Early fall greetings from Plant Delights, where the spring 2013 catalog writing heads into the home stretch. As always, there are lots of exciting new plants for 2013, which is really what makes the whole effort worthwhile for us.
We’ve had many requests to make more of the hardy cypripedium ladyslipper orchids available for fall since some gardeners prefer to plant them now. For this fall, we’ve been able to acquire a large number of many different hard-to-find hybrids and species in very limited quantities, so we have just added them to the website. Inventory for most of these ranges from 3 to 8 plants each, so they won’t last long. Check out our cypripediums!
If you haven’t purchased cypripediums before, a little explanation is in order. First, our offerings are 8 years old from seed, hence, what seems like insanely high prices are really not so high compared with most faster to propagate plants. With orchids, a cultivar name is established for a similar batch of seedlings from a particular cross, so each plant is genetically unique. Second, please keep in mind hardy ladyslipper orchids should be planted differently from most other plants...the roots should be spread out laterally in a well-prepared, compost rich bed and covered with a layer of compost followed by a good mulch. Cypripedium roots should not be allowed to dry out and prefer an average to slightly moist, but well-drained soil for best performance.
After being told by all the experts that the hardy ladyslippers wouldn’t grow in our climate, we have now had many years of excellent successes and consequently feel more comfortable that these can be grown by more gardeners. We still stress, however, that these are not plants for beginners nor gardeners who are not willing to spend time preparing the soil for success. If you feel inclined to give these a try, a more detailed article on our website may be of help.
It’s been an amazing fall so far in the garden, with the fall salvias hitting their peak this month. For us, the giant Salvia madrensis is just coming into full flower while the Salvia greggii and Salvia microphylla selections are just glorious in full bloom. Other fall blooming plants are running late this fall. We are just now seeing flowers on Rabdosia longituba, which often starts in mid-September, and have yet to see flower buds on the fall blooming giant tree dahlias. Flower buds on the giant Verbesina microptera are developing nicely and hopefully we’ll get to enjoy them this year since last year the frost hit just as they were opening.
If you missed our mention on Facebook, Timber Press has just published their latest book, “The Roots of My Obsession - Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why they Garden.” In this unusual small book, thirty of us were asked to write a short essay on why we are gardeners. Authors include Dan Hinkley (founder of Heronswood), Ken Druse (NY garden writer), Margaret Roach (former VP of Martha Stewart Living), Doug Tallamy (professor/UDEL), Roger Swain (long-time “Victory Garden” host), Fergus Garrett (Head Gardener at Great Dixter), and many more. As I mentioned to Timber Press when they first floated the idea...I can’t imagine who would want to read such a book, but it’s out and I guess we’ll find out together why we all garden.
We also mentioned last month on Facebook, the delightful article about our plants by NY gardener and former Martha Stewart Editor, Margaret Roach. Check out Margaret's Blog Article!
It’s been a rough month in the horticulture world with three significant losses. First, Ned Jacquith, 73, of Oregon's Bamboo Garden Nursery passed away on September 26. Ned was a charter member of the American Bamboo Society and folks in the bamboo industry considered Ned the world's bamboo ambassador, spreading the word about bamboo and working tirelessly to introduce new bamboos to cultivation. Many of the clumping bamboos we now offer were introduced to this country thanks to Ned’s efforts. After a career with the railroad, Ned and his wife, Nancy started the nursery in 1988. In July, Ned was diagnosed with acute leukemia but continued to be active in his bamboo work until the end. Ned’s staff will continue to operate the nursery. A memorial service will be held on Ned's birthday, July 14, 2013, at Bamboo Garden Nursery near Portland Oregon. Our thoughts go out to Ned's family and friends, and as one who has been is a beneficiary of Ned's work...job well done!
The second loss was the untimely death of Nebraska plantsman, Harlan Hamernik, 76, who was killed in an explosion at his home on Monday, October 15. In 1958, Harlan and his wife, Shirley, founded Bluebird Nursery in Clarkson, Nebraska. Bluebird Nursery quickly became known worldwide as a source for new and exciting winter hardy perennials from Harlan's plant explorations both in the US and around the world to places like China, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia. In his 70's, Harlan turned Bluebird Nursery over to his sons and started a new nursery, H.H. Wild Plums, with the goal of promoting interesting woody plants for the Great Plains. Harlan was a tireless public servant and served on the board of the Perennial Plant Association as well as 40 years as a volunteer firefighter, and even mayor of his hometown of Clarkson, Nebraska. Our friend, Allen Bush, captured the essence of Harlan in this wonderful recent article. Harlan is survived by his wife, Shirley and sons Tom, Chuck, and Mike. A huge Plant Delights salute goes out to the legendary Harlan Hamernik, as our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
Just after we heard about Harlan, word came in that we lost the world’s authority on bromeliads when plantsman, Harry Luther passed away after a brain seizure on October 17. Harry Luther, 60, was regarded as the world's top bromeliad authority, having described over 100 new bromeliad species during his 32 year tenure at the Marie Selby Botanic Garden in Florida. Harry was a prolific writer, having authored over 200 articles/publications on bromeliads. Harry did all this without ever graduating from college...a presumptive prerequisite in our current society. In 2010, Harry left Marie Selby to join the new Singapore Botanic Gardens...an effort that has financially lured quite a few of the country's top horticulturists. Our thoughts go out to Harry's family and friends.
In some better health news, I just heard from Rob Jacobs that his dad, Eco-Gardens founder Don Jacobs, is slowly recovering from two strokes he suffered last year. Don is now living with Rob near Don’s Georgia home, where he will be celebrating his 93rd birthday on October 25. Don can walk again with a cane and is now fixing his own lunch. Rob says that Don’s speech is returning and given enough time, his memory should also return. If you’d like to send birthday or other greetings to Don, you can write to him care of Rob Jacobs, 512 Chieftain Court, Woodstock, GA 30188.
In the “You can’t make this up” news this month, Duke University fern researchers have recently completed DNA analysis of plants in the fern genus, Cheilanthes, which showed that up to nineteen species from Texas south to Central American actually constitute a separate genera. Consequently, the Duke researchers have created a new fern genus, Gaga. As you no doubt guessed, the new genus was named after sexually expressive pop singer, Lady Gaga. As Duke’s Dr. Kathleen Pryor pointed out, they named the genus Gaga for a number of reasons including the apogamy of the genus (it has meaningful sex with itself), its gametophyte (the baby fern before it has sex) resembles one of Gaga’s Armani costumes, and believe it or not...in the scanned DNA base pairs of the new fern the word GAGA was spelled out. Lest you think naming plants after celebrities is new, the singer Beyonce has a horsefly named after her and President Obama has a California lichen named after him. I’m not sure I’d be jumping up and down about either of those, but as I said earlier, you just can’t make this stuff up.
In another bit of “You don’t say” news, a recent patent has been filed to use plant extracts to counteract the toxic effects from chemicals released by smoking cigarettes. The research uses extracts from plants including tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), Chinese lizard tail (Houttuynia cordata), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Korean mountain ash (Sorbus commixta), Japanese alder (Alnus japonica), and balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflora). Who knew? I can see folks who roll their own already changing their formulas. Read More
In news from the commercial horticultural world, the 70-year-old Randolph’s Greenhouses in Jackson, Tennessee closed its doors at the end of September. Plant lecturer, Rita Randolph blamed the closing on a combination of the economy and costs to repair and maintain their aging facilities. Rita plans to do more writing and lecturing while also opening a small mail order nursery as a retirement venture...doesn’t sound like retirement to me!
If you’ve been watching the news recently, you’ve seen the space shuttle Endeavour making its way through south Los Angeles on its 12 mile final trek to its final resting place at the California Science Center. Unfortunately, getting the Endeavour to the Science Center was a bit more than some residents bargained for when they learned that more than 400 trees had to be removed so that the shuttle could fit on the highway. In exchange for allowing the trees to be cut, the California Science Center agreed to spend $500,000 to replant twice as many trees as had to be cut down. So, where were all the tree huggers chaining themselves to the poor trees? Where was the media coverage and national outrage? I must have also missed all the furor from the manmade global warming crowd over this...geez. Regardless...if you haven’t seen it, the time lapse video of the shuttle’s trek through town is fascinating.
Time to get back to catalog writing, so enjoy the newsletter and in the mean time, we’ll see you on Facebook with more updates and plant photos.