We begin with a Pharoah. Meet my good friend… Sinclair A. Adam, Jr.
I’ve known of Sinclair since my days as a student at The University of Delaware. His name and the name of the nursery he started came up many times while I was studying landscape design, though I never got to meet him in person. It seemed all of my professors knew this famed nurseryman.
It’s no surprise with his 30+ years experience in horticulture, and herbaceous plants, that everyone would know him. Sinclair has taught at The University of Vermont, Brandywine Conservancy, The Brandywine Valley Association, Longwood Gardens, The Barnes Foundation, and Temple University. He established Dunvegan Nursery in 1989, which was owned and operated by Sinclair and his wife Kirsten. Today, Sinclair and Kirsten manage and breed for Vermont Organics in St. Albans, VT.
Sinclair has presented a number of topics in horticulture at ASHS, IPPS, PPA, The New England Greenhouse Conference, US National Arboretum, and other venues, and he holds Degrees in Plant Science from University of Wyoming & University of Vermont.
Kirsten also has 20+ years of experience in horticulture, a BA in Art History from University of Vermont, and a reputation for her skillful and efficient propagation techniques, and resulting crop quality.
How did we meet?
One day, after I started Plants Nouveau, I received an email from Sinclair with pictures of some tiarellas, asking me if I thought they were interesting?
It wasn’t a long email. I immediately replied, “yes!”
A simple beginning to our long and hopefully beneficial foamflower follies…
I’ve had the extreme pleasure getting to know Sinclair and his wife Kirsten over the past few years. They are an amazing couple. They truly believe in what they are doing.
Sinclair is one of those guys who you would love to sit back and relax with on the porch, debate politics or even contemplate the future over a good sipping scotch. He’s got an amazing brain, he’s incredibly clever, yet irreverent on occasion and hanging out with him is jolly good fun.
I’m proud to be representing Sinclair in the exclusive introduction of his newly selected line of ground covering foamflowers, The River Series.
Sinclair’s passion for breeding with native plants is known throughout the industry by such innovative introductions as Tiarella ‘Erika Leigh’, ‘Laird of Skye’, ‘Brandywine’ and ‘Oakleaf’.
In Sinclair’s own words:
“Ever since I was young I have loved plants, their fruits, flowers, and fragrance. My introduction to plants originally came from my father, and was augmented by both of my grandmothers.” When things calm down after the rush of spring, in the evenings (and on occasional weekends) we like to sail our lovely PA lakes, and explore the wilds. People in horticulture are great folks, and when time permits we enjoy spending time with our friends (from horticultural and otherwise), as well as listening to music, reading great books, and exploring nature.”
Sinclair’s Mission: To save the world one plant at a time.
Many in the industry refer to Sinclair as the honorable Pharaoh of Foamflowers. I think the name fits quite well. His love of native plants and his passion for finding solutions to common landscape problems like water and pollinator conservation as well as finding substitutes for commonly invasive plants has put a depth into his plant selection process that doesn’t exist in many other breeding programs.
Who would have thought that delicate little foamflowers could help to increase declining bee populations?
Up to ten different bee species visit tiarellas, so adding foamflowers to your home garden increases the pollen for bees. More bees means better pollination for necessary food crops.
Sinclair and I share a passion for native plants and selections (now referred to as Nativars) of those natives. We both believe that if you have an improved selection, perhaps, just perhaps, you’ll be able to more easily convince people who don’t like native plants because they think they are “weedy”, that natives can be beautiful too.
If you can hook someone on natives, they will soon discover the glory that is native plants. No, they are not easier to grow and no they are certainly not “no care”.
What plant is?
If you love natives or want to give them a try, starting with something as fail safe as the River Series is where I’d begin. Sinclair’s breeding makes it easy to fall in love with natives.
The favorites from my hot, incredibly dry, shady Baltimore garden are Octoraro and Delaware. I’ve got Octoraro going now up here in the new Massachusetts trials and hope to pick up a few more selections when I visit this week.
In my opinion, Octoraro is the most drought tolerant and the best ground cover in this series for dry shade. Octoraro grows four to six inches tall and covers up to 24 inches of ground making it the perfect, native substitute for English periwinkle in dry or moderately wet shade. Thick flower stalks hold mauve-pink buds that open to creamy, light pink blooms from early May to July.
Delaware has the largest, roundest leaves with subtle, deep purple markings. Delaware grows four to six inches tall and spreads to 18 inches wide in one season. Prolific, light pink blooms from late April to June are held high above the foliage on dark red stems.
Sinclair’s newest additions are to the Diva-rella Series. ‘Stephanie Cohen’ is the first introduction.
Next time we’ll get to know Peter Kolster and his family, of Kolster B.V. in The Netherlands a little better. Find out what attracted them to breeding super exciting, game changing hydrangeas.
Happy fall colors and Happy Weeding!
Co-Owner, Plants Nouveau