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quercus semecarpifolia

UK Travel 2013 - Part 8, Getting It All Back Home

Shipping plants around the world involves much more than sticking them in a box. The hardest part of a plant buying/collecting trip is getting everything back home safely.  Whenever I give a talk about my travels the topic of importing the plants is always the first to come up - followed of course by "when will you propagate and distribute them?"  We've had quite a lot of experience with this but the targets always seem to be moving.

The first step is to apply for import permits from the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  There are several types of permits so it's a good idea to know what types of things will be imported. You should also know what is and is not allowed into the US from whatever country you are visiting.  A constantly expanding list of plants not allowed for import is online and new regulations like the Not Approved Pending Pest Risk Analysis has created new lists and made it even easier to ban plants without real information on whether the plants pose a true risk.  The only way off that list is for the USDA to perform a pest risk analysis on the plant in question.  Somehow I don't see that in the foreseeable budget of the USDA.

In whatever country you are visiting whether it is Canada or Mongolia, all plants must be inspected and receive a phytosanitary certificate (phyto in the importer's lingo) from the country of origin.  Plants and any plant parts must be free of insects and diseases (try explaining to an inspector that the variegated, contorted thing you got in Japan is really not diseased) and free of all soil.  They must also be less than 2 years old and under 3 feet in height.

Seed in small quantities - fewer than 50 seeds each of no more than 50 different types of plants - can be shipped into the US without a phyto as long as you have the correct permit.  Many countries do not give phyto's so this is the only option for some regions.

When you get everything together, plants and seed must all be shipped to a USDA inspection station like Atlanta, New York, Miami, or Seattle.  After a clean bill of health they are shipped on to you.  If all goes as planned, from the post office in the other country to your door can be as little as 4-5 days.  It can also be 4 weeks if the package gets held up somewhere.  Of course if the APHIS inspectors find a problem with your shipment they can destroy all or part of the plant shipment.

Finding plants is easy, getting them by the bureaucracy legally, through the post safely, and growing at home successfully is the difficult part of the process.

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

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UK Travel 2013 - Part 2, Yorkshire Arboretum

DSC_5305 7/22/2013

The Yorkshire Arboretum started life as part of the parkland around the famed Castle Howard in Yorkshire and the ancient walls surrounding the property can still be seen.  Some of the old trees from the late 1700's give a majestic beauty to what is otherwise in many respects a young collection comparable in age with our own JC Raulston Arboretum.  Lord Howard began the creation of an arboretum in the late 50's but much of that collection did not survive.  In the mid-1970's with James Russell giving guidance, the creation of an arboretum was begun in earnest.

The crumbling walls along the southern perimeter add a bit of Gothic grandeur.

In the late 1990's a partnership between the Castle Howard estate and Kew Gardens created the Castle Howard Arboretum trust.  That entity is now called the Yorkshire Arboretum to distinguish it from Castle Howard and the arboretum has its own visitor center, cafe, administration, and education programs.  The structure of the arboretum is spectacular with long vistas overlooking varied collections of trees on a gently rolling terrain.

One of many spectacular views at the Yorkshire Arboretum.

Much of the early plant material came from Hillier Nurseries, long known as one of the premier purveyors of fine plants in the UK.  Significant collections of wild collected material also came to the Yorkshire Arboretum from Kew over the years and the arboretum now serves as a backup collection for Kew.  It would take many days to really get acquainted with this impressive collection and I look forward to the day when I will have more time to explore.

Leaves from a very large Quercus semecarpifolia on the Yorkshire Arboretum grounds.

The Yorkshire Arboretum scored a coup last year when they enticed  John Grimshaw from the Colesbourne Estate to take on the position of director.  John is famous for his work with snowdrops, Galanthus, but his skills and interests range much farther afield.  John is the exceptionally rare gardener who is also a trained botanist or perhaps he is a trained botanist who is also a skilled gardener.  Either way, his plant knowledge is among the best in the world and the intelligence and passion he shows for his work should serve the arboretum very well in the years to come.

John with dedicated volunteers discussing the wildflower meadows to be established at the arboretum.

Grimshaw's most recent book with Ross Bayton is in my mind the single best woody plant reference in decades.  Titled New Trees, Recent Introductions to Cultivation, it serves as an encyclopedia of 100's of species of trees that have been introduced to gardens since the landmark series Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles by W.J. Bean many years ago.  I don't think I'm biased despite more than a couple of entries that state that the JC Raulston Arboretum is the only collection growing a particular tree.

One of the finest reference books in the last decade.

John has been uncovering the collections at the Yorkshire Arboretum and has found some outstanding specimens.  Future plans include the addition of many more flowering trees to the collections of oaks, poplars, spruces, and firs and the creation of wildflower meadows  which should be spectacular on the rolling terrain.

An extremely handsome Betula utilis uncovered by John that probably deserves a name and introduction to other gardens.

John's home garden is still in its infancy but the colorful borders, fern collections, and snowdrop collection are already in place.  The garden is enlivened by an assortment of birds including a pair of beautiful chickens (silver laced Wyandotte's?) and the stunningly lovely Lady Amherst's pheasant and the garden is set in a delightfully pastoral scene with even the requisite sheep grazing around the hedged garden.

Perennial borders are already bursting under the skillful ministrations of John Grimshaw.

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

The showy male Lady Amherst's pheasant in John's home garden.

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