Dreams of Italy... (as we stand in our 'Carolina Midnight' Loropetalum)

The relatively mild weather continues and pretty decent sales do too, thankfully. My kids are fairly well behaved and my wife and I just celebrated our 30th anniversary, so I supposed I have very little to complain about, although I’m sure I could think of something. 

Melinda and I had said for years that we were going to celebrate our 30th by taking a trip to Italy. She, it should be noted, is the one who likes to travel. I’d really rather just stay and work, but you don’t stay married for 30 years without learning a thing or two. We made it as far as Orange Beach, Alabama – for one night, but it was a nice little getaway. We did manage to eat at an Italian restaurant while we were there, and finished off the trip with a stop at the Bass Pro Shop on the way home. That part, you may have already guessed, was my idea. Just like everybody else who gets to a similar point in life, I can’t imagine where the years have gone. 

One comment I have about our availability list is that you probably should take the 8” azalea list with a grain of salt. At this moment we are taking cuttings off some of them, and as soon as we get the cuttings we need, they get a good pruning. All I can say for sure is that the list above reflects what we had available around 1:00 today. Once they get whacked, it’ll take about 6 weeks for them to recover enough to sell.

The other remark I have to make concerns plant naming, and hopefully it’ll clear up some confusion. I have always believed there were more Loropetalum names than there are Loropetalum varieties. I know you will be surprised to learn that there are people out there who, rather than pay royalties and licensing fees, buy expensive tags and containers, will simply re-name a patented plant and press on from there. I would rather not have my picture on the cover of The American Nurseryman, at least not looking through bars, and have always opted to play by the rules. The problem is that the rules are a little nebulous at times.

I bought a beautiful, very dark Loropetalum a few years ago whose name, I was told, was trademarked. Since the plant isn’t patented I could propagate and sell it, just not by its original name. In the time-honored tradition of nurserymen everywhere, I named it myself. I decided to call it ‘Red Velvet’ and have listed it as such for the last year or so. It has the best foliage color of any Loropetalum I’ve seen. About the only drawback to this plant, as far as I’m concerned, is that it gets very big. That’s not the end of the world, of course. We’ve sold Elaeagnus and Ligustrum for decades to people who didn’t want to see their neighbors anymore, so we don’t need to pioneer a new market niche here. Believe it or not, I even got a call for Pyracantha recently. I can only assume that the customer not only doesn’t want to see his neighbors, he is pretty well ok with inflicting harm upon them. A mine field would probably be a safer alternative to a Pyracantha hedge.

But I found out last week that the original name of the Loropetalum I have is ‘Carolina Midnight’ (not what I thought it was at the outset) and that it is not trademarked or patented. That is why, listed above, I have shown both names – and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This whole business of naming plants has always been as confusing as having George Foreman name your children for you, I just hate to have contributed to the haze. About all I can say in my own defense it that ye who are without sin may cast the first stones.

I’ll just stand among my Red Carolina Midnight Velvet and take it like a man.

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