted by Haruko's father

On a happier note my wife and kids have been to Hiroshima's Itsukushima Shrine (Shinto) which is also a World Heritage Site. The torii gate was designed and built centuries ago on pier-like structures over the bay so that it would appear to be floating on water. The gate is constructed from decay-resistant camphor wood (Cinnamomum camphora) known in Japan as kusunoki. Though tourists can reach the gate at low tide, its purity is so important that since 1878 no deaths or births have been permitted near it. Therefore pregnant women, the terminally ill and the very elderly are requested to stay away.

Hiroshima's name means "broad island" and it is situated on the Ota River Delta facing the so-called Inland Sea to its south. The Sea is created by the area north of the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku and South of Honshu. I've never been near the Inland Sea but I feel that I know something about it from reading a travel book The Inland Sea by Donald Richie. The Times Literary Supplement praises the book with, "Earns its place on the very short shelf of books on Japan that are of permanent value." My wife is the perfect Japanese tour guide and hopefully I can visit one day.

"Don't you dare, Kim Jong-un!"

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Master Plant List and the Buchholz Nursery Photo Library

Our Master Plant List – the computerized compilation of all species and cultivars growing at the nursery and in the Flora Wonder Arboretum – is a tool we use because our brains can't remember everything. But do all the listings still exist? Do all of the plants that have been recently acquired appear on the list? Do we really have Pleione Ueli 'Wackernagel Pearl' for example, and if so why is the specific name Ueli capitalized? I consider the Master Plant List to be the company Bible and any omission or misspelling is not to be tolerated. The problem is that I rely on employees who, over the years, don't match my zeal for nomenclatural and historical accuracy.

Pleione x ueli 'Wackernagel Pearl'

Well, it turns out that the orchid does exist here, and it was acquired by Office Manager Eric, and he used my credit card when I wasn't paying attention, and I think he even took the photo above. So ok, I guess I don't know everything that goes on at the nursery, and maybe I'm not so far ahead of everyone else. We received our start of 'Wackernagel Pearl' from England two years ago, it being a hybrid between P. aurita and P. formosana. I don't know who or what is a “wackernagel,” but I think it would have been better off with just the name 'Pearl'. It appears that it was originally registered by Heinz Pinkepank in 1991. Pinkepank – I kid you not, and the hybrid name should properly be rendered as x ueli. The orchid genus Pleione is showy with the most feminine of flowers, however the name orchid comes from the Greek word orchis meaning “testicle” because of the shape of the bulbous roots.

Pleione with Les Oceanides Les Naiades de la Mer

The name Pleione originates in Greek mythology, and as a star she was the mother of seven daughters known as the Pleiades. For those who appreciate an astronomical description, Pleione, like many stars in the cluster, is a blue-white B-type main sequence dwarf star with a temperature of about 12,000 Kelvins. A few space nerds out there will completely understand that description and that is their “reality.” For me, however, “space” is a fiction and it is no more “real” than mythology, except perhaps with our recent solar eclipse. 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 a number of possible origins to the name Pleione – all of them great stories – but her name is associated with grace, speed and elegance.

Acer truncatum

Acer truncatum

Acer truncatum 'Fire Dragon'

Acer truncatum 'Super Dragon'

Ok, let's get back to the Master Plant List (MPL) lest I dwell excessively on Greek nymphs. I had a few extra Acer truncatum rootstocks after primarily using them to propagate Acer pictum 'Usu gumo'. I checked the MPL to see which truncatum cultivars are in the collection and I found none listed. But hold on – wait a minute! – because I have at least three; all given to me three years ago by Keith Johansson of Metro Maples of Texas. I'm not licensed to propagate and sell his selections, but he allowed that I could graft a couple in case my originals should perish when planted out. Why they were not on the MPL when in the SE corner of BAG9 I have 'Baby Dragon', 'Super Dragon' and 'Fire Dragon'? The latter two are vigorous and I snipped five scions from each, but the 'Baby Dragon' is a floppy little wimp and I decided to pass for this year.

Acer truncatum is a pretty species named for its flat-based leaves, and the amazing thing is that it grows in the hell-hole of Texas, probably better than palmatum or any other species. It is commonly known as the “Shantung maple” and it hails from its tough range in northern China, Manchuria and Korea, so no wonder that it thrives in Texas. Acer truncatum also partners well with other species, in particular with A. platanoides, and a couple of selections from that union have yielded x 'Norwegian Sunset' and x 'Pacific Sunset'.

Wollemia nobilis

Dracaena draco

Dracaena draco

You all have access to our photo library on our website, whether you buy anything from us or not, but that of course does not necessarily give you permission to use these photos. While the library is an autobiography of all that I have seen, the MPL is a list of what we actually have in the collection. Some are confused with Wollemi nobilis for example, of which we have one (only) 14' tall specimen. So it appears on our MPL although we've never had any for sale. I have 16 photos of Dracaena draco in our photo library, but it won't appear in our MPL because I have never possessed one ever.

So why present photos when I don't have the plants for sale, or have never even had them on the property? In lurid red type at the beginning we proclaim: “Although our Plant Library contains interesting and hard to find plants, please understand that we do not necessarily offer all of these for sale. Please consult our availability listings for current stock.” Englishman Sir Harold Hillier presented pretty much the same thing with the Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs, an encyclopedia where much of the contents have never been acquired nor offered for sale by Hillier Nursery. Also, I doubt that anyone – past or present – at Hillier's has seen every plant contained in the Manual. Like Hillier, my photo library morphed into something beyond what was first intended; and not to brag, but mine probably contains more listings since I include annuals and perennials. The Hillier Manual is a greater achievement since it contains more information, and in a concise and easy-to-read format. Also I enjoy the mix of botany and horticulture, occasionally including personal anecdotes and experiences in the Hillier's.

Abelia grandiflora 'Radiance'

Abelia grandiflora 'Radiance'

Abies alba 'Barabits Star'

The first plant in our photo library is Abelia grandiflora 'Radiance', a variegated shrub that I first saw in North Carolina four years ago, but I've never grown it. The first MPL listing is Abies alba 'Barabits Star' and I actually have a few for sale. Note that there is no apostrophe to the Dr. Barabits name – which I learned just now – so we have to update all Barabits plants with the correct name, and there are quite a few of them. His Abies is a semi-dwarf cultivar with a dense compact habit that originated as a witch's broom in his pinetum in Hungary. It was discovered in 1965 and was later patented by the Hungarian Agricultural Institute of Budapest in 1975, but I don't think that anyone today honors that patent. My first specimen was planted in the Display Garden years ago and it grew into a perfect cone, like it would have made the most fantastic Christmas tree. Unfortunately it would have been crowded and ruined by an aggressive maple, Acer palmatum 'Emerald Lace'. What to do? I dug the Abies and put it into a nice cedar box, but then I was suddenly overtaken with a moment of capitalism and listed it for sale at a high price. Drat! – someone bought it anyway and I had to say goodbye. All of my subsequent 'Barabits Star' take on a spreading form without the perfect central leader, but Merry Christmas to somebody...

Zephyranthes candida

The final listing on our MPL is Zephyranthes candida, but sales were weak so I planted out the final ten pots into the landscape, and I'm happy that the USDA zone 7 bulbs survived our 3 degrees F cold snap this past winter and they are today in bloom. It is commonly known as the “Rain lily,” in the Amaryllidaceae family, with a native range in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. The common name is due to the fact that it bursts into flower soon after it receives substantial rain. It displays happy crocus-like white flowers which arise above the dark-green grass-like foliage. I like the name zephyr which is derived from Greek zephyros meaning the “west wind,” and it is combined with New Latin anthes (anthos) for “flower,” but I don't know what got into name-giver Cooperia Herbert to use a Greek name for a South American bulb. Was it windy that day? Candida (candidus) is Latin for “white” or “shining,” but be careful because there is a Candida genus which is a yeast-like fungus that can cause athlete's foot or other infections.

Leucothoe keiskei

I opened my MPL at random near the middle and came to Leucothoe keiskei, an ericaceous shrub from Japan. I first saw it at the University of British Columbia's second-rate* rock garden in October and the leaves glowed with a ruby-red color. The species needs to be planted in moist well-drained soil, and in Oregon it will perform horribly if not given afternoon shade. The species was introduced by E.H. Wilson in 1915 and was given an Award of Merit in 1933. In the Hillier Manual there is mention of the cultivar 'Royal Ruby' with “Dark green foliage, rich ruby-red when young and again in winter.” I acquired 'Royal Ruby' from FF, an Oregon mail-order nursery. I could see after a couple of years that it was not of the keiskei species – a hybrid maybe, but not keiskei – so now I just list it as Leucothoe 'Royal Ruby'. When confronted with my suspicion of specific inaccuracy, the know-it-all responded with, “Oh well, you win some, you lose some,” and never did he offer to return my money. Anyway, when I see 'Royal Ruby' listed in the Hillier Manual I would like to see their plant. I can peruse photos on the internet that look more like keiskei than the plant I was given; and 20 years later I still haven't forgiven the vendor, as some other of his plants have proven false. Win some, lose some...indeed.

*Second rate when I last visited 20 years ago, due to lack of upkeep-money. Hopefully it has been rejuvenated since.

Rehderodendron macrocarpum

Dr. Bump
The MPL also lists Source 1 and Source 2 for the times when I acquired the same species or cultivar from two different places. Such is the case for the seldom-seen Rehderodendron macrocarpum, where my original start came from the late Dr. Bump of Forest Grove, Oregon, and the second was years later from the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, though I'm not certain if the latter is cutting-grown or a seedling. I don't remember what happened to the Bump source, but I grafted some sticks from his tree onto Styrax japonicus. A few took and they were sold a couple of years later, and I just kept one for my collection as it can grow into a large and uncommercial tree. I guess my specimen died, and I don't recall ever seeing it in flower, but in any case it is no longer here. According to Hillier the macrocarpum species was discovered by F.T. Wang in 1931, and he (Hillier) describes it as “A magnificent species, in garden merit equal to the best Styrax.” The genus name honors Alfred Rehder (1863-1949), a horticulturist and taxonomist who worked at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. The young German was originally hired as a mere laborer* at the Arnold but his additional talents were soon recognized, and it's quite remarkable that a Chinese tree genus (commonly known as Mu Gua Hong) scientifically bears his name. I am envious obviously, for I would love to have a generic name honor me as Buchholzodendron, combining my Germanic name with dendron, or Greek for “tree.”
Alfred Rehder

*Rehder applied to Charles Sprague Sargent to work on the Arboretum grounds for $1.00 per day. It was noted in Arnoldia (1938) – a publication that I subscribe to – that “his first task was to eliminate the weeds in the newly established shrub collection by the vigorous use of a hoe.” Eventually Rehder replaced his hoe for a pen and he collaborated with E.H. Wilson to write the Plantae Wilsoniae which documented “Chinese” Wilson's plant collections. Rehder's career is notable for authoring about 1,400 plant names and for publishing more than 1,000 articles in botanical and horticultural works. Besides Rehderodendron, over 60 genera and species bear his name.

Quite a number of (former) employees were uncomfortable with my obsession with my plant records, like I should allow some leeway for human error. Well, I didn't fire or kill anybody for the omission of the aforementioned Acer truncatum cultivars. At the beginning I kept my records in a shoebox with 4x6 note cards, where every cultivar or species was recorded along with the plant's source or sources. I even added notes, like: from so-and-so, but he's wrong with a number of nomenclatural issues with other try to acquire from another source. Keep in mind that my records were from pre-computer days, so the best I could do was to use a sharp pencil on crisp cards in alphabetical order. The system worked; really it was perfect, and all of my information was concise and accurate.

Acer palmatum 'Fjellheim'

Well, I was very methodical about recording additions to the collection, but far more lax about what should be deleted. With raising a family and trying to keep the nursery afloat, I just didn't have the energy to know when a cultivar or species went extinct in the Buchholz realm. For example, I collected one stock plant of Acer palmatum 'Fjellheim', the 'Sango kaku' witch's-broom dwarf. Seven plants were propagated from my original, which was then sold, and after a few years the propagules were planted out in the Far East section of the nursery, and they were to be used as a future scionwood source. Though I list 'Fjellheim' as a USDA zone 7 plant, hardy to 0 degrees F, all seven of my trees succumbed during a cold snap at 5 degrees F. So, all were dead, and who needs to grow such a delicate wimp anyway? The entry was removed from the MPL and the nursery moved on. Later in the summer I discovered about twenty rooted cuttings in a propagation flat in the corner of GH17, so it didn't totally disappear after all! I forgot that we had stuck a few cuttings the summer before. The point is that Buchholz Nursery is a fairly small company that houses and maintains a minor arboretum, and even though it is run by a hard-ass German founder, the records cannot be completely trusted.

Saxifraga macnabiana

Another example was when I was in a “cleanse-the-house” mood, and I sat down to delete various plants from the MPL that were clearly no longer in the collection. Off the list went Abeliophyllum distichum 'Pink Star' when my one-and-only disheveled plant was thrown away because it was prominently placed along the driveway to impress and please my wife, yet it was always sickly and half dead. So goodbye. I also deleted Saxifraga macnabiana because I hadn't seen it in years. It was an early collection, probably acquired from a Hardy Plant Society sale because it was cute when I saw it in flower. Probably it died the first year it was planted out...because I really didn't know how to grow the touchy genus back then. So, also off the list. Honestly, the very next day I was walking through the Display Garden, and just twenty steps away from where I am writing now, I encountered a tight green mound with frothing white flowers. Yep, it was my deleted Saxifraga macnabiana! Certainly I was pleased, though humbled; but never have I claimed to have the brains of a Linnaeus. Anyway...put it back on the MPL.