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Hunter Sekine


MIDDLE ISLAND MAIL

MAY 13, 1936


 

Wednesday, May 13, 1936
Flowering Cherry Trees Shipped From Yaphank Experimental Farm

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By Helen M. Ewing

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Sekinehouse
Hunter Sekine's experimental farm at West Yaphank. Photo from the collection of Mrs. Anne Nauman

HUNTER SEKINE’S experimental farm in West Yaphank is always a lovely spot, but at this time of year-blossom time-it is particularly delightful. Situated as it is on the Old Town Road, its cup-like valley surrounded by little hills, it seems like an enchanted place with spring held captive there.

Just now it is cherry blossom time and one is reminded of the beautiful verse of the poet, A. E. Housman, which begins:

“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough”

Mr. Sekine’s cherry trees are of the Japanese flowering variety and are particularly beautiful. He has 60 different kinds and some of the blooms are as large and full as climbing roses. There are 300 “grown” trees, none of which are very large, and 25,000 seedlings which he is raising, at the present time.

The most interesting of all is a cherry tree about 14 feet high and 18 feet across, having double blossoms of a deep pink. It is of the “Ojochin” variety and has an amazing story. It was imported and planted by Mr. Sekine in 1901 and was a slip from a tree growing in Japan, 30 miles outside the city of Tokio. The “mother” tree is 600 years old and its history is recorded in many places, including Columbia University. This variety of cherry tree does not bear fruit and can be propagated only from slips.

On the 10th day of last month, Mr. Sekine shipped 1400 one-year-old flowering cherry trees of the Ojochin variety which he has raised on his farm, to Cincinnati, O. They were from 18 to 24 inches tall and were ordered by the Park commission of that city. The commission eventually wants 6,000 trees in all and Mr. Sekine plans to ship 2,000 more young trees next year.

It is necessary for Federal inspectors to visit the experimental farm and give permission to ship these trees to another state in order to avoid the possible danger of spreading the harmful Japanese beetle.

According to Mr. Sekine, who is an experienced and skilled Japanese horticulturist, the Ojochin variety of cherry tree differs from the famous flowering cherry trees growing on the banks of the Delaware river in Washington, D. C., in that the latter ones bear fruit and can be grown from seed. He refers to them as the “ordinary” kind and gives their name as the “Yoshino” variety. Mr. Sekine has been called to Washington in the past to give advice when it was found necessary to replant some of the Japanese cherry trees there.

Among other interesting things to be seen at the experimental farm at this time is an apple tree, part of which bears single blossoms of a beautiful mauve color, while the other half of the tree has double, pale pink flowers. The deeply colored ones that the original wild crab apple, while the rose-like blossoms are on branches which have been grafted by Mr. Sekine.

The wisteria vines which attract great attention each year will be in blossom about two weeks from now.


 

MAY 27, 1936
Japanese Wisteria Now In Bloom At W. Yaphank Experimental Farm

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By Helen M. Ewing

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wisteria
Wisteria in bloom at the farm of Hunter Sekine. Photo from the collection of Mrs. Anne Nauman

ANYONE traveling over the road from Coram to Yaphank at this time of year for the first-time, has a pleasant surprise in store for him. For now the wisteria on Hunter Sekine’s experimental farm is in full bloom and a fairyland of flowers borders the wayside.

Two tall trees-one 150 feet high-hang with delicate blossoms of lavender and violet, and an arbor several feet long is also garlanded with bloom. Many more vines, eight and ten feet high, stand along the highway, forming masses of lovely color and the air is sweet with the fragrance of the flowers. The white wisteria, which comes a little later than the purple, is now in bloom too and seems to have a ethereal beauty against the soft gray-green tones of the foliage. The perfume of the white flowers is heavier than that of the purple and many bees are attracted to the vines.

Mr. Sekine has 21 different varieties of the wisteria and 20,000 plants, including all the slips and young shoots which he is raising. About 50 of the plants were imported from Japan, the rest he has propagated himself.

He planted the first vines in 1901 after he had purchased 123 acres of the Overton farm, south of the Alfred Overton pond. The passing along side the farm was originally the old Town road running from Setauket to Fireplace (Brookhaven Village). In the beginning he was able to import as many as 50 plants at a time, but now the amount is limited to two or three at a time. All of his importations did not live, but he seems to have made the most of those that did.

In Japan the Botanical Gardens of the Imperial university control all of the wisteria vines and cherry trees and any slips which are sent out of the country come from the Imperial Botanical Gardens of Japan. There is one wisteria plant in a park in Tokio which covers a whole acre of ground and has seven tea-houses beneath its shelter. It is owned by the city of Tokio and is 260 years old. The Japanese peasants sometimes make baskets and chairs from the young branches of the wild wisteria vines.

When Mr. Sekine first bought his farm, he was indulging a hobby-horticulture- and he spent only the summer months here, but in 1919 he gave up his employment in a steel corporation and devoted his full time to work he loves best. Now he has seven varieties of wisteria which he has propagated himself, registered at the Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. He grafts one variety on another in order to produce stronger stems and he grows a tree variety which requires no support as those do which must have something to climb on after the third year of growth. Some of the blossoms on his plants are 38 inches long, and some of his plants bloom when they are but two years old, which is very unusual. The age of a young plant can be counted by the number of forked branches as one fork forms each year.

The tallest vine of purple flowers on the West Yaphank farm is of the Murasaki variety and it is from this that the horticulturist has propagated his “Sekine Blue.” Some of his vines were damaged by the cold weather during the winter and are not blooming this year, but will probably do so another season.

Mr. Sekine has an order for 150 slips of wisteria vine which he will ship in September to Central Park in New York. At that time he will also send 50 four-year old plants which have been ordered by the University of Cincinnati, and one eight-year old vine of the Naga variety which is now 6 feet high.

This Japanese which does such wonders with flowers, fruits and vegetables, is a graduate of the University of Tokio and a student of Professor Edimon who was decorated by Kaiser Wilhelm for making a beautiful garden for him. Mr. Sekine went to England from Japan and at one time worked in the famous Kew Gardens in London and also made a garden for the Countess of Warwick in Birmingham, England. He came to the United States and became an American citizen in 1900. In 1909 he was listed in the Japanese “Who’s Who In America” among the “Well Known Japanese in the United States.”

Among the many people who have recently come to look at his interesting experimental farm, were Japanese army officers who came out from New York to see his work.


 

Middle Island Mail
September 30, 1936

 

35 Cherry TREES from Sekine Farm Transplanted to Museum Grounds

 

By Helen M. Ewing

 

 

Hunter Sekine, Japanese horticulturists, who conducts the experimental farm on the Old Town road between Yaphank and Coram, is spending several days in Wakefield, R.I. as the guest of Colonel Hartman to supervise the planting of some Japanese cherry trees which he has raised on his farm, on the grounds of the Commodore Perry Museum.

 

This museum is a memorial to Commodore Mathew Calbraith Perry, an American naval officer born in Newport, R.I. and largely responsible for Japan’s “open door” policy.

Commodore Perry commanded an expedition to Japan in 1853 which was at first unsuccessful, but in 1854 the expedition brought about the opening of Japan to American trade and to the adoption of occidental ideas.

 

The Rhode Island experimental station is engaged in laying out an appropriate setting for the building. They sent to Mr. Sekine for some of his trees as he is the only one in this country who has the genuine varieties such as Commodore Perry saw in Japan almost a hundred years ago when he attended “cherry blossom parties” there. Mr. Sekine is supplying 35 trees for the grounds of its museum, the slips for which he imported from Japan 40 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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