davidrt28

another trip report - interesting trees at Udel, summer edition

davidrt28 (zone 7)
July 24, 2017
last modified: July 24, 2017

I realized it's been many years since I've visited this garden in summer. Because I don't like walking around in our steam bath any more than necessary, and because more of the things I find interesting to see (camellias, holly berries, winter damage!) are active in early spring.

Most of the plants are sheltered by twin east facing building alcoves.

First of all, their Quercus myrsinifolia, which has grown a lot since I first visited this garden in 2006 or 2007.

They removed some polar vortex dieback on their live oak, but it basically looks ok:

It's closer to the edge of the courtyard so probably doesn't get as much wind protection, but the polar winters showed that Quercus myrsinifolia is clearly hardier. It had no injury while the live oak was severely burnt.

I'd forgotten how tropical this particularly rare Chinese ornamental looks, and it was newly planted so it took me by surprise. Let's make the ID a contest. In fairness to everyone else, I prohibit embothrium from participating in the first 24 hours LOL.

I was charmed by this variegated Magnolia virginiana 'Mardi Gras'; although I seem to recall it stressed out looking in my post-polar vortex visits. Maybe having a bit of the 'boiled cabbage' look, without really being severely injured, but still making the foliage less appealing. It's nice in mid-summer! The plant shape could be better, but that's probably cultural.

I was surprised back in early spring to see this Magnolia maudiae with a couple flowers. I only had the vaguest familiarity with the species, and didn't know it bloomed so early with such big flowers. It's really quite strange to see such tropical looking flowers at that time of year. I'd have trouble finding as sheltered a spot for it...but, "ME WANT IT" as the cookie monster would say. I remember it being injured by the polar winters but obviously not insurmountably so. They used to have a big patch of South American Cassia corymbosa around here, but maybe the winters finished it off or it just died off...some of those temperennial Fabaceae seem to be short-lived, more because of our moisture and heavy soil than specific injury in winter.

Here's a nice weeping Katsura tree:

And finally some generally healthy looking Cryptomerias:


Less than a mile away some cryptos on the main campus have classic east-coast "mangy cryptomeria disease" which just seems the result of some combination of bad siting, bad soil, and bad luck. Those are right next to the library, west side, so they might have had soil that was 100% junky clay backfill and reflected building heat all afternoon.

Oh I almost forgot, their Schima wallichii, on a south facing wall sheltered by a huge Persea borbonia but still...a bit far north (over here, PNWers!) for this species, that I think some old references used to rate z9. They have a S. argentea, not on a wall, that was more injured by the PVs. I have yet to see either one in bloom though.

Comments (61)

  • Embothrium

    Sean Hogan's 2008 Timber Press book Trees for All Seasons reports (p. 193) that

    "A row of Magnolia maudiae planted in 1997 along NE Fremont Street, in Portland, Oregon, draws heavy traffic and the occasional camera crew during the spring extravaganza. Their fragrance can be detected blocks away"

    On his Cistus nursery web site, where he is currently offering the species he says it is

    one of the best magnolias to arrive from China

    http://www.cistus.com/mail_order/plant_catalog/m-p.html

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Embothrium
  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    Yep, it's tempting. But I think like my M. skinneri and M. dianica, it's going to dieback in colder winters, and one doesn't want a garden full of things with that problem. At least they do come back vigorously.

    However the more BLEs I have in my garden, paradoxically or not, the more I lust for them!

    Blurry picture because it was dusk and I wasn't holding my smartphone steady, but here was the one above, at Udel, blooming on 2/27. Such a flower at such a time of year is a shocking apparition. It looked like something that had just been wheeled out of a greenhouse. I think the only other plant blooming in this garden was tiny flowered Camellia 'Korean Fire', and it was just starting.

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  • Embothrium

    Hogan says in the Trees book higher elevation introductions of Magnolia insignis are the examples of this species that have become the most common [in western cultivation]. And -9 F in the Southeast has "not fazed them".

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Embothrium
  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    Interesting...I will have to check out that book.

  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    Wonderful myrsinifolia there. As to it being hardier than live oak, I think it depends a lot on the provenance of the live oak and maybe to a small degree on the myrsinifolia too. My myrsinifolia in the backyard has seen some dieback whereas three live oaks from northern provenance were all pristine.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A
  • hairmetal4ever

    My myrsinifolia seedling died back to the crown. In February, while it was very warm, the leaves all went crispy and dropped. Can't figure it out. It was a first year seedling (grown from acorn) and was about 8" tall.


    I thought it was dead, but it did resprout in June. It's only about three inches tall now.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked hairmetal4ever
  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    Dave these are comparisons of full-grown specimens at least over 5' tall? I find having a caliper < 1/3" or so reduces the chances of many borderline BLEs surviving.

    And I would admit that if you compare the hardiest live oaks to Q. myrsinifolia, yes they are probably very close. Neither was injured in Wmbg in 1994 at 0F, but the other Asian oaks were like Q. acuta and Q. glauca. (not counting Lithocarpus henryi, they either didn't have one or I didn't know about it) I wish I knew when the Udel specimens were planted, but if you assume it is roughly the same time, you have to look at the bamboo-leaf oak, towering now as high as the building, having a very nice form...vs. the somewhat stunted live oak that was injured after the polar winters, and assume that, ok if they were planted at the same time, the Asian oak is happier.

    Mine (Q.m.) was killed to the ground by almost -10F in 1994 but came back. It was maybe 7' tall and 1" caliper but had grown quickly from fertilization. Probably my first order ever from Woodlanders was around 90 or so, as a 15 year old, and I wanted it to grow quickly. A smaller Q. ilex died either that winter or 96, outright, while similarly small Q. suber was injured but survived into the mid 2000s when the people who bought my parent's house cut it down. As I've noted before, even if you can get an evergreen oak to persist somewhere and I suspect that particular Q. suber would still be soldiering along, you don't want it to look awful after even a 1/3 of the winters. Because they look really ugly when injured. (and the many are just plain ugly when young, anyhow, especially the European ones) I mean imagine if it were still in my first garden...it would be about 15' tall maybe, still with funky zig-zaggy branches, after both polar winters it would have looked like a big brownish-gray-green husk. Not good. OTOH the Q.m. at Udel was totally green. And, IIRC, I visited the -16F Howard County Lithocarpus after at least one of the polar winters, and they were fine too (BTW very sad update on those: they are more frequently attacked by small furry nuisances than any other plant of the 100+ potted plants I have. Only 1 of the 3 I had rooted is surviving, barely. Which is funny cause Kathy Van Veen told me the first batch were attacked in her greenhouses by a rat that got in there, ignoring 1000s of rhododendron cuttings. Maybe because they are in the oak family, something about the foliage or roots is 'tasty'. I will probably try again this fall, and keep the plants incredibly guarded once I get them back..)

  • Embothrium

    Well of course they did!

    The Bamboo-leaf Oak listed in Jacobson, North American Landscape Trees as being 44' x 3'4" x 31' in Redmond, WA (1988) was still there when I checked on it last year I think. It, too, is planted near an institutional building. But on a valley floor, a ways inland, where it probably gets pretty brisk.

    The S Hogan book claims

    A 130-year-old specimen in the Dunthorpe neighborhood of Portland measures over 70 ft. (21 m) in height, with a 60 ft. (18 m) spread

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Embothrium
  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    70 ft. (21 m) in height, with a 60 ft. (18 m) spread

    Wow, I'd like to see that one. Hopefully the Dunthorpe neighborhood is just a intersection or two!

  • davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Embothrium
  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    Well, just going by my observations: This is how I tentatively rank some of the hardier evergreen/semi-evergreen oaks in terms of hardiness for MY REGION (northern VA), from hardiest to most tender:

    Q. laurifolia

    Q. hemisphaerica

    Q. fusiformis (Oklahoma source)

    Q. virginiana (northern provenance -- VA Tidewater and north source) No damage, even to small caliper saplings in my yard.

    Q. mohriana

    Q. myrsinifolia -- some damage to one receiving winter sun in mid-day through afternoon. Other one in front of house gets some afternoon shade and showed no damage.

    Q. salicina (just planted so guessing)

    Q. acuta (good last year in winter shade but hasn't had a real test yet)

    Q. phillyraeoides (significantly injured in last vortex in my yard -- no damage to one at National Arboretum)

    Q. ilex (northern provenance) OK in my yard last winter but hasn't really been tested.

    Q. glauca (not even completely hardy in 7B) Often damaged at Nat. Arboretum

    Of course every year is different.

    I still have two southwestern evergreen oaks in pots to trial yet -- Q. turbinella and Q. aff. rugosa [La Siberica strain]. Q. mohriana seems to be quite hardy, but can defoliate during cold periods. Of course there are many more that I have not observed.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A
  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    Interesting list. I thought of the first two as semi-deciduous really. Do they only hold their leaves in mild winters? Did you ever seen the locally well-known Sterling, VA, shopping center Q. laurifolia (or maybe Q. hemi) - I'm not sure it was evergreen after every winter and in any case, was not nearly as attractive as a true southern live oak. (or Asian sect. Cyclobalanopsis for that matter) I think I read years ago that it's gone now, but I used to live in Reston so I saw it several times.

    I have to see your collection one of these days!

  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    Q. laurifolia is technically tardily deciduous, but does hold some leaves until the new spring flush. Still, it's the closest someone in zone 6 (East Coast) would come to growing a 'live oak' that is reliably hardy.

    Here's a pic of a laurel oak I took in January. It's at the nearby NOVA Community College in Fairfax County. From about mid-January on it loses more and more leaves. Before new leaves emerge the remainder of old ones will have dropped. The number of leaves remaining depends to a degree upon the severity of winter, and the amount of dessicating winter winds. In downtown DC they retain more leaves than they do in the outer and colder suburbs.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A
  • bengz6westmd

    Interesting laurel oak. Looks like willow/pin oak in form w/the fine-textured branching.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked bengz6westmd
  • hairmetal4ever

    The ones I know of around Howard County, MD are usually almost bare by spring bud break.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked hairmetal4ever
  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    I'd heard of that tree over the years but I don't think I'd seen a picture. Thanks.

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    This is what Cistus is sending out for $22. Not bad. I didn't put it in a very big pot because it will probably be planted out next spring. Looks a bit chlorotic, should I give it some soluble iron?

  • Embothrium

    Suspect probably it needs additional nitrogen. Otherwise just use a complete fertilizer. One that seems to you to be a good product for potted stock, that doesn't have special needs like those of Ericaceae.

    60% of the annual total of root elongation occurs in autumn. Autumn in this case being when the top stops growing for the year. So even the new pot looks way too small.

    In addition to a yet bigger container I would also pull the roots open, if this hasn't been done already. If the tip of the still-growing top collapses as a result, snip it back.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Embothrium
  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    It was in a really tiny container. This is 3X the soil volume, at least. I did feel around for any knots and made sure the roots were spread out. I can't believe it would grow that much by next spring.

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    Fascinating to google these using the Chinese characters. Apparently a pink form is being mass produced in China:
    https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=zh-CN&u=http://www.bashuol.com/content-737.html&prev=search

  • Embothrium

    Winter root growth is comparatively minimal, relative to other times. Such as autumn. So picture the existing roots nearly 60% longer than it appears they already grew so far this year, in a pot that won't deflect them. C. Whitcomb once wrote that if you see roots emerging from drain holes or deflected by pot walls, you are already behind.

    Consider also that trees in the ground typically produce root systems vastly larger in extent than their tops. The pot you used isn't even as wide as the leaves of this magnolia reach. In nature plants have the whole world to root into, there are no barriers except rocks. And these have cracks in them. Even an orchid on a tree branch has the entire volume of the tree's skin to grow across, without running into anything except other epiphytes.


    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Embothrium
  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    davidrt: What was it that you purchased from Cistus??

  • Embothrium

    Looks like the previously discussed Magnolia maudiae.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Embothrium
  • sam_md

    What davidrt28 forgot to mention was the plant sales held twice a year @ UDel. The 2017 Fall sale will be next month.

    The students raise the crops, feed the cows, milk the cows, make ice cream and sell it 7 days/week, it is worth the trip to Newark for the ice cream alone.

  • sam_md

    Finally Japanese BB put to good use, keep it trimmed and it won't make seed.

    Longleaf Pine
    'San Jose' Osmanthus
    A remarkable, small-leaved xeriphyte native to Florida, Cyrilla arida



    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked sam_md
  • sam_md

    The Bartram Oak


    Plum Yew making "plums"
    Nice Cutleaf Maple
    Capitata Yew
    Pollinator Garden, well maintained, great spot for photography.




    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked sam_md
  • Embothrium

    Taxus cuspidata 'Capitata' = the typical species.

  • bengz6westmd

    Sam, I assume that Bartram oak is also at the U of Delaware? I read the originally-discovered one is in West Chester, PA.

  • sam_md

    Yes, all of my pix are UofD @ Newark. HERE is some more about Bartram Oak.

  • Embothrium

    This evergreen magnolia combines yellow flowers with gray leaves in a harmonious manner. Although being as they are comparatively small and scattered among the leaves the flowers are not particularly conspicuous.

    Plant of the Month: December 2009

    http://www.arthurleej.com/p-o-m-Dec09.html

  • sam_md

    Q. virginiana today, same as the one earlier on this thread.

    When I reached for the branch leaves came down like falling rain.
    Notice all the dead leaves on the ground.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked sam_md
  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    Yep, 'coldest first week of January ever' really did a number on it. (in Baltimore, anyhow, per WBAL's Tom Tasselmyer)

    This is what I'm always saying about borderline BLEs. The bigger they are, the more an eyesore they are going to be when the E part of BLE doesn't work out!

    I'm actually not very picky about maintaining my garden at all, but I wouldn't want something that looked like that after any more than 1/4 winters.

    You didn't post one of the Q. myrsinifolia but I bet it was fine? Or only minor damage?

    My damage report is still forthcoming but an interesting tidbit is my Eucalyptus parvula still has some green leaves on it, and stems are still mostly flexible. Of course the whole top could still die, but I wonder if there will be only partial dieback of the top and re-leafing later this spring. This ties back to an observation I made about duration of cold vs. absolute low. Our absolute low was at least as bad as polar vortex winters, if not a degree or so lower. But the somewhat less serious duration of overall cold stopped the top from being as badly killed as in PV I and PV II. It resprouted from the snow covered base for PV I, but just couldn't stand two winters in a row like that. I reordered from Cistus - first one had come from FF.

  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    Sam, davidrt, what is your assessment of the Q. virginiana at UDEL? Are the tips still alive? My three live oaks look just like that. I've never seen that kind of defoliation before. I've had these for 10 years.

  • sam_md

    Hi Dave, The oak will lose all of its foliage. How much dieback its too early to say.

    Worth noting the Wax Myrtles all look rough, some completely brown however am sure they will make new leaves in April or so.

    In that same courtyard, 'San Jose' Osmanthus, C. sasanqua & Persea sp all came through unblemished. Michelia maudiae seen below does have slight foliage damage but otherwise fine:


    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked sam_md
  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    so I think what we are seeing based on Dave's comment about his oaks, is unusual patterns of damage - versus the "usual" ones during the polar vortex winters har har har. That will be a theme of my damage report too, when it's ready. But all in all I still feel like we somewhat dodged a bullet...to have the sudden cool down after a bad autumn hardening season, extreme freeze event with dry soil and no snow cover...FOLLOWED by a PV style cold outburst that never ends (2014's coldest March day ever recorded in Baltimore!) - that would really have sucked!

  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    I have bronzing on any camellias that saw the least bit of sun. Bronzing on some of the marginal hollies, 10% dried leaves on one Q. myrsinifolia (the other looks fine- go figure), Q. ilex is fairly fried (no big surprise there), bronzing on Teddy Bear magnolia (just a few leaves), top portion of Prunus lusitanica looks burnt, outer Loropetalum leaves, a few of the variegated hollies. Anything in shade however, looks quite good.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A
  • bengz6westmd

    As much "bronzing" of leaves on my southern magnolia as I've seen on it (it's 12 yrs old). I'm sure it won't be any lasting issue, tho.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked bengz6westmd
  • sam_md

    "Hope springs eternal" here is the same Q. virginiana today. Although the tree is leafless as we can see the buds are green and swelling.

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked sam_md
  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    Yes Sam, I am encouraged by the green buds and twigs on Q. virginiana.


  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    My damage report is coming this weekend or next. Taking so long to see recovery with this damnable spring! Here's a preview: I've officially named last winter Polar Vortex 3!

    I just saw the maudiae a few days ago, and though the fact it's in a very sheltered spot probably explains the limited damage, I was blown away by how BIG it has gotten! It must have grown 4-5 ft. last year?

    A sign I should surely plant mine this year...and just hope for next winter to not be like the last so it has a chance of getting established.

    BTW, native 'Mardi Gras', looked really bad...worse than this Chinese invader harharhar.

  • sam_md

    Do you all know about the UDel Botanic Garden plant sale next week? I posted about it on the mid-Atlantic forum HERE

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked sam_md
  • sam_md

    I stopped by briefly @ UDel just to check up. Here's the live oak today:


    It really got a kick in the teeth. We'll keep an eye on it.

    Below is Illicium henryi which looks great:


    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked sam_md
  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    Sam, I find that the new live oak leaves tend to be a bit smaller if the tree has defoliated. Do you get that sense as well?

    Also, I believe Illicium henryi to be one of the best illiciums for the mid-Atlantic. Just so luxuriant.

  • bengz6westmd

    This past winter is now showing that it was harder on many relatively tender plants than most thought it would.

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    Last update? I'm having to take on additional responsibilities at work in this fiscal year and will have less time for posts. ("up or out" LOL)

    Happened to be over there yesterday, and although mostly losing my sweet tooth, decided I could not resist some ice cream at the Creamery.

    The Emmenopterys is dead.

    The Osmanthus X fortunei, though, was full of fragrant flowers and in great shape.

    I don't know why they are bothering with this Trachy...another polar vortex winter will take it out. Especially because they didn't give one of the most sheltered spots.

    The moment I saw this, I thought, "omg, is that what I think it is?" And, it is. I would never steal anything...and I certainly wouldn't be updating this thread if I were planning to do so! But this is the rarest plant in this garden...rarer than the Emmenopterys in my opinion, and I'm a little surprised they didn't plant it in a more hidden spot for it to size up. Ladies and gentlemen, the elusive Torreya jackii.

    Looks grown from seed to me...thinking the needles will get longer. Debated about featuring but already established that there are rare plants in this garden last year, and in other threads over the years. I think plant collectors are mostly an honest lot? Hope so...if it does well in this garden, cutting material will be available in a few years.

    The wet summer has allowed their Camellia yuhsienensis to size up and finally look really happy. This plant has been struggling for years but more from neglect I think. It is very hardy and was in full bloom only a couple weeks after the polar vortex freezes ended...way before even 'Korean Fire'. I want one eventually, but am happy enough to have a hybrid of it, 'Dream Angel', that has similarly tough ability to bloom in a real mid-atlantic winter.

    This is the base of their Quercus virginiana...and sorry to say, looks like 2013-2015 and January 2018 have finished this guy off. Top looks very sparse. I guess they are giving it one more year in case a miracle happens LOL. (spoiler alert...they don't)

    I've decided I like the look of the variegated Illicium - kinda like a poor man's version of the variegated Daphniphyllum, which is very difficult to graft and may just be too weak to survive in most of the mid-Atlantic. Didn't wade in for a closer pic because I bet this place is teaming with Ixodes.

    I wonder why this Magnolia macrophylla looks sickly. Chlorosis? They have several but this one is the worst looking. Saw them back in the summer...had never actually been around that species in bloom. The floral odor is indeed disagreeable.

    Not a good picture but a nice combination of 2 Cephalotaxus and Thujopsis.

    Finally, nice to see Acer griseum but too bad they let the trunk do this.

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    Wow..."When a non-bumper bumps - next on Inside Edition"

    LMAO.

    but actually, yeah, I stand by my assertion cause this tree looks like crap, whether the bark is fancy or not.

    And in our climate of severe thunderstorms, letting almost ANYTHING develop that sort of an evenly divided crotch angle is 'asking for it'. Downward microbursts are going to push half of the tree one way, the other half another way, leading to a devastating tear in the main trunk. At Longwood (but not in the main public section) there's a Pinus bungeana that was allowed to develop multiple stems, perhaps because they are "effective visually" lol - but a couple clearly snapped off in storms, leaving a damaged looking base. OR in heavy wet snowfalls for something evergreen. (or not! a few years ago the 'interior midatlantic' had a fall snowstorm with disastrous consequences for trees still in leaf...power out in some parts of CT for weeks...snowfall totals as high as 8 inches not a 30 minute drive from my house...only a coating here luckily though I've had by own battles with ice storms)

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)

    BTW I still read here almost as much as I did, or at least peruse for possibly interesting topics to read...just less frequently...and not as much time to post replies.

    "somebody" "probably disappeared for good" - hhhhmmmmmm - you are older than me, so statistically likely to depart this Earth sooner. I'll be sure to post the same oh so thoughtful words. I have a long memory.

  • bengz6westmd

    Yeah davidrt, that inappropriate "reply" came out of nowhere, but then remember he didn't have his previous moniker for nothing....

    davidrt28 (zone 7) thanked bengz6westmd
  • sam_md

    Here's a respectable PB Maple @ Winterthur Gardens, Delaware. Notice how it's in the open with no competition from anything. Habit is pleasing and symmetrical. Here's the problem with this species, one must pass by 20 or 30 PB Maples before finding one like this. They are commonly one-sided, asymmetrical, "holes" in canopy etc.


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