Only Arborists Specialize In Trees.

Big trees need real arborists. Even the best of gardeners should not be expected to perform major specialized arboricultural techniqes.

Just as most problems in landscapes are caused by maintenance gardeners hired to maintain the landscapes, many of the problems with trees are caused by those hired to fix such problems. Arboriculture, which is the horticulture of trees, really should be performed, or at least directed, by professional arborists. It is too specialized to expect it to be done properly by those lacking education and experience.

Even the few proficient gardeners who can perform most aspects of gardening well are not likely as proficient with proper arboriculture as arborists are, not only because it is so different from other gardening, but also because of the techniques and tools involved. Gardeners compare to arborists something like those who clean windows on skyscrapers. Custodians who clean windows on the highest floors from the inside probably would not want to clean the same windows from the outside like window washers do. There are just too many differences in the two related but vastly different types of work.

Arborists who are certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, or ISA certified arborists, are the most qualified to assess the health, stability and structural integrity of trees, and to then prescribe any necessary arboricultural procedures. These arborists have passed an examination of their arboricultural expertise, and maintain their certification by continued involvement with ISA educational seminars, workshops and classes.

Arborists and the tree service businesses that they are affiliated with are easy to find at the website of the ISA at www.isaarbor.com. They can be found directly by name, or regionally by city or ZIP code. The website is also an excellent resource for those wanting to learn more about trees and the importance of proper arboriculture.

Trees are the most substantial features of landscapes, and are really worthy of more respect than they commonly get. Structural problems or instability can be serious problems, not only to the affected trees, but also to anything around them that might be damaged or destroyed by falling limbs or even entire trees. Proper arboriculture helps to keep trees healthy and reasonably safe for many decades or centuries.

Horridculture – Slurry

You know, . . . I just parked on this spot a while back, and realized that, . . . perhaps this crud would have been better than the mud that is there now.

Tony Tomeo

p90130This is likely the worst illustration that I have ever used. It is sort of what it looks like; a mud puddle. What I mean by ‘sort of’ is that this is no ordinary mud. It is a now solidified slurry that was rinsed from a concrete delivery truck. Yes, solidified, right there next to an embankment covered with carpet roses. The curb near the top of the picture is where the embankment starts. The small pile of debris to the upper left is some of what I was pruning from the roses. There was another solidified puddle of slurry just a few yards away. They were just dumped there as if no one would notice.

What makes this even more infuriating is that there is a sign on the main gate into the site, as well as a few others throughout the site, explaining to everyone coming and going…

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Gladiolus

Gladiolus are still just dormant corms.

Although they will not bloom until summer or autumn, gladiolus are in season now. Their corms, which are like bulbs, are now available from nurseries, and are ready for planting. Unlike earlier spring bulbs, they need no chill, and should not generate new foliage until warmer spring weather. Corms prefer to be at least four inches deep, in sunny situations. 

The most popular and common gladiolus, Gladiolus X hortulanus, are hybrids of several species. They bloom more impressively than their simpler parents, but are not as reliably perennial. Most corms bloom for only a single season, although some within each group may bloom for a second season or more. Blooms can get heavy enough to need staking. 

Bloom can be bright or pastel hues of any color except true blue, perhaps combined with another related color. Individual florets are not large, but they share their floral stalks with several similar florets that bloom upward from the bottom. Long and pointed leaves stand upright, flaring only slightly to the left and right. The tallest gladiolus can get six feet high.

Late Bulbs Require No Chill

Cannas grow after spring bulbs bloom.

Spring bulbs are making a comeback from their unceremonious internments last autumn. Some of the earlier sorts are visibly extending foliage above the surface of the soil. A few narcissus, daffodil and crocus are already blooming! Now it is time to plant late bulbs, or summer bulbs, which start to grow through warm spring weather, and bloom for summer.

Spring bulbs are generally the same as hardy bulbs of climates with cold winter weather. They are hardy to frost while dormant. Since chill is relatively mild locally, their hardiness is irrelevant. Conversely, some prefer more chill than they experience locally. Inadequate chill can compromise performance. Autumn planting maximizes their brief chill exposure. 

Late bulbs are completely different from spring bulbs. Not only do they not require chill to perform, but some dislike it. Many of the most popular late bulbs that can naturalize here succumb to frost elsewhere. Instead of early planting for chill, as spring bulbs prefer, late bulbs prefer late planting to avoid chill. Their foliage emerges after the last threat of frost.

However, although they do not need or even appreciate chill, most popular late bulbs are resilient to the minor chill of local climates. Once established, they simply die back to the ground in response to the first frost of autumn. They maintain dormancy through winter to regenerate for spring. Some repeat this process for years, since the soil does not freeze.

Not all late bulbs are actually bulbs. Most are corms, rhizomes, tubers, tuberous roots, or other bulb-like perennials. Some, such as dahlia and canna, bloom through an extensive season. Some, such as lily and gladiolus, bloom only once. Planting in phases for a few weeks prolongs their bloom. Of course, they will synchronize for any subsequent bloom.

Canna and common white calla are two of the most reliable late bulbs. Crocosmia is too reliable, and since it can be invasive, it is rarely available. Common gladioli and various lilies are spectacular in bloom, but not reliably perennial. Dahlia is a very rewarding and reasonably reliably perennial summer bulb. It is spectacularly variable in color, form and texture.

GreenArt

The article that this reblogged article makes reference to as posting ‘yesterday’ was actually reblogged last Sunday.

Tony Tomeo

p90120p90120+It seems that I have been negligent about writing about my colleague Brent Green and some of our crazy adventures in horticulture. I said I would do so when I started writing my articles here way back two Septembers ago. It is easy to get distracted from such topics, particularly since we do such different types of work. Brent is a renowned landscape designer and proprietor of GreenArt Landscape Design in Southern California. I am just a horticulturist and arborist who really should get back to growing horticultural commodities in Northern California. For all of our similarities, there just might be as many differences.

After posting that old video of the Birthday Trees yesterday https://tonytomeo.com/2019/01/19/birthday-trees/, I thought that I should also write more about what Brent does for the urban Forest of Los Angeles, which is probably more interesting than our crazy adventures. I really want to find the…

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Pseudodendron falsifolia

Because these are only outside for a short time, they have lasted for several years, . . . unfortunately.

Tony Tomeo

p90126kLatin and the other languages used to designate botanical names can make the mundane seem compelling, and the unpleasant sound appealing. ‘Nasturtium’ certainly sounds better than ‘nose twister’, which refers to the reaction to the unpleasant fragrance of the flowers. Horticultural professionals can use such language to our advantage, and for more than designating real genera and specie. ‘Necrodendron’ certainly sounds more interesting than ‘dead tree’, and is less likely to offend tree huggers.
‘Pseudodendron’ is a euphemism for ‘fake tree’. Brent, my colleague in Southern California, sometimes points them out in interiorscapes, or worse, in real exterior landscapes. We sometimes analyze them as if they are real. We both are amused to see fake bananas or fake pineapples, or both, hanging from fake cocoanut palms. Sometimes, someone who overhears our conversation feels compelled to inform us that the pseudodendrons that we are so intrigued by are fake. Sometimes, someone…

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Six on Saturday: Joshua Tree

Yucca brevifolia is commonly known as Joshua tree. It is native to the Mojave Desert. It is very rare in home gardens because it is so extremely susceptible to rot with irrigation, or even where it gets more rain than it is accustomed to in the Mojave Desert. Besides, it is very difficult to work with, and even with impeccable maintenance, even the healthiest of specimens develop weirdly and unpredictably irregular form that too many find to be unappealing. Nonetheless, whether appealing or otherwise, whether in a landscape or in the wild, it is a fascinating species of Yucca. Rhody and I encountered these Joshua trees and many others west of Boron last Thursday.

1. Joshua tree is the tallest tree in this region, but does not get as tall as utility poles. The scarcity of moisture limits vegetation here. That is not wildlife in the lower right corner.

2. Zooming in on the specimen to the right in the previous picture reveals that there are many more in the distance. Many are solitary. Most live socially, in otherworldly forests.

3. If there were an exemplary Joshua tree, it might look something like this. The shabby specimen in the background to the right is also rather typical. They are weirdly variable.

4. These short and rigid leaves are extremely sharp! They look somewhat like the foliage of common giant yucca, but are very difficult to handle. Joshua tree is better in the wild.

5. Old foliage decays very slowly. It folds back and lingers on the limbs like this for many years. Joshua tree grows very slowly, so this foliage may have been like this for decades.

6. Trunks eventually shed deteriorated old leaves as they widen and develop this roughly textured exterior that resembles bark. Again, that is not wildlife in the lower left corner.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

Rubber Tree

Big glossy leaves of the familiar rubber tree like a sunny spot in the home, away from sources of heat.

Pruning a rubber tree, Ficus elastica, in the home takes a bit of acrobatics, since any wound immediately bleeds staining white latex. While pruning with one hand, the other hand must catch the latex with a rag. A third hand is needed to catch the bleeding piece of stem that gets pruned away. To make things more complicated, all three hands should avoid the potentially caustic latex. Even if it is harmless to the skin, it is a painful irritant if it gets into the eyes.

Young trees have larger glossy leaves that may be as long as a foot and half as broad, although most are about half as long and broad. Many modern cultivars have variegated or bronzy foliage. Where it gets enough sunlight as a houseplant, rubber tree will eventually need to be pruned for confinement. After all, in the wild, it can get more than a hundred feet tall and almost two hundred feet tall, with trunks more than six feet wide! In the garden, it needs shelter from frost. Aerial roots can develop in humid environments.

Air Layer Overgrown Houseplants.

Air layering big houseplants, like these lanky rubber trees, keeps them proportionate to limited space while also propagating new plants.

Most of the favorite houseplants are grown for dense evergreen foliage. Stems of Chinese evergreen, anthuriums, bromeliads and most ferns should never be seen. Yet, there are many houseplants that grow like small trees or coarse vines. Various ficus, dracaenas and philodendrons can get too big for their situations if not pruned. Palms can not be pruned down, so can only be moved or given to friends with higher ceilings.

Pruning and discarding overgrown but slowly growing stems seems like such a waste. Technically, stems from almost any overgrown houseplant can be rooted as cuttings. In reality though, most rot before they develop roots.

‘Air layering’ is probably the most efficient technique of propagation of houseplants from overgrown stems. It involves rooting the stems while still attached to the original plant. In the end, an unwanted stem gets pruned away as a freshly rooted new plant.

Air layering needs a bare and manageable section of stem that is at least a few inches long. This section does not necessarily need to be where the stem will eventually get pruned away from. It can be a bit higher (or farther out from the origin) if a shorter copy (new rooted plant) is desired. The extra length of stem in between can be pruned out when the copy gets separated.

The stem should be notched up to a third of the way through. This notch will develop roots better if rubbed with rooting hormone. A big wad of wrung out damp sphagnum moss a bit larger than a softball then gets wrapped around the notch, and then wrapped in plastic film. A cut up freezer bag should work nicely. The bag should be held in place with plant tie tape or something as simple as electrical tape, wrapped firmly around the stem above and below the sphagnum moss. Smaller stems can get smaller wads of sphagnum moss.

Unfortunately, there is no way to disguise the unappealing wrapped moss during the few months that may be needed for roots to develop. Eventually, roots become visible through the plastic, or the moss becomes firm with roots. The newly rooted stem can then be cut below the roots, unwrapped and potted as a new copy of the old houseplant. The stub below can be pruned away, or left to develop new shoots.

Horridculture – WEED! (but not a sequel)

Seriously, this is not intended as a rant.

Tony Tomeo

Although relevant to the same disdainful weed that I wrote about earlier in https://tonytomeo.com/2018/10/24/horridculture-weed/ this article is about a completely different topic. That is why it is not a sequel. Nor is it a rant. It is instead an explanation of why so many of us choose to not use marijuana. It was written by an admired colleague who has much more experience with such matters than I do, and is therefore much more qualified to write about it. So, for today, I will deviate from standard procedure by refraining from my typical Wednesday rant, and by posting an article written by someone else. In fact, you can ignore the title above. This article below already has one.

p90123

Should the followers of Christ use Cannabis?J.S.Wilkinson 2016

Cannabis seems to keep coming up in conversations people around me are having. Watching the current trends of well-meaning people giving themselves to…

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