Bobby Green is a landscape designer and owner of Green Nurseries in Fairhope, AL., a wholesale nursery specializing in Camellias, winter-interest plants, and rare and scarce plants. He encourages the wider use of camellias by emphasizing their versatility in the garden. His grounds have become a repository for rare and endangered camellia cultivars salvaged from long-abandoned nurseries and gardens. Bobby designed the recently-opened Wintergarden, at the Mobile Botanical Gardens. He also provides research and consultation services toward restoring historic camellia gardens.
While in college studying archeology, Bobby discovered working the afternoons at his dad’s nursery was more interesting than the voluminous books on sociology. He proclaimed, “Hey, I just wanted to dig in the dirt! ” So when he proudly announced his intention to enter the nursery business his father’s good advice went unheeded. “Go to law school (his uncle and grandfather were lawyers), grow plants for a hobby.” Thirty five years later he’s still on the farm.
In Bobby’s words:
“It wasn’t the plants that were so intriguing to me as a child; in fact, their demanding habits were often placed between me and the baseball game down the block. It was the old things. The abandoned tools of the 1940s that had been used to raise the camellias. . . the old grafting jars, large and small in many different colors. . . the label-making machine capable only of producing a handful of tags an hour. . . the “tree cart” that was often used as a stagecoach or chariot as my nurseryman father indulged my sisters and me. But the most mysterious of all was the “Rototiller” — 1947 model, a monstrous seven-foot-long, 2-cycle, 16-horsepower machine that could turn the hardest clay soil to fluff.
My love of old things eventually and naturally extended into the garden itself. And what could be more interesting to study but the camellia? Here were actual living architectural artifacts! Crawling beneath old shrubs, once tended by gardeners now long-gone, could give you an insight into the gardener’s own spirit, with his labels frugally made from discarded Budweiser cans. The gardener/tool and die maker would stamp the heavy aluminum tags with care, and they remain as legible today as they were 40 years ago. Some labels, made by well-meaning amateur spellers, were so vague as to be almost in code.
Better than any other Southern shrub, the camellia can link gardeners with generations of the past. “My grandmother planted that camellia”, or “My uncle rooted that Japonica” are still commonly heard phrases.
Gardeners would like to think of their work as achieving some form of immortality, but of course a garden is a very fragile creature. Certain plants, however, seem immortal but for the hand of Man. I have rarely seen an old camellia die from any disease except “progress”. Personally, I am indelibly linked to my father by his camellias, some planted as early as 1932. As children, we would bring armloads of camellias into the house, and my father would rattle off the names: ‘Coletti’, ‘Marjorie Magnificent’, ‘Donckelarri’. My father died in 1982, and it seems he took many of his loves with him: opera, bad jokes, Nero Wolfe mysteries. But every winter I can still walk through the garden with him as he points out ‘Lindsey Neill’ and ‘Rose Dawn’.
And that other link: the Rototiller — that hopelessly obsolete machine from the past? Every year or two I wrestle it from its cave, and clean the carburetor. A little new gas and three or four pulls and it sputters to life again, belching enough blue smoke to make Al Gore’s eyes water as far away as Washington. It careens around in circles, pulling my spare frame behind it. After five minutes of this ritual, I somewhat sadly wrestle the beast back into its cave, vowing that one day I’ll clean and renovate the machine that so faithfully helped put food on the table through nine presidents.
Sentimentality is a common link among all gardeners, both a comfort and a curse. I owe a great debt to my father for teaching me about camellias — and of course, for not throwing out the Rototiller.”
— Robert M. Green Jr
Bobby is pictured here with his wife and business partner Debbie.
A rant on the all-mighty horticulture industry, and a dash of pop
culture mixed with what’s happening in the new plant world.
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On hot summer evenings, when the fireflies are flying as well as on Independence Day, children wave bright, hissing hand held sparklers to celebrate the long days of summer and the freedom and happiness of families gathering, or an occasional neighborhood block party. We are so excited about our new line of cannas from tropical plant lover and breeder, Brian Williams, because the flowers are like no other group of cannas we’ve seen and they are reliably hardy to USDA hardiness Zone 7. Canna blooms are often tight and stiff and when they are in full bloom, there’s lots of browning making it difficult to see the fully open flower for each floret opens at its own pace and crowds next one. With the Sparkler series, the blooms are light and airy, with a dainty, firework- like feel. When in full bloom, they stay colorful and clean until the next bloom stalk is ready to shine. These upright beauties make great fillers and thrillers for beds, borders and containers.
A vigorous, disease resistant grower that forms a tall rounded specimen when mature. Dark green, wavy leaves are distinguishable year round and provide a striking back-drop for the blooms.
Plump, bridal-white berries ripen in early fall, as the last of summers’ small white flowers swell into pearls. As the leaves fall, each arching stem is adorned with the decorative berries which remain on slender branches through the winter.
The foliage on this new brunnera is as thick as cardboard and it holds up way better in the heat and humidity of summer. The blooms on this new selection are two-toned - pink and blue.
Why Plants Nouveau?
Plants Nouveau was founded by Angela Treadwell-Palmer in 2005. The company quickly became a leader in perennial plant introduction. In 2010, Angela partnered with famed new plant expert and plant geek extraordinaire, Linda Guy, former owner of Carolina Nurseries and managing partner for the Novalis, Plants That Work Program. Linda brings the knowledge, experience and new plant contacts to help position Plants Nouveau as the an industry leader in new plant introductions.
With two plant savvy, forward thinking leaders, they’ll have double expertise and double worldwide contacts. This new “double-trouble” partnership will make for some clever, innovative competition to other large new plant introduction companies. Plants Nouveau will successfully introduce your new selections to the World. Negotiating legal issues, creative marketing, researching production protocols and establishing and maintaining world wide relationships is what we do.
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Plants Nouveau will evaluate your selection in many different regions of the U.S. and abroad to achieve maximum exposure to extreme climatic conditions.
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When you choose Plants Nouveau, we pay for all costs associated with protecting and marketing your new selection. There is no cost to you. Just sit back and collect your share of royalties.
At Plants Nouveau we realize they are YOUR plants and we know we would not have the honor of introducing them for you if YOU hadn’t given them to us so, PLEASE call every day, email every hour, request visiting rights. Don’t be afraid to ask ANYTHING! Our main goal is to have open communication with our breeders and for them to be happy. If they are happy, they keep coming back to us with new plants. See, it’s easy to do that when that’s your main goal, so choose Plants Nouveau for that very reason – We LOVE our BREEDERS!
And finally we won’t EVER compromise our beliefs to introduce a plant that may harm or have the potential to harm wild lands. We will make every effort to avoid introducing invasive plants (in accordance with the Center for Plant Conservation regulations).
Here’s a bit of valuable information on what NOT to do if you think you’ve discovered a new plant
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