Another Perspective

Discussion in 'Maples' started by mr.shep, May 1, 2004.

  1. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Likes Received:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    From my point of view the most important aspect of Japanese
    Maples is being able to talk about Maples. Only a fool goes
    it alone with Japanese Maples is how I can best describe how
    things generally play out. "Loners" do not seem to last long
    in Maples, either from the growing end or from the collecting

    I raise a breed of Pigeon named Modena for show and have had
    them for 42 years. What is real nice about Modenas is that while
    at a show all we talk about is Pigeons. Wives and girl friends get
    all frustrated with us as we can talk for hours on the phone about
    Modenas. The birds become more than an addiction. I've not
    come across such a widespread devout devotion to an animal or
    plant before and I am an old Livestock judge but the people that
    raise Pigeons are indeed a different breed of cat.

    There have been some nursery people with Maples that have come
    close to if not having the same feeling towards their plants. It just
    made them feel good to see their Maples in the ground at all times
    of the year. I know the blood pressure level would decrease when
    a person can just sit nearby a special Maple of theirs and let their
    mind wander to who knows where and just simply meditate. I
    know for me, no other plant can make me do that. I've been around
    others that would reminisce of their travels and their homeland in
    Japan while just gazing at a nice Maple of theirs. You can almost
    speculate where they are by their faces with their eyes open and
    sometimes closed and how peaceful they seem to be to the onlooker.

    Those people that I knew were principally purists in plants. You
    would not see a misnamed plant in their nurseries any where. It
    was dishonorable of them to even think of selling a plant or name
    a plant that was not right and some of them went to extra lengths
    to confirm their plant was what they felt it was before they could
    ever sell it. It was that kind of reasoning why Don Kleim and others
    would not sell certain Maples to anyone for many years and in many
    cases did not ever graft Maples all because of not being able to
    properly name their plants, even when what they were told what
    they were was in most cases correct.

    After the first few waves of imports from Japan there became a real
    and budding interest in Japanese Maples. It helped a great deal that
    Mr. Vertrees had such a strong interest in Oregon and through his
    varied travels met a lot of people that also has his passion for Maples.
    Don Kleim was the same way but did his travels abroad a few years
    before Mr. Vertrees did. Ensuing, many people in Oregon saw Mr.
    Vertrees Maples and wanted to have several of them. Who could
    blame them?

    I can trace the beginning of Maples on the West Coast back to the
    very early 60's when Don Kleim first imported in a few plants but
    Don already had some Maples, (I am referring mainly to Japanese
    Maples) and I was told that Mr. Vertrees also had some Maples
    then. What they must have gone through to obtain their Japanese
    Maples a way back is a mystery and it could not have been all
    that easy as there just could not have been many Maples around.
    We can read from our truly excellent books on Maples that some
    varieties have been around for 100 years, some for much longer
    than that but how many of those varieties were here in the US
    or Canada either? No one is really sure and with that I will
    go no further on that subject.

    When we learn about plants we see plants that originated from
    Japan with English surnames in nomenclature. I've often
    wondered what did the Japanese call them before they were
    officially named? Therein has caused many of the purists
    some real problems as I alluded to that in a previous thread
    called 'Perspective'.

    For a long time many of the Maples in various nurseries could
    be tracked or traced back to their originating home here in the
    US. If a person in Boring, Oregon, had an Aka Shigitatsu sawa
    you can pretty well bet that persons plant came from Mr.
    Vertrees. Even in the middle 80's what a nursery had for names
    of Maples could, within reason, be traced back to the nursery
    where that plant was first propagated here in the US. It was
    also in the late 70's but more so the 80's is when many people
    were growing seedlings hoping to find a plant that was different
    than what they had. Many of those people were quite pleased
    about having a plant that they thought was different and wanted
    to tell others of their new plant. The purists were receptive if
    the plant was indeed different and would advise them to grow
    the plant for a while and if the grafted plants would remain true
    to their parents then it might be worthy of naming. So the
    standard procedure was to wait about 5-7 years in most cases
    to monitor the plant and the grafted offspring and then when
    the time was right the plant might officially be named.

    It was during that time period that others caught on to the
    naming of the plants and it seemed to the Maples purists
    that anyone that produced a seedling that was different
    than what they had could not wait to name it, even though
    the plant may not be all that much different than what others
    had elsewhere. So, soon there became real problem for the
    purists in that they would learn through friends and elsewhere
    that this person or that person had a seedling that showed
    promise and was already named and that plant in some cases
    had not reached its third year of growth yet and was already
    being grafted. The people I knew had a real disdain for that
    as they felt that the people doing that were more interested
    in advancing themselves rather than the plant itself. Was
    it different enough to be named? Even though the people
    did not like what went on they still wanted to see the Maple
    just to know if it was worthy of being named in the first place.
    You do not want to know the comments I have heard in various
    discussions among the people I knew when they saw a newly
    named Maple for the first time. Usually a one word expletive
    was uttered by Don and then he would say, it is just a form
    of this Maple or that Maple and the parties involved would be
    disgusted by it all. These were people that had plants of their
    own, others that they brought in from elsewhere and waited
    for years to name them and in some cases did not name them
    but once they felt the nursery industry had become saturated
    with a host of newly named plants they would let go of a few
    of those plants but only if a fellow nurseryman saw them
    and wanted them. Even some of the nurserymen that bought
    those plants with tentative names at the nursery would later
    name them after a year or two and started out letting them
    to others that came to their nurseries and wanted to have
    them. It was through that process that Red Select was,
    unofficially, named as that was the nursery name on the tags
    that produced it and grew it on. Don's Big Red never was
    released for sale but its sister seedling was and you know it
    as Oshu beni. That is right, that one did not originate from
    Japan but originated and was grown in Fresno, California, so
    was the original plant that was later named in Oregon called
    Red Select.

    END of Part I
  2. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Likes Received:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    A quick note:

    I should not have to do this. One thing that may come in
    handy is to assume that I know something else that I did
    not mention. As for Oshu beni I believe, as I wrote the
    above from memory and this part also, there is mention
    in the 'Maples of the World' book that Oshu beni was
    originally referenced in a sales catalog. That is true.
    The original sales catalog was in the possession of Don
    Kleim whom had it translated by two people in Japan.
    The results of the translation yielded the plant mentioned
    in the catalog as being referenced was Oshio beni instead.
    After having a third person verify the translation from
    Kanji to English a copy was sent to Mr. Vertrees. The
    Maple was named by another person as Don gave him
    that plant(s) to get that Maple introduced into the nursery

    Don officially only named one plant that I know of and
    it was an evergreen Clematis, C. armandii 'hendersoni
    rubra' and the plant was named after Bill Henderson.
    A show winning Camellia japonica had its origin at
    Henderson Experimental Gardens also without
    officially being named by Don.

    The other Maples that had originated at Don's nursery
    were given to others to name on purpose but Red Select
    was not so much that way as that one was named in
    Oregon without a prior arrangement having been made
    by the two parties. Don't ask me to go any further on
    Red Select as I will not do it in an open forum but
    yes, I know how it was named also. The word name
    has a very loose meaning in that sometimes a Maple
    was referred to as Red Select as the name itself was
    never official, at least by RHS standards or in some
    cases elsewhere. The nursery industry knew the
    Maple and that is all that was required for it to be
    sold for a while as Red Select until that Maple
    got mixed in with other Maples similar to it such
    as Ever Red, Oregon Garnet and Dissectum Nigrum.


Share This Page