Thursday, May 16, 2013

A plantsman reaches out! Georg Uebelhart at home...

Georg Uebelhart
I doubt that there are many plantsmen in the world who have seen more plants in nature, grown more plants in their gardens and certainly none has been responsible for sharing more wonderful plants than the general manager of Jelitto Seeds, the premier perennial and alpine plant seed company in the world. I first met Georg when he was a very young man already employed by the firm he would one day own, working "on loan" at Kurt Bluemel nursery in Maryland where I was visiting: I took note of him even then, and have been lucky enough to watch his tremendous evolution since that time. Although Georg attends and even stages conferences, he's not crazy about public speaking--and I was nervous about featuring him in his natural habitat. I suspect the sort of reader who follows my blogs would not pose much of a menace to him, so he has agreed to let me share some pictures of what has to be one of the greatest private gardens I have visited.

Asarum dimidiatum
 Although Georg's garden was brimming with color and interest, as a bona fide plant nerd, his favorite flowers just have to be the wild gingers. You can see in this series of pictures how lovingly he pulls back the leaves to admire both the tubby little flowers, and (much to his delight) the many seedlings germinating around his favorites! this is one I had never seen before...

Asarum maculatum
 Georg's garden qualifies as a botanic garden: he maintains meticulous records and his plants are all labeled carefully. I forgot to photograph the label on this one: I hope I was right on the ID (he will correct me if I was wrong--believe me)....He did get back to me--just as I'd thought (Georg misses nothing!).

Asarum caulescens (albino)
 Of course, he had scads of the typical form of this, but he was proud to show off the albino (some of which may hopefully show up one day in Denver...).

Asarum lewisii (heard back from the Master!)
 Of course, I forgot to take a picture of this one--a fabulously rare miniature that George was especially proud of...he'd grown it for years, and it had finally grown out onto a peat block where it was content to bloom.

The albino form of the common Western A. caudatum
 A few wild gingers are crazy and large enough in bloom to make a bit of a spectacle of themselves--if they only didn't hide it under their gorgeous leaves (like the proverbial bushel basket)...

Asarum caudatum, albino, typical and hybrid
 Of course, what is better than an albino than a HYBRID between the albino and typical form. I love the little ballet these three flowers perform on the star moss...

Saruma henryi and other foliage contrasts...
What better way to transition away from the creeping gingers than by showing off some of the lovely clumps at Georg's of their upright anagrammatic cousin--notice the terrific contrasts in foliage colors and textures that sustain this garden even in the heat of summer and fall--although I can vouch that there are plenty of flowers in autumn as well when I last visited.

Sarracenia purpurea (right) and albino form (left)
 Georg has a raised bog covered with sphagnum and filled with treasures. I admired this three years ago and it has only improved.

Bergenia emeiensis
 There are several clones of this most amazing of bergenias I featured last year from Suncrest Nursery--my blog shows the flowers when they first open. This one shows them as they finish...

Mertensia virginica and complementary foliage...
 Not everything at Georg's is terribly rare: he does have a nice patch of this widespread Virginia bluebell of the Eastern woodlands (and yes, he has the albino and pink forms too!)...

Hylomecon japonicum
 I was very proud of my clumps of this wonderful Japanese poppywort, until I saw several species at Georg's, all of them forming wide masses. Sheesh!

Anemone nemorosa (double form)
 Anyone who visits northern Europe this time of year will fall in love with the ubiquitous--and really almost universal wood anemone. Naturally, Georg has many forms of this including this wonderful double.

Arisaema sikokianum
 This has been a rather late spring--ordinarily there would be many more jack in the pulpits blooming--as it was he only had a half dozen or so--I tried not to be annoyed!

Typical Georgian combo: Dicentra eximia 'Alba', Trollius hybrid and Omphalodes cappadocica...

A mottled leaf violet whose name I forgot to note: so kill me already!

A wonderful compact Doronicum
I suspect many of these are destined to be propagated and distributed through Jelitto seeds--such as this stunning compact doronicum. But most of Georg's garden contains plants of no commercial value necessarily: he just grows what he likes. And that's plenty!

Tiarella collina (or wherryi)
 One of the things Georg uses his garden to test is the performance of plants in "home garden setting": if it proves adaptable and long lived, you can be sure he will be especially anxious to promote it. This one is on his short list...

Waldsteinia ternata (variegated form)
 He enjoyes some variegated plants--especially some like this one that he has been selecting and improving himself. Not apt to be a seed plant necessarily, but very likely a good one for nurseries that propagate by cuttings.

Epigaea repens
 A wonderful clump of Trailing Arbutus--a challenging plant to grow well. I naturally had to bow down and sniff it (fortunately on a raised, peat bed--so not too much of a chore). What a heavenly scent!

Panax trifolia
 I believe he found this dwarf ginseng near the Arbutus in nature--and took pleasure in their growing nearby one another in his garden. I've not seen this in a garden before...not a common plant.

Trollius laxus v. laxus
 Although rare over much of its range in the Eastern United States, this globeflower is especially lovely and adaptable to gardens. Seed companies like Jelitto do a huge service by making plants like this common in nurseries (so people need not collect them in the wild.) I don't think they've gotten nearly enough credit for this service!

Dysosma 'Spotty Dotty' (I kid you not)
 He has no end of Podophyllum and Dysosma all through the garden. We find the former easy in Denver and he has shared many subspecies in recent years with us that are starting to come to blooming size. Alas, the Dysosmas are less accommodating.  Insert emoticon with fuming ears..

Mertensia virginica
 Here's the same clump of Virginia bluebell I showed above from a different angle--beautiful any way you look at it!

Iris albertii (?)
 I tentatively identified this iris, collected by Peter Korn in Kyghistan. It is much handsomer than the forms I have grown in the past of this species--but similar...should be excellent for breeders.

Lomatium grayi
 I was pleased to see this--a plant he grew from seed I sent him years ago. Lookin' good!

Ajuga incisa
What an unusual Ajuga from China! I would have never guessed...

Primula jessoana var. pubescens (cortusoides section)
 There were primulas everywhere in the garden. This is a woodlander I'd never seen before.

Iris cristata 'Alba'
 American natives were especially well represented: I think Georg has a fondness for my country!

Ranzania japonica at the end of bloom
 One rarely sees this wonderful Japanese monotypic plant in gardens: I just missed it in full bloom in Georg's garden...some day perhaps....

Sedum acre (yellow leaf)
Georg selected this yellow varient of the common sedum in nature: sedums are an important genus for green roof plantings, and for Jelitto seed. I think theya are underrepresented in most of our gardens...

Arnebia pulchra Caucasian form
Arnebia pulchra Standard form
 Georg is forever planting different forms of plants to compare their performance and look: he was very keen on the Caucasian form of the Prophet flower--a plant inexplicably rare in gardens. I was intrigued to see how different the two plants looked in different lights and times of day in these pictures...

American tableau with Stylophorum diphyllum and Trillium erectum f. album etc.
 Georg's garden is full of trilliums this time of year. These are beginning to hybridize and self sow...

Trillium flexipes 'Album'
 He was proud of this wonderful robust flexipes--and its tetramerous (and teratalogical) blossom! The original plants were from Rose Bush's property in Kentucky (Allen Bush's "lovely wife" as Georg put it!)...

Trillium grandiflorum 'Gothenburg pink'
 I saw oodles of this at Gothenburg--and at Henrik Zetterlund's private garden. I think they have a pretty good monopoly on it! Hey! We need some back in the states!

Trillium grandiflorum (Double)
I doubt you'll be seeing this at Walmart very soon. At least--I hope Costco gets it first! The modern horticultural industry being what it is, it will probably happen in our lifetimes.

One of Georg's collections from Georgia...
 Is this to die for or what?

Trillium albidum and T. kurabayashii and Anemone cf. demissa
 Like a real botanic gardener, Georg isolated the Western American trilliums from the eastern--wouldn't want any bicoastal hanky panky after all...I think the Anemone is obtusiloba now that I think of it....which I saw growing in abundance in Yunnan. Not easy in warm gardens, however....

Paris quadrifolia
 The European cousin of Trilliums was well represented throughout the garden--looking very fetching indeed. I saw him actually pull some of this up and cast it carelessly away (such a pest you know)...if only transporting plants had not become such an obstacle, that piece would be in my garden today!

Globularia gracilis
A wonderful globularia I'd not heard of--check back in a few weeks--perhaps Georg will correct some of my peccadillos...(he did: there were a lot of peccadillos--not least of which was my spelling of peccadillo.)
Miniature Paris from Sikkim
I have another hundred or so pictures of plants in this amazing garden (some of them even nicer than these) but I have a huge pile of papers and correspondence to go through, bills to pay and a ton of things to attend to--so unless you clamor pitifully, you will have to settle for these for the nonce. The huge clumps of hybrid Globeflowers,  the tiny festucas from Mike Bone and my expedition to Kazakhstan that George is pleased with, all this and more will just have to rest peacefully in my files...possibly forever. To revisit from time to time to mine for talks, and to remember a magical few days visiting with this modest, indefatigable and gifted plantsman I am proud to have as a friend!



  2. You are too sweet, Cliff: I may not respond too quickly, however, because I don't want you looking at MY pictures this time of year when you can be out there taking your own (much better ones!)

  3. Great garden, superb gardener! Bravo. Thanks for sharing.


Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive