Abies nordmanniana Hunnewell W.B. The Full Story

gardener365(5b Illinois USA)September 26, 2011

Today I received a letter from Greg Williams. Earlier, Edwin requested I write to Greg to ask the story of this W.B.

Greg writes:

"Abies nord 'KBNG WB' - not sure where this name comes from- Hunnewell W.B. - Hunnewell Broom + Abies nord Broom H are the same- I used A. nord Broom H (was) the name I used when I shared the broom with others-" Greg Williams

Dax

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firefightergardener(7/8)

Is this totally different from Abies cilicica 'Hunnewell W.B.'? I might have three or four plants that are identical and cannot get the story straight. Here are their listings, I can post photos if it won't hijack/ruin this thread but it seems very related:

Abies cilicica 'Hunnewell WB'
Abies cilicica 'Greg's Broom'
Abies cephalonica 'Hunnewell WB'

They all look identical, at least from a young age. Are these nordmanniana?? They look a little different.

-Will

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 5:56PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Allow Edwin to chime in.

Dax

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 6:25PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Presumably all named for the Hunnewell Estate and coterminous Arboreta in Wellesley, MA. One of the earliest hotbeds of "advanced horticulture" in this country. I once emailed one of the Hunnewells, who owns an investment bank in lower Manhattan, to ask for contact information at the estate because I was looking for some rare rhododendron cultivars. (I'd already checked on the Wellesley College side of the lake; I was told the vast majority of rhododendrons were on the estate arboretum) As would be expected with someone of that pedigree, she graciously responded almost immediately. NO "bad attitude" you might expect for a Wall Street executive.

I spoke on the phone to the head gardener. Turns out many, many old rhododendrons hybrids were imported from England from probably about 1850 to 1930, but owing to the insufficiently salubrious climate, the majority of the ones I would have found interesting, such as non-ironclads with a lot of R. arboreum et al., in their blood (pun intended), died over the years. Another problem is vandals over from about mid 50s to the late 80s - the golden age of American vandalism haha - removed most of the tags identifying the cultivars. The species R. hunnewellianum is named after the family.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.wickedlocal.com/wellesley/town_info/history/x889021898/Why-is-the-name-Hunnewell-all-over-Wellesley

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 12:02AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

I meant to raise a couple non-obvious (perhaps) points.
1) the plants might or might not have have originated with brooms on the estate. It seems they could even have been located elsewhere in New England, in England or even in Europe by one of the family's representatives.
and
2) It could have come from somewhere else in the world having no direct connection to the family, and simply have been named in honor of them. That is the case with the Chinese rhododendron species, which would barely be hardy enough to survive in Boston.

Will be interesting to know the rest of the story.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 2:57PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Dax, I overlooked this topic.
I'll come back to this soon!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 4:35PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Will, can you show us some plant pics and close up pics were the buds and needles are clearly visuable?
Please take them of the one's you mentioned:
Abies cilicica 'Hunnewell WB'
Abies cilicica 'Greg's Broom'
Abies cephalonica 'Hunnewell WB'
Thanks!
This can clearify a lot...

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 2:28AM
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firefightergardener(7/8)

Here ya go.




Same plant to my novice eyes.

-Will

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 6:15PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Will, thanks for these pics.
Indeed, all are the same one but now we have to found out which on it is.
In my opinion it's not an Abies cephalonica because it's buds are differend and shiney.
Also buds of the Abies silicica looks differend, they have rough scales.
Several times I discussed this witches' broom with Clement and we don't know what it is for this moment.
I also asked Bob Fincham for his opinion and pics but I didn't receive anything yet.
The one and only solution here is that Dax could write another letter to Greg for clearification...
dax would you be so kind to do this again?
Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 2:22AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

I can write him, sure.

Dax

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 7:28AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Abies cilicica:

Abies cilicica

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 7:59AM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Dax, thanks in advance for writing a message to Greg.
Your pics are showing the typical Abies cilicia buds which I mentioned before.
The Abies cilicica 'Spring Grove' does have the same typical buds as the species.
Comparing these buds with the buds at Will's pics then we can make the conclusion that the 'Greg Broom' aka 'Hunnewell Broom' has nothing to do with this species...

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 11:16AM
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bluespruce53(Dorset UK)

I used to have a plant here under the name Abies cephalonica 'Greg's Broom' unfortunately it died a few years ago, but I can say for sure that it was definitely different than the Abies nordmanniana 'KBNG WB'

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 11:41AM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Stephen, your's looked like Will's Abies cephalonica 'Hunnewell W.B.' aka 'Greg's Broom' which isn't the same as Abies nordmanniana 'KBNG W.B.' indeed.

For sure was that greg Williams found 2 brooms at the Honneywell Estate, one was an Abies nordmanniana broom, the other an Abies ...? broom.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 12:34PM
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brentm

This is a photo from the Hunnewell estate showing a dead WB in a massive Abies nordmanniana - there are about 5 large Nordmann firs on the estate, but this was the only one I saw evidence of a broom in. See photos. I imagine that this is the WB Greg Williams originally found, but I cannot verify that.


Broom is in the lower 20% of tree, left side, there is a small brown spot.

Broom Close up

-Brent

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 12:03PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Thanks for this pic!
This must be the original broom for the Abies nordmanniana 'Broom H'.
'Broom H' is the cultivar name which Greg Williams gave to this one, 'KBNG W.B.' is just a synonym given by somebody else...

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 1:25PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Brent, did you also see the other broom which was found by Greg Williams at the same location.
It should be an Abies cephalonica or an Abies cilicica...

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 8:21AM
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brentm

Edwin, I did not see any brooms in the other Abies, but I was looking. I did find 2 other new brooms. Well 1 of them I found on a Picea abies var. Gregoryana, the other was pointed out.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 2:38PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

That's great news, finding 2 new brooms!
Can you also show us some pices of these?

You mentioned Picea abies var. Gregoryana.
I think you mean Picea abies 'Gregoryana' which was one of the first recorded dwarf cultivars found of this species...
Sure I like to see a witches' broom from this one!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 5:26AM
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