Exploring The World Of Exotics And Natives

Barry Glick

On a mountain aerie in West Virginia is an unusual plant collection that would likely satisfy the desires of the most ardent gardener. It is called Sunshine Farm and Gardens, and it is spread over the mountain, in hoop houses and along ridges and valleys where the varied microclimate fits the different species and cultivars.

The proprietor is as unusual and rare as his plant collections. His name is Barry Glick, and he is a self-acknowledged nut about plants. “I was born that way,” he says. As an eight-year-old living in Philadelphia, Glick would ride his bike to Longwood Gardens to track new species for his collection at home.

A Modern-Day Flower Child
In this day of smart phones and computers when interest in gardening seems to be declining, it is interesting to note that a demonstration of how to root a cutting in a glass of water on television kindled Glick’s interest in plants. As a little boy, Glick did the same thing with one of his mother’s prized coleus plants. He was hooked for life. It also did not hurt that flower children were all the rage; Glick became a flower child. He is still a flower child at 62 years old and combines a Barnum-and-Bailey knack for promotion with a sharp intellect and prodigious memory, all wrapped in a counter-culture, hippie-like persona.

In 1972 when Glick needed (lots) more room, he purchased 60 acres in Greenbrier County, W. Va., where visitors need the instincts of a mountain climber to find his plot of land. The impetus for this move was an advertisement in the Philadelphia Inquirer promoting the sale of the land at $30 per acre, which the young Glick could barely afford. He followed the advice of the poet who said, “Listen to your heart; when you jump off the cliff, sprout your wings on the way down.”

The World Is Going To Helleborus
 
Looking for a great groundcover? Something native, and not pachysandra, ivy, or vinca?

The answer is the versatile and long-lived hellebore. They thrive in a location which is open to partly shaded with good drainage, but this plant responds beautifully in many different conditions, and in any zone in the country. Their adaptability gives them a step up over the competition, in addition to the benefit of blooms as early as December, January or February; appropriatly, they are called the Christmas, or Lenten, Rose.
Long-lived, evergreen, and virtually deerproof, these plants quickly establish colonies and can be used as a wonderful groundcover in almost any situation.
 
At Sunshine Farm and Gardens there were dozens of hellebores, including the special Helleborus x hybridus ‘Sunshine’ Selections, a product of over 30 years of breeding with hand pollination, and our favorite, Helleborus ‘Sunmarble’ with its lovely marbled leaves and white flowers.

Finding Success In The Plant Market
He sprouted his wings by purchasing 500 apple trees from nearby Adams County Nursery and planting them in an orchard — an organic orchard, of course.

Today, Glick has well over 10,000 perennials, annuals, bulbs, trees and shrubs from every corner of the globe. He exchanges seeds and plants with people in nearly every country of the world, and he travels to many of these countries, as well. He has travelled to China, India and Russia on plant collecting expeditions. He is acquainted with many plant collectors and is on a first name basis with all of them. Glick loves to talk, which helps make him a popular lecturer. He even puts on workshops in plant propagation and is enthusiastic about anything that will promote knowledge about the plant kingdom.

Glick’s Collection
In early May, we spent a misty, cool morning with Glick and his dogs and saw enough plant specimens — ones that would fit in different types of climates and situations — to satisfy our appetites. These specimens included a prized Styrax japonicus (Japanese snowbell). Planted in 1993, this plant was loaded with blooms. We also saw a rare, variegated Zelkova serrata ‘Goshiki’ grafted on elm rootstock, and a weeping European beech, Fagus sylvatica ‘Tortuosa,’ easily 20 years old and thriving beside Glick’s house on his mountaintop. On a tour of the gardens, we saw a multitude of native plants in their spring splendor, along with a few experimental species. Some were wonderful, while others were not, which happens so often with all of us who love to try something new.

“The Pleioblastus distichus, or dwarf fern-leaf bamboo, has taken over everywhere,” Glick says. According to him, the variegated version is not as vigorous and has less chlorophyll, making it less overpowering in the garden.

Glick says there is a good reason why natives are all the rage these days: Tending to plants that are naturally well-suited to our gardens and landscapes saves time, water and energy. These plants also provide a healthy environment for native birds, insects and other wildlife. With these perks, it is easy to see why this trend has taken off in recent years and why more gardeners are going native.

Hellebores And More
Next door is a healthy patch of Cypripedium parviflorum var. parviflorum, also known as yellow lady slipper, alongside a marbled-leaved, yellow hellebore of Glick’s named Helleborus ‘Sun Marble.’ Other nearby plants included:
Hexastylis virginica, a beautiful ginger bloom with marbled leaves of green and silver
Caulophyllum thalictroides (blue cohosh)
• A native Delphinium triflorum
Arisaema triphyllum  (Jack-in-the-pulpit)
Disporopsis pernyi
Arisaema dracontium
Aceriphyllum rossii
Primula meadia ‘Alba’ (syn. Dodecatheon meadia ‘Alba,’ also known as pride of Ohio or prairie shooting star)
Helleborus niger
Jeffersonia diphylla (twinleaf), a charming plant with a charming history
• A spring-blooming aconitum, which shows off white flowers in early spring

As we walk, Glick keeps us entertained with nonstop stories about his tours and speaking engagements around the world, collecting plants and the people that he contacts regularly.

Our original quest was to find the Helleborus ‘Sunshine Selections’ bred by Glick. This hellebore is a product of more than 30 years of propagation, selecting true F1 hybrids. It occupies more than six acres on his part of the mountaintop in West Virginia. Despite our original intent, we found much more than the hellebore to capture our interests and fuel our
plant envy.

In the greenhouses, we found Asclepias quadrifolia, Hexastylis arifolia and many varieties of ginger from around the world, each with leaves more spectacularly designed than the next. A native scutellaria (skullcap), hardy ginseng, a very unusual Hexastylis contracta, Prosartes maculata (syn. Disporum maculatum), carex of all shapes and sizes, Viola tripartita and Viola palmata have also taken root in the greenhouse. The list is truly endless, and with his passion for native plants, it’s no wonder Glick enjoys sharing his knowledge and living treasures with everyone.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The Gaillardia

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Annual Meeting Date

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
Evolvulus Blue My Mind

February 24, 2015

Blue Ribbon Bloomers For Greenhouse Production

Grow what consumers want! Surveys show that blue is one of the top preferred colors of today’s consumers. Here are twelve top recommended blue-flowering Proven Winners annuals and perennials to suit your spring production cycle.

Read More
Latest Stories
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The G…

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More

February 18, 2015

California Spring Trials Sneak Peek: New Annuals For 20…

If you're like us and you can't wait until the 2015 California Spring Trials to see some of the new genetics that will be hitting the market in 2016, never fear. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out our slideshow to see some of the new annuals making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Athena Brazil Salvia 'Brazilian Purple'

February 18, 2015

ForemostCo And Athena Brazil Unite To Supply Unrooted P…

ForemostCo, Inc. and Athena Brazil have forged a working relationship to support each other in the unrooted perennial cuttings market for North America. The partnership, geared toward accommodating increasing demand for unrooted perennial cuttings in North America, adds diversity to a recently consolidated market.

Read More

February 17, 2015

Poinsettias Had Their Best Year In Many In 2014

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Growers were encouraged by high plant quality, enthusiastic shoppers and a stronger, less saturated market for poinsettias throughout the selling season. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish.

Read More
Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'

February 17, 2015

Geranium Hybrid ‘Biokovo’ Dubbed 2015 Peren…

Geranium xcantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,' a naturally occurring hybrid of G. dalmaticum and G. macrorrhizum, is the Perennial Plant Association's top pick for 2015 Perennial of the Year. Learn why this tough, landscape geranium took home the prize.

Read More
Costa Farms' Season Premier 2015

February 4, 2015

Costa Farms’ 2015 Season Premier Reveals Newest V…

The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry's very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year's event revealed breeders' best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms tropical trial gardens. Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.

Read More

January 28, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces Additional 2015 Winne…

All-America Selections has announced more 2015 AAS Winners, bringing the grand total of introductions for the 2015 gardening year to 25. The seven winners join the 12 announced last November and six announced last July. This year, AAS has had the most winners in one year since 1939.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Holiday Plant Trends And New Varieties

Growers had mixed feelings about the 2014 poinsettia season according to Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Poinsettia Survey. Read about their plans for 2015 and stay up to date on 14 of the newest cyclamen and poinsettia varieties on the market.

Read More

January 21, 2015

Pantone Marsala Plants To Grow In 2015 [Slideshow]

Marsala, an earthy wine-red color, is the Pantone Color of the Year for 2015, and it presents a great marketing opportunity to showcase Marsala-colored plants for outdoor and indoor decorating. Enjoy this round-up of plants with Marsala hues.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Liven Up Indoor And Outdoor Living With 24 New Tropical…

Uniquely colored foliage and vivid blooms are just two of the great features new tropicals and foliage plants add to energize indoor and outdoor spaces.

Read More

January 13, 2015

Take Purdue University’s Survey On Vegetatively P…

Do you have problems callusing or rooting vegetatively propagated perennials? The Purdue University Floriculture Lab would like to help you with these problems, but first the research team there needs your help.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Charon Red'

January 6, 2015

Dan Schantz Farm 2014 Poinsettia Trial Recap And 2015 D…

The 2014 Dan Schantz Poinsettia trials featured more than 170 poinsettia varieties. Here's a summary of the event, as well as a 2015 date for your calendar.

Read More

December 31, 2014

Engage Busy Consumers With Modern-Day Tropical And Foli…

Contemporary tropical and foliage plants fit right in with the hustle and bustle of the twenty-first century. Their versatility lends itself to countless uses both inside the house and out on the patio.

Read More

December 30, 2014

2015 California Spring Trials Are Just Around The Corn…

Are the California Spring Trials on your schedule for 2015? Before the busy growing season sidelines your plans, use this handy resource to get a jumpstart on registering for your trip.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Top 5 Slideshows Of 2014

These popular slideshows from 2014 highlight everything from new perennials, to new veggies, to California Spring Trials.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Suntory Makes Spirits Bright With Princettia Displays

Suntory Flowers started to introduce its varieties to sister company Beam Suntory by collaborating on a holiday interiorscape featuring Princettia at Beam Suntory's offices in Deerfield, Ill., near Chicago.

Read More

December 17, 2014

Small-Size Plant Varieties For Small-Scale Gardens [Sli…

Miniature and dwarf-sized varieties are perfect for containers, small-scale outdoor gardens and miniature gardening. See what breeders and growers have to offer in new varieties and past favorites.

Read More

December 17, 2014

Plant Ratings From 2014 Trials Now Available In Plant T…

Now that North American trial grounds have completed their 2014 trialing season, the National Plant Trials Database has more than 15,000 plant ratings for the horticulture industry’s use in planning for 2015.

Read More