About 15 HPGC members visited Nuccio's Nursery in Altadena and the Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena on March 20th under stormy spring skies, but finding lots of bright color in the camellias for which Nuccio's is so well known for. The field trip, arranged by Horticulture chairs Judy Kirshner and Helen Hartung, was a big hit.
Nuccio's Nursery is considered the prime producer of camellias and Azaleas in the U.S. and perhaps the world. The nursery was founded in Alhambra in the 1930's by two Italian American brothers, Joe and Julius Nuccio, and moved to its current six acre location in Altadena after WWII. Three descendants of the original brothers now operate the nursery, and our club was fortunate to be guided by Tom Nuccio, the youngest of the Nuccio "boys."
The nursery is known for offering gardeners some 600 varieties of camellias and azaleas, and have introduced 160 hybridized varieties of camellia and 130 ozaleas. Some hybrids are intentional, others come naturally due to cross-pollination by the bees that and pollinators that are ever present on the property. The hundreds of varieties are catalogued by type: Japonica (smaller blooms, native of Japan), Sasanquas (sun loving camellias), Reticulata (large showy blooms, native of China) and Frangrant camellias. Perhaps no plant has more incredible names than the glorious camellia - just scrolling through the showy names of the camellias is a joy.
The group was treated with a demonstration of how to graft a stem of new plant material onto rootstock, using a simple single-edge razor, some keen eyesight, a steady hand and a rubber band. A simple system of creating mini-greenhouses, using overturned glass jars on each individual pot, was also of great interest.
The field trip continued with a visit to the lovely Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena and a scrumptious catered bento box Japanese lunch on site.