Saturday, February 20, 2010
It turns out that the American Conifer Society is riddled with individuals who have that same working familiarity with hundreds (thousands?) of witch's brooms around the world, and who has propagated them, and how, on what, where, and their histories. Wow. We had the privilege of having one of those experts instruct us in the fundamentals of grafting. Bill Barger holds many positions in the ACS including webmaster, Regional President (of the Central Region), and I believe he's slated to become national vice-president. He can surely graft...and teach grafting. I was awkwardly clumsy with my first attempt, somewhat better with my second, and after a few hours felt fairly comforable. I sensed that most of us were on a similar learning curve.
We had a couple hours of theory to start with including not only different techniques, but also who goes on whom, and when, and how to prepare. I took 5 pages of notes, and came away feeling, as I often do after being introduced to a new subject by a true expert, that I have acquired knowledge unfairly, or at least too easily. It's feels like stealing. This information isn't in the public domain, it's one man's accumulated experience. He offered it to freely...still... Bill has done a lot of grafting and he admitted that it's his favorite activity. If the outline of his instruction was invaluable, and it was, his parenthetical asides were priceless. I'll happily sit through a two day conference to come away with even one or two new concepts. Friday I got 5 pages in a few hours.
None of us had ever grafted much, most of us not at all. After one day, I think we're functional novices and no doubt some of us will continue training. Apparently we did have a prodigy, Carol, a Conifer Collection volunteer, the only volunteer at the session. Chris Carley was already talking about followup training including a late summer session that would coincide with the best period for grafting Japanese Maples.
The art appeals to me more than the product. I like that precision is required, and knowledge of both techniques and plants. I sort plant people, not judgmentally I hope, into those who really seem to relate to and understand plants, and those who like them and have a good idea of their needs. Bill is clearly the former. I'm looking forward to seeing how my attempts fare.
Posted by ChrisU at 8:19 AM
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Platanus x acerifolia 'Liberty' this is an Arboretum introduction, the successful product of a designed cross
I've never understood how this can be a London Planetree. Neither of its parents (Platanus orientalis and P. occidentalis) are native to England. The first recorded instance of the cross occurring was in Spain??? I guess it's just imperial prerogative. Anyway, this is a selection of a cross made in the early 1970's by USNA scientist Dr. Frank Santamour. I remember Dr. Santamour. His venture, looking back we can judge it successful, was an attempt to prodce a plant with some of the resistance to anthracnose (and the other maladies that inevitably afflict the foliage of our native Sycamore) found in the Oriental Planetree. He released two selections, 'Liberty' and 'Columbia'. Thirty odd years later this is still in the trade. You can drive right up to this specimen, like I did. It's just a few feet off the front (north) side of the parking lot in the National Grove of State Trees.
Posted by ChrisU at 3:29 PM
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Posted by ChrisU at 2:04 PM
If you've ever listened to me rhapsodize about this, our native Smoke Tree, or read anything I'be written about it you've probably already stopped reading or you're dreading the embarrassment to come. Relax, I'm just going talk about the seed. (For rhapsodizing...)
We collected these seeds with Don Shadow, nurseryman extraordinaire, and owner of the largest private Zoo I've ever seen or heard of. Don is one of the top plantsmen in the country so we were grateful to him for directing us to the Cotinus, one of our target species on the Tennessee/Alabama trip. The plants didn't have a lot of seeds but after extensive searching we turned up a small amount. Joan acid scarified the seeds, and according to the label, planted them September 22 last year. The seedlings aren't on my normal flight path so I hadn't noticed them. Joan mentioned them this week so I had to take a look. There are about a dozen so far and this, the largest, is already identifiable as a Cotinus. The leaf shape and the margins are fairly definitive and the leaves are already beginning to assume the characteristic luminosity I like so much.
Posted by ChrisU at 2:00 PM
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Empetrum sibiricum: (Siberian Crowberry?) Kevin Tunison collected seed in Siberia and the plants have been growing in a sandy seed flat ever since
I guess my point is that the genus is cold adapted so that I worry about putting ours in the ground. I think I'll try one in one of the troughs on the terrace in the Court of Honor. They are nice little sprawling evergreen sub-shrubs and will fit in nicely if they can handle the heat.
Posted by ChrisU at 2:51 PM
Posted by ChrisU at 2:30 PM
Monday, February 15, 2010
There was a time when I wanted to operate a used bookstore. I accumulated boxes and boxes (>100 Boxes) of "inventory" and researched retail spaces. I planned and dreamed but then these Library stores began to appear and then Amazon consolidated 1,000s of small retailers and the venture, in my mind, didn't seem like it could succeed. But this store is great. I always check their "Mystery" and "Poetry" sections. This trip I found a large volume of the collected poems of Howard Nemerov. I'd only previously read him in anthologies and was excited to find this book for 2 dollars. He's very readable. I've always had this odd perception that he sits poised somehow between Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan. Anyway, the woman who checked us out had an interesting story about him. She had gone to a reading he'd given, I think she sad at AU, and he had been annoyed that she asked him to sign a book she had received as a gift because the giver had inscribed the front endpaper. Nemerov gruffly opined that that was "his page." You don't always get a good story but you can always find good book for just a few dollars.
I took a quick snap of the Gardening Section. It was a little thin Saturday; I expect I wasn't the only gardener seeking vicarious relief. I have, in the past found some wonderful books in this section; I don't remember ever paying over 4 dollars. Sometimes I see a book that I already own but for a dollar or two, I can't help but buy it. I bring them to work and give them away.
Posted by ChrisU at 6:21 AM