Too Late For Pie

Shortly after this article posted three years ago, a leaky pipe was exposed, and has since been repaired.

Tony Tomeo

P71203Just a few feet downhill from where the old valley oak had lived for centuries (, a pumpkin vine appeared shortly after the big oak stump was ground out. That was in late September, so was much too late for it to do much; or so I thought.

The vine grew very quickly! It is hard to say if it got water from a leaking pipe. A valve manifold that is visible in front of the stump in the original picture is completely obscured by the foliage of the vine in the second picture. With all the heavy work that was done right on that spot, it would have been very easy for a pipe or exposed valve to get damaged. (Water from a previously leaky pipe or valve could have contributed to the demise of the tree, by promoting the development of excessively heavy foliage that caused…

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Felton Covered Bridge

Ha! This old article shows how less uptight I was about blogging three years ago.

Tony Tomeo

04Now that I have been watching a few other blogs for three months, I notice that some people write some very interesting or at least entertaining articles about topic that are not directly related to the main topic of their respective blogs. Most are just like old fashioned slide shows (remember those?) with cool pictures from around the neighborhood, travels, home projects, or whatever might be interesting. I have not done this yet; but I happen to have a bit of free time at the moment, so thought that I would post these three pictures of the historic Felton Covered Bridge. Although I am technically from Los Gatos, my home is in the Santa Cruz Mountains between Los Gatos and Felton. I also have history in Felton, since my grandparents and my Pa used to live here.

In an attempt to keep this post relevant to horticulture, I should mention…

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Six on Saturday: After The Fire

Much of my work for the second half of the week is still affected by the CZU Lightning Complex Fire of last summer. Combustibility of the forest is a major concern. Vegetation management is now a priority. Fire roads must be cleared. Trees that are too close to buildings or hang over roofs must be removed. I am not accustomed to condemning trees at such an accelerated rate.

Resources have been reallocated. Some maintenance has been deferred. Even without fresh seasonal annuals, flowers continue to bloom, but I am not out there to see much of them.

1. Charred remains of a neighbor’s home fill a bin that should otherwise be filled with greenwaste. Even common trash would be better. The forest smells burnt rather than like fallen leaves.

2. Perennial pea roasted during evacuation, before I flagged a rare white bloomer for relocation while dormant in winter. Although briefly regenerating, they all look the same without bloom.

3. Nightshade is not a bothersome weed. It is just unappealing. It somehow looks gloomy. I suppose that it could be pretty in the right situation, perhaps in a vase with some autumn flowers.

4. Muppets do not grow here. This is just a wet and deteriorating thistle of some sort. It should have been cut down before bloom. More significant vegetation management is now a priority.

5. Cottonwood colored well for autumn. Bigleaf maple and birch are just as colorful. Sweetgum is still mostly green, but ultimately develops the best variety of color. It really is autumn here.

6. Mud proves it! From Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning, it rained for the first time since spring. The few dirty raindrops during the Fire do not count. Anyway, the rain was grand!

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


This article from three years ago definitely conforms to the ‘Horridculture’ meme for Wednesday.

Tony Tomeo


I use the term loosely. Okay, so maybe I use it mockingly in this context. This sort of thing really should have no connection to the works of Calder, Rodin or Brancusi. It might be worthy of a few fancy adjectives, such as ‘severe’, ‘unusual’, ‘dramatic’ and ‘bold’. Horticulturally though, we might be thinking more like ‘disgraceful’, ‘abhorrent’, ‘ridiculous’ or ‘just plain sad’.

There is nothing wrong with pollarding, that severe sort of pruning that almost all other arborists will tell you is wrong. It involves pruning trees back to the same distended terminal knuckles every winter. Only a few trees are adaptable to the technique, and technically, sweetgum happens to be one of those few trees.

The stipulation is that once pollarded, they MUST be cut back to the same knuckles EVERY winter. A small stub or maybe two can be left on knuckles to allow them to elongate…

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‘Green’: The ‘Other’ Autumn Color

The color is better this year than it was when this was written three years ago. Nonetheless, foliar color here is not as impressive as it is where weather is already cooler.

Tony Tomeo

P71202After reading so much about the exquisite foliar color that most everyone else in the Northern Hemisphere gets this time of year, I must admit, I can get rather envious of those who experience four seasons instead of just two. The abundance of spring in the Southern Hemisphere does not help. Why have I not found a garden blog from Ecuador or Indonesia so that I have something to point and laugh at? It just isn’t fair.

Well, now I have something to brag about.

I found this bright red leaf on a crepe myrtle in town. Isn’t it pretty? Go ahead, you can tell me. It is gorgeous, RIGHT? Go on; say it! Say it NOW! LOUDER!

Soon, all the foliage behind it will be turning red and orange with maybe a bit of yellow. Can you see it? I think some of those leaves are starting to consider…

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This Is No Food Blog

Well, since writing this three years ago, and mentioning that I would not likely grow this squash again, . . . I grew it again. It is in the garden right now.

Tony Tomeo

P71129There are not many things that will grow in my zone that I will not at least try to grow if I have the space and resources to do so. I really like to grow fruits and vegetables, particularly those that I am familiar with from when I was young. They are just as productive now as they were then. The only problem is that I do not know how to cook. I can freeze, can or pickle large quantities of produce, but cooking is something that I leave to experts.

I notice that almost all garden columns or blogs include recipes for the produce grown in home gardens. Mine does not. Except for a few recipes for pickles, jams and jellies, I just do not have any recipes that I would share.

When I get big winter squash, I really do not know what to do with them. I…

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Six on Saturday: Fan Club

Palms are not as popular here as they are in Southern California. Furthermore, they are less popular in the Santa Cruz Mountains than they are in the Santa Clara Valley below. There are so many more refined landscapes in the Santa Clara Valley, and they contain many more exotic species. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, cutting trees down is more of a priority than adding more.

Besides, palms look silly with redwoods. Of these palms, which are mostly fan palms, only the Mexican fan palm will get planted as the winter rain starts. The others remain canned for now.

These palms are quite the Fan Club.

1. Arecastrum (Syagrus) romanzoffianum, queen palm – is not eligible for membership in this exclusive Fan Club. It is ‘feather palm’, rather than a ‘fan palm’. Therefore, no queens allowed.

2. Brahea armata, hesper palm – is a most distinguished fan palm. It is quite rare. Like the California fan palm, it prefers warm and dry summers, so can languish if irrigated too frequently.

3. Trachycarpus fortunei, windmill palm – is the opposite. It is quite common, and could be even more common, since it is not at all discriminating, and is proportionate to compact gardens.

4. Washingtonia robusta, Mexican fan palm – had the been the most common palm locally prior to the queen palm fad of the 1990s. Unfortunately, it gets very tall. Notice the lingering ash.

5. Washingtonia filifera, California fan palm – is an aspiring member that recently grew from an old seed. It is also known as desert fan palm, and is the only palm that is native to California.

6. ‘A BIG STICK’ was the only ‘club’ I could find for this Fan Club. No one knows what it is, where it came from, . . . or anything about it. I think it is a wheelbarrow or post hole digger handle.

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

Green Roof

This artice is from three years ago too, and the picture is a bit older. I sort of wonder if this tree is still there.

Tony Tomeo

P71125Is this a bad idea for a green roof?

Is it a houseplant that got too big?

Is it a wheelchair accessible tree-house?

None of the above. It is just weird architecture, designed to preserve a rare Chilean wine palm. The tree was probably planted in the front garden of a Victorian home that was on this site before the site was redeveloped. Chilean wine palms were more popular back then; and this one seems to be about that age. Although it seems to be healthy now, the constriction in the trunk indicates that it had been stressed by the redevelopment, which undoubtedly covered much of the established root system. The time it took for the length of trunk above the constriction to grow coincides with the estimated age of the building below. The tree very likely had better access to rainwater before.

Because it is a palm, the trunk…

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Is That A Body?!

This happened back in the 1980s, but after all these years, is still funny. It is reblogged from three years ago.

Tony Tomeo

P71118It seems that changes in fashion are sometimes partly motivated by rebellion against what they are changing from. The comfortably loose and pendulous ladies outfits of the 1920s that were so unflattering to the human form while revealing more of it than ever before were probably a rebellion to the impractically uncomfortable and strenuously refined ladies fashions of the late Victorian period that were designed to enhance the ideal of feminine form while also obscuring it. The simple and squared landscapes of the 1950s that were so neatly tailored that they would be considered to be bleak by modern standards were replaced through the 1970s and into the 1980s by a much more relaxed and curvaceous style with sculptural trees, shaggy foliar textures, hills and boulders. Ah, the boulders. They were still cool when Brent and I were studying horticulture at Cal Poly. We had to get some.

While Brent’s…

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Six on Saturday: November 1, 2020 – Memorial Tree Update (on November 7)

These pictures are from a similar article with the same name at Felton League, which was linked to here last Wednesday. They demonstrate how efficiently the Memorial Tree is recovering from vandalism four months ago. Pointer . . . ‘thingies’ were added to more precisely identify what some of the pictures illustrate. The other two linked-to articles provide more information.

1. A gardener at Felton Covered Bridge Park installed this chicken wire cage around the Memorial Tree after it was vandalized. The protection is minimal, but the gesture is very thoughtful.

2. This now minimal damage is all that remains of of the formerly major vandalism. The worst of the damage to the left and right was very efficiently compartmentalized in just four months.

3. This scar is all that remains of formerly major damage. It is now completely compartmentalized. Growth above not only continued, but was unusually accelerated for so late in the season.

4. This damage was compartmentalized so efficiently that the scar is barely visible. Actually, I am not even certain if this is a scar. I remember only that the trunk was sliced in three places.

5. Growth for the season was adequate prior to the vandalism. The marker to the lower left shows where growth started early last spring. The marker to the upper right, near the center of the picture, shows where growth was decelerating and expected to blind out by the middle of summer. However, growth accelerated vigorously past that, as if stimulated by the vandalism.

6. Growth was unusually vigorous, especially for late summer. During winter, the stem designated by the marker to the left should be removed so that it does not develop into another major trunk. The stem designated by the marker to the right should probably be pruned back so that it does not compete with the two upper stems that are developing into the main lower limbs.

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