Happy New year to all. During the past year, and particularly the last month, I've had the pleasure of getting back into horticultural reading just for fun-away from the stern and proper technical manuals of great seriousness that occupy (by necessity) most of my professional reading. This issue of the newsletter is devoted to the winter activities of the gardener when the active tending of the garden slows a bit, even here in the Mid-South. The heading above is taken from a book by the same title (Wright-1934) in which the author writes about such varied subjects as gardening clergy, history of plant introductions, flower painters and others. His book begins "Each autumn we follow the same course. Sit up with the garden until its intimate demise at the hands of Black Frost, then a hectic clearing away of the dead. Rip-roaring autumnal suttees of branch and stalk. The last revolution of the compost heap. Leaves are heaped under old sacking to be piled on beds when the ground freezes. Into the barn go garden furniture and figures. The awnings are stowed away, for their hibernation. Tender bulbs hauled off to a safe place. And so it goes until the old year dies in a swelter of bills. Life suddenly grows stern and demanding. It grinds away with an awful insistence. I tug at the leash of necessity that holds me. Sometimes I feel like a chained Bible, wishing for a financial Reformation that would bring freedom. Sometimes like a chained Decameron, which is far worse... Then, in the nick of time, along came the advance scouts of the seed catalogs, and the old gardening urge seethes up again. In those weeks, then, between the first catalogue and the first Saturday of late April gardening, I have found escape in these diversions. Separated from my garden, I study the garden's past. (He then discusses the subjects he hunted out, studied, and will write about). There is nothing practical in thee pages. From them no bewildered gardener will learn what to do to the beetles that chew peonies or the black spot that devastates roses. Book stores are littered with information on such subjects. Rather, these papers have been written for my own amusement. They were composed as a mental retreat, into which I could run and be safe after hours at an office.
So it is with me -- I want to share recent discoveries in horticulture and suggest some winter pleasures for the gardener. My last letter was written Thanksgiving Day, which seems an eternity away at this point because so much has happened since that time. The next day I headed to British Columbia and spent the next two weeks working my way up and down the west coast with last visits to gardens and obtaining plants for the arboretum. At Van Dusen Garden in Vancouver (my favorite) it was amazing to see the changes in just three months since my previous visit. The new Sino-Himalayan hill had been planted nd the new large maze garden installed (unlike most mazes which are planted with small plants to grow to size; this one was planted with large plants 5-6' tall for instant effect and totally paid for by one member of their "Friends" organization!).
The garden was a joy with fall color, autumn bulbs, berries, etc. on a perfect sunny day; and the following day covered with 3" of snow from the first snowfall. A wonderful morning with Mrs. Kruckeberg of MsK Rare Plant Nursery, wandering in her Seattle suburban garden in the typical rainy day of the area, looking at the wide variety of plants in her yard and buying things to bring back. A stop at the personal house garden of Mr. Gambrill, director of the Rhododendron Species Foundation (described in the last issue) - a true plantsman with a beautiful garden of choice plants collected from around the world and arranged with the eye and skill of a Gertrude Jekyll in her style o garden. One of my favorite gardens of the year and he generously shared many plants for the arboretum. And so it continued down the coast with numerous stops filling the car as I went. Iseli Nursery with their wonderful conifers; Gossler Farms where I ended up with twice the number of plants I originally ordered - buying extra things not in their catalog. An interesting sidelight, their magnolias (150 species and cultivars planted around their home) and other rare plants are a recent venture with their main business the raising of 65 acres of peppermint for flavoring chewing gum. You should have seen my VW upon arrival back in S.F. - suitcases, projectors and slide trays (from several meetings and talks I presented) and 75 container plants packed to the ceiling in every available space. A week more collecting in the Bay Area from many nurseries. A regret to discover just as I was leaving the area - Western Hills Nursery - an incredible garden developed over the last 20 years by Lester Hawkins and Marshall Olbrich and a wide selection of extremely unusual and rare plants for sale (unfortunately no mail order). I only had an hour and a half to dash about the garden in the rain and select things - a real frustration as I could have spent days. The garden is in the Marin County hills hit so hard by recent floods and mudslides and I wonder how they have faired. On December 21 the time of departure came and I loaded my rented U-Haul trailer with accumulations of the year and headed on the 4,000 mile drive back via a deep south route to avoid cold weather and plant damage. Though anxious to return to NCSU, my work and friends and the arboretum; it was admittedly difficult to leave new friends and horticulture of the west behind Rhododendrons and magnolias in full bloom in Golden Gate park across from my house. A difficult but successful drive back and plants now safely tucked in greenhouse and nursery areas for final planting later. Some plants are almost worn out from packing and unpacking and movement in and out of car, houses, greenhouses as much as a dozen times! Arrival back has been hectic with 3 professional meetings and 4 talks my first week back (including a trip to Idaho for a nurserymen's meeting!), unpacking, the pile awaiting me in the office, and the reality of the storms which brought the worst temperatures, and ice and snow damage, experienced in a half century - ugh! At the arboretum there was joy in how well everything looked and ho much everything had grown and the near completion of the wonderful rare plants house (needs only graveling of paths now) and new plantings there; and a major disappointment to discover the arboretum has become "known" enough to attract someone in who cut a number of our choice conifers for Christmas trees enough to attract someone in who cut a number of our choice conifers for Christmas trees one night in mid-December. It was our first major vandalism and a painful welcome back, particularly the loss of our beautiful 10 year old Lace-Bark pine (ironically described in the last newsletter as my long-time favorite plant). But in spite of the losses, the arboretum continue to grow in size and quality and we look forward to a grand year ahead. Now for a variety of winter diversions for you.
North Carolina gardeners so emphasize the glories of the late spring garden of daffodils, azaleas and dogwood that the rest of the year is often neglected and considered of little interest. I wandered through the arboretum on a beautiful New years Day and recorded plants of interest that one could enjoy in mid-winter and found a wide variety of bloom and color for enjoyment.
Plants with winter branches of interest by form or color
Some Recent Additions to the NCSU Arboretum (now the JC Raulston Arboretum) Collections
Logee's Greenhouses, 55 North Street, Danielson, CN 06239. (203/774-8038). Catalog is $2.50 with 100 pages listing 1,800 different plants. Mostly tropical and subtropical greenhouse and houseplant listings with a few hardy outdoor materials. But a fascinating catalog - enormous list of hundreds of begonias (42 pages), also good on all kinds of teraniums, cacti and succulents, ferns, herbs and vines (would you believe 18 passion flower vine species alone!) Most prices $1-3 per plant with a few to $8.
Holbrook Farm and Nursery, Rt. 2, Box 223B, Fletcher, NC 28732. (704/891-7790). A new perennials and rare plants mail-order nursery begun by Allen Bush following a year of work/study at Kew Gardens in England. A beautiful produced quality catalog and a most welcome addition to the N.C. plant world.
Far North Gardens, 15621 Auburndale Ave., Livonia, MI 48153 (313/422-7047). $1 catalog of 49 pages. Primrose plants and seeds of an extremely wide range of very unusual plants (relatively few woody plants unfortunately). Their collectors seed list is quite amazing particularly for rock garden plants.
Middle Country Gardens, 515 Middle Country Rd. (Rt. 25), Corman, Long Island, NY 11727 (516/732-8642). NO MAIL ORDERS. Very good selection of japanese maples, conifers, dwarf rare and grafted plants for those visiting the NYC area.
Smith Hawken Garden Tools, 68 Homer, Palo Alto, Calif. 94301. A beautiful little 34 pg booklet of high quality tools and unusual books. Great craftsmanship and fine writing in the catalog that is a pleasure to read.
Dutch Mt. Nursery, Augusta, MI 49012. Leaflet catalog $ .25 in coin or stamps. Inexpensive ($1-4) seedlings of about 100 plants - an interesting range of not rare, but less common trees and shrubs - many natives. They specialize in plants to attract birds and wildlife and catalog has interesting listings of plants for different birds.
Schiedel Nursery, 27007 S.E.Rbeman Rd., Boring, OR 97009. (503/668-4487). A list of 46 young grafted liners of fine unusual plants - 4 Firs, 14 Japanese maples, 9 Cedrus, 2 Beeches, 4 Spruces, 12 Pines and a Hemlock. Reasonably priced.
A World Seed Service, J. L. Hudson, Seedsman - P.O. Box 1058, Redwood City, CA 94064. a 135 pg. catalog of an extremely wide array of seeds including many woody plants rarely seen for sale to the public. $1.00 for the catalog. Most packets $.75-$1.50.
Capability's Books for Gardeners, Box 1140A, Highway 46, Deer Park, Wisc. 54007. $1.00 charge for catalog of 400 horticultural books (refunded with order of a book). (From Bug's Barringer's column).
Winter is the season when one can spend more time reading in the tremendous never-ending variety of horticultural books available. From the tempting brightly colored mail-order catalogs to highly technical manuals, a world of information awaits to tempt one into the fantasy and dreams of new plants and techniques to try in one's own garden the next year, and to travel via written work and photograph to distant countries and gardens that are beyond our free time and finances. During my last swing through Portland I accidentally discovered one of the finest selections of horticultural books I've ever seen. They do not issue a catalog, but if one writes looking for a particular book, they will sell and mail it if in stock. The store is Powell's Books, 1005 W. Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97209 (503/228-4651). Of a number of books read this winter for pleasure I would like to recommend several to you. I once again rediscovered Elizabeth Laurence's books: A Southern Garden, Gardens in Winter, and The Little Bulbs. Her writing is superb, her horticultural knowledge immense, and she is greatly admired in England and west coast, but unfortunately often unknown here at home since her books have been out of print. Her gardening experience occurred in Raleigh and Charlotte (where she still lives) so the excellent information is local nd readily adaptable to gardens across the state. Happily her book, A Southern Garden was reprinted this fall and can now once again be found in bookstores - an absolute must for any gardener in this area.
I have belatedly just gotten Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katherine White which was published in 1979 and received much praise at that time. She was editor of The New Yorker magazine for 34 years and writes with great skill of her personal feelings for gardens and gardening. A most nejoyable book and I highly recommend it. It's commonly available in most good bookstores.
Growing Dwarf Conifers by Hindle, Tang and Roberts, a small bulletin of 16 pages is available for $.85 from: Cooperative Extension Service, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI. Certainly not a comprehensive work, but good general information for a beginner an most useful for the 3 listings of where to see them, where to buy them,a nd references on dwarf conifers.
In the last newsletter I mentioned that we have a new position available in landscape design. We are please to have Tracy Segner in the Horticultural Science Department now teaching our new course HS 416 Planting Design and working with Will Hooker in the landscape horticulture course. She is a graduate of the NCSU School of Design with a Master's of Landscape Architecture degree and has returned to the U.S. after 2 years in England and extensive world-wide travel including 4 months in India, Nepal and Africa.
Thousands of daffodils are now planted in the arboretum and drifts of new cultivars have been planted near the magnolia collection and a single bulb each of 120 cultivars has been planted behind the French parterre. Bambi was the first to bloom on Feb. 14 followed by Landmark on Feb 22. During the next 6-8 weeks it will be worth several visits to see the succession of bloom.
A slide show on highlight of gardens and plants in Mainland China will be the special presentation of the spring. The attendance was so good the Europe talk with standing room only that we have moved the China talk to a large auditorium where there will be plenty of room for the expected large crowd. We will meet in Room 3712 of Bostian Hall. For those unfamiliar with the campus I will have a map on the door of Kilgore 159 (where we normally meet) explaining how to get there. It's very close - go behind Kilgore to the parking lot between the greenhouses and Kilgore, head east toward te library down the walk lined with magnolias. The walk will pass through a building which is Bostian Hall, go up the stairs and the hall is on the second floor to the left (north) of the sidewalk. Bring a friend (or more) for this special show.
Each year the HS 531 class takes a study trip over the Easter break to see many gardens and horticultural sights - Brookside Gardens, Dumbarton Oaks, the National Arboretum, Longwood Gardens, Swiss Pines Garden, the N.Y. Botanic Garden, the Ford Foundation and others. Although students have first priority, we often have a few extra spaces available which we would be happy to fill on a first come-first serve basis. If interested drop me a postcard and I'll send detailed information when available about March 15. The cost will likely be about $150-175 for the 4-day trip and includes transportation, lodging, all admissions and a number of meals.
During the past two years gifts of plants and a garden for the NCSU Arboretum (now the JC Raulston Arboretum) have been made in memory of 6 individuals and a special day has been set to officially honor these individuals and dedicate memorial markers in their memory. You are invited to attend this ceremony and a garden walk will be held following the dedication of memorials.
The arboretum continually grows and our support remains very limited - particularly in the area of maintenance support. Would you be interested in "adopting" an area of the arboretum to contribute an hour or so every few weeks to weed, remove dead blooms, check labels, etc. We could also use help in stuffing envelopes for the mailings of the newsletters every 3 months to relieve the pressure I'm creating for Ms. McLamb and Mrs. Tate now that I'm back home loading them down again. Let me know if you would like to sign up to help in some way.
Several people have sent letters and renewal checks quite concerned that they had not been asked to renew. I felt that i had promised 4 newsletters in a year and that I would not ask for renewal until you received what was promised. So, if you've been a member that long, you'll have a renewal notice with this issue. We hope for a 100% renewal rate and to pick up new members as well, for the support of the Friends of the NCSU Arboretum (now the JC Raulston Arboretum) is essential for continuing of the arboretum development.
In May with more information, announcement of another lecture, a special summer event, a plant distribution, and much more. Have a wonderful spring in your gardens and visit the arboretum often. The pussy willows (5 kinds!) and witch hazels are wonderful right now.