Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Death of a plantsman...

I am a subscriber of the Plant Delights Nursery newsletter, and love Tony Avent's writing.  He often includes news of goings-on in the horticulture field, including stories of those who have recently passed.  This months newsletter gave me the sad news that Bob Stewart of Arrowhead Alpines passed away from his battle with colon cancer.  I had fully intended to make a trip to MI to see the nursery and meet Bob and Brigitta this past September, but we really didn't have the extra money to make the trip.  And certainly not the huge sum I would need to load the car with plants.  Seriously, they have one of the largest selections of perennials and other odd plants anywhere and I'm thankful that Brigitta will be keeping the nursery in business.  The catalog was always an enjoyable read, and I've learned a lot about plants that I've seen available nowhere else.

December has seen the passing of other well known plantsman, including Wolfgang Oehme, Dr. John AA Thompson (inventor of SuperThrive) and Kim Jong Il.  Ummm what?  Yes, Kim Jong Il.  From the PDN newsletter:

"Finally, the strangest of the plantsmen to pass away this month has to be North Korea’s Kim Jong Il...yes, you heard me right. The story goes back several years, when the late Dutch plant breeder Kees Sahin, who was friend of Kim’s dad, was visiting North Korea with Japanese plant breeder Motoderu Kamo. Kamo gave the elder Kim one his begonia hybrids, which was subsequently named Begonia ‘Kimjongilia’ for Kim Jong Il’s 46th birthday. Kim was so taken with the begonia, that he declared begonias the National Flower of North Korea. After supplying Kim with more begonia genetics, Kim Jong Il began what would become the largest begonia breeding project in the world. According to Kees, Kim would fly over his begonia fields in his helicopter and make his final selections from the air. At the time of Kim Jung Il’s death, there were sprawling greenhouse complexes all across North Korea, all for the purpose of housing Kim’s massive begonia collection. For international begonia shows, Kim would fly his prize begonia hybrids to the show with one person holding each begonia in the back of a cargo plane, to keep from damaging the plants. Also, according to Kees, Kim’s head begonia breeder became so renowned internationally, that Kim had him killed for upstaging the Dear Leader. As Dave Barry liked to say...I am not making this up!"

So... anyone know where I can buy one?  

Happy Holidays everyone!

3 comments:

  1. It was certainly a bad month in the world of horticulture...so many great people passing. I hadn't thought anything you could tell me about Kim Jong Il could surprise me...but the Begonia thing is pure crazy! Then again, if I was all-powerful dictator...who knows what strange things I would do ;-)

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  2. There is also an orchid named for his father, Dendrobium 'Kimilsungia'. I'd like to think that if someone like you was a dictator, the world would be a better place!

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  3. Have you grown this plant yourself? If yes then please share the guidelines for us because you have done a very good job, simply amazed.

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