To commemorate the naming of Quarryhill Botanical Garden as the latest ACS Reference Garden-and the first in California-a group of about 100 coneheads and wannabes gathered at Quarryhill for four hours of conifer lore, demonstrations and tours. Quarryhill, in Glen Ellen, CA, features one of the world’s largest collections of documented, wild-collected Asian plants. Master Gardener and ACS member Sara Malone led with a talk on ‘Conifers in the Garden for Year-round Color, Texture and Form’, illustrated by several dozen examples of all hues and forms, loaned by ACS member Pond and Garden Nursery. Weeping specimens, such as Pinus strobus ‘Angel Falls’ and heavily coned plants like Pinus x schwerinii ‘Wiethorst’ drew the most oohs and aahs, although a charming Abies nordmanniana ‘Golden Spreader’ in a pumice container (a Talon Buchholz signature) was a favorite, as well. A Cedrus libani ‘Sapphire Nymph’, a Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Snowkist’ and a Picea abies ‘Horstmann’ never made it back to Pond and Garden-audience members, undeterred by ‘demo only’ signs, forked over the cash and carried their treasures away. Malone was followed by Quarryhill Executive Director Bill McNamara, who spoke about his favorite conifers in the Garden’s collection, replete with stories of collecting the seeds in the wild in Asia, resorting at times to climbing enormous trees or throwing rocks, which happened with a Pinus roxburghii. After several hours of unsuccessfully felling a single cone, McNamara and his driver turned to leave and the driver picked up one more rock and successfully dislodged one. The cone contained five seeds, which were brought back to Quarryhill and all germinated!
At the end of McNamara’s remarks, Malone presented him with the ACS Reference Garden plaque, followed by a raffle drawing for a #5 Pinus strobus ‘Fastigiata’, donated by ACS corporate member Conifer Kingdom, and an 8 x 12” photograph of Abies x arnoldiana ‘Poulsen’ cones, donated by photographer and ACS member Jan LeCocq. The entire group then decamped for docent-guided tours of Quarryhill’s conifer collection, which includes the rarely seen Xanthocyparis vietnamensis, many Sciadopitys verticillata, a couple of magnificent Taiwania cryptomerioides and an easily visible low-occuring witch’s broom in a Pinus densiflora. The event also included membership tables for both Quarryhill and the ACS, which offered a discount to those joining both; sales of logo’d clothing and accessories and information such as a conifer resource sheet, back issues of the Conifer Quarterly and photos of conifer cones. All of the sponsoring organizations deemed the day a success, especially since both the ACS and Quarryhill signed up numerous new members. Malone, the event organizer, was very pleased: “I think that we definitely made some converts today!”
Some scenes from the event: