I recently became aware of Felix Gillet, a pioneer nurseryman and all-around fruit and nut tree superhero who did much of his work in Nevada City, not far from my neck of the woods.
Felix Gillet (born March 25, 1835, Rochefort, Charente-Maritime, France; died January 27, 1908, Nevada City, California, United States) was a California pioneer nurseryman, horticulturist, sericulturist, and writer who made several important introductions of superior European deciduous fruit and nut trees to California and the northwestern United States. Beginning in 1869, on his Barren Hill Nursery in Nevada City, Gillet cultivated his own imported scion wood and home-grown nursery stock, experimented with grafting and hybridizing, and continually wrote articles on horticulture and his plant selections, while remaining active in Nevada City civic affairs. Publishing his own nursery catalog for 37 years and advertising widely, he sold his walnuts, filberts (hazelnuts), chestnuts, prunes, figs, strawberries, grapes, peaches, cherries, citrus and dozens of other fruit and nut varieties throughout California and the Pacific Northwest. The commercial walnut variety “Felix Gillet” was named in his honor.
Some folks at the Felix Gillet Institute (http://felixgillet.org) are doing the work of maintaining Gillet’s legacy, propagating and making available cuttings from some of his trees, many of which are still bearing more than 100 years after their establishment. I’d like to have a quince (Cydonia oblanga) in my garden, so I’m going to see about ordering one from FGI – I love plants with a story to tell.
Photo CC BY 2.0 courtesy of *Arielle*