A valuable piece of horticultural history

Discussion in 'Maples' started by JT1, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. JT1

    JT1 Contributor 10 Years

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    Euclid, OH USA
    I feel really lucky to have found a historic treasure recently at a local Botanical Garden book sale. Some like to keep such treasures to themselves, but I always find great joy in sharing things with people who share the same passion for Japanese plants. I want to take this opportunity to share this treasure with you. So I ask you to consider the following...

    In the modern day, we can pick up these beautiful Japanese plants at a local nursery and an hour later we are planting them in our yard. Or maybe we come across a great find online and we wait a few days for our exciting treasure to show up at our door. Maybe a friend from across the world sends you some cuttings to graft or root only a couple days later. On a wholesale level, maybe the plants are carefully loaded onto a truck and shipped across the country, arriving a few days to a week later. It's so easy in our modern age of logistics to collect and share Japanese plants.

    Do you ever take time to ponder how these magnificent plants came to your country? The story of exporting Japanese plants started about 130 years ago. In the beginning it was not easy to get Japanese plants to your doorstep. They were carefully loaded onto a ship. Travel time varied, based on weather or the ship having to take a longer route, dependent upon the season. Plant survival during this trip was difficult at best. Great attention was taken during packaging and loading and great care was needed during the long voyage. The invention of steam ships helped speed up this process and improve plant survival enroute.

    These plants bring us joy and beauty. Yet, it's surprising that today many of us don't know the pioneer responsible for bringing us these amazing plants (me included, until recently a catalogue sparked my interest). This pioneer is Louis Boehmer. He not only specialized in exporting Japanese plants to the world, he also specialized in introducing "Japanese Dwarfed Trees” or bonsai to the West.

    Here is the story that I compiled of Louis Boehmer and his nursery Catalogue. A link is provided below to my Flickr gallery of this beautifully illustrated catalogue. I feel you should take this rare opportunity to view this amazing historic treasure. I hope you enjoy the story and the catalogue.

    L. Boehmer & Co's Catalogue.
    Catalogue of Japanese Plants, Bulbs and Seeds. "Boehmer, Yokohama" 1903.

    The L. Boehmer & Co was established in 1882. It was the only European Nursery in Japan at that time. Mr. Boehmer was responsible for introducing Japanese plants and bonsai (“Japanese Dwarfed Trees”) to Europe, N. America, and Australia.

    Louis Boehmer, was a German citizen who migrated to America around 1866. He worked as a successful gardener in Rochester, NY. In 1872 he moved to Japan and was head of a government-owned farm operated by American agricultural officials. Boehmer established his own nursery in 1882 after the breakup of the American operated farm. His new nursery specialized in exporting plants to the United States and Europe. In 1890 Boehmer sold his nursery to his partner Albert Unger, who operated the nursery with his wife Mary Unger from Cleveland, OH.

    In the 1890’s greater competition of exporting Japanese plants to the West began with the birth of the Yokohama Gardeners Association, which was a partnership of four Japanese nurserymen. One of the original founders, Uhei Suzuki, had worked for Boehmer seven years prior to formation of the Yokohama Gardeners Association. In 1892, the Yokohama Nursery co-operative issued their first catalogue in English.

    The L. Boehmer & Co’s Catalogue was published and distributed all over the world. The catalogues were not only embraced by nurserymen across the world, but they were also very popular with the wealthy for their beautiful illustrations of Japanese plants and culture. With growing popularity, Mary Unger published The Favorite Flowers of Japan. The Favorite Flowers of Japan was released in four editions. Both nursery catalogs were beautifully illustrated by the Hasegawa, Tokyo using color woodblock illustrations

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  2. maf

    maf Generous Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    Northamptonshire, England
    Very nice JT, thanks for sharing the images.

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