Father Farges Filbert

Yes you read that correctly, Father Farges filbert. This is one of the most exciting trees that I have come across in the past half decade. This alliterative filbert is named for Father Farges. He was a Catholic missionary and plant explorer in the 19th century. Father Farges spent a good deal of his life in China and has several plants named after him including the clumping bamboo, Fargesia. But of all the plants named in honor of the late Father, I believe none are better than this one, Corylus fargesii or as mentioned before, Farges filbert.

Corylus fargesii

This tree is blessed with some of the best bark in the business. The coppery colored, exfoliating bark is better than most river birch or paperbark maples. In addition to the bark, the leaves are attractive with a nice green color in the summer and a good yellow fall color. These trees are fairly new to the United States with some of the earliest seed being brought back from China in 1996. Several botanical gardens have been growing and evaluating these trees since this time and some trees are over 30 feet tall. The ultimate size of the trees in US gardens is as of yet unknown but their form is fairly upright with a beautiful branching structure.

An excellent summary of Corylus fargesii was written by Tony Aiello, director of horticulture and curator of the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia. This article was published in the magazine of the Arnold Arboretum, Arnoldia. I linked to the article above as well as by clicking here.

Corylus fargesii John Grimshaw plant

Of all of the trees in Longwood Gardens‘ research nursery, this one is one of my favorites. Farges filbert has not been available commercially but a few specialty nurseries are now offering it for sale to the general public. One of our staff at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens found it available from Rare Find Nursery last week. We are eagerly placing our order today to try these trees out in Maine.

Have you ever seen Corylus fargesii in a garden? What do you think about its future as a landscape tree?

Rodney

Photos: Robert Gutowski via Flickr, John Grimshaw

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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.
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2 Comments

  1. Nigel Boldero on January 30, 2013 at 8:43 am

    really nice story, thanks. I love the bark and the form- should be used more.

    • rodneyeason on January 30, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks, Nigel! I agree.

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