‘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:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Statice

Statice is so popular as a cut flower that it should be more popular than it is in home gardens.

The papery flowers of annual statice, Limonium sinuatum, are so popular as seemingly synthetic dried flowers that many garden enthusiasts are surprised to find that they are happy to bloom naturally in home gardens. The clear shades of blue, purple, pink, orange, yellow and white seem to be dyed. The one or two foot tall flower stems are outfitted with odd papery ‘wings’ that make the stems seem wider than they actually are. Deeply lobed basal foliage forms shallow rosettes. Mature plants are about one or two feet tall, and a foot or so wide. Bloom begins late in summer, and continues into autumn. Good sun exposure and good drainage are preferred. Seed can be sown directly, or young plants can be added to the garden early in spring.

Dried Flowers Last All Year

These flowers were cut weeks ago, and will look just as fresh months later.

Statice, strawflower and globe thistle continue to bloom later than most other summer annuals, and hold their flowers longer. Even after bloom, the flowers are so stiff and ‘crispy’ that they remain intact and colorful until they succumb to exposure to weather. If cut and brought in from the weather soon enough, they will last as dried flowers at least until fresh flowers start to bloom in the garden next spring.

Strawflower and larger globe thistle tend to wilt and droop from the weight of the bulky flowers, so should be tied in small bunches and hung upside down to dry. Perennial statice (which has larger blooms than annual statice) tends to flop to the ground, but the stems often bend only at the base so that the rest of the stem length stays somewhat straight. Smaller globe thistle and annual statice often dry standing up while still out in the garden.

Yarrow and English lavender can be dried as well, but lose most of their color. Lavender dries naturally in the garden. Yarrow can likewise be allowed to dry in the garden, but probably keeps a bit more color if cut while still fresh and hung upside down. Because yarrow blooms are so wide, they should be hung individually or in small bundles. Queen Anne’s lace has even wider blooms that curl inward as they dry, so they really should be hung individually.

Old hydrangea flowers that are only beginning to fade can dry surprisingly well if cut and hung individually before they deteriorate too much or start to rot. Some varieties retain color better than others. Some fade almost completely to an appealing brown paper bag.

There are not many roses this time of year, but when they do bloom, even they can be cut and dried while beginning to unfurl. Only a few small and tightly budded roses can be dried when completely open. Because they droop right below the blooms, roses should be hung upside down to dry. Dark colored roses get very dark as they dry. White roses turn tan. Pink and yellow are probably the better colors.

Cat-tails and pampas grass flowers are big, bold and dated cut flowers. Yet, for situations where big flowers fit, they are just as practical now as they were in the 1970s. Because pampas grass flowers shed, and cat-tails can explode (to disperse their seed), they should be sprayed with hair spray or another fixative to keep them contained. Pampas grass foliage has dangerously serrate edges that can give nasty paper cuts, so should be handled carefully, and displayed out of the way.

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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Freeman Maple

Freeman maple colors with minimal chill.

It is a hybrid. It is naturally occurring. Yet, most cultivars (garden varieties) resulted from intentional hybridization and selection. It is not as strange as it seems. Freeman maple, Acer X freemanii, is a naturally occurring hybrid of silver maple and red maple. It grows wild where the natural ranges of the parents overlap. From their example, breeders learned to selectively breed the cultivars.

These cultivars combine the fast growth rate of silver maple with the structural integrity of red maple. None get to be as imposing as the silver maple. Some get to be about forty feet tall and wide, which is a bit bigger than red maple gets in local climates. Foliage is lacy like that of silver maple, but more substantial, like that of red maple. It develops brilliant orange and red color for autumn.

Freeman maple, although locally uncommon, is one of the more practical maples here. Like silver maple, it does not require much chill in winter. Like red maple, it develops a symmetrical canopy with reasonably high branches. Roots should be complaisant with concrete. Because it is a hybrid, it is mostly sterile. It does not produce enough seed to be invasive in more conducive climates.

Tree Surgeons Evolved Into Arborists

Tree surgeons maintain the big trees.

Arborists are very specialized horticulturists. They prefer to work with trees. Of course that is not as simple as it sounds. Some are nurserymen who grow trees. Some select appropriate trees for landscape design. Even some of the orchardists who work with many trees of a similar type have earned this prestigious designation. Decades ago, we still knew many of them as tree surgeons.

Arboriculture, which is the specialized horticulture of trees, has certainly evolved through the decades. Tree surgeons no longer graft fruit trees directly in home gardens. Nurserymen graft trees in production nurseries, to make them available from retail nurseries. However, modern tree surgeons now work with much more diversity of many species that were unknown to their predecessors.

As storms become more frequent through autumn and winter, the need for arboriculture becomes more apparent. More unstable trees fall. More structural deficient limbs break. Many trees prefer to be pruned while dormant through winter. In actuality though, arboriculture is important throughout the year. Some procedures, for some sorts of trees, should happen significantly earlier or later.

Trees are the most substantial features of home gardens. Once they grow beyond reach, they need to be maintained by qualified tree surgeons. Regardless of what most say, very few gardeners are qualified to perform major arboricultural procedures. Many tree surgeons will attest to finding that most damage that trees endure is caused by gardeners with minimal regard for arboriculture.

Tree surgeons who are Certified Arborists of the International Society of Arboriculture, or ‘ISA’, have demonstrated their proficiency with arboriculture. After passing their certification examination, Certified Arborists maintain their credentials by continued involvement with educational seminars, classes and workshops of the ISA. Not many other horticultural professionals are so dedicated.

More information about procuring the services of an ISA certified arborist can be found at www.isa-arbor.com.

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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Franklin Canyon Park

This is another recycled article from a few years ago. Goodness, it has been a long time since I have been in the Los Angeles region.

Tony Tomeo

P71126Because I sometimes go to Brent’s jobs sites while in the Los Angeles area, people sometimes ask me if I see many famous actors. Well, I try to stay out of everyone’s way, so rarely see anyone at the sites. If I see anyone famous about town, I would not know it. I do not watch enough television or movies to recognize many of them.

However, I did recognize this famous actor from my childhood as the renowned Wile E. Coyote of Looney Tunes. He was just out for a stroll in Franklin Canyon Park in the Santa Monica Mountains above Beverly Hills. It happens to be one of my favorite places in the Los Angeles Area, and has an interesting history.

Even those who have never been to Franklin Canyon Park might have seen it on television and in movies. Franklin Canyon Reservoir was Myers Lake on which Opie…

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