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Garden Blog

Upholding the Kruckeberg Tradition

By Brianne Zorn, Executive Director

This year, we revived the Kruckeberg tradition of collecting specimens in the wild.For years, Art and Mareen Kruckeberg, with family and friends in tow, made journeys to the far reaches of the Northwest to collect seeds and cuttings to grow in their garden. This September, in the spirit of the Kruckebergs, we traveled to their favorite place: the Siskiyou Mountains in southern Oregon.With general directions from Art (“Take the River Fork Road out of O’Brien”) we traveled to the places where he historically collected.

The Siskiyou Mountains were a very special place for Art Kruckeberg, due to the expansive serpentine soils and habitat in that area.  Our adventure took us to several botanical areas which highlighted the rare serpentine soil. Serpentine soil lacks much of the organic material that plants need, so plants that have adapted to this environment are often endemics.

We found a several interesting species to collect, including a variety of oaks, including Quercus garryana var. breweri, Quercus garryana var. garryana, and Quercus vaccinifolium, and Lithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides. We also were enchanted by the naturally occurring Darlingtonia californica seeps along the roads. Finally, we were intrigued by the 3-needled pine growing in these serpentine areas...did you know that the Pinus jeffreyi bark smells like vanilla? It smelled delicious! The icing on the cake was finding sources of rock and soil to amend our serpentine beds.

A memorable part of the trip was meeting the land managers and botanists at the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service who authorized collection permits for our trip. Collection permits are important for the land managers as well as for us: this ensures that we are collecting reasonable numbers (do not exceed 1 in 20 plants) and that we were aware of rare or endangered species to avoid collecting. The local knowledge of these botanists was very helpful and provided us guidance for our collections.

The horticultural staff at KBGF have spent the past few weeks processing the cuttings and the acorns and the seeds in our greenhouse to be planted in the garden once they have established.

We are planning another collection trip for next summer. Participation will be auctioned off at GardenParty 2014!