Woodies 2015

Eleutherococcus giraldii BWJ8091    At last we have relented, conforming to Eleutherococcus and giving up on using Acanthopanax for one of my revered Araliaceae.

I have been less than impressed with the reaction of Acer mandshuricum BSWJ12592 being entered in the RHS Plant Finder in the 2014 issue, does anyone read it any longer? Maybe nobody is interested in a glorious species growing on its own roots any longer. From one of the coldest locations we have collected from at this elevation of 1280m, in the mountains of central South Korea on T'aebaeksan. Where we found many of the medium-sized trees of this unusual tri-foliate species cloaked in their autumnal glow, but only one bearing seed. The small oblong-elliptic leaflets 4 x 1.5cm were a red rusty to red or yellow above while a contrasting glaucous white below, all held together on red petioles and petiolules (leaf stalks). While the dull brown seed were easily seen contrasting below the foliage.

Another Korean collection is Acer tschonoskii ssp. koreanum BSWJ12583 although described as a shrubby species is making fast progress in our field. A tough and easily grown species, which we collected seed from the exceptionally cold T'aebaeksan area of the mountainous interior in the north of South Korea in 2010, at around 1,000m. Only forming a small tree in time, with white striped bark and conspicuously dark red to green young branches. Bearing palmate deeply five to tri-lobed sharply serrated leaves on red petioles. With short pendant spikes of paired large winged seed held late summer autumn.

It is going to be a really interesting test to see how Alniphyllum fortunei FMWJ13013    performs here. From one of our collections gathered in 2011 on a moist hill side in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountain Range in northern Vietnam. Where we found small to medium sized deciduous trees with upright trunks and grey-brown sturdy branches bearing ovate-deltoid relatively thick textured leaves 15cm long stellate-bristly below. With large terminal, but mostly axillary many-flowered (in seed) panicles to 20 cm long, which had born the white 3cm wide flowers from April to July in the wild.

We will also be observing how Alniphyllum aff. eberhardtii FMWJ13121 performs here. Both this and the preceding species were collected from an area that is throwing up unexpectedly hardy forms of so many woody plants that had hitherto have been regarded as tender. Forming medium sized trees 7-8m tall with relatively large elliptic leaves 20 × 10cm with terminal and axillary 10-30 flowered panicles of elongated seed-capsules which were the result of the showy white flows to 5cm across with contrasting pink styles, born March to April in the wild. From our seed collection gathered in a moist valley in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountain Range in northern Vietnam in 2011.

Aster albescens WJC13657 used to be around and certainly was considered hardy, so where did it go to? Only forming relatively small deciduous shrubs generally to 1m tall in the wild, appearing fairly gregarious where it occurs. Of a lax habit with lanceolate long pointed leaves to 12cm long and flat topped branched corymbs of lilac yellow centred ray flowers June to September. From one of our seed collections gathered in the Lachung Valley northern Sikkim in the autumn of 2013.

Berberis macrosepala BSWJ2124   has also been absent for quite a while, originally collecting it in 1994. A small spiny deciduous shrub of compact habit, with shining dark green leaves glaucous beneath. Several yellow flowers are followed by large oblong, dull red pendant berries. A form we collected on the Sandakphu ridge northern India.

While the entry of Buddleja forrestii BWJ8020 etc will cover no less than three differing entities, all worthy of growing, one form is getting to be tree like, while another is only a small to medium shrub. My own collection of this little known or grown species (BWJ8020) which we have found to be very variable. Originating from seed I collected on Longzhoushan, Sichuan China in the autumn of 2000 at 3050m, which explains the hardiness of this collection. In this form the panicles are much longer only lilac tinted in bud opening to flared white yellow centred flowers in summer. Forming a large arching shrub if left un-pruned, with dark grey-green leaves pubescent beneath.

Buddleja forrestii KR2737 This form is what is regarded as the normal lilac flowering form, only forming a small to medium shrub with dark grey-green leaves pubescent beneath and pendant racemes of fragrant, purple-pale lilac yellow centred flowers over most of the summer months for us.

Camellia pitardii HWJ1037 was a new discovery for Vietnam, surprising many by its unusual colour. From my very first sortie to Y Tý in the very north of Vietnam along the border with China in 2003. Where I discovered a highly degraded forest in the low cloud, with an isolated tree of this species growing in an open overgrazed area, 4-5m tall. With small dark evergreen ovate-elliptic leathery leaves 6-10× 2.5-3.5cm finely serrated with long tips, on short gnarled purplish branches in the exposed position and large apple-sized orbicular fruit. The result of the large terracotta-pink flowers born in April-May, we subsequently saw on cultivation, both flower and fruit on the largest end of the recorded dimensions of 10 and 8cm across.

Ternstroemia aff. luteoflora FMWJ13360 is a less well known member of the tea family. In fact this small tree grew within view of the preceding, close to the Chinese border in the very north. From of our seed collections gathered from the northern most area of Vietnam on the border with China, in the forests of Y Ty in the autumn of 2011. Where it had formed a small tree 6-7m tall with a broad canopy, well branched above with dark green red tipped glossy broadly oblong-elliptic leathery leaves to 7-11 x 3.5cm on red petioles. Bearing at that time depressed globose red fruit 2cm across in axillary few or in clusters, these were the result of the pale yellow to white camellia-like flowers 2-3cm across borne May-June.

While Stewartia serrata has been on our list for many years, but apparently under the wrong name of S. rostrata. Its all thanks to Koen Camelbeke the curator of Arboretum Wespelaar in Belgium. His expertise is how he obtained such a prestigious position. Grown and admired in our garden for about 10 years, where it has formed a small elegant tree to only 3m tall. With slender upwardly inclined branches from the upright slate grey to tan trunk. Bearing small elliptic papery textured leaves, which are finely serrated along their margins. With single white Camellia-like flowers carried in the leaf axils at a pendant inclination from May-June followed by rounded beaked seed capsules into the winter.

From our time spent in Italy Capparis spinosa var. inermis BSWJ13626 will raise a smile for many, those who enjoy a caper or two may like to raise a plant. Bit of a digression for us, but could not resist having a go with this seed liberated from the walls of The Lucca Botanic Gardens, who invite us to participate in their flower show every September. Known for their capers, this shrub originating from dry areas of the eastern Mediterranean, growing from a small woody base with annual stems equating to given conditions. Bearing alternate paddle-shaped leaves with large white axillary flowers with a boss of long purple stamen.

From further south and west in Spain Coriaria myrtifolia BSWJ14003 filled a steep rocky bank up in the mountains with its arching stems of small opposite leaves, luckily laden with its distinctive fruit. Being the National Plant Collection holder of this genus we could hardly just walk past a large colony of this species in full fruit, even on holiday with our grandchildren. Such was the case during the summer of 2013, where a large colony of upright plants grew on the dry rocky hillside up in the coastal mountains outside Competa in the Axarquia region of southern Spain. With narrowly elliptic stiff opposite foliage all along the reddish few branched stems to 1.5m tall, terminating in pinkish shortly winged fruit that swell on ripening black.

Exposed is the best way to describe the Vietnamese ridge we collected Carpinus pubescence FMWJ13421 from. Only allowing it to form small trees clothed in its distinctive long foliage and hop-like catkins. Originating from one of my seed collections gathered on a very exposed ridge on the edge of a mountain forest overlooking the border into China in the very north of Vietnam in the autumn of 2011. Where it only grew into a small congested tree 3-4m tall, smothered in the elongated parallel-veined leaves 10cm long, which are reputed to emerge a brilliant coppery red (as have the young plants). With generous quantities of long bracty catkins hiding the long winged seed that we eagerly gathered.

Clethra fabri BSWJ11702 on the other hand was growing further down the mountain, where its regenerating bright red stems were fighting back for its very survival. This has to be one of the most ornamental species of this highly regarded genus. Sadly endangered where we find the small trees growing in the mountains of the far north of Vietnam, normally seen cut down and regenerating strongly with bright red hairy stems. Were that not enough to tempt you, the foliage and new growth are also bright red only slowly transforming to green as the season progresses and the ovate-elliptic softly hairy leaves expand to 15-20 × 8-10cm. If you are still not tempted there are terminal inflorescences of 20cm long spikes of small white flowers in summer.

From a much higher elevation on Fansipan where we find Daphne bholua growing all the way to the summit. Our collection from Vietnam BSWJ8275 has settled down nicely in our garden, so much so they are bearing copious fruit, daphnes are always stronger on their own roots. Originating from three seedlings we collected on Fansipan in 2000 at 2900m, that have grown together in one of our gardens for many years. Here they have formed branching shrubs to around 2m tall with small dark glossy green elliptic foliage, flowering mid-late winter, lilac in bud opening white. Producing some good viable fruit resulting in these plants. Best grown in shelter from cold winds in sun or bright shade, but most importantly in well drained soil that has some moisture retention. Ours thrive in a shallow rocky soil in bright shade.

We also have a collection from India GWJ9436 which we think rivals 'Jacqueline Postill' for size and quantity of flower. Maybe we are bias. Our mother plants are two seedlings we collected on our way down from Sandakphu in 2002 at 3120m near Molle. Which have grown together on our Mound garden for several years producing some good viable fruit resulting in these plants. Here they have formed branching shrubs to around 2m tall with small light green elliptic foliage, flowering most of the winter, large dark pink in bud opening paler.

We did find Daphniphyllum chartaceum in Sikkim in 2013, proving without doubt that there are indeed two quite different species in that area. Which allowed its epithet to be reinstated, hence the naming of KWJ12313 etc has finally been settled. A puzzling species I collected with Ben Kettle in the forests on Fansipan the highest mountain in northern Vietnam in 2007. Where it formed a small tree 7-8m tall, well branched with a broad outline, young branches red. Clothed in large oblong-elliptic acuminate thick textured leaves 20-25 x 6.5-9cm, dark green above with prominent veins impressed, glaucous white below. Held on long red petioles 3.5-5cm long, the colour extending along the mid rib of the leaves. Fruitescences short,  fruit ellipsoid dark with recurved styles (no calyx). A stunning species possibly not described.

It was at a much higher elevation that we encountered the strange yellow fruit of Decaisnea insignis WJC13740 in a deep valley in the eastern Himalayas. Which makes me question its tenderness as stated in literature, everything else that grew there was hardy enough. An unexpected find on the outskirts of a village in north-eastern Himalayas in the autumn of 2013 at around 2900m. A distinct shrub with an open habit, forming slender strongly upright growth to 2.2m tall where it grew, bearing large pinnate leaves to 2m long composed of as many as 23 leaflets. With long racemes of yellow-green flowers around June, followed by around September on by remarkable broad-bean like yellow fruit usually held in threes and curling like a fist, filled with a translucent flesh surrounding the black seed.

At last we are pleased to be able to offer open ground plants of Deutzia parviflora var. amurensis BSWJ8690. While it is unlikely to win any prizes for its cup shaped white flowers, it should do for its adaptability. For both this species and D. glabrata are indispensable for their early flowering under a deciduous canopy. One of our seed collections from T'aebaeksan one of the coldest locations we have collected from at this elevation of 1,500m, in the mountains of central South Korea. A slender deciduous shrub to 2m tall with ovate-acuminate pairs of opposite leaves, with small stellate hairs on their undersides (which differ in shape on this variety). Bearing late March to June flat topped corymbs of fresh white outwardly facing open rounded flowers fewer in number, but larger in this variety.

For some strange reason Deutzia calycosa BWJ8007 has been omitted from our list, while that one does deserve a prize for its flowering. From Longzhoushan, Sichuan, a small deciduous shrub to 3m tall, where I collected it growing on an open rocky mountainside. With small ovate to lanceolate thin textured leaves with small stellate hairs on the undersides and on the reddish young stems. Bearing terminal corymbose cymes comprising of 3-12 pink flowers.

If you are averse to name changes you had best look away now, as there’s a can of worms due. Its all to do with the Hydrangea family and the relationship of that genus with Dichroa, we all know its complex. Maybe that is why nobody is willing to take on the task of sorting it all out. Anyways nature has already played its hand in this conundrum. What we assumed to be Dichroa febrifuga from the Himalayan region has been re-identified


as Dichroa cynea BSWJ2367 etc. A Himalayan shrub to 3m, closely related to and resembling Hydrangea. With leaves which are semi-evergreen, persisting in a sheltered spot. Flowering August-frost, even through a mild winter, with dense terminal branched clusters of pale blue-violet cymes. Meanwhile our collections from southern Vietnam are deemed to be Dichroa  febrifuga BSWJ9734 etc, the only true stock of the species in horticulture here. Why? Its simple Dichroa febrifuga was discovered from there before 1777 by a Portuguese missionary and the Himalayan species was discovered much later.

OK do I still have your attention? We had suspected that Dichroa and Hydrangea hybridised naturally, because of what we have been finding in the wild. Now it has been proved, the hybridising goes on relentlessly. Keep your eyes peeled for some staggering hybrids that will be on the mass market soon. That aside as mentioned nature has already taken a hand in it, × Didrangea ytiensis BSWJ11790, as far as we know is the first described natural hybrid. We introduced it from northern Vietnam as Hydrangea lingii (as in FO China). Makes you wonder if the rest of the species in this section are hybrids too. It was only after further investigation that it has been recognised as a natural bi-generic hybrid. Forming a shrubs to only 1.5m tall where I found this unusual species in the wild in cleared forest where animals grazed, close to the border with China in northern Vietnam in the autumn of 2006. Immediately recognisable as different on account of the glossy elliptic leaves that were purple on both sides in the sun, a trait it has yet to perform in our garden, probably due to the lack of sun. In our garden the broad terminal cymes of all fertile blue to purple flowers are born all summer into autumn.

For the species lovers we do have new collections of Hydrangea aspera ssp. robustum Himalayan form BSWJ13999 etc, from the very centre of its distribution, near Darjeeling. A selected form from the best looking specimen of this subspecies we could find on our way back from the Singalila Ridge in 2013 at 2,250m. The centre of its distribution is in the Darjeeling area of the Himalayas, where it is commonly seen forming sizeable shrubs with age, clothed in the typical large (30-40 cm) paddle-shaped softly hairy leaves on distinctly long red petioles. Only starting to open the substantial inflorescences of purple-blue flowers in October, but lasting into December (a trait that the impostors cannot perform).

Meanwhile Hydrangea kawagoeana var. grosseserrata BSWJ11500 etc is merely a name change, while Hydrangea involucrata var. izuensis is a naturally chunky variety of the species, a distinct cultivar from Japan, which is one of the easiest to cultivate due to its vigorous habit. A distinctly textured shrub with pale branches, bark peeled off into fragments when older. Carrying large textured hairy leaves and dense terminal corymbs of small lilac flowers surrounded by large creamy sterile flowers, all having emerged from large golf-ball like buds of enveloping bracts (involucre).

and finally in this section Hydrangea serrata 'Crûg Caerulean' BSWJ6241d is the last of our quartet to be named and introduced. A small very floriferous deciduous lacecap species hydrangea, bearing corymbs of strong blue lace-cap (pink in alkaline soil) flowers May-August. While the foliage ages to a purple cast if exposed to sun, as in the field where we grow the mother plants, which are still only 1.3 m tall without pruning at around 10 years old. Originating from one of our seed collections from the Mt. Unzen area of Kyushu, Japan in 1998.

Another fabulous shrub shared by Dan is Euonymus latifolius DJHTu0109 one of his Turkish collections, which have blossomed into a spectacle. We had to go all the way to The Pacific Northwest to be introduced to this marvellous Turkish species, where it grows on the drive to Windcliff, Dan Hinkley and Robert Jones' garden. Where Dan has positioned three multi-stemmed shrubs now to around 3m tall, full of fat sharply four-winged pink fruit as early as late July in 2013. While still performing with opened fruit with pendant orange aril covered seed in late October in 2014, the leaves by then turning a wonderful complimentary pink flushed green.

I did collect a fabulous form of Euonymus clivicola in 2000 while in China, but have become impatient, this introduction is one of Roy Lancaster’s fabulous collections, which he has shared with us. An uncommon graceful deciduous shrubs, 2-3 m tall, composed of moderately sturdy branches and twigs. With lanceolate thinly leathery serrated bamboo-like leaves 8-12 cm long, but only around 2 cm wide on short petioles. Bearing conspicuous 5-merous reddish flowers on long slender stalks (peduncles) in many flowered cymes in June for us. Followed by curious propeller-like pink fruit which eventually burst open to expose the orange aril covered pendant seed from autumn to early winter.

We have also collected Chengiopanax sciadophylloides, but from Japan where it is endemic. Never heard of it? Your in good company. Like so many Araliaceae its charm is not in its flowers, but form and fruit (the autumn colour states something too). It is a small unarmed tree, with glabrous thin textured five-foliate leaves which are aristately arranged. Bearing terminal slenderly branched cymose inflorescences of yellowish flowers followed by an abundance of small purple-black depressed-globose fruit on bright red stalks.

Gamblea innovans a much smaller rarity, only a shrub where we encountered it in the far north of Honshu. Spectacular trees seen in all of their glory when the foliage turn a butter yellow contrasting with large panicles of blue-black fruit and red stalks. Long lived forming sizeable trees after a very long time hence best described as small trees in gardens. Bearing thin textured leaves composed of up to three finely serrated leaflets 15 x 6cm on long reddish stalks and terminal umbells of insignificant flowers in May-June, which ripen to conspicuous fruit 5-6mm across.

From a warmer climate and shared with us by Tony Avent is Schefflera delavayi a well known and much sought after tough species. I drool on seeing the tree by Dan Hinkley’s front door, it has to be 4m tall and covered in flowers this last autumn. It is a Chinese species that comes with a certain reputation, all good I'm pleased to say. Identification being just one complication, but thanks to Tony Avent's generosity in sharing his seed with us, we are at long last able to offer the true species, along with its reputation for growing at a snail's pace. A more positive trait is the hardiness, reputed to have sailed through countless cold winters. The juvenile foliage is its most appealing aspect to some, at a time when its 5-foliate leaves are deeply lobed, thick textured with a layer of wooly indumentum below. A long lived small tree in time attaining 8m in the wild, with a similar width. With terminal panicles of long slender spikes forming summer through winter

Schefflera pauciflora WWJ11999 is strangely neglected, although we added it last year. It is yet another tough species all be it less well known and restrained in final size, but reaches maturity incredibly quickly. Bit of a puzzler the identity of this hardy species, which we have collected on a few occasions, this original collection gathered from right on the Chinese border with northern most Vietnam with Peter Wharton in 2007. Where there were small colonies formed on the exposed ridge at 2360m, of single stemmed plants only 2m tall. Bearing thick textured 5-broad foliate leaves held on bright red petioles, while in shelter the leaflets were narrower and the plants 4m tall, some with a few branches. Clearly related to S. alpina the foliage emerging with the same purple colouration, indicative of this group.

We have had to wait for some maturity with our reintroduction of Schefflera rhododendrifolia GWJ9375 as well. Joining our plant list late last year after our home grown crop finally came to fruition. We could not believe the height of a specimen we saw on the Singalila Ridge in northern India, in 2013. The panicles of black fruit held in rounded clusters of this hardy Himalayan species was a welcomed site when I felt like death. Growing on the Singalila Ridge in view of Darjeeling at close to 3000m, where I was struggling to keep up with Sue and our friend Sally Goddard, suffering from a debilitating form of tonsillitis which was turning septic (wonderful). Forming small trees to 10m tall in the wild with umbels of narrowly elliptic leaf-forming leaflets held on slender purple stems.

At last we are positive that Ilex aff. gagnepainiana FMWJ13168 is a holly, as our previous collections have started to flower and fruit. Its an unusual large leafed non-spiny species from northern Vietnam. Hardy? Will –20C in an open field do? A puzzling species that does not seem to be well recorded in Vietnam, which is where we collected this large leafed species that had been cut back, from a deep valley in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountain Range in northern Vietnam in 2011 at over 2,000m. With large evergreen oblong-elliptic acuminate leathery remotely serrated leaves and pronounced midribs with conspicuous venation 20-25cm long. Laden with a heavy crop of red globose fruit in axillary diffuse cymes of up to 6 fruit, from the base of the current year's foliage. 

From the same area of Vietnam hails Magnolia sapaensis FMWJ13315, a species that was only described to science in 2011. Unbeknown to us we first collected it in 1999 as Magnolia chevalieri HWJ533 and distributed it as such. It has been well tested for hardiness in the meantime, sailing through all that has been thrown at it. From one of our seed collections gathered in 2011 from the high altitude forests on the slopes of Fansipan, the highest mountain in Vietnam. Where it only formed a large shrub or multi stemmed small tree, with large paddle-shaped dark glossy leaves white below and terminal pink cones of red seed. The result of the large white flowers with red centres opening in mid-summer in our garden from June to August. Proving perfectly hardy to -15C here.

Magnolia fansipanensis FMWJ13054 etc was also described/published at the same time, but as Magnolia crassifolia, a name already used for a fossilised species. I’m almost sure it’s the same species I collected with Peter Wharton in 2007, but only a single seedling germinated. Was originally discovered on Fansipan, in northern Vietnam, this collection originates from Ban Khoang close to that area in a dense moist forest where we found two trees with large white backed leaves with prominent grey tubby buds and large cone-shaped fruit.

Magnolia insignis WWJ11854 is merely a name change from Magnolia chevalieri. I’ve been grateful of Dick Figlar’s help in attempting to teach me how to separate this taxon by petiole scars. Want a go? Resulting from one of my seed collections gathered from close to the Tram Trom Pass in northern Vietnam in 2007, just as the area was being demolished to make way for a new highway. Where this plant formed a small multi-stemmed tree to 4m tall and wide, well clothed with branches of elongated leathery dark green leaves 20-30cm long. Bearing elongated brilliant pink cone-like seed capsules splitting to reveal the red-orange aril covered seed a result of the scented solitary white flowers 10cm across carried in mid summer.

As ever I’m also grateful to Dan Hinkley for showing me where to collect Mahonia nervosa BSWJ13580, a far more amenable collection than we have been able to gather before, growing right on his doorstep. A rare (in British gardens) dwarf evergreen suckering shrub with relatively large glossy sea-green pinnate leaves that are five to seven spine-edged and turn red in winter in sunny drained situations. Bearing spikes to 20cm long of yellow flowers in terminal clusters from May-June, followed by bloomy black fruit. From seed gathered with Dan Hinkley on a walk in the forest surrounding his new garden at Windcliff, WA, USA in August 2013.

Mahonia eurybracteata is merely yet another name change catching up with us.

Neolitsea sericea CWJ12800 etc are proving to be slow starters for us, maybe we lack the summer heat required. They are so fabulous in foliage and fruit, we just had to have a go with them. From one of my seed collections gathered on Mt. Seburiyama near Fukuoka Japan in the autumn of 2010 with Finlay Colley. Where this species in the laurel family formed a small upright evergreen tree 4-5m tall, with dark green glossy bold orbicular-elliptic leaves with 3 pronounced veins, which can be a spectacular fawn-brown on emergence. Meanwhile the ellipsoid fruit were a bright red in conspicuous axillary clusters, resulting from the fragrant yellow flowers borne March to April.

From a similar stable hails Persea japonica BSWJ12789, but from a gorgeous tree at the Ch'õllip'o Arboretum in South Korea in 2010, where there is an old large tree thriving. A rare and exquisite small evergreen tree from the bay family, with eye catching exfoliating bark on mature trees. Bearing lanceolate to obovate-oblong long pointed leaves to 20cm long, lustrous dark green above whitish with raised veins below. With cymes of white to green flowers held on long bright red stalks (peduncles) borne May to June followed by plump glossy black globose fruit into the winter.

Whereas Persea indica BSWJ12535 hails from seed we collected on the Azores in 2009 from within the main crater where Lagoa Azul is sited on São Miguel. Here they formed small evergreen trees with smooth silver-coloured bark on upright trunks, with spreading branches on relatively short trees to 4m tall. With lanceolate to obovate-oblong long pointed leaves, lustrous dark green above with raised veins below, bearing cymes of yellow to green flowers held on long stalks (peduncles) followed by large glossy black ellipsoid fruit.

It certainly felt like we were on a roll as we collected our way through a deep valley in the Hoang Liang Mountain Range in 2011, where the pickings were rich and the torrential rain unrelenting. Nyssa aff. shweliensis FMWJ13122 was just one resulting finds, conspicuous on account of its colourful, but large foliage. The reason I cannot be sure of its identity. A delightfully colourful sight to encounter in truly dreadful weather on or first day of a long trek through the Hoang Liang Mountain Range where there was no turning back as we were committed. Here it formed a small tree 10m high with long slender branches of ovate leaves densely pilose on the veins below, to 30cm long. With many axillary panicles of ellipsoid fruit turning blue-black when ripe, which had succeeded the flowers born in April to May in the wild

A lack of identification is what prevented us from introducing Pterostyrax corymbosa BSWJ11535 etc sooner. An embarrassing mix up of our field notes I have to admit …… so I’m not perfect. Only forming a small tree 5-6m tall by 5m wide when Sue and I found this collection in the autumn of 2006 at around 1,000m high up on Mt. Kamegamori in the north of the island of Shikoku Japan. Here it grew with its distinctive orbicular-ovate acuminate leaves, which had been a perfect foil to the broad pendant panicles of fragrant white flowers born in May and June. Replaced by 5-winged fruit when we found it on a very frosty morning in November.

Our inventory of Rehderodendron are however well documented. This is one of the most exciting genera of this highly ornamental family of flowering trees to have crossed our path. Since 2013 we have added Rehderodendron aff. indochinensis WWJ11983 a collection we cannot be a 100% of. Forming a sizeable tree in the wilds of nornthern most Vietnam, which is where Peter Wharton and I gathered this collection in the autumn of 2007. Where this tree was over 20m tall, luckily the ground surrounding it was strewn with its sausage-shaped longitudinally ribbed and spotted woody seed only 6cm long in this collection. The result of the abundant racemes of the Styrax-like (but larger) flowers borne in March-April. With elliptic-lanceolate serrulate foliage 10cm long with acuminate tips on red petioles. Nicknamed as Styrax on steroids here, they have proved to be difficult and expensive to introduce taking as long as 5 years to germinate.

Rehderodendron kwangtungense WWJ11940 is not the easiest to identify, by foliage and fruit. Forming a sizeable tree in the wilds of nornthern most Vietnam, which is where Peter Wharton and I gathered this collection in the autumn of 2007. Where this tree was 15-17m tall, luckily the ground surrounding it was strewn with its beaked broad sausage-shaped longitudinally ribbed woody seed to 9cm long. With deciduous elliptic elongated leaves remotely serrated long tipped foliage 17cm long. The result of the abundant racemes of the Styrax-like (but larger) flowers borne in March-April. Nicknamed as Styrax on steroids here, they have proved to be difficult and expensive to introduce taking as long as 5 years to germinate.

Whereas our collections Rehderodendron macrocarpum BSWJ11841 etc may be more familiar, their hardiness should be a bonus too. One of our most impressive introductions that is proving to be hardy here. They have proved to be difficult to introduce as well as expensive to transport the large seed then taking as long as 5-6 years to germinate. Forming large ancient trees in the wild, the ground surrounding them strewn with their large sausage-shaped woody seed in autumn. The result of the abundant panicles of the Styrax-like (but larger) flowers borne in March-April. Usually medium trees in cultivation, with deciduous oblong-elliptic elongated leaves to 13cm long, remotely serrated and with long tips.

It is all too easy in our area to have a garden full of rhododendrons and nothing much else. While we do admire them we do have to resist as there are so many worthy species (I can resist hybrids easily). Rhododendron hodgsonii BSWJ2656 has to have space in the garden, foliage like that does not come two a penny. 1994 collections and they are how much? Good job they are not priced by the hour. A favourite for the foliage alone, which are eventually very large rugose brilliant green with deeply impressed venation on the upper surface and silvery-grey on the undersides. Flowering May-June in terminal heads of crimson-rose purple bells. Eventually forming a small congested tree if grown in sheltered conditions.

Rhododendron brachycarpum ssp. fauriei BSWJ4326 were collected a mere three years later from the summit of Ullüngdõ’s volcano. A medium sized species we were surprised to find on the summit of Songinbong the volcano that dominates the remote Korean island of Ullüngdõ, in 1997. The only evergreen species that grows in Korea with attractive bright green leaves, glabrous below in this subspecies. Bearing trusses of funnel-shaped creamy white sometimes flushed pink flowers, that are green spotted inside, June to July.

It is also surprising how long Rhododendron oldhamii BSWJ3742 has taken, originating from our Taiwan expedition in 1996. From seed we collected in the coastal mountains of North-eastern Taiwan in 1996. A bristly well branched shrubby species eventually attaining 4m height in the wild. With slender reddish-brown stems holding the chartaceus variably-shaped olive green leaves covered in shaggy hairs. Bearing terminal tubular-funnelform coral-red flowers, in groups of 2-4 intermittently from June.

I’m pleased to reveal that Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum alpine form RWJ9807 also from Taiwan have not taken anywhere nearly as long, just as well they are gorgeous. A small form of this beautiful species with dark green ovate elliptic leaves only 5-8cm long, covered with grey floccose-tomentose indumentum when young. Only forming low spreading shrubs 75cm tall (half that here) on the old shrubs we collected the seed from, on an exposed ridge on Hohuanshan in the Central Mountains of Taiwan at 3,250m in the early winter of 2003. Bearing sizeable white broadly funnel-shaped white flowers with dark red blotched interiors, in trusses of10-20 March-April.

Rhododendron macrophyllum BSWJ9561 was collected from the Pacific NW on our first outing there. A medium to large sized species with strong stems of oblong dark green leaves 15-20cm long bearing sizeable trusses of rose pink bell shaped flowers spotted reddish brown on their interiors, May to June. From one of our collections made in the company of Dan Hinkley when he was introducing us to the Pacific Northwest of the USA in 2003.

In fact it was with Dan I collected another must have species Rhododendron racemosum BWJ7811 if you don’t know it you should, started flowering in December this winter. Not the most Rhododendron-like of species, which has crept on me becoming a favourite in our garden. With distinct small stiff grey-green leaves contrasting with the cinnamon-red twiggs and branches. Valued for its early flowering even as early as December (as I write) sending out a few flowers during mild spells in winter. Peaking to a crochendo in March-April with terminal and axillary small funnel-shaped icing-pink flowers held in dens racemes almost smothering the foliage.

Talking of must have Rhodoleia parvipetala FMWJ13422 more than fits that space. Again hailing from this charmed area of Vietnam, without any problems with hardiness for us, looking forward to our first flowering this coming spring. It was only after a long hike through the forest that we set up a second camp to enable us to reach the exposed ridge at Y Tý in northern most Vietnam in 2011. Here we found good seed of this unlikely member of the witch hazel family on first encounter, with lax branches of very glossy dark green thick textured oblong leaves to 12cm long which can be silvery white below. Only forming a small wizen tree to 4m tall in this exposed site at 2360m, with still green starry seed capsules. Flowering mid to late summer in the wild, with a flamboyant display of Rhododendron-like inflorescences of bright pink flowers made up of many broadly spatulate petals.

Our next introduction is a new genus in Hamamelidaceae, this should have been brought to the gardening public’s attention years back. When we earned The President’s Award at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in which we displayed Uocodendron whartonii BSWJ11706 in flower. Alas not a word was mentioned then or since in any RHS publication. One has to ask why? Is it because its not commercialised with a plant patent? Or are we not Australian? It was certainly collected legally, we obtained permits via the Vietnamese Environment Agency.

Sorbus hedlundii WJC13806 was most certainly on our list to collect in the eastern Himalayas. Our previous collection had shown us what a truly top quality species this is, with incomparable foliage. From seed we extracted from small yellowish fruit at around 1cm across, collected from a sizeable wide tree 15m tall. With broadly elliptic round-ended leaves conspicuously veined, white woolly above 25 x 15cm. Inflorescences recorded as corymbose 5-8cm across flowers white in May.

While the species in the rowan section (Aucuparia) are still coming from Ness BG, this year we are adding Keith Rushforth’s collection of Sorbus bulleyana KR2809 which bears conspicuous pearly pink flushed white fruit 1cm across. Only recently introduced into cultivation from seed collected from Zhongdian, Yunnan, China in 1993. An apomictic microspecies resembling Sorbus forrestii, forming a small tree to 8m tall with neat pinnate leaves to 23cm long composed of 9-11 pairs of oblong-ovoid leaflets. Bearing pendant pyramidal panicles of conspicuous pearly pink flushed white fruit 1cm across, succeeding the white flowers born in spring. Given to us as seedlings from Ness Gardens.

And his distinct attractively weeping tree with blue-green foliage, Sorbus 'Showa' KR5585 so distinct they have asked us to use its cultivar name. Originally distributed as Sorbus discolores sect. KR5585, but now named as suggested by Hugh McAllister. A rare medium sized white fruiting attractively weeping tree with blue-green foliage of a similar habit and stature to our native mountain ash. Originating from seed collected by Keith Rushforth in the Showa Valley, Tibet at 2850m. Given to us as seed from Ness Gardens as only belonging to this section, as the boffins were not able to identify it

While Sorbus koehneana 501S is described as bearing unusual almost bluish-pink fruit. An interesting form of this rather rare species given to us by Hugh McAllister of Ness Gardens, but originating from western Sichuan, Erlangshan, Tianquan, above Xinggou at 2675m. Forming fastigate dense young trees which bear a heavy crop of almost bluish-pink fruit. With 9-11 paired leafleted pinnate foliage 15cm long.

Sorbus tianshanica on the other hand bears its fruit in large drooping panicles, sadly requiring a continental climate to thrive. A rare tree in cultivation, due partially to the difficulty of cultivation, in so mush as its preference for a continental climate, as in its native Central Asia. Forming a medium sized tree to as much as 10m tall in the wild more shrub-like in British cultivation. With distinct glossy orange-brown twigs bearing 15cm long leaves composed of 5-7 pairs of lanceolate glossy leaflets and distinct lax panicles of relatively large drooping normally white flowers, which in turn are succeeded by red fleshy fruit. Requiring a moisture retentive drained soil in a hot exposed position.

Maybe I’ve mentioned Stachyurus himalaicus pink flowered HWJK2052 before, not to worry its distinct racemes make it worthy of continuous mention. Oh I forgot to mention that it’s a hardy form surviving in an open field. Luxury compared to where it was collected from. From our collection after leaving the Arun River behind us making an evasive detour, away from menacing so-called Maoists, in the upper Arun Valley in Eastern Nepal, with Dan Hinkley in 2002. A deciduous open shrub with strong young flexuous shoots bearing ovate long-pointed thin-textured leaves, quite different from our other collections gathered in this area. Producing overwintering pendant racemes of fat flower buds by late autumn, which open April-May.

What a collection of Viburnum we have amassed over the years and we still find new ones. Although we have our own collection of Viburnum setigerum HMJG11037 is one of Dan’s collections that has piped ours to the selling counter. It’s a great species with interest created all season long. One of Dan Hinkley's (et al) seed collection from Guizhou, China in 2011, of this well known species for its continual change of foliage colour throughout the season, of the deciduous ovate-lanceolate to oblong foliage unfurling in spring to getting blown off (where we live) in the autumn. Beginning the season with metallic shades of blue, greens and reds, while the early summer corymbs of white flowers stand out well. These are succeeded by reliably born red fruit which contrast well in with the autumnal crescendo of oranges, yellows and reds of the foliage

Prickly ash is a good name to describe Zanthoxylum. We are really pleased to be able to offer Zanthoxylum acanthopodium WJC13653 etc even if we had to go all the way back to the Himalayas for more seed. Production by any other method just does not keep up with demand for us. About as spiny a plant as you could ever find, which eventually forms a small aromatic tree or large shrub. Bearing unusual pinnate leaves with viciously spiny winged rachis (axis that bears the leaflets) bearing 2-6 pairs of leaflets. The small yellow flowers are set close to the branches in small irregular lateral clusters, which ultimately form small capsules which split to reveal the glossy black to dark red seed. From our 2013 seed collection gathered at 2900m. Best grown in full sun to part shade, in a well draining soil. Twigs used to clean teeth, while the seed are ground as a condiment, as well as many other uses.


This also seems to be the case with Zanthoxylum piperitum var. inerme BSWJ10934, not even listed for a week and our entire stock was bought, so we start again. A rare variety of this shrub highly valued in its native Japan, as it looses its spines when mature. We collected the seed of this small to medium sized deciduous dioecious shrub in the Niigata area close to the west coast. With small pinnate highly aromatic leaves to 15cm long with distinctly undulating margins, appearing to have yellow centres when young. Bearing terminal inflorescences of small greenish-yellow flowers April-May, followed by cymes of red fruit which eventually open to reveal the glossy black seed. Sansho, the seed is used as a peppery spice, while the young leaves are used as a paste or garnish.

Zanthoxylum armatum BSWJ12753 is new to our listing, although the name has erroneously been applied to a Himalayan collection in the past. In my defence the flora’s description was ambiguous, I was presented with two differing collections with winged rachis, they were the same species. This species has evergreen-textured foliage as well as a synonym of Zanthoxylum alatum. A very widespread species from our experiences in the wild, with widely variable naming to go with them. From our first encounter with this species in the wild, gathered from a large congested specimen which had (luckily) been heavily cut back, on the peninsula of Kohung on the south coast of Korea in 2010. Hence young strongly upright growth with scattered large flat spines, bearing leathery 7-leafletted pinnate leaves with a narrowly winged rachis (leaf axis). With axillary panicles of rounded seed capsules splitting to reveal the single black glossy seed, which had aged from conspicuous red, the result of the yellow flowers born in May-June.

Then we have two climbing species Zanthoxylum tomentellum BSWJ13903 hails from one of our Himalayan collections, where it used large shrubs to support its long stems of sizeable pinnate leaves. A climbing or scandent shrubby species I have encountered several times climbing through large shrubs in the Himalayas and Vietnam. This collection formed a lax climber 2-3m long with grey-brownish stems armed with few scattered hooked spines. Clothed in rather large pinnate leaves 30-40cm long consisting of 6-8 pairs of leaflets. The inflorescences were congested terminal and axillary panicles of small pink-purple flowers followed by pink rounded capsules splitting to reveal the black glossy seed within. A collection from our Singalila trek below Tonglu West Bengal, at 2650m.

The second species hails from northern Vietnam, Zanthoxylum aff. yuanjiangense FMWJ13498 with much smaller glossier dainty pinnate foliage. One of many of my collections of this species, but the first to germinate (3 years later), which I gathered just before leaving the high mountains of northern Vietnam in 2011. Where I had encountered it many times acting as a climber or scandent shrub, but always requiring support. A slender woody climber with greyish stems that were 3m long, that are not always prickly, although small branches and leaves are, usually hooked. The leaves were 7-15 foliate arranged sub-opposite or alternate, leathery. The inflorescences were large terminal or axillary panicles of small purple flowers followed by pink rounded capsules splitting to reveal the black glossy seed within.

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