Banana Slug

P90421They are not as dangerous as they look. Really. If they were, just one could do more damage than an entire herd of average slugs. The fortunate truth is that banana slugs consume only decaying plant parts and fungus. Yes, they literally cruise about the garden eating bits of decomposing debris that we may not want there anyway, and converting it into a very nutritious and nitrogen rich ‘fertilizer’. They are actually beneficial to home gardening.
Of course, this does not necessarily mean that we ‘want’ them in our gardens. They really do look scary. This one is only about four inches long, but larger ones can get nearly twice as long! Some rats are not that big! Their bright yellow color, which is typically brighter yellow than this one is, is an expression of defiance. They only stay out of the way because they prefer damp and shady situations. Otherwise, they do not care if we see them.
Contrary to popular belief, they do not really taste like chicken. They taste more like the blandest of escargot. If not purged with corn meal and partly deslimed with vinegar, they can taste much worse. Even if the myth about the slime on their undersides containing more vitamin C than a bucket of oranges is true, it does not justify licking them. It is more degrading to you than it is to them; and no one needs that much vitamin C anyway!
As revolting as they are, they are not completely disdainful. It is fun to point them out to friends who have never seen them before, but only after they have gotten close enough to be startled, and jump away as if being chased by something that can actually move . . . quickly. Banana slug races are also fun.

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If Mushrooms Could Fly

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If mushrooms could fly, they might look like this. Doesn’t it look like it is ready for take off? Maybe it looks like it is dressed up as a ghost for Halloween. I thought it looks something like the flying nun. Regardless of what it looks like, it was so weird that I took its picture.

I can not explain why it is in this weird position. It appeared just as the weather was warming up, and most of the earlier mushrooms were already gone or deteriorating. Perhaps the upper surface dried out a bit in the sunlight, and tightened up on the lower surface that remained more hydrated. Since I did not go back after getting this picture, I do not know what it did afterward, or how long it lasted. Perhaps it really did fly away!

This mushroom was just a few yards from where I got the picture of those associated with oak root rot fungus, Armillaria mellea,which many of us know as honey fungus. https://tonytomeo.com/2018/12/02/the-humongous-fungus-among-us/ Those mushrooms grew and deteriorated back in December. The other five types of mushrooms that I got pictures of to post along with a later picture of the oak root rot fungus mushrooms for a ‘Six on Saturday’ post were found just a few more yards away in another direction. https://tonytomeo.com/2018/12/29/six-on-saturday-shrooms/ They did their thing later in December, but still a few months ago.

There are always some sort of mushrooms out and about in riparian environments closer to the creeks and streams. They are just not as abundant now as they were during the rainy weather late in winter. Those out in drier and warmer spots that do not get watered regularly do not often develop so late into spring. They seem to know how to exploit the favorable weather.

Six on Saturday: Azaleas

 

As the flowering cherry trees fade, the azaleas get their turn. Like the flowering cherry trees, the azaleas are not as spectacular as they were last year. I know it is relevant to the weather, although I do not know what the weather did to inhibit so much bloom with so many of the early spring bloomers. I know there was a lot of rain, but that should not have been a major problem. There was not much chill, but there should have been enough.

I do not know if this will be the most subdued bloom ever witnessed here, but the limited color might be more apparent because the azaleas and rhododendrons were more spectacular last year than they had ever been. According to their bud set, the rhododendrons will be even less impressive than the azaleas. The dogwoods might have had the potential to be as spectacular as last year, but some were disadvantaged by structural pruning.

These six azaleas were the best of what was blooming here this year. The pictures were taken about a week ago. I should know the names of all the cultivars, but I don’t. They do not look the same in landscape as they do on the farm where they grow. I could guess on a few. The only one that there is no mistake about is #4, which is ‘Coral Bells’. Color is a bit off in this picture. #5 looks like ‘Hino Crimson’, but without bronzed new foliage.

Rhododendrons are coming along slowly but surely. They will not be ready for next week. Fortunately, as wimpy as our bloom is this spring, there is plenty to get more pictures of for next week.

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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/

Horridculture – Pale Clivia Syndrome

P90417Back in the good old days, Kaffir lily, Clivia miniata, which is probably most popularly known simply as ‘clivia’, bloomed with big round trusses of exclusively bright reddish orange flowers. It was such an excellent color that no one thought to change it. Flowers of feral plants that sometimes grew from seed were potentially more orange and less red, but were flashy nonetheless. There was no need, and minimal potential, for ‘improvement’.

Then the allure of the ‘rare’ happened. Yellow Kaffir lilies had previously been so rare that very few had seen them. Once the rest of us became aware of their existence, many of us wanted them, only because they were so rare. However, after seeing them, some of us came to the conclusion that they were rare because no one wanted them when the species was first introduced, and cultivars with the best color were selected and perpetuated.

Regardless, yellow Kaffir lily suddenly became a fad. Traditional bright reddish orange Kaffir lilies became passe. All the while, those subscribing to the fad seriously believed that yellow was better and more desirable than reddish orange simply because it was so very rare. All the while, yellow became increasingly popular, increasingly available . . . and no longer rare. All the while, reddish orange became unpopular, uncommon . . . and rare.

So now what? Why is yellow more popular than reddish orange now? Yellow is insipid and pale. Reddish orange is vibrant and bright. Furthermore, yellow is so dreadfully common. Reddish orange is quite rare. According to the previous justification for the popularity of insipid pale yellow Kaffir lily, bright reddish orange Kaffir lily should be popular now, not because they are so much more colorful and appealing, but because they are RARE!P90406++++

These are in Brent’s garden.

See Anemone

P90414This really is something that I did not expect to see. It may not look like much. It is just a raspy anemone with bites taken out of it, blooming later than it should. What is so impressive about it is that it was not planted here last year. It was planted during the previous year, then bloomed on time last year, and then died back like anemones normally do. I did not plant it, of course. It is in a planter where volunteers contribute whatever they like.
In case you are wondering why I am writing about it as if I did not expect it to bloom again, I didn’t. For whatever reason, anemones typically bloom well only once here, in their first season after they get planted. They may produce foliage for the following season, or maybe even several seasons, but very rarely bloom again. It annoys me that they are even sold locally. Nurseries should no better than to sell bulbs that do not perform well here.
I have always believed that anemones, like a few other types of bulbs, do not get enough chill in winter to bloom again. This is a rather mild climate. There are certain cultivars of apple that do well where winters are cooler that would be dissatisfied with the minimal chill they would get here. (Incidentally, this last winter was not unusually cold.)
There is also the possibility that anemones can not maintain their foliage long enough through the arid spring and summer weather to sufficiently regenerate their resources to bloom again. The foliage begins to appear in conjunction with bloom, then grows more as bloom finishes, but then dies back as the weather gets warm in spring and summer. The weather is not hot here, but it is rather arid.

Knucklehead

P90413KThis is the beginning of one of several new knuckles on a pollarded crape myrtle tree that was pollareded for the first time just this past winter. It was quite a mess of thicket growth that was too congested to bloom well. It is also located in a confined situation where it could not just be groomed, pruned up for clearance, and then just left to develop a larger canopy higher up. Pollarding will both contain it, as well as invigorate healthier growth.
New shoot growth now emerging from the ends of limbs that were pruned back last winter will elongate and eventually bloom through spring and summer. Next winter, after all the colorful autumn foliage has defoliated, the tree will get pruned back to these same knuckles to repeat the process. Stems will get cut back as neatly as possible, leaving no stubs, but such pruning causes knuckles to become slightly more distended as the develop.
Minor shoot growth that develops elsewhere on the mature stems below the developing knuckles should be removed as it appears. It is easy to knock off now, before it gets big enough to need to be pruned off. Knocking it off or ‘peeling’ it off, as drastic as it sounds, is actually better than pruning it off. It removes more of the callus growth that is likely to develop more stem growth later. New growth should be concentrated into the knuckles.
Pollarded crape myrtles bloom later than those that are not pollarded, but they bloom more profusely. They are also more resistant to mildew, and develop better foliar color in autumn.
The picture below shows the same crape myrtle that I got the picture of the single knuckle above from, shortly after it was pollarded. This picture was used another article at:
https://tonytomeo.com/2019/03/16/six-on-saturday-picture-dump/P90316++++

Six on Saturday: Spring Flowering Trees – With Problems

 

You probably do not notice the problems while distracted by the profuse bloom. That is just swell. It is gratifying that the trees that I work with are appealing to those who see them. Since I work with them, I notice their problems. I would have posted just close up pictures of the flowering cherries and flowering crabapples, but because they are blooming at different times this year, I got only these three.

1. The shade of the big redwood trees is a bit too dark for this flowering cherry tree. It is always this sparse. What is worse is that the upper layer of bloom is suspended on a single horizontal limb that extends from the right, out the backside, back in toward the center and off to the left as it is seen here in the picture. What looks like supporting limbs is actually trunks of birch trees in the background. I would prefer to cut the awkward limb off, but you can see how flat topped the remaining portion of the tree would be without it.P90413

2. This is the main reason the tree remains. These double white flowers are the whitest of the trees here.P90413+

3. My absence at a previous work day at the Presbyterian Church was the problem with this ‘Prairie Fire’ flowering crabapple. I had worked with this tree for a few years to thin out the thicket growth, and repair structural damage. Then, because I was not there, someone else pruned it indiscriminately with hedge shears and loppers! What a mess! It is best that you can not see the damage within the canopy. I don’t know why this was done. The tree only needed minor trimming for clearance above parked cars. After bloom, I will start the process of structural repair all over again.P90413++

4. These rosy pink flowers make it all worth it though.P90413+++

5. This flowering cherry actually looks better than I expected it to this year. I pruned out so much necrosis last years that I figured that the tree was deteriorating. I expected a bit more new necrosis to develop this years. As you can see, that did not happen so much. I am not disappointed. Actually, I am impressed that there is no necrosis worth noticing. The worst problem with the tree right now is that it is disfigured by the unexplained necrosis. Well, that will not prevent us from appreciating the bloom.P90413++++

6. This is the bloom close up. It is very similar to the other two old cherry trees that I will be cutting down this year. I wrote an article, and perhaps others, about them earlier. https://tonytomeo.com/2019/03/31/the-end-of-the-cherry-blossom-festival/P90413+++++

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/

Horridculture – Weed Eaters

P90410The most destructive tools that so-called ‘gardeners’ have access to are hedge shears. They use them on just about anything within their reach. If a tree is not beyond their reach, they are likely to shear it into a nondescript glob of a shrub, complete with lodgepole stakes and straps that never get removed. Yet, in all their enthusiasm, they will not properly shear hedges that are actually intended to be shorn. Well, I have ranted on that enough.
The second most destructive tools that so-called ‘gardeners’ have access to are weed eaters, which are also known as weed whackers or edgers. Although not actually related to real edgers, they are known as such just because they are so commonly used for the same purpose. Weed eaters are designed to cut weeds indiscriminately, and are quite efficient at doing so. The problem is that they cut or try to cut anything else they encounter.
So-called ‘gardeners’ often gouge the paint off of the bottoms of walls and fences, just because it is easier to cut the weeds there with a weed eater than it is to pull them. What is worse is that they also often cut off the tops of perennials that are trying to regenerate in spring after winter dormancy. Spring or summer bulbs might never get a chance to bloom. Perennials, groundcover plants and shrubbery are not safe from the blatant indiscretion.
The sad little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park gets gouged more than annually by a weed eater. Every time it happens, I am assured that it will not happen again; but if the weeds get cut before I pull them from around the trunk, it does . . . very regularly. I was also assured that the tree would be outfitted with a tree-guard, but as you can see, it has not yet happened. I am told that I can not put my own guard on the trunk.
Those causing this damage are non-horticulturally oriented people who are assigned community service for some sort of infraction, so should not really be expected to know how to use weed eaters properly; not that this is any consolation for the damage. What is worse is that such damage is so commonly caused by so-called ‘gardeners’ who really should know better, and charge good money to take care of the trees they damage and kill
The most recent article about the Memorial Tree, with a link to a previous article that links to previous articles . . . and so on, can be found at: https://tonytomeo.com/2018/10/14/memorial-memorial/

The Overlooked Trillium

P90407Other species must be more interesting than what is native here. There are supposedly as many species of Trillium as there are of Yucca; forty-nine. All but ten are native to North America. The others are in eastern Asia. They are desirable and respected perennials to those who are familiar with them. White trillium is the official wildflower of Ohio, as well as the official floral emblem of Ontario. Ours would not likely qualify for such status.

The few around here appear only briefly about this time of year, and bloom with these small purplish burgundy flowers. They are only a few inches high, so are easy to miss. By the time they get noticed they are finished with their bloom. Their foliage lasts only until the weather starts to get warm in late spring or early summer. During their brief season, they somehow manage to store enough resources to repeat the process for many years.

This particular species is supposedly known as ‘giant wakerobin’, or Trillium chloropetalum. It is so diminutive, that I can not help but wonder about those that are not ‘giant’. Others that I see around here have more rusty red or ruddy brown flowers that stay closed most of the time. Western trillium, Trillium ovatum, lives here too; and I may have seen its foliage without distinguishing it from giant wakerobin, but I have never seen it bloom.

The trilliums that are native here live in partial shade out in forests, but away from more aggressive plants. They do not transplant easily, and do not like refined gardens.

Other trilliums in other regions bloom with bigger flowers in white, pink, red, purple, pale yellow or green. They must be more impressive than ours, and should at least be more adaptable to home gardens and landscapes.

Charles Grimaldi Brugmansia (not a bio)

P90406KKWhen spelled like that, the whole thing looks like someone’s long name. ‘Charles Grimaldi’ really is someone’s name, and the particular cultivar of brugmansia happens to be named after him. Because no one knows who the parents of this hybrid cultivar are, the species name is omitted. It is therefore described by just the genus name followed by the cultivar name, as Brugmansia ‘Charles Grimaldi’; or simply ‘Charles Grimaldi brugmansia’.

After all that, some of us know it, as well as all other cultivars, even more simply as ‘angel’s trumpet’. They are more likely to be distinguished by floral color and form than by cultivar name. For example, Brugmansia ‘Charles Grimaldi’ might be described as a single yellow angel’s trumpet. There is also a single white, a double white, a single pink, a single pink with variegated foliage, and so on. Most are fragrant at least to some degree.

This particular specimen was not planned. As I mentioned in my ‘Six on Saturday’ posts earlier today, my colleague, Brent Green, planted it out in the back garden as a wimpy #1 (1 gallon) specimen many years ago. It grew like a weed and displaced a few other perennials that were too close to it. Brent coppiced it to the ground annually for a few years. It grew back and bloomed spectacularly and very fragrantly through each summer.

A few years ago, rather than coppice it back to the ground, Brent had me pollard it on a few tall trunks. Rather than regenerate as a big fluffy and obtrusive shrub that occupied too much of the limited space, it was able to spread out up and above the garden, while the tall and lanky trunks were pruned bare. The abundant and very fragrant flowers naturally hang downward from the upper growth.