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Author Topic: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California  (Read 50876 times)

Robert

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2018, 02:01:11 PM »
Gordon,

I visited Stage Coach Hill back in the late 1970's after I heard a discussion on the Azaleas of Stagecoach Hill by Frank Mossman at a meeting of the California Horticultural Society. I tried growing some of the Smith-Mossman clones in our Placerville garden. They did very poorly, disliking our summer heat. The few that survived long enough to bloom, did not bloom true-to-form. The colors were washed-out and looked more-or-less like any R. occidentale from the hot interior of California. There are genetic as well as environmental components to the equation.

Since then I have put considerable effort into finding unusual forms of Rhododendron occidentale that thrive in interior California. I have done this for decades. The above report is an example of some of my results to date. I have other clones from other sites in interior California.

To answer your question, forms of Rhododendron occidentale from high elevations of the Sierra Nevada are cold hardy to -16 C. They endure conditions like this from time-to-time during extreme cold weather events in the Sierra Nevada.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

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johnw

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2018, 02:13:59 PM »
Of all the occidentale I tried here in Halifax only one seedling from Smith & Mossman #404 proved somewhat reliable.  It did freeze back somewhat two or three times over the years when we had a rare -18c but quickly recovered.  The fragrance is exceptional.

Quite frankly in my opinion the Japanese deciduous azalea species are hardier, elegant & more rewarding.

johnw
3c & overcast
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 02:17:54 PM by johnw »
John in coastal Nova Scotia

Robert

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2018, 02:17:49 PM »
Fermi,

All the Rhododendron occidentale clones that I have selected thrive even when the weather gets hot. Since I planted some of the clones in our Sacramento garden we have had temperatures in excess of 44 C. All the clones endured this weather without any leaf burn or other undesirable effects. Some of the clones were growing with considerable sun exposure. In there native habitat, the Feather River forms routinely endure 44 C weather during the summer. Some clones, such as 'Cliff White' were found growing in full sun.

Clearly the Rhododendron genome is quite diverse. This is one reasons I am very concerned about the plunder of our natural environment and the loss of genetic diversity. At this time I am putting a tremendous effort in identifying unique and useful characteristics within the genome of many of our California native species and doing what I can to save examples of this diversity. Horticulture could benefit greatly.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2018, 02:48:03 PM »
Fermi and Gordon,

Gardener’s in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.A. have been very infatuated with the Smith-Mossman clones of Rhododendron occidentale for decades. They seem very nice indeed, however they perform very poorly in interior California where the weather gets hot. Stagecoach Hill rises above Big Lagoon with the Pacific Ocean just beyond Big Lagoon. Stagecoach Hill is less than a mile from the Pacific Ocean and is within the summer fog belt. Temperatures are extremely mild both summer and winter. Wintertime low temperatures rarely fall below -4 C; summertime high temperatures rarely rise above 24 C.

The race of Rhododendron occidentale from interior California is genetically different from those that grow within the summer fog belt. They clearly belong to the same species, however there are clear differences too. I have spent decades studying the interior populations of Rhododendron occidentale. To date, there has been very little interest in them. I have satisfied myself that they are excellent ornamental plants for hot – dry climates, not a region where there is keen interest in Rhododendrons in general.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2018, 08:29:51 PM »
Robert,

I grow many rhododendrons but few deciduous ones. Your selections of Rh occidentale look very nice but I doubt they will look good here with summer temps rarely exceeding 20C (but winter temps rarely get below -5C)!

Your last posts were very interesting but your posts about private land management was very disturbing. I almost felt sick when I read it. However I recovered when I saw the picture of 'Early Bird'!
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Robert

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2018, 06:28:37 AM »
Hi Trond,

Yes the scenes in the mountains of El Dorado County were very disturbing for me too. I believe it is important to present both the good and the less than desirable aspects of what I encounter on my outings and how they impact our horticultural interests. I grew up in this region and it has been my “backyard” for most of my 62 years. I admit it is a very emotional and painful experience to see the disregard for the whole natural ecosystem. I have never seen anything like this before and I have seen some awful sights in El Dorado County in the past. I am not apposed to logging or managed forestry. I relate strongly to many of the loggers I meet. Most are good, hard working, respectable people. It is very sad that absolutely no effort was made by the corporate management to have a win-win outcome or even consider any outside ideas. There is more than the usual amount of this going on in California and the U.S.A. right now.

Most likely all the pre-existing plant species survived the King Fire. After the King Fire, especially on Peavine Ridge, I started to document the fascinating diversity within many of the species as they began to regenerate. I have posted photographs of some of these on this forum. Now many, but not all, unique specimens are gone forever. My concept was to use the diversity of the genome to introduce or create new and/or improved varieties for the benefit of horticulture. The Feather River azaleas are just one tiny example. In my mind, with creativity and the proper techniques, intraspecific breeding has the potential to ”bring out the best” in many species. Many species have never been worked with and the potential treasures within their genome have never been explored. It is hard to see a portion of this eliminated from the Earth unnecessarily.

What I have seen is disturbing and disappointing, however I have no intention of ending any of my current projects. If anything, this is a lesson of the urgency to progress with diligence before even more is lost. I still see endless possibilities to bring good things to fruition.  :)
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

hamparstum

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2018, 10:04:19 AM »
Robert, definitely I should try to raise Rhododendron occidentale here, specially plants derived from the higher altitude clones. It will bring climate hardiness very much more adapted to our region. With some bushes growing then one could outbreed with other Rh's already growing here and introduce other types of variation such as leaf form or flower colour. Although it may seem a long term project, these come to fruition when they get started...with effort,perseverance and tenacity maintained...
Arturo Tarak

Robert

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2018, 02:08:45 AM »
Arturo,

It will be easy to gather generic high elevation seed of Rhododendron occidentale. Please understand they will be nothing special other than from a high elevation.

The following are lists of birds seen on my 21 December 2017 outing to Kanaka Valley and my 28 December 2017 outing to Flemming Meadow.

Kanaka Valley

Common Raven, Corvus corax
Red-shafted Flicker, Colaptes cater
Annna’s Himmingbird, Calypte anna
Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
Wrentit, Chamaea fasciata
Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca
Spotted, or Rufus-sided Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
Gold-crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma coerulescens
American Robin, Turdus migratorius
Dark-eyed or Oregon Junco, Junco hyemalis
Plain Totmouse, Parus inornatus

Flemming Meadow

Common Raven, Corvus corax
Mountain Quail, Oreortyx pictus
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2018, 02:32:40 PM »


The warm weather continues here in Northern California. In this photograph the inversion layer can bee seen over the Sacramento Valley. The fog has been persisting all day in the valley, while the Sierra Nevada Foothills remains warm with much above average temperatures.



15 January. Virga near Robbs Peak.



Tells Peak from Chipmunk Bluff.



Loon Lake, 6,435 feet (1,961 meters). There was, more or less, no snow at Loon Lake. This is extremely unusual for this time of year. Snow levels have been extremely high. 15 January, 49 F, 9.4 C at Loon Lake. This is far too warm for this time of year. Not much snow on Tells Peak.



The peaks to the SE have no snow at all. On 17 January, the weather was even warmer. 65 F, 18.3 C @ 1:30 p.m. 3,625 feet (1,105 meters) near Riverton, California, on Peavine Ridge. On the crest of Peavine Ridge, 5,146 feet (1,569 meters), it was 61 F, 16.1 C @ 2:00 p.m. These temperatures are at near record levels. No snow on the ground. Generally the crest of Peavine Ridge has a covering of snow on the ground.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2018, 02:35:14 PM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Diane Whitehead

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2018, 06:23:45 PM »
I always deadhead my plants of R occidentale, but this year I will allow them to set seed
for the exchange.

I enjoyed my visit to the Smith-Mossman collection near Seattle -
 
 https://www.lakewildernessarboretum.org/
Diane Whitehead        Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

Robert

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #25 on: January 19, 2018, 03:16:17 AM »
Hi Diane,

There are some excellent Smith-Mossman Rhododendron occidentale selections. It would be great if you could donate some to the seed exchange.  8)  Back in about 2000, Britt Smith wrote a small article for the journal of the ARS about yellow forms of Rhododendron occidentale. It appears that with careful parental selection it is fairly easy to obtain seedlings with a great deal of yellow pigmentation on each petal from F1 seedlings. Unfortunately the expression of anthocyanin based pigmentation (some pinks & purples) has a strong environmental component (temperature). In our hot climate, most if not all, of the Smith-Mossman pink and purple forms of Rhododendron occidentale are washed-out at the best or express no pink or purple pigmentation at all. I will do the best I can to donate seed of some of our interior California forms that are extremely heat tolerant.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Diane Whitehead

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #26 on: January 19, 2018, 04:54:47 AM »
 Yellow?  I will be in Northern California this summer and will be looking.

Mine are all seedlings, but if I can collect pollen from some interesting
flowers, I can have some interesting seeds.
Diane Whitehead        Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

Robert

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #27 on: January 19, 2018, 06:35:42 AM »
Hi Diane,

I'm in Placerville right now. When I get home on Saturday I will look up the ARS journal that has the photographs of the nearly yellow forms of Rhododendron occidentale and post the issue number here.

Yellow pigmentation expresses itself well even in the hot interior. I do not have the room to breed yellow R. occidentale at home, however the project seems very feasible even in the hot interior of California.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Diane Whitehead

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #28 on: January 19, 2018, 06:41:20 PM »
Luckily, that article is online.

http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JARS/v54n3/v54n3-smith.htm

The Spring 1985 ARS Journal has a long article with lots of photos that will be
useful for you:  Exploring for the Western Azalea in Southern California by
Michael A. McCullough in San Jose.  He also discusses how they might be grown on the
East coast.

It is also on line:  http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JARS/v39n2/v39n2-mccullough.htm

 He did a lot of crossing of the southern and northern plants.  I am growing
seedlings from his donations of wild-collected seed from several areas to the ARS seed
 exchange.

I'm just about to check on the ARS current seed offerings.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 06:58:12 PM by Diane Whitehead »
Diane Whitehead        Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

Jacek

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Re: 2018 - Robert's botantical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #29 on: January 20, 2018, 12:26:02 AM »
Robert,

Your  place, climate and type of problems seemed remote to me, but I was reading your Mountain&Garden Log with interest. Now I can see significant similarity - I refer to your recent posts about deliberate habitat destruction by private and public forestry administration/management.

Generally situation in America and Europe is different - here in heavily populated countries we just do not have natural forests, often for a long time. There are many examples. Mediterranean forests were logged away in ancient era and never regenerated. Forests on The British Isles were logged away 300-400 years ago. In Poland situation is somewhat different  - we have significant forest coverage, but they consist of just two species: pine Pinus sylvestris dominating in lowlands, over 60% of trees and spruce Picea abies dominating in the mountains, 8% of trees. They were all man-planted over the last 200 years.

There is one notable exception - Puszcza Białowieska or Bialowieza Forest. This is the last partly primitive/natural lowland forest in  central and western Europe. Nowadays 40% of this forest lies in Poland, 60% in Bielarus.

The reason why it was preserved is historical. First it was a private hunting ground of  Great Princes of Lithuania, later after  union with Poland it was owned by Polish kings and later after partition of Poland it was owned by Russian Tsars. Thus it was continuously protected, without partition, significant logging or converting to agriculture, until 1915 when German army took this area within I World War. Intensive logging was executed during both wars. In between wars and after 1945 some logging was done but also significant protection was instituted. For instance a National Park covering only small part of the forest was created in 1932.

This forest belongs to state of Poland, no private parts. Natonal Park is only part of the forest, but all the forest is protected as a Nature 2000 area and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

This relatively stable protection lasted untill 2015 when our government decided to log part of the trees. Officially the reason for intervention is widespred infection od spruces by Ips typographus. While true, this is a natural phenomenon. True, it kills spruces, but these trees are minority in Bialowieza Forest. Moreover, dead wood is beneficial in natural ecosystems. And so our government sent heavy  equipment, including harvesters, to cure the nature. Needless to say-  not only spruces are logged.

You can imagine how painful it is for people who think nature  protection is important. Government resulting form democratic election - my government - is trying to erase hundreds of years of strenuous protective effort. It really looks to me like Evil action.

 Of course, we are still in EU. And the EU Comission initiated a case against Poland at the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. And I mentally support this action, I feel European.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2018, 08:36:38 AM by Jacek »
Jacek, Poland, USDA zone 6, lowland borderline continental/maritime climate.
Hobby woodland gardening

 


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