Botanically-illiterate suppliers irritate me

OregonGrapeMarch 15, 2014

I was at a garden center that shall remain nameless with my family this afternoon. While my wife was paying for her bulbs and seed, I spotted a two-gallon Ceanothus 'Heart's Desire', a plant that I've had difficulty finding locally (and even not-so-locally). When we got home, I noticed that I'd missed something on the tag. The full tag reads: 'Heart's Desire' Ceanothus gloriosus Point Reyes Creeper

Huh? I had never heard of 'Point Reyes Creeper' before, but apparently that's a synonym for C. gloriosus 'Anchor Bay'. The listed growth size on the tag (12" x 12') is closer to that of C. gloriosus gloriosus 'Point Reyes'. So apparently it's one of those three, and it would've been nice if the supplier knew what they were talking about. After looking at a Ceanothus flowering chart, I'm pretty sure that it's not 'Heart's Desire', as there are no signs of flowers and the foliage appears on the dark side. So probably one of the other two. Awesome.

I considered taking it back, but the hassle frankly isn't worth the $8. This is yet another reminder of the importance of purchasing from a good supplier.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Point Reyes ceanothus is a common name for Ceanothus gloriosus. Plant tags presenting Point Reyes as a cultivar name 'Point Reyes' are boo boos, unless somebody has recently cloned a selection they want to call 'Point Reyes' - which would not, of course, be a good idea.

C. gloriosus var. gloriosus 'Anchor Bay' is a seedling selection originating near Anchor Bay. It grows 3 ft. tall and produces larger than normal leaves; flowering is not abundant.

C. gloriosus var. gloriosus 'Heart's Desire' is from rocks above Heart's Desire Beach at Point Reyes. It grows 12 in. high and produces flowers on the dark side. A couple of us went to Heart's Desire Beach during a recent winter but saw no ceanothus there at all - let alone anything resembling the original occurrence of the cultivar. We did see a coast silktassel hanging over the beach, that was attracting birds that kept flying in and out of it, and several examples of a rare manzanita nearby.

And lots of poison oak. In fact, I accidentally ran my hand over one or more seedlings of it while pulling out English holly seedlings - no good deed goes unrewarded!

Luckily I did not get a rash. I did attempt to wash in the park bathroom immediately afterward, but as I remember it there wasn't even any soap.

Across Tomales Bay from Heart's Desire Beach is the place of origin of C. thyrsiflorus var. thyrsiflorus 'Millerton Point'. We saw no ceanothus on the Point itself but there was a little patch behind the beach north of there, which a friend who has also been there confirmed later was where the cultivar was selected - and not actually at Millerton Point.

There wasn't that much room to pull off so we didn't stop and tromp around in the ceanothus.

Here is a link that might be useful: Xera Plants - Shrubs - C-CE

This post was edited by bboy on Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 22:32

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 10:19PM
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Thanks for the info. My guess is that it's most likely 'Anchor Bay'. Most of the sources I've seen list this selection as more like 1-2' in height, but who knows.

Whatever it is, it should do nicely in my dry, west-facing border. Had a little spot that I was going to fill with Sisyrinchium bellum, but decided to try to get this Ceanothus to mound up against the fence instead. If it works as I envision, it'll look nicer than blue-eyed grass in the late fall and winter. If not, I'm out $8.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 10:44PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yellow-eyed grass likes it moist. I have even seen wild examples growing and flowering in the water of a ditch in Island County, WA.

This book is where it says 3 ft. by 6 ft. for 'Anchor Bay'. On the same page (p. 68) is a photo of a big mound of it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ceanothus from Timber Press

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 1:45PM
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The Sisyrinchium known as "Yellow-eyed Grass" is Sisyrinchium californicum, and that species indeed likes it wet (i.e., it needs constant moisture throughout the year). Sisyrinchium bellum can tolerate some moisture in the summer, but is also drought-tolerant enough to grow in the grasslands of the Central Valley in CA. The ones that I grow (from stock in CA) seem to go stress-deciduous regardless of how much water I give them. The one that I had in an 8" pot and got weekly water, went deciduous this past September (despite the 7" of rain we received late in the month), and sprouted back in November.

I've read multiple sources for the growth habit of 'Anchor Bay' and most give a height of 1-2', with some saying 1-3'. It appears variable, though many CA natives tend to grow larger here due to our higher rainfall and longer growing. So it would not be surprising if mine grew to 3' tall.

This post was edited by OregonGrape on Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 15:47

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 2:32PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

My 'Heart's Desire' is low growing -- fits within the 12 inch range -- with small very dark leaves, and no hint of buds or flowers as yet. This is the 3rd year in the ground.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 6:20PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I misread your initial reference as being to S. californicum, that's why I was talking about that one.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 9:44PM
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No problem. I have a nice mix of S. californicum and Mimulus cardinalis. They flower right around the same time and look good together.

Thanks for the info, jean. I suppose that I'll have to wait a while to find out which selection I'm growing.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 11:00PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

This Juniper was listed as a 'Chinese Juniper' at a local nursery. I have no idea what it is beyond that. I do know it's not a Phitzer or Gold Coast.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Looks like Juniperus chinensis 'Plumosa Aurea'.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 2:05PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Thank you bboy.
I haven't seen it in the few nurseries I've been to in the last few years. I've been on the look out for it just for an ID. I suppose you see it all the time. It sure gets big! It's a lot larger than that shown in the picture. It gradually grew out from the Pieris and Spruce.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 2:21PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I see it now and then, think it rather attractive. In your scheme it works with the pieris because neither is more obviously strongly tinted than the other.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 10:37PM
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