Buckeye

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Buckeye starts to bloom like lilac, or upside down wisteria.

Ohio is the Buckeye State. The Ohio buckeye that is native there must be very special. Perhaps all other trees that are native to Ohio are just not very uninteresting. Whatever the situation, I sort of believe that the Ohio buckeye is more appealing in some regards than the California buckeye that is native here. However, the California buckeye might be more weirdly interesting.

The main reason that California buckeye is not popularly used in landscapes is that it is ‘twice deciduous’. That means exactly what it sounds like. Just like other deciduous trees, it defoliates in response to cooling autumn weather, and refoliates in response to warming spring weather. Unlike other deciduous trees, it repeats the process through the warmest weather of summer.

When summer weather gets too warm and arid, the foliage of California buckeye shrivels and sort of defoliates. Without rain to dislodge the shedding foliage, it can linger and look shabby for quite a while and maybe until it is replaced by secondary foliage that develops as the weather mellows. The secondary foliage does not last long before it is time to defoliate again for autumn!

California buckeye is not often planted into landscapes because it really does look like the living dead through summer. It provides no shade when shade is most desirable. Those that I work with are only here in the landscapes because they grew from self sown seed that sneaked in on its own. Some will be subordinated to more desirable adjacent trees, although there is no rush.

I happen to like California buckeye. Except for the rarely seen red horsechestnut, it is the only species of buckeye that I am familiar with. Bloom is neither colorful nor reliably profuse, but is delightfully fragrant in close proximity. Not many natives are fragrant.

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The fragrance is sort of buttery and faintly sugary.

Horridculture – Green Is The New Black

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Foliage does not get any blacker than this.

This is not another of my many racial slurs for the renowned Southern Californian landscape designer, Brent Green. Believe or not, I endure many more of such slurs from him; so will not even bother putting something else out there that compels his retaliation. This is about Japanese laurel, Aucuba japonica, which is incidentally rather yellowish with rich golden variegation.

Japanese laurel, which is known as gold dust plant locally, is happy in partial shade, and will tolerate rather significant shade. That is a distinct advantage in landscapes that are dominated by so many big redwoods. Even without significant bloom, the bright yellowish foliage is an asset in visually dark parts of the landscapes. There probably should be more of it here than there is.

It is not one of my favorites though. It does not cooperate with pruning, and often produces overly vigorous growth that flops over in response to aggressive pruning. It shelters proliferation of snails in warmer climates. What I dislike most about it is the prominent blackening of some of the foliage that is too exposed to direct sunlight. It is so unsightly in front of the cheery gold.

After pruning a few overly vigorous stems that became floppy, I noticed how quickly the lush and fresh new foliage blackens from exposure. The pictures above and below were taken about two hours after the stems were pruned. The stems grew in a notably shaded situation, and were then left out on a hot black bed liner without shade, which of course accelerated the process.

I should have gotten a picture of the foliage as I found it, with all exposed surfaces blackened, as if spray painted where they were on the black vinyl. The portions of the leaves that remain green were shaded under other foliage.

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Shaded parts are still fresh and gold dusted green. Exposed parts are roasted to a crisp.

Six on Saturday: Rhody’s Rhodies II

 

As mentioned last week, the first five of these pictures are now two weeks old. They are too pretty to discard for lack of punctuality. However, it was necessary to delete one so that the most important, although less horticultural, sixth picture could be included. Not much of the bloom remains now.

1. Color seems odd for this one. It did not seem so greenish to me when I got the picture. In fact, it seemed more pale, and almost white. I know the camera sees it more accurately than I do.P00523-1

2. #1 from last week, which may have been ‘Mrs. G. W. Leak’, looks like this. I did not notice earlier. I would have otherwise deleted this instead of what I deleted to leave room for #6 below.P00523-2

3. If #4 from last week did not look like ‘Anah Kruschke’, it is because this one is. I knew I got a picture of it, but somehow switched the two. This is the only one that I can identify this week.P00523-3

4. Color is something that I am not proficient with. I do happen to prefer this color to other purple rhododendrons. I do not know if it is purple or lavender, or if lavender is just pastel purple.P00523-4

5. Of all the rhododendrons here, only a few are as richly red as this one. Of those few, this one is the second largest specimen, and most prolific in bloom. It is usually one of the last to bloom.P00523-5

6. Rhody! It is not much, but it proves that I at least tried to get a picture of what we all came here for. I deleted a good picture of another rhododendron to do it! Rhody would not cooperate.P00523-6

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 – Dust Bowl

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Cimarron County in 1940 or the road out back last Wednesday?

 

In a commotion that an Okie would flee from, the road out back got blown last week. What a mess! Dust was everywhere, and I mean, except for the road from which it was blown, it went ‘everywhere’. The engines of the two blowers at full throttle echoed loudly against pavement, the cinder block and metallic walls of the industrial buildings, and under the broad eaves above.

Fortunately, no one else was here to be bothered by it. Actually, no one would have been as bothered by it as we were by the crud that was on the road prior to getting blown. We know that blowing is sometimes necessary. There are only a few windows on the industrial buildings, and they were all closed. The few vehicles that happened to be parked nearby were already dirty.

Where I lived in town many years ago, the apartment buildings to the north and south were ‘maintained’ by so-called mow-blow-and-go ‘gardeners’. The building to the south lacked a lawn, but there was plenty of shrubbery there to be destroyed, even though the name of the technique does not rhyme with the rest of the routine. For both buildings, blowing dust was extreme.

There was no attempt to be tactful about it. The so-called ‘gardeners’ operated their blowers very loudly at full throttle, with no regard for where all the crud went from the pavement. Much of it went onto cars in the carports. Much went into the washrooms. Almost monthly, I needed to ignite the blown out pilot for the water heater in the washroom of the building to the north.

Both back corners of my garden were paved. There was a small paved laundry yard to the north, and a small paved trash yard to the south. The so-called ‘gardeners’ on both sides removed the kickboards from below the rear panels of those dreadful fences that I disliked so much, and blew the detritus from the neighboring properties into may back yard as if I would not notice.

When I replaced the kickboards, the so-called ‘gardeners’ broke pieces of them out, and continued with their technique. There was not much detritus from pavement that got blown weekly, but it was enough for me to collect and show to the property management of the adjacent apartments. It put the ‘go’ in ‘mow-blow-and-go’. It was the same technique only a few years apart.

As necessary as they are, and even though they can be used properly and tactfully, blowers still annoy me. The noise, the dust, and the seemingly innate disregard for others are not justified by their efficiency. I have used them, so I know that a practical degree of tact does not compromise efficiency. They exemplify the worst of what a formerly respectable industry has become.

Too Much Oregano

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Herbs should do so well in an herb garden.

Vegetation management after several weeks of neglect has been . . . interesting. While we were unable to work, and during their most active growth of the year, weeds proliferated more than they had ever gotten away with before. As most get cut down by weed whackers, I pull those that mingled with desirable plants that weed whackers must avoid. It is a tedious process.

One of the more tedious of these projects, and perhaps the most tedious so far, required the removal of abundant weeds from a dense row of carpet roses. Fortunately, it was not as bad as I expected it to be. They young man who weeded this area during winter had done a remarkably thorough job, and eradicated most of the dreaded oxalis and tougher perennial grassy weeds.

The weeds that I pulled were big and impressive, but pulled out relatively easily. A few thistles were unpleasant to handle, but even they came out easily. Mock strawberry between some of the roses was still in good condition after the weeds that mingled with them were gone. I realize that I do not adequately appreciate all the weeding that happens here that I am not aware of.

Besides mock strawberry, another species that gets to stay in parts of the area that it spreads into is some sort of oregano. It seems to be common Italian oregano, but also seems to develop leaves that are slightly larger than they should be. It is too docile to be a problem for the roses, but occupies space that would otherwise be taken by weeds. Besides, it is nice to have around.

Even oregano needs to be managed sometimes. Quite a bit of it got pulled from the roses along with the weeds. I suppose it must be dried now.

While You Were Out

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It’s a jungle out there!

Our work is the sort that could potentially continue as essential. Distancing is not a problem for us, since we generally work individually, and there are no guests here. However, work needed to be discontinued due to lack of revenue. A conference center can not generate revenue without big groups of guests. Even when groups can return, many potential guests can not afford to.

The chronology of this situation should have been documented more efficiently. We had been unable to work here for several weeks. I do not remember how long it had been. Work resumed two weeks ago, and can continue for six more weeks, for a total to two months. We will start no new projects during this time, but will primarily try to catch up on what was neglected earlier.

Salvage and preparation for resumption of neglect are presently the priorities. This entails vegetation management after weeds had been left to grow wild during their most active season. It is extreme. Most weeds either had dispersed their seed, or did so as they got removed. This is not much of a problem for areas that are not landscaped, but will be trouble within landscapes.

Weeds in areas that are not landscaped get cut down by weed whackers, and mostly left where they fall. Roots that remain within the soil, and debris dispersed over the surface, should limit dustiness later in the summer. Weeds in landscaped areas and where weed whackers can not get into must be pulled. We do not want young desirable plants to be ruined by weed whackers.

It is discouraging that no one is here to enjoy the landscapes that we put so much effort into while we can work. It is also discouraging to see how easily the landscapes can fall into disrepair.

Six on Saturday: Rhody’s Rhodies I

 

Rhody actually had nothing to do with the rhododendrons. They have been her for decades. The youngest were added in the late 1990s. We know none of their identities. It does not matter. Bloom is spectacular. These pictures are from last Friday, so are a week old already. Six more will be two weeks old for next week. I just can not miss sharing them here for Six on Saturday.

1. Mrs. G. W. Leak – The spots are not pronounced enough. The foliage is not a good match either. Otherwise, the floral color and form are about right. Branch structure seems to match too.P00516-1

2. Trude Webster – This is just a guess. The leaves are not big enough. Bloom is a bit too brightly colored, and its spots are a bit too pronounced, although floral form seems to be about right.P00516-2

3. Lem’s Monarch – This one is questionable. Flowers are usually more white with reddish pink edge. However, they do not look quite like the real thing. Foliage happens to be a good match.P00516-3

4. Anah Kruschke – Like the others, the color is off for this one this year. It is normally a bit richer purple. I am fairly certain about its identity. The foliage and branch structure conform too.P00516-4

5. Rhododendron catawbiense – I am rather certain about the identity of this one. Everything about it is as it should be, even the foliage. This is probably my favorite of these particular six.P00516-5

6. Taurus – Of all of these six, this one is the least likely to be what I refer to it as. Only the floral color is correct. Floral form, foliage and branch structure are not. I do like the name though.P00516-6

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 – Plastic Is Forever

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Ah, the memories.

Horticulturists are environmentalists by definition. Whether we grow horticultural commodities, install such commodities into landscape, maintain such landscapes and associated trees, or design such landscapes, the vegetation that we work with affects the environment. Many of us should take our innately significant environmental responsibilities more seriously than we do.

We should also be realistic about our environmentalism. For example, there is no problem with designing a landscape that attracts butterflies for a client who enjoys butterflies in the garden. However, we should not promote butterfly gardening as something that benefits the environment and ecosystem by distracting insects from native flowers that rely on them for pollination.

I have never been one of ‘those’ extreme environmentalists. I do not want to save all vegetation. Some trees are too hazardous to those in the landscape below. Some exotic species are too aggressively invasive within a natural ecosystem, and therefore detrimental to the environment. Planting a proper tree where it will be an asset is fun; but too many trees obscure sunlight.

Fake environmentalism made good environmentalism look bad, and is contrary to it. Associated sustainability has become a cheap fad to capitalize on. Sustainably grown produce is pointless relative to the fuel necessary to transport what is grown in remote places, and all the plastic that it gets wrapped in. The volume of plastic needed to make sustainability possible is baffling.

Our compost is not the best, but it is adequately composted. Except for eggshells, the only recognizable bits are non-biodegradable plastics that mistakenly got mixed in, such as small bits of cellophane from the cafeteria kitchens. The most prominently abundant are these small stickers that were originally affixed to individual and mostly sustainably grown fruits and vegetables.

Are so many bits of non-biodegradable plastic so necessary to demonstrate sustainability and environmentalism?

Timber!

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This is a bit more than just slightly inconvenient. The trail continues forward from here, with another trail up the stairs to the right.

It is that time of year. Warming weather accelerates vascular activity, which makes foliage heavier. If evapotranspiration is inhibited by humidity and a lack of wind, the foliage can get too heavy to be supported by the trees that produce it. All that increasing weight can bring down big limbs or entire trees at the most unexpected times. The process is spontaneous limb failure.

By ‘unexpected’, I mean that it happens when there is no wind. It is startling because broken limbs and fallen trees are typically associated with wind rather than a lack of it. Gentle wind actually accelerates evapotranspiration, which relives affected vegetation of some of its weight and susceptibility to spontaneous limb failure. Aridity helps too, by absorbing more moisture.

Of course, even a gentle breeze at the wrong time can have disastrous results for vegetation that is already about to succumb to spontaneous limb failure. I suspect that is what happened here, since the air was not completely still at the time. It was just a bit warmer than it had been, and slightly more humid than typical. It is too late and pointless to analyze the situation now.

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This is the top of the stairs that are to the right in the picture above.

At about noon on Thursday, someone who works nearby alerted me to the sound a a big tree falling. I was in the same neighborhood, but was driving by with the radio on. The tree is precisely where I was told it would be. No one was nearby when it fell. Damage was originally minimal, with a portion of trail displaced by roots, and a rail on a bridge crushed by the trunk.

By ‘originally’, I mean that this was not the extent of the damage. After barricading the trails and road leading to the site, and leaving, we heard another loud crash from the same location as a bay tree that had been leaning against the already fallen fir tree collapsed in pieces on top of the whole mess. Fortunately, the damage to the bridge, although worse, is not too terribly bad.

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There is more timber here than lumber. The short section of main trunk is severely fractures. The double trunks beyond are not as big as they look.

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

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Where does this delightful columbine think it is?!

Columbine does not do well here. I do no know why. It does well enough in Colorado to be the Official State Flower there. Yet, the mildest of climates is Colorado are harsher than the climate here. It does not get too terribly warm in summer here. Humidity is minimal, but not as minimal as in much of Colorado. Nor does it exceed that of other regions where columbine does well.

We have certainly tried to grow columbine. It just does not work. Some of it succumbs to powdery mildew. Some succumbs to rust. The last batch just succumbed. Because it was expected, I did not bother to investigate. I got the impression that it was taken out by both powdery mildew and rust. Flowers that bloomed so delightfully when planted went to seed on their way out.

That should have been the end of it. I would not mind if someone tries again to grow columbine for next spring, even if it last for only a short while. I just do not expect to see it ever perform well here. None was planted this year. Even if someone had considered it, there was no need to add any prior to furlough, while cool season annuals for winter continued to bloom so happily.

What I certainly did not consider was the few seed that the last batch of columbine tossed almost a year ago. Apparently, at least one of those seed fell from the ledge where its parent plants lived briefly in now absent planter boxes, and into the edge of a small landscape below. It grew into an exemplary specimen of columbine, which is happily blooming as if it were in Colorado!

It is surrounded by a concrete retaining wall, a perpendicular granite wall and a big granite boulder!