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Plant Focus

A guest post by Matt Candeias, host of the In Defense of Plants podcast and blog

Nursery News

Oaks in the polytunnel at Mallet Court Nursery, Somerset, UK. On the right is a batch of Quercus robur that I am growing under a contract for a client who is doing research on ancient oaks and their regeneration.

This year I have received an unprecedented demand for oaks. This is exhilarating and exciting. One client bought 15 Quercus lobata. Another took about 50 oaks to Ireland. Another from Italy has ordered 120 different oaks in twos and threes (two crates 3' x 3' have been sent full of oaks!!). An inquiry for 60 oaks has just come in. It is very encouraging that oaks are becoming so important and that they are wanted in small quantities and large.

The International Oak Society has an educational role and it is important that we continue to tell people about this wonderful and diverse genus. We need more knowledge and understanding. In what conditions does Q. lobata grow in its native habitat and how will it succeed here in England? The other day I was asked about Q. garryana and Q. gambelii and which has the greatest range. The questions keep coming.

A year ago, I planted 48 species of oak here where the soil is alkaline and I hope to learn much more about this genus. I specialize in growing oaks from seed as many clients prefer trees on their own roots.

How am I going to be able to satisfy this growing demand? How can I find seed of rare oaks: Q. dolicholepis, Q. myrsinifolia, Q. oglethorpensis, and many others? I know of three seed houses, but they have a limited range and often do not have the acorns one asks for. I desperately need help to find acorns and many friends help.

Would that more help could be given!

Two-year-old oak seedlings Quercus sadleriana


All photos © James Harris