Herbaceous Trees

Coincidentally, I am hastily recycling this article while in Los Angeles, where palms are more prominent.

Tony Tomeo

P91005KPalms are like ‘Red Delicious’ apples. It seems that most people dislike them; but they also seem to be very popular. Seriously, if only a few people like ‘Red Delicious’ apples, why are they so common in supermarkets? If most of us dislike palms, why are they so common in the San Jose Skyline?

I suspect that palms really are as unpopular as they seem to be, but that they are also very conspicuous within their situations. Not only are they focal points of the landscapes in which they live, but most types eventually stand as tall as the tallest trees in the neighborhood, and some get significantly taller. They are innately the most prominent trees within their neighborhoods.

Palm are not like other trees though. Arborists may classify them as ‘herbaceous trees’. They are foliar plants while young, producing increasingly large leaves from terrestrial rosettes. They only ‘launch’ and…

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Six on Saturday: L. A.

Los Angeles is commonly abbreviated as ‘L. A.’ or simply ‘LA’, which is not only insolent, but can be mistaken for Louisiana. I must spell it out. Anyway, I am in Los Angeles now. After postponing this trip for months, I left hastily without much of a plan. I am camped out in the backyard at Brent’s home, not only because it is the best place to stay here, but also because I did not bother to make reservations at the eccentric Hotel del Flores. I did not do much of what I wanted to do, and will not before I leave, but I do not mind. It has been good to simply relax and grab a few oddities from Brent’s garden, including #1, #2 and #5. Some of these shared earlier.

1. Platycerium bifurcatum, staghorn fern grew into a suspended colony that is about six feet wide. I may have mentioned earlier in Six on Saturday that it looks like coronavirus.

2. Platycerium grande, giant staghorn fern, which Brent and I refer to as moose antlers, flares out too much on top to form more spherical colonies like Platycerium bifurcatum.

3. Monstera Deliciosa ‘Albo Variegata’, variegated split leaf philodendrons is supposedly rather rare. I thought that it was more common years ago, but no one else remembers it.

4. Costus comosus, red tower ginger should bloom between late winter and early spring, rather than between later summer and early autumn. Maybe its bloom lasts for months.

5. Dichorisandra thyrsiflora, blue ginger, which is not actually related to ginger, should bloom about now, but is not blooming as spectacularly now as it did several months ago.

6. Aechmea fasciata, silver vase bromeliad should have bloomed half a year ago like red tower ginger. Likewise, bloom can last for a long time. However, this bloom looks young.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Bower Vine

Bower vine bloom sporadically until cooler autumn weather.

Autumn needs to get a bit cooler before bower vine, Pandorea jasminoides, will be ready to stop blooming. It may not always bloom profusely, but it does bloom for a long time, beginning with warming spring weather. Flowers can be white, pink or white with pink throats, but are most often pink with burgundy throats. Even through late autumn and winter, the glossy evergreen foliage is appealing without bloom. Mature vines can climb more than fifteen feet high. Those with variegated foliage might stay somewhat smaller.

Cool Season Vegetables Eventually Replace Warm Season Vegetables

Peppers do not grow in cooling autumn weather.

Just as warm season annual flowers that bloomed through spring and summer get removed to relinquish their space to cool season annuals, summer vegetable plants need to vacate the garden for cool season vegetables. Fortunately, removing vegetable plants is not as unpleasant as removing the pretty flowers might have been, because most have finished producing whatever it is that they were grown to produce.

Besides, cool season vegetables are even cooler than warm season vegetables, since some have distinctive foliage that is appealing beyond the vegetable garden, in borders, pots and mixed plantings, out in the landscape. Swiss chard is a striking foliar plant, whether it gets eaten or not. The outer leaves can get eaten without compromising the appeal of the inner leaves that continue to grow and fluff outward to replace them. Arugula, kale, mache, loose lettuce (non heading) and collard, mustard and turnip greens do the same.

This ability to function in more places in the landscape is a definite advantage since cool season vegetables are not quite as productive as warm season vegetables are. They would certainly like to be as productive, but grow slower through cool weather.

Most cool season vegetables should be sown into the garden as seed. Root vegetables, like beet, carrot and radish, might be available as seedlings in cell packs, but do not recover very well from transplanting. Besides, seedlings of such plants in cell packs are either too abundant and crowded, or to sparse to produce much. Leek, loose leaf lettuce and most of the greens likewise grow best if sown as seed in rows instead of planted in tight clumps as they are grown in cell packs.

Only greens that are grown as individual big plants, like chard, kale and collard green, can be as productive from cell pack seedlings as from seed. However, each cell pack produces only six plants, maybe with some extras. A package of seed costs about the same, but contains more seed than most gardens can accommodate.

Actually, the only cool season vegetables that might be more practical to grow from cell pack seedlings than from seed are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprout. These vegetables grow as even larger plants, so minimal quantities, like one or two or perhaps three cell packs, are sufficient.

Like so many of the warm season vegetables, many cool season vegetables should be planted in phases every two to four weeks to prolong harvest. By the time the first phase finishes, the next phase will be ready. The frequency of phases depends on the growth rate and duration of production of the particular plants. For example, chard has a long duration of production, so does not need many phases.

Horridculture – PPE

The Lumberjack Contest at which I procured this picture was three years ago, at the Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival. The Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival for this year will be this weekend!

Tony Tomeo

P91002Personal Protective Equipment. That is what PPE is for. Acronyms can be so vague. PPE could be for Purple People Eater for all we know. That movie just happened to be released to cinema at the end of 1988, just a few months after my summer internship with an exemplary crew of arborists who instructed be about the importance of PPE. I am glad to have missed the movie.

In 1988, the machinery used by arborists as well as lumberjacks was more dangerous, and PPE was more primitive. Hearing protection was only beginning to be standardized. Many of us were not even using it back then, even though the chippers were terrifyingly loud. For some of us, cheap sunglasses sufficed as eye protection. Chaps had been available, but were quite rare.

From the beginnings of their respective careers, younger arborists and lumberjacks learn to use safer machinery and standardized PPE…

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African Daisy

African daisy hybrids are generally sterile.

Old fashioned trailing African daisy was becoming too common by the time it succumbed to the Big Freeze just prior to Christmas of 1990. Shrubbier and more colorful cultivars of hybrids with similar species, particularly Osteospermum ecklonis, are now more popular. Such hybrids mostly lack species designation because their lineage is very complicated.

Mature specimens do not grow much wider than two feet, so do not migrate as efficiently as old fashioned trailing African daisy. Since they are hybrids, they do not produce viable seed either. However, if pressed into damp soil, peripheral stems generate roots to grow as new plants that extend the collective width. They also replace deteriorating old plants.

Sporadic bloom may be almost continuous between a few profuse phases, with the most profuse phase between winter and spring. Only the coolest and warmest weather inhibit bloom. It can be difficult to shear overgrown plants between phases without ruining a few flowers. Floral color is pastel hues of purple, lavender, red, pink, orange, yellow or white.

True To Type Seed Collection

Four o’clock is famously genetically variable.

Flowers produce seed. That is their priority. Flowers that do not rely primarily on wind for pollination are colorful and fragrant merely to attract pollinators. They deteriorate as seed develops after pollination. Many flowers finish bloom between summer and autumn. This can generate an abundance of true to type seed to potentially collect for the next season.

Seed of most wild plants is naturally true to type. That means that it generally grows into plants that are genetically and physically very similar to the original plants that produced it. Genetic aberration is rare. Unless such aberration is an asset, such as floral color that pollinators prefer, it dissipates within a few generations. This likely continues indefinitely.

Many popular plants are simple varieties of wilder plants. These varieties are products of selection rather than breeding. Although technically true to type, their progeny can revert to wilder versions of their species, possibly within their first generations. White California poppy, without culling, reverts to genetically stable orange within only a few generations.

Of course, the transition from white to orange California poppies might not be a problem. Likewise, basic and exclusively yellow and orange nasturtium may be no less appealing than predecessors with more elaborate color. Potential reversion may not dissuade seed collection. Money plant, rose campion, white phlox and campanula are more true to type.

Many other popular plants are cultivars, which are cultivated varieties. Most cultivars are not true to type, so are reliant on vegetative propagation for perpetuation. Therefore, they are clones that are genetically identical copies of their original single parents. Almost all exhibit desirable characteristics that do not transmit reliably to seed, such as variegation.

Cultivars may be genetically unstable because of extensive breeding, or sterile because of hybridization. Canna exemplifies both categories. Most cultivars with lavish bloom are mostly sterile hybrids. Their seed is rare and unpredictable. Cultivars with modest bloom produce seed profusely. Although also potentially unpredictable, much of it is reliably true to type.

AGAIN – NO Blue Ribbon!

Well since this recycled article posted three years ago, the link to ‘yesterday’ links to another article from three years ago.

Tony Tomeo

P90929After all that fuss yesterday, about how much I wanted to win a first place blue ribbon for one of my jams or jellies at the Jam, Pie and Chili Contest of the Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival, I must still do without! Not only did I not win the ever elusive first place blue ribbon that I so desperately crave, but for the first time ever, I did not win second or even third place!

However, it is not as disappointing as it seems. There were no ribbons to win. There was only the same single prize for each of the three categories, which is a winter pass for the hot tub and sauna at the Bear Creek Recreation and Community Center of Boulder Creek. Although it is not the blue ribbon that I can flaunt and brag incessantly about, it is a fabulously generous prize.

What was…

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Every Dogwood Has His Day

Three years later, these particular ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ dogwood trees are more synchronized with the seasons, although they will likely always generate a few errant blooms.

Tony Tomeo

P90928KDog days of summer are no time for a dogwood to bloom. It should be slowing down and getting ready for autumn. Plump floral buds start to develop, but then wait dormant as foliage turns color and falls away. Only after winter dormancy, just prior to the emergence of new foliage, floral buds bloom spectacularly. September is either half a year too early or half a year too late.

So, what is this dog and pony show?! ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ dogwood is blooming not only in our landscape, but in other regions too. It is not just because our six new trees were distressed from installation earlier this year. That process would not have affected other trees. It was not because of our locally variable weather. It affected too many trees in too many other regions.

I certainly do not mean to dog our trees for their eagerness to bloom…

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Six on Saturday: Origins

Most of what comes to recover in the nursery here was originally from the landscapes at work. Some needed to be removed because it was deteriorating. Some was obstructive to another project. Some of what is here grows from seed that was found in the landscapes. Several plants here came from more unusual and unexpected sources. A few plants grew from seed or cuttings that I found while out and about elsewhere, merely because I took interest in them. Such procurement would not be such a bad habit if more of such plants were actually useful to the landscapes here. Vines require too much maintenance. Cacti, palms and tropical foliage are not sufficiently compliant with the style of our landscapes.

1. Salvia elegans, pineapple sage is the most likely of this Six to be useful to landscapes at work. I grew cuttings from a stem that was obstructive to my use of an ATM machine.

2. Distictis riversii (or Distictis ‘Rivers’), royal trumpet vine grew from cuttings of a wiry and stray stem that encroached far enough into a public parking space to annoy Carson.

3. Washingtonia filifera, California fan palm, or desert fan palm, is the only palm that is native to California, but is rare locally. I took seed when I got the chance, but now what?

4. Musa basjoo, Japanese banana is one of four pups that I was quite pleased to acquire from an established specimen within a private garden. It now has three additional pups!

5. Opuntia microdasys, bunny ears cactus was originally a component of a prefabricated ‘terrarium’ of small tropical plants that need regular water. It was removed and left here.

6. Carnegiea gigantea, saguaro cactus arrived with assorted potted succulents that were left by a relocating neighbor family. Actually though, I have no idea what species this is.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/