Wingnut - Pterocarya fraxinifolia

Fehrle perennials: responsible, sustainable and future-proof

Drawn leaf of wingnut, Pterocarya fraxinifolia

Fehrle-Stauden was founded in 1857 as a small-town nursery. Today, Christoph Hokema is the 7th generation of the family to run this modern, large-scale business: he looks after his staff, the wide range of perennials, and contract productions - and feels it is a great privilege to be able to shape the future of a company that has grown over 160 years.

The tree sponsor of Wingnut, Pterocarya fraxinifolia
Christoph Hokema for Fehrle perennials

"The last generation already initiated an ecological orientation of our company. We are consistently developing this further and thus actively shaping our future," explains the 39-year-old company manager and family father. Christoph Hokema has always spent much time in the nursery. When he was a child, it was an adventure playground. Today, he no longer has his "hands directly on the perennials" so often. But the system and management tasks now open up a creative scope for him that he finds highly enriching. His declared goal is to combine entrepreneurial and sustainable action: "We are already seeing climate change in our work today; gardeners and farmers are directly affected. At some point, I asked myself, what do I answer when my children, in 20 or 30 years, want to know what I did to slow it down? 'Just' working in a green industry is not enough. For all we know, this is not sufficient to sustain a blue planet. We are called upon to go above and beyond." The concrete measures at Fehrle-Stauden range from certified organic soils and the use of biological plant protection, wherever possible, to the in-house use of electric vehicles and green electricity and two particular investments for the future in 2021: In August, a water storage basin for rainwater will be realised, which will supply the majority of the water for watering the plants in the future. In addition, with a view to climate neutrality, the changeover from a gas to a pellet heating system for the glass houses is planned. "We want to set a good example," says Christoph Hokema.

For three years now, Fehrle-Stauden has also been offsetting its carbon footprint by donating climate trees to the mountain forest project. All the tree sponsors in the arboretum do the same. Because with their help, another 100 trees go to this project. No wonder Hokema is enthusiastic about it: "When Bernd Hertle told me about the tree sponsorship project, he immediately had my commitment." He got to know Prof. Hertle during visits to the perennial garden at the University of Applied Sciences, but also in the context of his association work in the Association of German Perennial Gardeners (Bund Deutscher Staudengärtner) and appreciates the professional exchange with him as much as their pleasant personal conversations. In the arboretum, Hokema donates a Caucasian wingnut (Pterocarya fraxinifolia) because it is a striking character tree with a growth height of up to 25 metres, because it copes well with the soil conditions in our latitudes and because it also has no problem with hot spells. "Our native trees are not always sufficiently equipped for the changing temperatures of the future. We, therefore, need the experience of other species," confirms the perennial expert and is grateful for the scientific orientation of the arboretum.

It is precisely against this background that Christoph Hokema focuses not only on quality and service but also on the ecological production of his approximately 2.5 million perennials per year. His self-image as a sustainably responsible entrepreneur will lead Fehrle-Stauden into a prosperous green future - and the 8th Hokema generation in the family business will be grateful for his foresight and attitude.


Young tree of the wingnut, Pterocarya fraxinifolia

Distribution: moist forests from the Caucasus to northern Iran.

Size: 15 to 20 metres high and up to 15 metres wide

Leaves: deciduous, alternate, pinnate, up to 50 cm long, 13 to 21 leaf segments, dark green, yellow in autumn

Flower: green, pendulous catkins

Fruits: winged nutlets, laced on a thin spindle

Picture of the trunk of wingnut, Pterocarya fraxinifolia
Wingnut branch, Pterocarya fraxinifolia
Foliage of wingnut, Pterocarya fraxinifolia