Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

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."