January is off to a roaring start in many ways as orders begin rolling in. So far, we aren’t sold out of any catalog items, but unexpected strong demand on a few items will soon result in some sold out postings. Remember that when you pay for your plants, they are reserved for you until you want them shipped (or your climate allows). The only exception would occur if the plants that we have set aside for you fail to survive until this time (which rarely occurs).
Weatherwise, it’s been a hard winter, but good from a perspective of being consistently cold. We have had lows of only 10 degrees F, but we’ve seen damage on plants that have been unaffected by lower temperatures in previous years. Surprisingly, plants that we expected to see damaged have so far been unaffected.
January was a busy travel month with trips ranging from Hawaii to Maine. Having the good fortune to meet a Colocasia breeder in Hawaii, we have signed an agreement to trial many of his new cultivars here on the NC mainland. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work towards introducing some fantastic new cultivars for the ornamental world. (See our Plant Exploration Log section for a detailed summary of the Hawaii trip.)
As a climatic contrast from Hawaii, Maine was cold! This is the first time that I’ve seen ice sculptures used as yard ornaments instead of as hotel salad bar decorations. The nice folks in Maine presented me with a copy of the famous McLaughlin Garden Nude Calendar. Even Ms. November and Mr. February were kind enough to autograph their respective months.
From Maine to Florida in the same week was another vivid contrast in climates, although Tallahassee hit a decade breaking low of 14 degrees F while I was there. Many parts of Florida have been experiencing a bad case of zone creep as evidenced by the large, but very dead Livistona palms planted around town. One of the many highlights of the trip was a chance to spend two days in the wild studying trilliums and other wildflowers with botanists Melanie Darst and Angus Gholson.
I’d like to also express our condolences for two recent disasters that affected the horticultural community. First the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia over Texas inpacted our friends in the plant world. Not only are our wishes with the families of the crew, but also with Dr. Dave Creech, Director of the SFASU Mast Arboretum in Nacogdoches, Texas. According to Dr. Creech, the garden is strewn with hundreds of pieces of shuttle debris including some that are quite unimaginable. I imagine that working at the Arboretum will never be the same. http://www.sfasu.edu/ag/arboretum/
Our thoughts also go out to our friends Barry Yinger and Andy Wong of Asiatica in Pennsylvania. Barry has long been a great source of new Asian plant introductions as well as a great source of information. While Barry was traveling in the far reaches of the world, his home and office exploded in a devastating fire that destroyed everything except for a distant greenhouse. Fortunately no one was injured, but the task of rebuilding his home along with his massive horticultural library, slide collection, and other personal effects must indeed be daunting.
So, did you make a top 25 prediction list like we suggested? Remember that next year, we will hold an official contest, so practice this year. As of the end of January, the top 20 list looked like this:
1. Heucherella ‘Sunspot’ PPAF, EUPVR
2. Tiarella ‘Pink Skyrocket’ PPAF PVR
3. Lilium formosanum
4. Athyrium niponicum ‘Burgundy Lace’ PPAF, PVR
5. Hippeastrum ‘Ackermanii’
6. Alcea rugosa
7. Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Runner’
8. Amorphophallus titanum
9. Athyrium filix-femina ‘Frizelliae’
10. Disporum ‘White Lightning’
11. Polygonatum kingianum Orange Flower Form
12. Yucca rostrata
13. Coreopsis ‘Limerock Ruby’ PPAF
14. Muhlenbergia capillaris
15. Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’
16. Juncus effusus ‘Blonde Ambition’
17. Alocasia wentii
18. Disporum flavens
19. Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Filigran’
20. Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’