I just returned from a fantastic trip to Seattle where I was able to spend time with some of the best of the modern day plant hunters to talk for 3 days about the genus Mahonia. It may be hard to believe but this is a group of folks who could make a long weekend discussing green plants with yellow flowers fascinating.
The organizer of this “1st Biennial Orphaned Genera Summit” was none other than the acclaimed Dan Hinkley of Heronwood Nursery fame. Among the highlights of this trip were visits to Dan’s personal garden and home, Windcliff, and Heronswood which is rapidly being restored to its former glory. By far the largest contingent of participants were the JCRA/NCSU scions including Tony Avent of Plant Delights (see his post about the event here), Ian Simpkins (Vizcaya gardens), Todd Lasseigne (Tulsa Botanical Garden), Jon & Adrienne Roethling (Highpoint University & Paul J Ciener Botanical Garden), Todd Rounsaville (University of Kentucky), and NCSU’s Tom Ranney to name a few.
Interestingly, all of the speakers for the JC Raulston Arboretum’s upcoming “Evening with the Explorers” were in attendance. This event, coming up quickly on Friday, March 6, is an intimate get together to share some of the trials, tribulations, and of course triumphs of plant hunting over tasty noshes, good wine, and excellent NC craft beer. Dan Hinkley will be headlining the event and if you’ve never heard him speak, don’t miss your chance! We’ve scheduled plenty of time for you to chat up our speakers before and during the program so can get to know them personally.
The event is strictly limited to 100 attendees and the poor weather over the past week has opened up a few spots (10 seats are available as I write this on March 2). If you’d like to register, act quickly as these seats will be snapped up by folks who want a fun-filled evening, perhaps even a date night.
I’ll be talking a bit about my month-long stay with the Chachi people in the rainforest of Ecuador, my first foray into plant exploration. They say the Inuit have 100 words for snow – I’m not sure if that is true but the Chachi have no word for privacy in their language, Cha’palaachi. Scott McMahan will give a tour of his Asian collecting trips, and Dan will talk about how his collections have helped him create a truly unique garden on Bainbridge Island. We’ll wrap up with a panel Q&A with our speakers and several other collectors who travel with us.
This is a fund-raising event to support plant exploration by the JCRA and our other speakers so come prepared to bid early and often on a range of drool-inducing plants including the rare Cupressus (Xanthocyparis) vietnamensis collected by Dan in Vietnam and a possibly new species of Helwingia with red fruit. The highlight of the auction is a 2 night stay for 2 (or maybe even a 1 night stay for 4) at Dan’s incredible home (all that time spent with Martha Stewart has paid off) including a gourmet meal provided by Dan and Robert.
Special thanks to event sponsor Bartlett Tree Experts and speaker sponsor Spring Meadow Nursery.
Visit us at jcra.ncsu.edu for all of the many happenings at the JC Raulston Arboretum!