Conifers Have A Woodsy Style

81205Conifers are the most prominent forest trees in North America, but are notably scarce in home gardens. Except for compact varieties of juniper (which were probably too common years ago) and arborvitae, most conifers are trees that get too big for residential gardens, and few adapt to regular pruning that might keep them contained. Almost all are evergreen, so block sunlight in winter.

Gingko (maidenhair tree), bald cypress and dawn redwood happen to be deciduous conifers; but gingko is typically thought of as a ‘broadleaf’ (not coniferous) tree, and bald cypress and dawn redwood are quite rare. The various podocarpuses are useful coniferous trees that happen to be very complaisant to pruning, but like gingko, they are typically thought of as broadleaf trees.

Junipers and arborvitaes are just as practical for home gardens as they ever were, and the many modern varieties that have been introduces over the years are even more interesting than the old classics. Modern arborvitaes are more compact. Modern junipers exhibit more colorful foliage, and more distinctive forms and textures. Foliage can be lemony yellow or blue like a blue spruce.

Simply speaking, conifers are cone bearing plants. They are typically outfitted with needle or scale leaves. Of course, it is not that simple. Juniper seeds are contained in fleshy structures that resemble berries. Gingo and podocarpus seeds actually come with a squishy mess. So, ‘cones’ are not always as easy to recognize as pine cones are. Neither are the wide ‘needles’ of gingko.

Redwoods, pines, cedars, cypresses, Leyland cypresses, spruces and firs are the more familiar of the larger coniferous trees. Bunya bunya, Norfolk Island pine, western red cedar, incense cedar and the various yews and chamaecyparises are somewhat rare. Larch and hemlock are very rare because they do not like the climate here. With few exceptions, these larger conifers have dominant central trunks that can not be pruned down without ruining the structure of the trees as they develop.80516

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Horridculture – WEED! (but not a sequel)

 

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.

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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 substances that have been historically questionable brings me to the place where I must share my experience and my research.

Just because the government has made something legal doesn’t make that thing permissible. There’s a lot of examples I could cite … and I’ve been around long enough to know that “all that glitters is not gold”. I’m also one to say “the good is the enemy of the best”. Why settle for something counterfeit when you could have the genuine article?

Classically, the followers of Christ get there cues from the Scriptures, when debating whether or not an action or indulgence is permissible; but as we all know everything is subjective, even the meanings of the Scriptures. And we have seen how something written can be taken out of context and made to fit either side of an argument.

I have worked in one of the most prestigious medical centers in the world (for decades) and I’ve had the good favor to meet some of the top minds in, for example, pain research. I asked the senior research doctor of the “Pain-Clinic” “What do you think of medical marijuana?” He chuckled and said, “There is only one reason why anybody would want to use marijuana. It gets you stoned!” He went on to explain that the current trend of marijuana use in “medicine” was a direct result of the agenda to legalize the drug. He said that cannabis has no analgesic property, and the effect of using it only makes the user “complacent” (as well as stoned) “They no longer care they’re in pain” but the pain is not relieved! This particular Hospital has a strict no cannabis policy. Patients with “Medical Marijuana” cards are not permitted to bring their “Prescription” marijuana into the hospital with them. Psychiatric patients are dropped from treatment if it’s found they are using marijuana, even with a Doctor’s prescription. Here’s my question; if marijuana is so well thought of, why isn’t it universally adopted by the medical community? I’m sure the conspiracy crowd could run for miles with that one…

What do the scriptures say? The English word ‘pharmacy’ is clearly derived from a group of Greek words used to describe pagans (the dark arts) who used potions to encourage hallucinations for contacting the spirit world. The particular word ‘pharmakia’ found in Revelation 9:21, 18:23, 21:8 and 22:15 refers to Sorcerers. Please note: NOT ALL DRUGS ARE BAD! Followers of Christ are admonished not to practice sorcery or witchcraft, so it seems to go without saying that we should not be using drugs that are used in Pagan rituals and in Sorcery.

Let’s take a look at what spiritual practices have historically used marijuana in an entheogenic context – from Wikipedia:

According to the TeenWitch.com website “religious cannabis use occurs or has occurred in many of the world’s largest religions: Ancient Egyptian, Asatru (Norse), Assyrian, Australian (Aboriginal) , Babylonian, Bantu, Brazilian (Tribal), Buddhism, Canaanite, Celtic Druidism, Chinese (various), Dagga, Essenses, Etruscan, Gypsy (including Tarot), Hellinism (Greek), Hermeticism, Hinduism, Hottentot, Kemetic (ancient Egyptian), Mithraism, Persian, Polynesian, Pygmy, Rastafarian, Roman, Shamanic/Tribal religion, Shintoism, Sufi Islam, Tantra, Taoism, Thai, Theraputea, Wicca, Witchcraft, Zoarastrianism, and Zulu.

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Here’s another great question: Is marijuana OK from a spiritual point of view?

This following quote is from a very astute article I found while researching this subject…

This might sound a bit strange, but the aura quality of marijuana smokers is sticky, fuzzy, and open to entities.”

In this lengthy article from Cosmic Living, the author explains the many deceptions that play out in the minds of marijuana users, especially noting the presence of “entities”

Even the people in New Thought modalities are aware that someone or something is getting access to their souls when they open themselves with marijuana use!

My personal experience:

I first started using cannabis in 1970 at age 13. I began to fall away from my faith in Christ, and began to explore alternate spiritual realities. By the time I was 17 I had been introduced to several modalities including Native American Shamanism. This resulted in some very real and very serious trials of my faith in Christ, and the reality of alternate spiritual dimensions. When I turned 18 I attempted to quit all drug use and follow the way of Christ with a renewed zeal. Trying to do this on my own, without the indwelling presence (of the fullness) of the Holy Spirit proved to be too much for me. When I relapsed I felt so condemned that I proceeded to run long and hard away from God.

When I came to my senses 5 years later, I renewed my relationship with God through Christ. The very night I was to be given the full infilling of the Holy Spirit, I laid my marijuana out on the table before me and prayed; God, if you want me to stop using this, you could make it so it doesn’t affect me anymore (the chicken way out) or you could make it so I hate it and no longer find pleasure in it! I went off to my youth group meeting where the cheerful followers of Christ asked if anyone would like to be “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” I checked in with God and he said “you want that”…

After having the fullness of the Holy Spirit imparted to me, I no longer enjoyed the feeling I got from cannabis, the euphoria was replaced with a sense of dread and loathing. I was painfully aware of how I chose to leave the presence of the Holy Spirit by breathing in the marijuana. It was then that the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I had in fact invited a “familiar spirit” into my reality and Holy Spirit would not share my temple with another god! This happened in 1980, no one I met was teaching on this subject, it seemed to be common sense that followers of Christ don’t use marijuana. Here I am 36 years later, living in a time when even the elect are being deceived. Good friends and family members are at odds with me because I won’t back down.

If you feel that you would like to experience the freedom and fullness of the indwelling Holy Spirit and you’re ready to say goodbye to your cannabis friend, we can help you! J.S.Wilkinson

Apple

90130Some of us who enjoy gardening may not like to admit how useful the internet can be. There is a lot of bad information out there. There is also some degree of good information. It is impossible to fit much information about apples into just a few brief paragraphs. Therefore, the internet is likely the best source of information about the countless cultivars and specie within the genus of Malus.

The most popular apple trees produce the familiar crisp and sweet fruit that ripens anytime between late summer and late autumn, depending on cultivar. The fruit is quite variable. Some cultivars are best for eating fresh. Others are best for cooking or juicing. Some are very sweet, while other are quite tart. Each fruit is about the size of a baseball, but can be much bigger or much smaller. Crabapples are very small. Flowering crabapples make only tiny fruits that are eaten by birds.

The trees are quite variable too. Semi-dwarf trees can be pruned to stay low enough so that all of the fruit is within reach from the ground. Standard trees that grow in orchards can get as big as shade trees. All fruiting apple trees need specialized pruning each winter so that they do not become overgrown and disfigured, and to control disease. All apples bloom sometime in early spring.

Winter Pruning Of Fruit Trees

90130thumbThe vast orchards of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys might make the impression that production of fruit is easy. The trees naturally bloom in spring, and develop fruit over summer, as if they do most of the work prior to harvest. In reality, those trees have been so extensively bred to maximize production that they need, among other maintenance, very specialized pruning in winter.

Without pruning, deciduous fruit trees produce more fruit than they can support. The weight of the fruit breaks and disfigures limbs. Excessive fruit production exhausts resources so that, although more fruit is produced, it is of inferior quality. Diseases and insects proliferate in crowded stem growth that lacks vigor. Unharvested fruit that is beyond reach in upper growth may attract rodents.

Well pruned deciduous fruit tree produce fruit of much better quality, and are able to support it on well structured limbs that are reasonably within reach. They are less susceptible to diseases and insects. Such pruning seems severe to those who are unfamiliar with it, but it is necessary, and the trees appreciate it. Because it is so severe, it is done while trees are dormant through winter.

Different types of fruit trees need distinct types of pruning. Furthermore, different cultivars of each type may need different degrees of the same type of pruning. All should get the ‘four Ds’, which are ‘dead, dying, damaged and diseased’ growth, pruned out of them. Because figs produce early and late crops, they can be pruned less for more early figs, or more severely for more late figs.

Most of the deciduous fruit trees are either stone fruits or pomme fruits. The stone fruits include apricot, plum, prune, nectarine, peach and cherry, which are all of the genus of Prunus. Pomme fruits are apple, pear and quince. Because the winter pruning of deciduous fruit trees is so specialized and so intensive, it is worth studying, preferably before planting the fruit trees that require it.

GreenArt

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 old news article about how he busted tree rustlers who were stealing mature Canary Island palms from the embankments of the Santa Monica Freeway, which is pictured above. It is still a sore subject because we know that it continues, and that the trees that were stolen were not returned as promised.

I could write a separate blog about the work that GreenArt does if I were more involved with it. I just do not enjoy design like Brent does. Actually, I am no good at it. I just work with the horticultural aspects of it, and growing material for it. In the future, I will probably be more involved with projects that are not directly affiliated with GreenArt, such as initiatives to maintain and protect trees in public spaces of Los Angeles.

For now I have only this brief and outdated video of the landscaping of Brent’s home, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2IwcuU3KEo .

Birthday Trees

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The big wide medians of San Vicente Boulevard in western Los Angeles had been lacking trees since the Red Car Streetcar rails were removed decades earlier. My colleague, Brent Green, had been wanting to add trees to the medians since he was a little kid, and then became intent on doing so after he became a renowned landscape designer in the region.

At about the same time, I was a nurseryman. In my work, it was not uncommon to dispose of a few items that were unsaleable. Sometimes there were entire crops of unsaleable plants; and in 1997, I needed to dispose of a group of coastal redwoods that had very minor kinks in their trunks.

That gave Brent an idea.

He wanted me to bring some of the trees to Los Angeles to plant them in the medians of San Vicente Boulevard just south of the Miracle Mile District. We were sort of skeptical about their ability to adapt to the climate; but were willing to give it a try, and possibly give the trees a second chance. We planned to install thirty coastal redwoods for Brent’s thirtieth birthday on January 18, 1998.

Well, the trees were not happy there, and did not last long. However, they were the first of what became an annual tradition of planting trees on Brent’s birthday, January 18. The number of trees is determined by Brent’s age for the respective year. For example, we planted thirty coastal redwood trees on his thirtieth birthday, and then planted thirty-one manna gum trees, Eucalyptus viminalis, on his thirty-first birthday, and so on.

After a few more years, there was not much space on San Vicente Boulevard, so Brent started planting street trees in the parkstrips of streets that could use more trees. The original trees in San Vicente Boulevard needed to be removed for the installation of the Metro Rail, but they were nice while they lasted.

This short video is about what the tradition has become now that Brent will be planting fifty birthday trees.

 

Six on Saturday: Rhody

 

Everyone loves Rhody. Regardless of how interesting I like to believe my articles are, nothing gets as much attention as the few illustrations that are photo bombed by Rhody. There are not many good pictures of Rhody, and it is difficult to get good pictures of him. He is too active, and when I try to get him to be still for the camera, he looks sad. I suppose that part of the problem is that I am not very proficient with taking pictures of him in action, rather than while he is trying to cooperate for a posed picture. These pictures are not exactly horticulturally oriented. Except for a few background bits, the only horticultural subjects are a big California sycamore that does not fit into the picture, a dead box elder that is mostly gone, and an uninteresting lawn.

1. Rhody is an expert of meteorology. He is looking to the gray sky and predicting rain. He will want to get inside before it arrives.p90119

2. Rhody is also an expert of arboriculture. After inspecting this big California sycamore, he concluded that the ‘bark’ is ‘ruff’. He happens to be particularly fond of dogwoods.p90119+

3. Rhody is stumped. He is wondering where all the firewood from this dead box elder went. It is within a protected riparian zone where deteriorating trees were to be cut down and made safe, but otherwise left on site.p90119++

4. Rhody occasionally inspects his big lawns to evaluate their maintenance, and perhaps find sticks or balls left by trespassing dogs.p90119+++

5. Rhody found the maintenance of this lawn to be satisfactory.p90119++++

6. Rhody is finished with his work and is getting ready for the incoming storm.p90119+++++

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/

European White Birch

60120+It may not be the biggest or best deciduous shade tree, but European white birch, Betula pendula, is famous for tall and elegant white trunks with wispy pendulous stems. It is a very informal tree that typically leans in one way or another, but is somehow right at home in refined landscapes. It is rarely alone, since it is usually planted with two or more friends, and sometimes in groves.

Not many of the biggest European white birch trees are more than fifty feet tall locally. (They can get bigger in cooler climates.) The slender trunks do not get much more than a foot and a half wide. As trees mature, the smooth white bark develops rough black furrows. The small triangular leaves turn soft yellow in autumn. The somewhat sparse foliage makes only moderate shade.

‘Laciniata’ has lacy lobed leaves, and stands straighter and narrower. ‘Youngii’ is so pendulous that it can barely stand up without staking.

Some Plants Impress With Bark

P80805Lemon eucalyptus, ‘Marina’ madrone, cork oak and all sorts of melaleuca trees are known more for their interesting bark than for their foliage or flowers. It helps that their distinctive trunks and branch structures are ideal for displaying their unique bark. Color and texture of bark is remarkably variable, and tends to get noticed more in winter while blooms and foliage are lacking.

Bark of sycamores, birches, elms and crape myrtles that had been so handsome throughout the year is more visible now that it is not partially obscured or shaded by the deciduous foliage that is associated with it. Trunks and limbs of European white and Jacquemontii birches are strikingly white. ‘Natchez’ crape myrtle has distinctively blotched bark, (although the white flowers are pale.)

Because of their other assets, English walnuts, figs and saucer magnolias are not often grown for their bark. Nonetheless, their pale gray bark shows off their stocky bare branch structure nicely, especially in front of an evergreen backdrop of redwoods or pines. The smooth metallic gray bark of European beech is much more subdued, but is what makes big old trees so distinguished.

A few deciduous trees and shrubs get more colorful as winter weather gets cooler. Instead of white or pale gray, their bark turns brighter yellow, orange or red. Some plants, like sticks-of-fire, do not need much cool weather to develop good color. Others get more colorful in colder climates, and contrast spectacularly to a snowy landscape. Locally, they should be well exposed to chill.

As the name suggests, the coral bark Japanese maple (‘Sango Kaku’) develops pinkish orange bark. It can get ruddier in colder climates, but may get yellowish here. Unlike other Japanese maples that get pruned to display their delicate foliage and branch structure, the coral bark Japanese maple sometimes gets pruned more aggressively to promote more colorful twiggy growth.

Osier dogwood is a shrubby dogwood that lacks colorful bloom, but compensates with ruddy brown, brownish orange or pale yellow bark in winter. (Dogwood bark . . . There is a pun there somewhere.) Because it lacks colorful bloom, it can be pruned aggressively after winter. Older canes that do not color as well can be pruned to the ground as they get replaced by new canes.

Horridculture – Car Wash

p90116Much of California is chaparral. Much of what is not chaparral is full blown desert. Some coastal climates gets quite a bit of rain; and some climates up in the Sierra Nevada are among the snowiest places in America. Generally though, the most populous and most agriculturally productive parts of California do not get much water to spare.
I certainly do not mean to say that we do not get enough water from rain and snow. We get what the region has always gotten longer than anyone can remember. Those who do not want to live in chaparral or desert need not live in California.
If there seems to be insufficient water for all of us to share, it is merely because there are too many people wanting too much of it, and too many who profit from controlling and selling it to them. Some of us conserve water and landscape accordingly. Others have no problem with vast overly irrigated lawns.
As a horticulturist who grows horticultural commodities, I use what I must for my work. I would prefer others to conserve water in home gardening, but can not complain if they choose not to. If they do not mind paying for excessive consumption of water, that is their prerogative. If rationing becomes necessary, and they do not want to pay fines, their expensive landscapes will be damaged or ruined while mine will survive.
However, it is difficult to not be disgusted with some of the waste I observe in some landscapes. One of the landscape companies that I ‘tried’ to work for years ago regularly watered almost all of their landscapes so excessively that trees succumbed to soil saturation. We then charged significantly to remove the dead or dying trees that we were hired to take care of; hence my ‘Horridculture’ articles on Wednesdays.
We have been getting quite a bit of rain here recently, and are expecting more rain through the next several days. The cloudy blue sky in the background of these pictures was the most blue sky we had seen in quite a while, and it lasted for only a few hours. The lawn in the park here is too swampy to walk on. Just in case there is a slight possibility that there is a small scrap of it that is not sufficiently swampy, it is getting watered generously.
I know mistakes like this happen, and that those who maintain this particular park are seriously overworked and understaffed. I am annoyed about this anyway. With all the modern technology available, why does the irrigation system not know that it is raining so much? If the irrigation system lacks the sort of technology that allows it to monitor the weather, why has no one told it that it is raining so much? If it can not be contacted by telephone, why does no one who know what the irrigation schedule is stop by to disable the system, or just close valves?! Okay, so I know they are understaffed, so I can not complain about it too much.
Nor should I complain about the parking lot getting watered. I know how easy it is for a sprinkler to get knocked out of adjustment. Besides, the windows are rolled up.
However, I am now a bit more concerned about the weather. Too much rain can cause flooding and mudslides. I already know what the forecast is; and now that the car got washed, the rain could get disastrous!p90116+