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Our Favorite Places - Quarryhill Botanical Garden

Our Favorite Places - Quarryhill Botanical Garden

ARB-LogoBFin Every garden is different but few public gardens are truly unique.  Quarryhill Botanical Garden is certainly an exception to this rule.  Quarryhill's goal of "advancing the conservation, study, and cultivation of the flora of Asia," has led them to create a beautiful garden that displays one of the largest collections of documented wild-collected Asian plants in the world.  The plants are displayed throughout much of the garden in naturalistic settings unlike most gardens that strive to create order out of nature.

Quarryhill manages to capture the serene beauty of a wild Asian mountainside.

The garden began in earnest in 1987 when the founder, Jane Davenport Jansen, sent the first of many expeditions to Asia.  The young plants were planted on the hillsides above the vineyards of wine country in California.  The garden was the former site of a series of quarries giving rise to the garden's name.  The abandoned rubble and rocky ground is certainly a challenge for gardening but the beauty of water-filled excavation sites and waterfalls provides a picturesque backdrop for the collections.

The beauty of the land is only enhanced by the plant collections.

Leading the efforts of the garden for most of its existence has been Bill McNamara a well-known expert on the flora of Asia who straddles the divide between botanists and gardeners bringing the best of both disciplines to bear on his work.  Bill was made a field associate of the Department of Botany, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, and an honorary researcher of the Scientific Information Center of Resources and Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2000. In 2001 he became an associate member of the joint Chinese-American Committee for the Flora of China. In 2006, Bill was made an international advisor for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. He has been the curator of the Crombie Arboretum since 2003. Bill has a Master’s degree in conservation biology and is also a member of the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum Horticulture Advisory Committee. He received the Garden Club of America’s Eloise Payne Luquer Medal in 2009 and received the prestigious 2010 Scott Medal and Award from the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. He was the recipient of the California Horticultural Society Annual Award in 2012. In 2013, he received the Award of Excellence from the National Garden Clubs.

Bill McNamara has spent 26 years studying and collecting plants in Asia.

We are thrilled here at the JC Raulston Arboretum to have Bill back to share some of his collected wisdom, keen insights, and dry wit for our Winter Symposium.  Bill was one of the highlights of our 30th Anniversary celebration and participants have been requesting his return.  Bill and I have had several conversations over the years about the diversity of roses throughout Asia and their potential to transform the modern landscape rose.  Quarryhill has created perhaps the only garden dedicated to the wild roses that have given rise to our modern selections.  As the JCRA celebrates the soon-to-be-finished Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden, I could think of no better person to be here for our "Stop and Smell the Roses" symposium on February 21, 2015.

Jiang Entian Chinese Heritage Rose Garden at Quarryhill Botanical Garden was dedicated in 2012.

Follow me at @jcramark because life is too short for boring plants.

Stop and Smell the Roses all through 2015 at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

Check out all the happenings, see more images, and learn more at the JC Raulston Arboretum where we are Planting a Better World.

Tibetan prayer flags add to the Asian ambiance of the garden.

Pic of the Day - Sabal palmetto (Bald Head Island, NC form)

This specimen was 2' tall when planted in 2008. Sabal palmetto ranges from Florida to southeastern North Carolina.  It is the main trunked palm of the southeast US and the state tree of South Carolina.  This form is from the northernmost native stand of palmettos on Bald Head Island off the coast of Wilmington, NC.  It has proven to be one of the hardiest selections available, surviving to 6 F (-14 C) once established with no problem.  It can grow to 35'-40' tall over time with a stout trunk and folded (costapalmate) fronds.  This plant enjoys a sunny, well-drained spot.  Transplanting palms can be confusing with some surviving easilyand others dying immediately.  Sabal palmetto and some other palms will only transplant well as field or garden grown plants if they are mature - generally about 10' of clear trunk with fronds cut off for Sabal palmetto.  Palmetto roots die back when cut and will not grow new roots unless the plant is mature.  Large transplanted specimens should be kept well hydrated and fronds trimmed back until new roots grow.  For most gardeners, small (3g for best survivability) container grown plants are probably the best option.  Make sure to avoid cultivating around the base of palmettos too much as this will cut the roots.

Sabal palmetto (Bald Head Island form) in the foreground with Butia capitata in the back.

Pic of the Day - Aucuba japonica 'Hosoba Hoshifu'

Aucuba are great for dry shade. The JC Raulston Arboretum holds a significant collection of Aucuba, over 70 taxa at this point and growing steadily.  This form, 'Hosoba Hoshifu' is quickly becoming a favorite.  Long, narrow leaves are heavily serrated and covered in bright gold spots.  The lanceolate foliage gives a distinctive look to this speckled aucuba.  Spikes of small maroon flowers give rise to large, bright red fruits if there are male forms around to pollinate it.  'Hosoba Hoshifu' is a slightly more compact form but will slowly grow to near 6' over time.  Aucuba are great plants for growing in dry shade where they will tolerate the difficult conditions well once established and the variegation will brighten the gloom.

The narrow foliage is distinct on this selection.

Pic of the Day - Acer palmatum 'Kashima Yatsubusa'

Yatsubusa in the name of a Japanese maple lets you know it will be a dwarf plant. We haven't grown this small Japanese maple for long at the JC Raulston Arboretum but we're already very fond of it.  It makes a rounded, dwarf tree to about 6'-8' tall.  New growth emerges pinkish-red in spring and the red quickly migrates to the outer edges of the yellow-green leaves.  The leaves will go green over the summer before turning gold in the fall.  Grow in sun or part shade as a small specimen or in a container.  It is also prized as a bonsai subject.

New growth makes a colorful display.