Note: The JCRA launched a new Web site on March 1. Please visit us at This site,, is no longer being updated.

JC Raulston Arboretum e-Update

April 2004

In This Issue

Director's Note

In a bit of a departure for me and what I often address in my e-Update note, I'd like to recognize the passing of one of the JCRA's most ardent supporters, Willie York. I first met Mr. York, or Willie as everyone seemed to call him, when I was interviewing for this directorial position. He sat in the front row in a room full of JCRA members and staff during one of many presentations I gave during my visit. Without knowing who he was, I immediately asked one of my hosts about him after the meeting adjourned. At the time I thought that he had a formidable presence but quickly discovered his approachable personality! That was Willie York, I was told, and I was soon to discover his philanthropic nature that he shared with his spouse, Lib. Suffice it to say, the Yorks were incredibly generous to the JCRA, in fact our auditorium bears their name, and one of Willie and Lib's children, Phyllis, is a member of our Board of Advisors. Perhaps the most poignant gesture of all following Willie's death was that the JCRA was listed as one of the institutions to which memorial gifts could be made in Willie's memory. It is clear from the response to date that so many others felt the same way we did....a very special person had left this earth and will be missed. Our gratitude is multidimensional to Willie York and his family. – Bob Lyons, Director

Gala in the Garden

Gala in the Garden 2004 is fast approaching. Get in touch with Donna Walker or Anne Porter if you're interested in becoming a corporate sponsor and be sure to get your response card mailed in soon so we can plan for you. This is the party of the year and our biggest fund raiser. Don't miss this event! Have questions? Call Donna at (919) 513-3826 and be at the JCRA on May 2, 2004 for the Gala! – Donna Walker, Development Associate

The 2004 Gala in the Garden Special Drawing

Parking Circle Container GardensThere is only a few more weeks to purchase tickets for a chance to name the lovely Parking Circle Container Gardens at the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center complex. Tickets were included in this year's Gala invitation, or you may purchase them at the front desk of the McSwain Education Center. For more information, please call Donna Walker at (919) 513-3826. You can't "win" if you don't play! So please support the JCRA! – Anne Porter, Director of Development

Don't be a Sucker: There is More to Life than Clethra and Itea

Steeply Sloped EmbankmentDriving the highways of North Carolina one would assume that there is little to choose from in terms of suckering shrubs for slopes and embankments. While the masses of Clethra alnifolia and Itea virginica are indeed attractive, we at the JCRA are out to show that there is a much more diverse palette from which to choose.

Located on the Southwestern side of the parking lot is a fairly steep sloped embankment that has left Assistant Director Todd Lasseigne and myself scratching our heads wondering how to approach this topography challenged area. An assortment of underused and unknown suckering shrubs is a perfect fit, both as a soil stabilizer and as a way to illustrate the utility of these plants. Look for several members of the Spiraeoideae, a subfamily of the Rosaceae, such as Neviusia, Stephanandra, and Neillia, to take up residence on this slope. Indigophera decora as well as some other gems we have stashed away in the nursery are sure to be added to the mix. – Jon Roethling, Research Technician

Grafted Firs (Abies) for Southern U.S. Landscapes

Abies pinsapo 'Glauca' (blue Spanish fir)Back in 1996, J. C. Raulston received a shipment of grafted firs (Abies) from Don Howse of Porterhowse Farms (Sandy, OR) and David Wells of Pennsylvania. These firs represented a number of species and cultivars that are considered difficult (at best) to grow in North Carolina. What made this trial particularly interesting is that all of the plants had been grafted onto Abies firma (Momi fir) rootstocks. Abies firma has long been known to be a heat-tolerant fir, a rarity within the plant kingdom, and our 30'+ tall specimen, growing in bed W18 since 1986, attests to its toughness and adaptability to warm, humid climates. The thought behind using A. firma as a rootstock was that failure of firs in southern U.S. landscapes was due to poor adaptability of the root systems to soil conditions and diseases, rather than a failure of the above-ground portions of the plants to adapt to heat and bright sunlight.

Unfortunately, the goals of the field test of these firs were never written down. As such, the trial was left in the back field nursery for over 6 years, exposed to drought, heat, late spring freezes, etc., with only basic weeding being done. Although many taxa did not survive, and others were overtaken by resprouting rootstocks, several plants prospered. Last year, we offered duplicates of some of these plants (dug out from the field nursery) as specimen plants in our "Gala in the Garden" plant auction. Among the most prized ones we auctioned were: Abies pinsapo 'Glauca' (blue Spanish fir) and A. koreana (Korean fir) – both having A. firma rootstocks.

This year, watch for over a dozen of these specially-grafted firs to appear in beds around the Ruby C. McSwain Education Center – particularly along the steep slope on the west side of the parking lot, and also on the slope behind the patio terrace. Yes, even you will walk away realizing that we can indeed grow firs in the South. It all boils down to the roots! – Todd Lasseigne, Assistant Director

Behind the Gate

Index SeminaMany folks wonder why we have two refrigerators in our staff building – one for food and one not for food. Well, the one not for food holds cuttings and scion wood until we can stick or mail the plant material. It also serves as storage for our large collection of seed. We have been able to collect seed within the Arboretum as well as seed from all over the world using Index Semina. Over the years, the volume of seeds in our refrigerator has grown and is a bit overwhelming.

Dennis Carey, a horticulture student at NC State University, is the hardy soul getting academic credit to work with our seed program. His enthusiasm is unparalleled, a great quality when dealing with hundreds of accessions and thousands of seeds. He has gone through the collection to insure all seeds are in our records and have the right accession number. Dennis was able to look after many of the seeds already being stratified and get them through the next step of germination. Working with Val, he has improved our database to keep records of our germination processes. Along with Todd's help, his next step is to prioritize which seeds to start treatment on. Next, Dennis will be using a number of books and the World Wide Web to track down the pre-treatments and stratification recommendations for each batch of seeds. Thank you Dennis, I promise you will get to pot up some of your little babies soon. – Anne Calta, Horticultural Technician

Coming Attractions – Highlights of April

Wisteria CollectionSpring Has Sprung!

April brings color, color, and more color throughout the Arboretum as the dogwoods, styrax, loropetalum, buckeyes, redbuds, and roses come into bloom. Difficult to choose the Best in Show, but my pick is the Wisteria Collection with its striking beauty and fragrance, usually flowering by mid-April. Watch for Wisteria ×formosa 'Issai' with individual flowers opening simultaneously along the length of the inflorescence. Near the end of the month look for two outstanding cultivars of American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens 'Longwood Purple' and 'Amethyst Falls') in the east Arboretum, which will continue to flower on and off throughout the summer. Lilacs in the South? Why not? The early lilac (Syringa oblata var. dilatata) appears to be one of the best choices for our region with its increased heat tolerance and mildew resistance (early April). Take the path towards the Winter Garden to enjoy the JCRA's outstanding collection of viburnums in flower. The Lath House, although undergoing renovation, it is still a "hot" spot, awakening with mountain laurel (Kalmia) and rhododendrons flowering later in the month.

This show is free. We invite you to visit often. – Nancy Doubrava, Interpretive Specialist

April Calendar

Horticultural Photography Master Class – April 9, 2004 (Friday) – 6:00 PM-9:00 PM – $10.00 for members, $20.00 for nonmembers

Bob Lyons – "Horticultural Photography: Aesthetics, Composition, and Display"
Bryce Lane – "Thoughts and Examples on Bridging 35mm and Digital Photography"
Robert McDuffie – "Introduction into Digital Photography"

Pi Alpha Xi Spring Plant Sale at the JCRA – April 17 and 18, 2004 (Saturday and Sunday) – 8:00 AM-4:00 PM and 10:00 AM-3:00 PM- Free

Offering rare and unique annual, perennial, and woody ornamentals. Proceeds benefit horticultural scholarships and area nonprofit organizations. For more information, contact a Pi Alpha Xi member at (919) 515-3178 or visit <>.

Plantsmen's Tour – April 21, 2004 (Wednesday) – 1:00 PM – Free

"Mastering a Mixed Border" – The Mixed Border at the JCRA has long served as a stunning backdrop to the Annual Trial Gardens, and also as a mirror to the Perennial Border. Yet, how many of you have actually studied it in detail to see the botanical treasures that abound there. Join Todd Lasseigne as we explore this garden within the Arboretum filled with trees, shrubs, bulbs, and herbaceous perennials. Please note this event's new date.

Friends of the Arboretum Lecture – April 22, 2004 (Thursday) – 7:30 PM- Free for members, $5.00 for nonmembers

"Falling Off the Cutting Edge – What's New, What's Hot, and What's in the Future for Perennial Gardeners" presented by Tony Avent, Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens – Tony Avent will discuss some of the exciting new plants that have hit the market for Triangle Area gardeners as well as some that are still in the pipeline.

Details for these events and all other JCRA events can be found in the "Calendar of Events" section on the JCRA Web site.

Benefit Providers Showcase

The 2004 brochure is on its way to the printer. Copies will be mailed with each new and renewed membership card and you can go online (available soon) to download your copy. Or call Donna at (919) 513-3826 to have a copy mailed to you.

Ride out to Sugar Lake Nursery and visit with Saranne Wilson. A family owned and operated business located at 562 Sugar Lake Road in Pittsboro, North Carolina, son Adam informs me they specialize in the "biggest, baddest" camellias around. They also carry a selection of trees, daylilies, and other plants. Call them at (919) 542-1635 to make an appointment – you'll receive a 20% on all plant purchases.

Carmen Squadrito of Summer Classics Garden Furniture invites everyone to visit him at 6125 Six Forks Road in Raleigh, North Carolina (phone (919) 847-5070). He's offering 10% off garden furniture and 20% off all pottery. You can visit them virtually at <>. These folks design and manufacture all their own furniture – they even own the cushion factory that makes their cushions. In business for 25 years, they pride themselves on their quality and design.

Joann Currier has operated The Unique Plant for about 7.5 years. They specialize in hard to find plants, plants that do well in this area, and deer resistant plants. They carry over 50 different Japanese maples, 50 grasses, and many conifers. Visit The Unique Plant at 44207 Oak Hill Road, off Sunrise Road in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Their phone is (919) 402-0117 and e-mail <>. Joann offers 10% off all regularly priced, in-stock plants.

Tommy and Marsha Massey, owners and operators of Wakefield Nursery, have been in business since 1978. They specialize in high end residential, commercial, and industrial landscaping. They offer 10% off tree relocation for trees with 1" to 8" calipers, depending upon the time of year and type of tree. They're located at 9232 Dukes Lake Road in Zebulon, North Carolina. Call them at (919) 269-4301. They are proud of the fact that some of their clients have been with them for over 20 years.

One last thing. We're still collecting gently used garden books. If you're doing a spring cleaning and have books you'd like to give away, be sure to bring them by the JCRA! We'll have the Used Garden Book sale when we have sufficient books. – Donna Walker, Development Associate

Salute the Shoots – JCRA Welcomes Spring!

Salute the Shoots Guided TourVisitors chased away their winter blues and welcomed spring at the JCRA on March 7, 2004! A very special thank you to Nichols scholar and actor Roy Dicks who brought the wit and wisdom of the late Beverley Nichols, one of Britain's most beloved garden writers, to brilliant life as he read from Merry Hall, Down the Garden Path, Garden Open Tomorrow, and other well-known works. Thanks also to volunteer tour guides, Claude Caldwell, Timothy Hinton, Barbara Kennedy, Charlie Kidder, Catherine Poff, and Kathe Rauch, who led many visitors on enchanting garden tours. – Anne Porter, Director of Development

JC Raulston Arboretum e-Updates are published electronically every month for everyone interested in the Arboretum. Did you find this edition informative? What information would you like to see in future editions? Send Christopher Todd Glenn your suggestions. To remove yourself from this mailing, please write Christopher Todd Glenn.

© The JC Raulston Arboretum, April 2004

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