Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Measuring Tree Girth

We visited these ancient olives at
Mission San Jose during the Olive Festival 2017.
I will need to compare
with those old ones
at the California Nursery Historical Park.
But I think this one is bigger by far.
Tree girth is measured at breast height. Also lets you give them a good hug!

I'd say this one is about 10 feet in circumference

Saturday, October 21, 2017

You can have your roses and eat them, too

All roses are edible. But some are more tasty. And of course, only if they are grown organically.

Rosalind Creasy suggests these roses in her book, the Edible Flower Garden:

  • 'Cécile Brünner'
  • 'Zéphirine Drouhin'
  • 'Austrian Copper'
  • 'Eglantine'
  • 'Belinda' (candying)
  • Rugosa alba
  • Rosa gallica
  • Rosa moschata
  • Rosa centifolia
  • Rosa damascena
  • 'The Fairy'
  • 'Carefree Delight'
  • 'Jeanne Lajoie'
  • 'Graham Thomas'
  • 'Perfect Moment'
  • "Tiffany'
  • 'Mr. Lincoln' (the red one that Beta is smelling)
  • 'Double Delight'
  • 'Mirandy'
  • 'Pink Flower Carpet'
For making rose tea in the rose garden, I like the Bourbon rose 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' and the Portlands 'Rose de Rescht' and 'Pickering Four Seasons'. 'Jacques Cartier' is nice, too.

Also check on an earlier article with other roses to use for rose extracts.

To make it easier here's the list from that page:
The Best and Most Fragrant Roses for Making Rose Water and Potpourris suggests Damask rose, Centifolia rose, moss roses. 

Suggested Damask roses: Leda, La Ville des Bruxelles, Jacques Cartier, Celsiana, Hebe’s Lip, and Madame Hardy. 

Suggested Centifolia roses: Tour de Malakoff, Fantin Latour, and The Bishop. 

Suggested Moss roses: Alfred de Dalmas (Mousseline),Chapeau de Napoleon, Henri Martin, William Lobb. 

Other suggested roses: Madame Isaac Pereire (most fragrant?), Souvenir de la Malmaison, Comte de Chambord, Reine des Violettes

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Shinn's Lamarque rose

"La Marque Rose, 
thirteen years old, 
budded on Cherokee stock, 
on the Shinn farm house at Niles California"
From Vick's Illustrated Magazine,
February 1891
So it was planted in 1878.

The Shinn house once had a very large rose bush climbing up its walls. No longer. A yellow rose clambers up the trellis.

Charles Howard Shinn wrote about "California Rose Cottages" in Vick's Illustrated Magazine in 1891. He used a photograph of the farm home in Niles where he grew up. The La Marque rose is approaching the size of a house-eating rose.

Charles says "Then when people ask still further, what roses to plant, I have told them to begin almost any where, but that a Lamarque was good to start with, for one could plant it on a hillside with a crowbar, and it would come out ahead."

The La Marque rose is listed in the Shinn's Nurseries catalog.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Teasing out the Peace Rose History and Weaving in the California Nursery Company

The Roeding family history says that the California Nursery Company was the official West Coast propagator of the Peace rose. Or were they one of several? What about Armstrong?

It is also said that George Roeding, Jr. arranged to have Peace roses delivered to some number of delegates for the United Nations meeting in San Francisco.

Yet there is never any mention of this in the official Peace rose history. Why?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

What happened to our Peace Rose?

From the 1948 California Nursery Catalog
These colors? Did the Peace Rose ever have these colors? Was this a colorized photo by someone who didn't know the true colors?

The California Nursery Company was the official propagator of the Peace Rose on the West Coast in the mid 1940's. This was the color shown in their catalog. But the Roedings remember a different color than the color sold today.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

'Black Dragon' wisteria

My favorite wisteria at our local park was a mystery.

I asked the pruning community for a good wisteria book for identifying the wisteria in the park and was recommended Peter Valder's Wisterias, A Comprehensive Guide.

However, once I posted a photo, two people knew exactly what it was: 'Black Dragon'!

It is the only double flowered wisteria, from what I understand, so there is no need to key it out.

Some interesting connections with the park is that W.B. Clarke was the west coast distributor of this Japanese wisteria. W.B. Clarke was, apparently, an employee of the California Nursery who opened his own nursery in San Jose. The CNCo sold W.B. Clarke's low-chill lilacs, so the Dragon might be in the CNCo catalog as well. I will check.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rose Garden Before Time

The "Lost Rose Garden"

Our local historic nursery park has a hidden neglected rose garden with about twenty rose bushes.

We recently found out that this garden was an old AARS rose test garden, suspended in time from the 1970's when the nursery went out of business.

The neighbor, Bill, who lived behind the garden watered the roses for 48 years. He moved in 2017 and could no longer take care of it. We scrambled and with the help of volunteers and neighbors, the garden was watered that summer.

What roses are in this garden? There are no labels. What was the AARS rose selection program? Do we have roses that are now lost to the nursery trade? How do we find out?

Some of the roses are quite pretty and have a wonderful fragrance.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Prœparturiens Burn

PRP, February, 25, 1882
The Prœparturiens Burn

John Rock, with 30 years of the American experience under his belt, was very capable of publicly throwing shade on his fellow nurserymen, as expertly as any twitterati today. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Man who put the "Blast" in Blastophaga

That would be George C. Roeding!
...who is also the man who put wasp eggs
in your fig newton!
This is a story of persistance, confidence, and finally being able to tell your critics that they are all wrong after 20 years of ridicule. All of this to make California the center of fig culture.

Figs trees are pretty common in the bay area. But the kind that we generally grow are not Calimynra figs (or Symrna figs). These are the beefier figs usually used for drying. You will probably have to go to the Central Valley to find them. Look for the trees with the brown paper bags hanging on them in June.

Back in 1800's, no one knew how the Smyrna fig was pollinated. When the fig was brought to America, it was brought without its pollinator.  For years, the fruit fell off the tree without ripening. It took many years of study and travel and finally understanding the science behind the process.

It took a group of persistent people, George Roeding being one of the main movers. There does seem to be a bit of elbowing and competition in getting the claim for solving this mystery.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Large Pear of E.L. Beard

From Hutching's California Magazine,
November, 1856, volume 1, no. V
"It must ever be a source of astonishment and gratification to Californians, that the prolific production of our soil is such as almost to challenge the world. Who could ever dream that in a country comparatively new, so much perfection has already been attained in the culture and growth of fruits, flowers and vegetables, as to give us, in a few brief years, advantages that are as yet unpossessed by older States.

Where, but in California, for instance, has there ever grown a pear of such proportions as that on an opposite page ?—its natural size, from a photograph taken by Mr. Garden, of Bradley's Daguerrean Gallery, near our office, and kindly loaned us for the purpose by Mrs. E. J. Weaver, of the Washington Market—weighing, as it does, two pounds twelve ounces avoirdupois, and is one of five, all nearly as large, from a very young tree in the orchard of Mr. Beard, Mission of San Jose; and gathered, too, before they were ripe, to be exhibited at the State Fair at San Jose, and were the largest offered for exhibition. Next month we shall find room for a more extended notice of some of the vegetable wonders that we have seen —the products of California soil."

Friday, June 30, 2017

Rose Jelly

We were recently treated to some Bosnian treats at the garden. A garden volunteer brought the sweets and her mother. Her mother was in town visiting and came to visit us, too. They brought us a mystery rose that was super fragrant and said that it is used to make rose jelly in Bosnia.

Some garden googling brought up a name (Dulbešećer) and some photos and also somewhere (!) the name of a possible rose, Rose de Rescht. (I'm unable to find that resource again).

And we have it in the rose garden as well! Not quite as fragrant, but definitely the same fragrance.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Formism - seriously silly

Here's a style of landscape design that I've never heard of .... Formism. Was it a flash in the pan?

"The Formist movement goes back to a French garden style of the 1600's and 1700's, and brings it forward minus its frills and flounces, and adapted to modern ways."


Now I know that Monsieur Hulot's sister had real life inspiration!

Reference photos for landscape artists

When I saw this photo in California Horticulturalist, January 1880,
I felt like I was looking at a reference photo that Henri Rousseau might have used.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Pioneer Horticultural Society, 1853, Santa Clara Valley

The meeting of the Pioneer Horticultural Society was on August 13, 1853 under a large live-oak, belonging to L. Prevost. Here is an account from The History of Santa Clara County (1881):

"The following interesting history of this association, from the pen of Colonel Younger, is extracted from The Pioneer of June 8, 1878:  "This society has assumed such proportions in her real estate, and in her exhibitions in the various departments, as to challenge the admiration of the citizens of the Pacific coast. Her history of small beginnings, the energy of her pioneers to organize at once, to experiment and develop the resources of this, then a new and undeveloped country, ought to be of interest to those citizens who have located recently in the valley, under more favorable circumstances. The pioneer meeting which was the germ of this society, was held August 13, 1853, under a large live-oak, in what is now known as the Live-oak Park, then belonging to L. Prevost. The meeting was composed of William Daniels, L. Prevost, L. Pillia, J. R. Bontemps, B. S. Fox, and E.W. Case. It was held for the purpose of organizing the Pioneer Horticultural Society, which they did. The subsequent meetings were held at the old City Hall. This little band was strengthened by such men as Joseph Aram, J. Q. A. Ballou, R. G. Moody, Judge D. Devine, L. A. Gould, Thomas Fallon, John Lewelling of Alameda county, and some others. During the balance of this year and the year 1854, they met once a month; brought in their fruits and flowers for exhibition, to compare and discuss the merits, and determine what fruits were best adapted to the valley. This was often most interesting and instructive. All were invited to attend, and many were enticed to those meetings to see the development of the fruit-growing capacity of the valley. Many ladies attended and were richly rewarded, for after witnessing the display of fruits and flowers, at the conclusion these were divided among them. The old pioneers knew how to be gallant to the ladies! These exhibitions soon excited the agriculturists to action. We shall soon see a union of these two interests, and follow them in their tedious states to the formation of this society, under an Act of the Legislature in 1859."

The History of Santa Clara County (1881) reports on the origins of the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Society.

The first fairgrounds were described in the p. 504
Location of fairgrounds, 1876
San Jose, 1st Ward,
Thompson and West
Georeferenced on David Rumsey

History of Santa Clara County, California
Meeting of Pioneer Horticulturists, 1892
History of Santa Clara County


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rose Water

Russelliana rose at Fort Ross.
Hybrid multiflora.
AKA Cottage Rose, Grevillei scarlet,
Old Spanish Rose, Russell's Cottage Rose
The rose bushes at Fort Ross State Park are Russelliana roses.

Googling Russellinana sent me to the "Perfume Rose Harvest Tours" at Russian River Rose Company in Healdsburg.

Which made me wonder what roses are best used for rose water.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chilean Bellota, are the nuts edible?

There are a lot of red flags here:

  1. Nuts rain down during the "nut-raining season", but are not scooped up by squirrels or park visitors. They are swept up and thrown out by the city gardeners.
  2. There is hardly anything written about this tree which could be that I haven't figured out what its current name is yet - Latin name-wise. The tree label says it is Cryptocarya miersii.
  3. A common name for the tree is "Chilean Soap Tree". :OP

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Quince to Perfume a Room

From Wikimedia
Two different people have told me about a quince that can perfume a whole room. I have never noticed any fragrance from any of the garden variety quinces that have come home with me.

So I posted a question on the California Rare Fruit Growers forum. It seems that the quince is Pseudocydonia sinensis, also known as Chinese Quince, Karin, Mugua, Mogwa.

I checked the PlantList to see what is currently the accepted name. "Chaenomeles sinensis (Dum.Cours.) Koehne is an accepted name...". So I googled both.

The bark is quite lovely. Why don't more people plant this just for the peely bark?

Where to buy it? Annie's has it on their "wishlist". J.L. Hudson Seeds has seeds.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fig Mysteries

Painting by Mrs. Henry W. Kruckerberg, 1902?
from The Smyra Fig at Home and Abroad
Henry Kruckerberg published stuff like
the Proceedings of the California Association of Nurserymen.
Here he is next to George C. Roeding in 1911.
Perhaps Mrs. Kruckerberg turns up
in some of these CAN photos as well.
Original painting is in the Roeding Archives.

John Rock, George Roeding, Gustav Eisen, James Shinn: These are names that are part of our local fig stories.

Quotes are intriguing: "Rock (according to Eisen) was the “owner of the largest assortment of fig varieties collected in one place."

Where did those figs go?

Other local mysteries are "Who was first to solve the mystery of caprification of the Smyrna fig?" If you listen to the descendants of the Shinn and Roeding families, this still hasn't been answered. Apparently there is a hand-written unpublished 75-page document written by George Roeding that will answer this question (BR).

When Gustav Eisen mentions the people who he has worked with, why does he leave out George C. Roeding? We know they worked together closely on the mystery of caprification. And he's mentioned many times in his book, This Fig. But no thanks? What's the scoop on that? The Roeding family says that Eisen might have been the first orchard manager for Fancher Creek. (BR)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Plants of old Mission San Jose

From Library of Congress

What plants were present when E.L. Beard first gardened at Mission San José?

From David Streatfield's article "'Paradise' on the Frontier", he says "Knowledge of the plants that Spanish missionaries and the Mexican civilians introduced into California is still scanty. Little archaeological exploration has been carried out on any of the sites and the principal source of information is, therefore, documentary. Unfortunately, little documentation remains in the Mission records and heavy reliance has to be placed on what visitors such as Captain George Vancouver, F. W. Beechey, Sir George Simpson, and Edwin Bryant recorded in their diaries.

From these sources, it is evident that they grew date palms, olives, pepper trees, the native willow and wild cherry, hollyhocks, oleanders, carnations, nasturtiums, fouro'clocks, sweet peas, portulaca, French marigolds, calla and madonna lillies, Matilja poppies, Nicotiana glauca, jonquils, wallflowers, violets, Arundo donax, date, Mexican fan palms and the native palm, Washingtonia filifera."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Gardens of Manzanar

The gardens were built under the worst conditions for the worst reasons. 

But they were beautiful gardens with rocks, natives and non-native plants: Joshua trees, dead branches, cacti, roses, cherry trees, wisteria. 

Today only the rocks and streams and ponds and wood exists, but you can still see the beauty.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Low Chill Lilacs

The lilacs are blooming in the local park where this nursery was once located. No labels exist on the bushes. How do we know what they are?

Checking in some old catalogs, I found this:

"Our efforts in behalf of Lilacs may be attributed to the splendid work of Mr. W.B. Clarke of San Jose, noted hybridizer of spring flowering shrubs and trees. It was he who developed the three excellent varieties pictured above."

I had thought that Descanso Garden was the place where low chill lilacs originated, but apparently it was in San Jose! And Descanso carried on.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

"An Early Winter Garden in California" November 7, 1889

A garden that sounds like Shinn Ranch

American Garden, January 1890

Women's Floral Colony in San Mateo County?

American Gardening, June 1890

Unshiu citrus? Won Shu? Oonshiu? Satsuma?

In February 1986, at the Kato Memorial Garden, Don Dillon,  Four Winds Citrus nurseryman and Fremont city councilman, gave a dedication. His prepared notes said that "James Shinn, a prominent nurseryman, lived here and began a relationship with Japan by importing Japanese plums, persimmons and Unshiu oranges, some of which can still be found behind the Ozumia. He also brought in the beautiful Japanese maple located in the front of the garden. This happened in the period 1860 and 1890."

There are two trees in the garden behind the azumaya (ozumia), of unknown age. Are they Unshiu? or Won Shu as a relative of James Shinn called them? What is an Unshiu orange?

I posted the question to the California Rare Fruit Grower forum and found out that the Unshiu is now known as the Satsuma Mandarin (David Karp, UCR)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Napoleon's Willow

Salix babylonica?
Was this the famous willow from Napoleon's tomb?

When the Shinn barn burned, the willow apparently burned as well. So says the note on the back of the picture.

What is the famous willow?

Apparently it was a way to make money off of tourists, to tell them that this little willow came from the willow next to Napoleon's grave.

In 1883, Gardener's Monthly reports:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Even dead trees can have a life

Our beloved park snag with its bear face
Trees in our local park have been dying over the last droughty years.

An alternative to cutting them down is to feature them as snags for wildlife.

The Smithsonian talks about creating a snag from one of their dying trees.

One of our beloved snags has the face of a bear. When I first volunteered at the park, I was told that our dead tree had a bear face. I didn't believe it until I saw that indeed it had a bear face.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Transformation of the Vallejo Adobe

LOC. 1937? 
When I look at this photo, I see "Sunset Magazine". Did the Vallejo Adobe influence the Sunset Magazine headquarters?