Today’s gardening trivia answer – 21/05/2016

On this day 221 years ago -May 18, 2016, the beloved Harry Pizzinelli was born. He was the son of Nicola and Lissof Pizzinelli. Harry was a unique patient and it is because of him that I became a gardener. His father began growing zimapoli and zamioculcas as his own personal mini gardens.

He often volunteered to tend these gardens for other families who found it interesting to see these different plants growing side by side. From what I can gather from Harry’s journals and calendar, the majority of these gardens were on the south side of the Pizzinelli home, directly across from the fountain and little pool. Though no records have been found, I believe they all probably started out in full sun, probably in clumps of zimapoli and zamioculcas surrounded by a wooded area.

Harry was born on May 18, 1871 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, but went to school at Morgan Hill, where he later met his future wife, an Italian named Laudy. The two would go on to have two sons, Joseph B. Pizzinelli and the late Thomas J. Pizzinelli, both of whom passed away shortly after the birth of their sister.

The family grew all sorts of plants in their gardens. Although most of them were zimapoli, zamioculcas, hydrangeas, or poppies, however, once in a while, a type of Korean loquat tree would appear in the wintertime.

This tree was surprisingly tiny and beautiful, growing only a foot high and in ideal conditions. The odd thing is, if you were to see it and its big old trunk looking up at you, you might think it was a fruit tree.

So, this is where I became interested in learning more about Korean luquats, because I loved seeing them out in winter, growing right next to the street and fountain.

Unfortunately, they are very difficult to grow successfully indoors. Our Japanese Culture requires that loquats only be grown under lights of near incandescent light of a consistent temperature.

For any Japanese gardener like myself, this might make sense, since there are many top bamboo and banana trees that can also be used for loquats. Asian scientists have experimented with these trees for many years, but the bottom line remains that the must have near constant light (temperature) and oxygen/vitality of room temperature in order to become healthy.

This is the major problem that caused the rapid decline in Japanese luquats from their original flourishing in the wintertime. When we look at the close conformance of my indoor liqueur pickings to the Japanese Loquat tree guidelines, I think it is safe to say that the plants that grow in our warm, room-temperature climate will never be able to grow outside as successfully as they should.

In an effort to help people better understand how to grow Korean luquats, the ZZ Plant Club of Northern California built a sampling vessel for the Korean Christmas Tree. This container is based on the real, authentic size and shape of the tree itself, with a set of handles that replicate the beautiful tap handles used on the original tree.

Check them out here or if you would like more information about these or other areas of zen gardening, please visit my website or call the ZZ Plant Club hotline at 831-709-3218.

Copyright 2012. Renee Larriva is an accredited horticulturist with the California Nursery & Landscape Association and has worked as a professional horticulturist since 1982. She is a member of the Crocker Art Museum Horticulture Advisory Committee, a Golden Gate Exposition Exhibitions volunteer, and has volunteered for the Spring Gate Restoration Project and at Chestnut Grove Botanical Garden.

She has horticultural interests in arboriculture, succulents, and landscape architecture. She has a B.A. in horticulture and works in transitional landscaping. Contact her at

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