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Plant Focus

Quercus douglasii is an endemic California oak tree, affectionately called “the blue oak”.

Oaks in Normandy

IOS member James Harris and host Arnaud Brunel looking at an oak in Chateau de Galleville
(click on images to enlarge)

I’ve just been with the International Dendrology Society in Normandy, France (16-23 September) where we visited Chateau de Galleville. Here Arnaud Brunel has planted about a hundred young oak trees. He bought these from Pépinière de la Preille. They are all from seed and are arranged by continent: Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The spacing between them is about 10 m so should suffice in the future.

These were planted less than a year ago and there are still some more to come. I think we have persuaded Arnaud to join the IOS and in a few years this collection will be well worth a visit. They are all labeled using the Wespelaar system of plastic that becomes engrained with dirt, and so easier to read with time.

Quercus variabilis Quercus nigra
General view of oak plantation at Chateau de Galleville 

Quercus glauca (right) with Q.myrsinifolia, from Jardin Jungle Karlostachys

Other "oak moments" on the tour included comparing Q.glauca with Q.myrsinifolia, both growing in the extraordinary Jardin Jungle Karlostachys. Here Charles Boulanger has planted the rare and exotic in amongst native forest. Well worth threading your way between the trees and discovering previously unheard of genera, not to mention species.

In total contrast to the Jungle, we visited Chateau de Brecy, home of Didier Wirth, where almost every plant is clipped into topiary or parterre. An unusual but effective choice for one column was Q. coccifera.

Clipped Quercus coccifera at Chateau de Brecy

All photos © Harriet Tupper