Wild Asia in Sonoma

Tuesday morning on KRCB (NPR station in Sonoma CA), a brief piece about the Quarryhill Botanical Garden there and a forthcoming Quarryhill lecture by Andrea Wulf, author of a recent book on Alexander von Humboldt. The garden was new to me, as was the book, and both are fascinating, but what mostly got my attention was the reporter’s pronunciation of quarry — with accented æ, to rhyme (in my variety of English) with Larry, Harry, carry, and marry.

The pronunciation thing. The vowels involved are æ, a, and ɔ.

æ:  low, front. unrounded:

Before intervocalic r, the contrast between ɛ (usual spelling: ERR) and e (usual spelling: AR or AIR) is neutralized for many American speakers; merry and Mary are homophonous, as are ferry and fairy. For some American speakers, the accented vowel æ (usual spelling: ARR) of marry is raised and merges with these mid vowels.

In any case, the spelling ARR is normally associated with the vowel æ or some raised dialectal variant. The exception is after kw (spelled QU), in quarrel and quarry, where a more back vowel (a or ɔ) is the norm. Nevertheless, the KRCB speaker had a clear æ.

In words with the spelling ORR (sorrel, lorry) or OR (coral, moral) American speakers generally have either a or ɔ; there is variation on this point, in these words and in some others with the spelling O (frog, hog):

a (or ɑ): low, central to back, unrounded

ɔ (or o): low to mid, back, rounded

These two are the (only) options dictionaries list for quarry and quarrel. Perhaps the KRCB announcer’s æ is a spelling pronunciation, reflecting the usual vowel for the spelling ARR.

The botanial garden.


From the garden’s ad copy:

Just off Highway 12 in Glen Ellen, lies one of the most exotic and biologically diverse places in Sonoma Valley. This is not your typical botanical garden. Quarryhill is a wild Asian woodland, intentionally not manicured and featuring one of the largest collections of wild-sourced Asian plants in the world. From the remains of an abandoned quarry, Quarryhill Botanical Garden evolved as a glorious example, to all gardeners, of what can happen when you dream big.

(Sonoma is 77 miles — over 2 hrs. driving — from Palo Alto, on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, in wine country.)

It sounds fabulous, and the photos on the site are wonderful. Four large shrubs or trees from the garden (including two species of maples, from a great many in the garden):

Emmenopterys henryi.


Notes from Dave Creech’s plant blog: Chinese emmenopteris; in the family Rubiaceae; native to southwestern China; a tree of 30+ ft. with showy panicles in June and July; relatively rare in cultivation in the USA.

Callicarpa sp.


Callicarpa (beautyberry) is a genus of shrubs and small trees in the family Lamiaceae [labiates]. They are native to east and southeast Asia (where the majority of the species occur), Australia, Madagascar, southeast North America and South America. (Wikipedia link)

Acer griseum.

(#4) in fall color

Acer griseum (paperbark maple) is a species of flowering plant in the family Sapindaceae, native to central China. Acer griseum is found in the Chinese provinces of Gansu, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Sichuan, at altitudes of 1,500–2,000 m (4,921–6,562 ft). (Wikipedia link)

Acer henryi.

(#5) in fall color

Acer henryi is an Asian species of maple. It has been found only in China (Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Zhejiang). Acer henryi is a small tree up to 10 meters tall, dioecious (meaning that male and female flowers are on separate trees). (Wikipedia link)

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