August 25, 2014


Glen checks a wisteria bonsai in his garden ( and greenhouse) in Leominster, MA

There is something reassuring about visiting another plantsman ( or plantswoman) - you know, another person who is so obsessed with collecting plants, that they often have multiple collections, which may seem random to the untrained eye, but always fascinating to the informed and equally 'ill'  collector. When two plant men get together, hours can pass just chatting about the details - soil mixes, bulb sources, recent discoveries to share. The best part? There is no need for any justification. 

So it was when I visited Glen Lord, a close friend yes, but one whom I rarely visit - because, well…he lives 20 minutes from me. Glen usually finds his way to my garden and greenhouse, sometimes I think just to refresh his collection, but in so many ways, Glens collections are so much better than mine - that I don't' see what he could possibly find at my home that would interest him.

Like many plant collectors, Glen is highly knowledgeable - a practical genus when it comes to remembering and identifying plants - he's a handy friend to have around for certain - if only to rationalize a recent purchase of a rare plant, or to bounce ideas off of. I last visited Glen about 2 years ago ( maybe 3!)  but his collection has grown (or outgrown) his Leominster, MA house and yard - I think that it might be safe to say that he will need to find a larger place to live soon, as there are only so many bonsai's one can keep on their driveway before their car needs to be parked in the street. Glens house is easy to find, for in a rather ordinary neighborhood, I quickly found it even though I was lost. Plant people are not easy to hide.

Punica 'Nochi Shibari', a gorgeous salmon and coral colored pomegranate blossom.

Glen has a fascinating job - as a Bonsai expert, he is responsible for the careful tending of the Arnold's Arboretum bonsai collection at Harvard University (safe to say that one must be a bonsai expert if one is responsible for trees which are hundreds of years old), and he makes and designs some fascinating garden tools, which I will be sharing with you soon. His garden, like so many other plant collectors, is a jumbled, organized but not really designed, botanically interesting collection. His specialty? Variegated plants, rare novelties, cacti and succulents, Japanese collectible plants ( like Rhodea, Neofinetia and Acuba) and extraordinary bonsai. Here are some images from my visit.

Punica 'Gosai Ryu' a pomegranate with bright salmon roe colored flowers, and variegated foliage.

Venus Fly Traps as a collection? Why not.

Not all pines are dull - check this one out - Pinus Tani Ma no Ykui  or Tonima no yuki. Totally not Yuki. Glen has a very extensive collection of evergreens.

Morus 'Ho 'O" a spectacular, novelty mulberry with interesting leaf growth.

Petasites japonicas purpureus, a plant that I asked glen about, and he told me that he got from us. Hmmm.. Of course, when grown in the ground and not in a bonsai pot, the leaves can be 50 time larger. I love this.

Pinus parviflora - A stately Japanese white pine bonsai

The Japanese adore Acuba selections, particularly those with variegated leaves. Glen's collection which started with many which came from Barry Yinger, has many varieties. Most spend the winter in his greenhouse.

Selaginella borealis and Spirea alpina

Schlumberger Christen Aurea Varietgata (invalid, but Glen wants to call it Blond Moment).
I would call it - Not your granny's Christmas Cactus.

Rhodea 'Seruga Nishiki'. A select variegated Rhodea, which is marginally hardy in New England, but rarely seen.

Lewesia as a bonsai.

Tucker cools off in the shade, waiting for dinner.


  1. Loved this! Would like to see some wider shots to get a sense of the place.

  2. Love those pomegranate blossoms. And it sounds like he has a fantastic job! Also reminds me that I should take advantage of the Arnold Arboretum being so close more often.

  3. It is very satisfying to talk to another plant geek! I love the unusual plants )

  4. john in cranston8:03 AM

    Only a crazy man would not visit that garden (and gardener) more frequently... Especially when so close.
    Very pretty....

  5. His garden, like so many other plant collectors, is a jumbled, organized but not really designed, botanically interesting collection.

    Oh, good, it's not just me.

  6. Thank you for the wonderful and kind words Matt. It has been nearly 6 years since you were here last....


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