2011 Plant Delights Nursery October Newsletter

Fall has nearly come and gone before many of us had time to blink. As always, we have enjoyed the wonderful fall season, watching plants that didn’t appreciate the summer re-emerge and put on a new crop of foliage and flowers. Fall is still a great season to plant and replant with the cooler weather and often better soil moisture levels. While plants actually establish slower in fall than from summer plantings, those doing the planting seem to perform much better.

Close on the heels of fall comes winter, so remember that only five more weeks remain in our 2011 shipping season. If you’ve been putting off placing that final order for 2011, don’t delay much longer. We’re regularly posting lots of photos of fall interest perennials from our gardens along with gardening tips on our Facebook page as part of our educational mission, so we hope you’ll check us out. You’ll be amazed what you miss between Open House days.

One of the classic fall interest plants is Muhlenbergia capillaris or Harry Awn Muhly…one of the great native ornamental grasses. While we love Muhlenbergia capillaris, most gardeners aren’t aware that it must be divided about every 6-8 years or it stops flowering. Some of the wonderful street plantings around Raleigh that looked so good for so long have now reached their ugly phase and are screaming to be divided. Muhly grass is native to a fire ecosystem, so in its native environment, it gets burned every few years, which both reinvigorates the existing plants and allows seed to sprout. Taking a flame thrower to your garden is lots of fun, but probably not the safest method…not to mention those poor souls who live in communities run by dictator-led HOA’s. Dividing clumps is much less likely to inflame your neighbors and is best done in the fall or early winter when plants are going dormant. I recommend replanting small 1-2″ plugs back in the ground and your plants should be good for many more years.

Our October and November are spent writing the 2012 catalog and this year, we are sharing a few photos of 2012 new plants to whet your appetite on our Facebook page. Last week, we posted a photo of Delosperma ‘Fire Spinner’ that you just have to see to believe. There’ll be more photos to see over the next few weeks, so we hope you’ll join our ever growing family of gardeners on Facebook.

Over the last few years, our knowledge of plant nomenclature has taken quite a beating thanks to the onslaught of new DNA research. While DNA is still a relatively new tool in the taxonomists chest, it has given us entirely new insight about who’s related to who. Changes in the last couple of years have jumbled relationships more than the last week of the Major League Baseball trading deadline. The latest floral family moves decimated the formerly huge Scrophulariaceae family, which still includes genera like Scrophularia, Verbascum, Leucophyllum, etc. Many former Scrophularia member genera including Hebe, Penstemon, Antirrhinum, Chelone, and Veronica were sent from Scrophulariaceae to Plantaginaceae in a three-way deal that sent the popular genus Buddleia and a possible genus to be named later from Loganiaceae to Scrophulariaceae. Two families, Dipsacaceae, which includes Scabiosa, and Valerianaceae, which includes Patrinia and Valeriana went bankrupt, so their members were auctioned off to the Caprifoliaceae family, which already was stocked with Lonicera, Abelia, and Hepatacodium. Since that move made Caprifoliaceae too powerful, they were forced to give up the genera Lonicera and Viburnum, which were sent to the smaller family, Adoxaceae. The well-respected Verbenaceae family also took a big hit with the loss of Callicarpa, Caryopteris, Clerodendron, and Vitex which were sent to the already powerful Lamiaceae family. Only a few horticulturally all-star genera like Verbena and Aloysia were allowed to remain in Verbenaceae.

Not only are many plant families at risk, but some genera have even been split including the familiar dicentra (bleeding heart). Dicentra spectabilis is now Lamprocapnos spectabilis, and the climbing bleeding hearts like Dicentra scandens became Dactylicapnos. Only the dicentra like Dicentra eximia, Dicentra formosana, and Dicentra peregrina were allowed to remain in the genus dicentra. Even the ubiquitous tomato plant was booted from the genus Lycopersicon and moved into the genus Solanum. As a general rule, I tend to have less problems with the family level changes than those at the genus level. Think of these genus level changes like political redistricting…it’s all about where you draw the lines. In other words, people make the decisions about how many or how few differences they think should constitute a new or different genus. I would certainly agree that the three new genera that emerged from the splitting of dicentra are indeed morphologically different, but are they different enough to warrant three genera or in the former case, three groups within a single genera? We’ll hold on to the old genus-level taxonomy for a while, while also including the new synonyms. After all, the purpose of plant nomenclature is to facilitate communication.

While we’re talking about nomenclature, let’s spend a minute on plant naming. When it comes to naming plants, there are two documents that outline the rules for doing so. One is the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature and the other is the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants. The Botanical Code sets the rules for naming Families, Genus, and Species and has been on-line for several years at http://ibot.sav.sk/icbn/main.htm. The Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants sets the rules for everything below the species level, which includes cultivars and hybrids. Finally, the folks who write the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (the codes are typically updated every 4-6 years) have made the code available on-line. Unfortunately, like most nurserymen, they still have an incorrect understanding of the legal or proper use of trademarks and trade names. Regardless, The Code is a very important document, so enjoy this stimulating bedtime reading.

On an allied nomenclatural note, one of my long time pet peeves is the ridiculous misspelling of Buddleia as Buddleja. Recently, Larry Hatch of www.cultivar.org wrote a wonderful diatribe on his site, which he has graciously allowed us to reprint below regarding the dual spellings.

“Let us first come to the question of Buddleia vs. Buddleja. The genus was named for the Reverend Adam Buddle of the Parish of North Farmbridge, Essex, England. He was author of an early British flora dated 1708 and so Linnaeus wished to honor him. You honor a person with their own plant genus by adding -ia to their family name – as in Begonia, Petunia, Forsythia, Davidia, and dozens of more familiar names. Linnaeus somehow published Buddleia (Buddle + ia) as Buddleja, a clear typographic error from him or the publisher and perhaps both. In early days, one would have no issues fixing this obvious mixtake…I mean mistake…but in 2006 a group of nomenclatural idiots decided they needed to approve all “orthographic corrections” and decided everything not yet sanctioned by silly group revert to Linnaeus old names. This is so artificial and while technically of some nomenclatural legality, it is an error we need not retain for such ridiculous reasons. Had Linnaeus named a plant Smifhia when it was for his friend Mr. Smith would be calling that genus Smifhia instead of Smithia? I think not.

I will happily join the group of great taxonomists and horticulturists who willingly and happily made the Buddleja to Buddleia correction. Let’s start with Liberty Hyde Bailey, Gerd Krussman, Donald Wyman, Abel Carriere, Sir Joseph Hooker, William Robinson, Alfred Rehder, Charles Sargent, and Ernest Wilson. Does anyone think this stellar group was wrong and did not know their Latin nomenclatural orthography? We can also add Buddleia cytotaxonomist R.J. Moore to the Buddleia gang as are more than 4700 authors of scholarly papers in the last few decades. Gotta go. Need to plant my new Buddleia next to my Deutzja and Forsythja border.”

Also, without much fanfare, some major changes were made to the US Patent Law on Sept. 16, 2011. With an effective date of 18 months from Sept 16, 2011 the current 12 month window to file a patent after a plant has been offered for sale is “out the window”. Previously, a breeder could introduce a plant and not actually file the patent paperwork for 12 months, but no longer. Once the new law goes into effect, you cannot legally file a patent if the plant has ever been offered for sale. The one year grace period will only remain for direct or indirect disclosures by the breeder…whatever that means.
In the patent law changes, there has also been some attention paid to one of my biggest concerns, which is the ability of citizens to challenge a patent or patent application. Citizens will be able to challenge the Patent and Trademark Office for a patent review within 9 months of the patent grant date for any reason. If the challenge is unsuccessful, the patent cannot then be challenged further in the legal system. After the 9 month window, a challenge could only be made through the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

In a final bit of WTF research, a study by Wageningen University in Holland showed that Wi-Fi networks are damaging trees. Strange bark tearing and, premature leaf drop are symptoms that the researchers attributed to Wi-Fi signals. According to an article in PC World, researchers became curious after trees in the city of Alphen aan de Rijn, growing near a wireless router began showing the aforementioned symptoms. Researchers then exposed 20 ash trees placed at distances from 1.5′-10′ away from the source to radiation frequencies from 2412 to 2472 megahertz and a capacity of 100 mW EIRP for three months. Plants closest to the radiation source began showing symptoms like a strange leaf shine followed by leaf drop. Researchers reported that trees in the forests didn’t show the same symptoms as trees grown in urban areas. Other researchers are already questioning the findings, wondering if other urban factors were adequately ruled out…hmmm?

Don’t forgot to check out our new plant photos and gardening tidbits at Facebook or browse our on-line fall catalog at http://www.plantdelights.com. From the staff of Plant Delights Nursery, we wish you a great fall gardening season!


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