I had the pleasure and luxury this spring to travel to Vietnam with my colleague Scott McMahan and staff from the University of British Columbia Botanic Garden. After so many trips to this country during the autumn months, at last seeing the mountains of this region coming to life was a remarkable and memorable experience. Just a few highlights of the trip….. [Read more…]
I am home again, reunited with family and garden. The dogs no longer growl when I come into the room. Now, after a full week of recovery, I am of sound enough mind and body to download my images and ponder the wonders of this latest voyage; those things that are undeniably wondrous enough in the moment that it might seem to others assured of mental cementation. But, as often happens in life, when confections exist in such ample supply they often cannot be savored until long after the first taste.
In the autumn of 1996, while approaching Tianchi Lake, at relatively high elevations of the Zhongdien Plateau in NW Yunnan Province, I collected the hips from a tall, commonly occurring species of rose. The stems, rising to nearly 3m in height, were heavily armed in broad thorns to 2.5cm that had bleached on old wood to ivorine.
What caught my eye and prompted the seed collection, however, were the crops of hips that varied in color significantly from one specimen to another. My collection under the number DJHC 410, came from an individual with large white fruit blushed with pink. It has settled down into our garden at Windcliff and continues to impress each year during its height of blossom, from May through most of June. I did not capture the white hip genetics in the seedling that I ultimately planted although its fruit are paler than most would associate with the genus at large. Its identity has been recently confirmed as Rosa sweginzowii var. macrocarpa.
Ok, breathe. Write. Seeds to sow, cuttings to pot, an immense garden to hack and saw and haul. Its sunny and warm, its black as night and spitting sleet, its Puget squalls and double rainbows, its March and madness.
Two interesting plants have blossomed for the first time here, and my personal histories with both are intertwined. In northeast Sichuan in 2003 we came upon the remnants of fallen foliage in late October that could only have come from Sassafras tzumu, from a very small genus of trees with only three species worldwide; the American species, S. albidum, being very common (yet very beautiful) in the Northeast. [Read more…]
In September of 1996, I visited the Yulong Shan in NE Yunnan Province in China. It was my debut in botanizing within that remarkable country, accompanied by a talented contingent of like-minded plantspeople, and there is hardly a better place to sample its fantastic flora than in the dramatic mountains northwest of Lichiang. It was there that I collected the seed of Picea likiangensis var purpurea, the Lichiang Spruce, after having previously read titillating tributes to its ornamental appeal.
For the past decade plus, before its inaugural fruiting, I have held this Picea in high esteem. Spruces are, as a whole, a hard sell in the Pacific Northwest. Prone to mites and assorted foliar diseases, the truly blue spruces (Picea pungens) are a miserable landscape choice for our cool, maritime climate. [Read more…]