Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Three years later, this ‘garden’ is getting more sunlight now that another large portion of the canopy of the associated tree collapsed, and more of what was structurally compromised got pruned away.

Tony Tomeo

P80328The ivy in this sycamore did not just climb up from the ground to hang over this big limb. If you look closely, you will see no vine coming up from the ground. This small patch of ivy as well as a small pyracantha, are growing in a decayed cavity on top of the big limb. The ivy may have climbed up a long time ago, and then rooted into the cavity before the original vine was somehow removed. Alternatively, the ivy might have grown from a seed that was dropped by a bird or ivy vines that are higher up in nearby box elder trees. It is impossible to say now.P80328+It is also difficult to say why there is such a large cavity on top of the limb. It could have originated as a large scar incurred from the impact of another large limb that fell from above…

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Horses are not my favorite neighbors, but they (sort of) serve a purpose.

Tony Tomeo

P80325‘Fertilizer’ is a polite term for ‘recycled vegetation’.

‘Recycled vegetation’ is a polite term for something else.

This is not a synthetic type of fertilizer that gets tossed about or poured on. It gets added to compost and allowed to compost some more before being spread out as a mulch over the surface of the soil, just before chipped vegetation gets dispersed over the top. Alternatively, it sometimes gets mixed into the soil. It is quite useful. You can’t beat the price.

It is recycled differently from the compost or chipped vegetation (from a brush chipper). It is recycled through a horse, or more specifically, two horses. As the picture above suggests, it begins at the front of the horse, and ends at the rear of the horse, which is not pictured.

The horses happen to be quite efficient at recycling vegetation. They do it all the time. They are…

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Technically, this old article does not conform to the ‘horridculture’ meme for Wednesday. I just dislike squirrels.

Tony Tomeo

P80408Wildlife and domestic animals seem to follow me everywhere I go. When Brent and I lived in the dorms at Cal Poly, our room was known as the Jungle Room, not only because of all the greenery, but also because every little bird that got knocked out while trying to fly through the big windows at the dining room was brought to our room to recuperate. A baby squirrel that weaseled into my jacket while I was out collecting insects for an entomology class lived with us for a while. There were two baby ducks that need a bit more explaining.

When I moved south of town, where my roommates boarded horses, the horses worked diligently to open their gate to come to the house to eat my rare plants. The neighbor’s cattle sometimes did the same! When it rained, creepy crawdads came out of the ditch at the railroad…

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Happy Easter!

No one should be blogging today. I wrote this three years ago, and not on Easter.

Tony Tomeo

P80401Happy Easter!

This is one of those holidays when no one should work, which is why I wrote this a few days ago, and scheduled it to post today. I hope you are not reading this today. You have more important things to do. Lent and the forty days of fasting that goes with it are over, so you can eat all the Easter eggs and anything else you want.

The only work that should be done today are chores that can not be delayed until tomorrow. With the weather warming (at least in our region), watering might be one of those chores. For most parts of the garden, this might be the first watering since autumn. Although the rain has been meager, cool weather had kept things damp until now. Resuming watering is typically an easy task. It sounds simple enough. Water is water – right?

I get all…

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Cherry Blossom Festival

My Six on Saturday post this morning linked to this three year old article, which describes how the historic flowering cherry trees have been deteriorating for quite a while.

Tony Tomeo

P80324KI would say that this is our own private Cherry Blossom Festival, but it really gets a crowd. These two old trees are at the edge of the main roadway through town, so several people driving by stop to take pictures. They may not seem to be very impressive compared to healthier flowering cherry trees, but they are what we have, and we are happy to get the bloom.

Decades ago, fruiting cherries were some of the more common orchard trees in the Santa Clara Valley. Flowering cherries were only somewhat popular in home gardens, and might have been less popular without the Japanese influence. They are more popular in cooler climates, not only because they are happier in cooler climates, but also because those who live where winters are harsh have a better appreciation for bloom that so happily celebrates the end of winter.

These particular trees are unfortunately…

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Shady – MSDS – (yes, another sequel)

This is not really a sequel to the recycled article that posted last Wednesday. It just happens to be of the same theme, which was prior to the development of Horridculture meme on Wednesdays.

Tony Tomeo


As the Certified Pesticide Applicator working for the ‘landscape’ company that I wrote about earlier ( https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2018/03/18/shady/ ), I assumed several responsibilities pertaining to the pesticides and other chemicals that the ‘landscape’ company used. Among other things, I needed to inventory all the chemicals, monitor their use, submit use reports to the Department of Agriculture for each of the nine counties in which we used these chemicals, and provide MSDS binders for all of the ‘landscape’ company offices and vehicles within their fleet.

MSDS is for ‘Material Safety Data Sheet’. They are actually several pages each. Each MSDS binder contained two copies of the MSDS for every chemical the ‘landscape’ company used, or even had on site, whether it was actually used or not. One MSDS was in American English. The other was in Mexican Spanish.

So every office and every facility and every vehicle in the fleet of the…

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Timmy in the Garden

Strangely, deer are not a problem in the landscapes at work. It is not as if their damage is minimal. There is NO damage. No one know why. They certainly damage home gardens in the neighborhood nearby.
After all these years since Timmy left home, I would actually be pleased to find a stub where I had been waiting for a rose to bloom, . . . but only ONE!

Tony Tomeo


Tim Buck II, pronounced like ‘Timbuktu’ in Mali, but known simply as ‘Timmy’, came to live with us while he was just a baby fawn. Mr. Tim Buck Senior left Mrs. Buck to raise little Timmy alone as a single mother. Mrs. Buck then vanished, leaving little Timmy enfeebled on the side of Highway 9 south of town. No one knows what happened to Mrs. Buck. She might have been hit and killed by a car. She might have been eaten by a Mountain Lion. Somehow, she was not there to raise little Timmy.

Traffic was stopped on Highway 9 as little Timmy staggered about, either anemic, or starving from the absence of Mrs. Buck. He could barely walk, and certainly could not bound up or down the steep hillsides to leave the Highway. Most of us who stopped knew that he would not survive, and just accepted it as…

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Poppies . . . again

After this article posted three years ago, someone explained the genetics of the weirdly bred poppies mentioned in the last paragraph. That comment must have been in a subsequent article, since it is not here.

Tony Tomeo

P80317+This one is different though. It is not the characteristic homogeneous bright orange that California poppies should be. The orange in the middle is what the entire flower should look like. The outer yellow hallow is not typical.

California poppies used to much more common than they are now. Not only did they grow wild, but they grew wild in abundance. Some of the East Hills were blushed orange with them when poppies bloomed this time of year. The lower hills just to the east of Highway 101 to the south of San Jose were more than blushed. There seemed to be almost as much orange as there was green. By the spring of 1985, those same hills were neither south of San Jose, nor quite so orange. They were within the suburban sprawl of San Jose, and were mostly green with invasive exotic grasses. Only wispy swaths of orange…

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Six on Saturday: Breakdown

Beau is as old as I am. For a Chevrolet, that is quite elderly. He does not get around like he used to, and is no longer expected to go any farther than he can get towed back from if necessary. However, I needed his help in San Jose this week. He was pleased to oblige, but unfortunately could not get started after parking at the Post Office in Los Gatos so that I could grab my mail. It was actually not his fault. I neglected to replace his very old battery. Anyway, because of the delay, I was unable to return in time to get pictures from the landscapes or gardens, so instead got a few random pictures from where we were stranded. Technically, they are horticulturally oriented, but only slightly so. I should have gotten a picture of Beau as well as Rhody of course.

1. London plane 213 lives just behind the curb at the parking space next to the Post Office where Beau failed to start. He saw it all. This license plate is how the Town Arborist identifies him.

2. Tomato cages that my maternal grandfather made in the 1980s have been riding around with Beau for days. They are bits of wire mesh otherwise used for reinforcing concrete pavement.

3. Arborists and lumberjacks cut wedges (notches) like this out of tree trunks, to direct their fall when cut down. This one is from a coast live oak. Now, it is an extra parking brake for Beau.

4. Peach trees are not expected to produce for more than twenty five years. I planted this one thirty five years ago in December of 1985. It exceeded its life expectancy significantly like Beau.

5. After thirty five years, I cannot yet bear to put the dead peach tree trunk on the woodpile. It has been riding around with Beau longer than the tomato cages. The stump of the tree was not completely dead, but needed to be dug out. I buried it somewhere else, with a big basal stem standing up like a new tree. I hope it grows like a bare root tree. I tried for years to root cuttings.

6. I left Beau to cross the street to the hardware store for this. I do not know what it is, but I suspect that it is an Eastern red cedar. I am not sufficiently familiar with the species to dislike it.

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


‘Shark Bay’ Boronia

‘Shark Bay’ is a new boronia.

Boronia may not be completely new to west coast gardens, but ‘Shark Bay’ boronia, Boronia crenulata ‘Shark Bay’, might not be immediately recognizable as a relative of the more familiar types that have wispy foliage and contrasting brownish red flowers. Instead, it has more substantial light green leaves and soft pink flowers. The foliage and flowers are similarly tiny, just not as finely textured. Bloom is sporadic throughout the year, and becomes more abundant as winter ends and spring begins.

‘Shark Bay’ boronia likes somewhat regular watering, and to be in full sun amongst other plants. Harsh exposure or too much glare (such as from pavement or exposed walls) can fade foliage. Light shade is not a problem, but too much shade inhibits bloom. Because it grows rather slowly and does not get too big, ‘Shark Bay’ boronia does well in containers, and plays well with annuals and complaisant perennials. Mature plants do not get much more than two feet high.