Six on Saturday: Oops!





These Six for this Saturday are a minor collection of embarrassing but otherwise useless images that are perhaps too amusing to merely delete. Some had been accumulating for quite a while. The first may not seem like the worst, but is associated with a more embarrassing picture from another ‘Six on Saturday’ of last April. That entire procedure was just too dysfunctional to write about. The fifth picture was actually planned, and should actually work, regardless of how silly it looks here now.

1. Black cherry is so rare here that I met only one in my entire career; and sadly, it needed to be removed. What I did not show at the time was how close this bit got to an adjacent parked car.

2. Arborists who cut down bigger trees for us are remarkably proficient. However, after removing this canyon live oak without any damage, they piled the firewood onto one of my hydrangeas.

3. It made sense at the time. There are two rows of canned plants on top of this retaining wall. Roses are in the sunnier outer row. Now, they need to be deadheaded; but I can not reach them.

4. Land is famously expensive here. Nonetheless, we get it delivered for free whenever we want it. The quality is good, and on rare occasion, it comes with surprises such as callas or narcissus.

5. This ungrafted flowering cherry tree would not stop suckering. Now that it is succumbing to scald, one of its own suckers is groomed and staked to replace it. This stake is nailed to the tree.

6. While unused during the past year, the buildings at work were neglected more than the landscapes were. No one was here to tell us what this Boston ivy was doing on this exterior stairwell.

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/

Limb Failure Of Spontaneous Nature

Riparian trees notoriously shed limbs spontaneously.

Winter storms sometimes break limbs or topple trees. Such damage is no surprise during winter because that is when almost all windy weather happens here. Early storms during autumn might be more damaging because deciduous trees are less aerodynamic prior to defoliation. Nonetheless, falling trees and limb failure are typically associated with wind.

That is why spontaneous limb failure is such a surprise when it happens, typically during pleasantly mild or warm weather of spring or early summer. It is more likely without wind than with it. Humidity, although atypical here, is a contributing factor. Healthy trees within riparian situations or lawns are more susceptible than distressed trees in drier situations. 

Particular types of trees are more susceptible to spontaneous limb failure as well. Valley oak, coast live oak, sweetgum, carob, some pines and various eucalypti may shed limbs after an unusually rainy winter or an increase of irrigation. Riparian trees, such as willow, cottonwood, box elder and sycamore are notorious for shedding big limbs unexpectedly.

Spontaneous limb failure occurs if limbs are unable to support their own increasing foliar weight. Bloom can add significant weight too. Warmth promotes the vascular activity that increases foliar weight. Humidity and insufficient air circulation inhibit evapotranspiration (evaporation of foliar moisture), which typically compensates for increasing foliar weight.

As the terminology implies, spontaneous limb failure occurs suddenly, and often without warning. It is therefore potentially very dangerous. It is common among limbs that exhibit no prior structural deficiency. Even experienced and educated arborists who are familiar with vulnerable tree species can not identify and mitigate all potentially hazardous limbs. 

Arborists often suggest pruning to limit the weight of trees that are innately susceptible to spontaneous limb failure. However, limbs that are already sagging from their own weight are risky to engage. Most damage occurs in spring and early summer. Fruit trees that are too productive can succumb to the weight of fruit as it ripens through summer or autumn.

Start Young Trees Off Right

Recovery is difficult for abused trees.

Young trees are so impressionable. Too much water can damage their roots, or cause them to disperse too shallowly. Improper pruning can disfigure their branch structure, and ultimately compromise structural integrity. Improper staking to keep them stable can actually interfere with development of stabilizing roots, and interfere with trunk development.

Newly planted trees will of course want to be watered from spring to autumn for at least the first year, and more likely for a few years. Those that will eventually be less reliant on watering as they mature are actually the most demanding while young, because their confined roots are not yet adequately dispersed for self sufficiency. The problem is that too much water can keep lower soil too saturated for new roots to disperse into. This causes roots to instead disperse closer to the surface of the soil, which is not only unhealthy for the trees, but puts the roots closer to pavement, other plants and any other features that they can eventually damage as they grow.

Many young trees should be pruned as they grow to eliminate structural problems, and to instead promote good branch structure. The problem is that improper pruning can actually cause structural problems that will be with the victimized trees for the rest of their lives. Pruning should leave no stubs that will take longer to compartmentalize (heal), or that might produce vigorous but weakly attached new stems.

Stakes are unfortunately necessary to stabilize new trees. The problem is that the trees can become so reliant on stakes for support that they do not develop enough trunk strength to support their canopy without stakes. That is why trees should be tied loosely enough to their stakes to be able to move at least a little in a breeze. Nursery stakes (that trees are bound to for a straight trunk in the nursery) should be removed when sturdier stakes are added.

New trees are naturally a bit more distressed than mature trees that have settled into their environment. They are consequently more susceptible to disease and insect infestation.

Some Shrubs Are Better Trees

Sculptural trunks are worth showing off.

So many really nifty small trees never get an opportunity to perform to their best potential. Many function so well as shrubbery that there is no need to prune them into tree form. Many just get shorn down because that is the most obvious option.

There certainly is no problem with maintaining large shrubbery as shrubbery if that is the intended function. Oleander, photinia, privet, bottlebrush and various pittosporums are all excellent shrubbery, and except for oleander, can be shorn into hedges. Yet, any of them can alternatively be grown into small trees.

‘Standards’ are shrubs that are trained onto single staked trunks. Small shrubs trained as standards, such as boxwood, azalea and euryops, are really only shrubbery on a stick. The larger shrubs though, are more often trained onto trunks about six feet tall so that they can develop as small trees with single trunks.

However, they do not necessarily need single straight trunks. Many have naturally sculptural trunks that are worthy of display. They can be planted as shrubbery, and simply trained up on a few of the trunks that they are naturally equipped with. They only need lower growth pruned away as they mature, instead of getting pruned down.

Overgrown shrubbery that has become so obtrusive that it might otherwise need to be removed can often be salvaged by getting pruned up as small trees. For example, if a New Zealand tea tree or myoporum has gotten so wide at the base that it is awkward to work around, the basal growth can be pruned away so that only upper grown that has adequate clearance remains suspended on exposed trunks. The gnarly trunks within are often more appealing than the abused foliage that obscured them.

Japanese maple, crape myrtle, water gum (Tristania laurina) and various podocarpus really are small trees, but often get shorn instead of pruned properly by ‘mow, blow and go’ gardeners who do not know any better. Olive, coast live oak and saucer magnolia are substantial trees that often get shorn into shrubbery before they can grow beyond the reach of abusive gardeners.

Hollywood juniper as well as some of the other larger junipers naturally develop into sculptural small trees that are just as appealing with or without their lower growth. The gnarly foliated stems are just as sculptural as the trunks and stems within. If space allows, they can be left to grow somewhat wildly with only occasional pruning of superfluous stems.

Holy Guacamole!

This old article does not conform to the ‘Horridculture’ meme for Wednesday like ‘Anti-Community Garden’ would have; but I already reblogged that article, so can not do so again. (It can be found at https://tonytomeo.com/2017/12/09/hate-destroys/ .) At least this article is more amusing.

Tony Tomeo

P71202.jpgHorticulturists have a way of making all those long Latin names sound easy to pronounce. Lyanothamnus floribundus ‘Asplenifolius’ – Syzigium paniculatum – Metasequoia glyptostroboides. I do not know why proper pronunciation of their names is so important. They have no ears. They can not hear if we simply call them ‘Earl’. Even if they could hear, they would not respond.

Communication with other people is probably more important. Yet, we are so often unable to spell something as seemingly simple as the sound of a palm frond falling to the ground. Does it sound like “whoosh”, or “splat”, or some combination of both? What do the Santa Anna Winds sound like as they blow through a grove of Aleppo pines? What does a red flowering gum full of bees sound like?

Heck, Brent could not even tell me what an incident that he heard in his own backyard sounded like…

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Sculpture

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

Tony Tomeo

P71206

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 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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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.

Six on Saturday: LOG!

What rolls down stairs
alone or in pairs,
and over your neighbor’s dog?
What’s great for a snack,
And fits on your back?
It’s log, log, log

It’s log, it’s log,
It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood.
It’s log, it’s log, it’s better than bad, it’s good.”

Everyone wants a log
You’re gonna love it, log
Come on and get your log
Everyone needs a log
log log log

Hopefully, no one remembers this. Anyway, vegetation management has become something of a priority recently, and has been generating a bit of firewood.

1. LOG! From Blammo! Actually, this one is from a bigleaf maple, Acer macrophyllum. It is an exemplary specimen, artfully displayed against a backdrop of sawdust scattered over asphalt.

2. Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas fir is cruddy firewood that can ruin carpet inside a car if moved while green and sappy, but most was gone by the time I got this picture. It is all gone now.

3. (Notho)lithocarpus densiflorus, tanoak is much better firewood. It is also my least favorite of native trees here. It smells like bad salami while in bloom, and produces irritating tomentum.

4. Ligustrum japonicum, waxleaf privet is not native. It was likely a remnant of a prehistoric landscape, rather than self sown. The few logs are nothing to brag about, but will burn like olive.

5. Umbellularia californica, California bay was claimed before it was stacked, so was outfitted with a sign that read, “This bay is not free. (This ain’t FREEBAY!) LOL – LOL”. It smell badly!

6. Acer macrophyllum, bigleaf maple, according to the sign, is for Aunt Jemima. It is one of my favorite native species, but is notably uncommon, so I am none too keen on cutting any down.

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/

Mature Trees Need Professional Help

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Arboriculture is specialized horticulture of trees.

Arborists are horticulturists who are specialized with the horticulture of trees, which is known as arboriculture. In urban gardening, they are not as familiar as gardeners who mow lawns and tend to the annuals, perennials and shrubbery that are close to the ground; but they should be. The trees that arborists maintain are the most significant features in most landscapes.

Bad annuals or poorly tended lawns can get unsightly, but are not too hazardous. However, a tree can be extremely hazardous if it becomes unstable or develops structural deficiency. Falling trees or limbs are very dangerous, and can cause all sorts of damage to anything within reach. Arboriculture is therefore the most important horticulture in home gardens with trees.

Sadly, many trees are severely damaged by improper pruning, which is often performed by those hired to prune them. Some get pruned too severely, or get pruned in the wrong season. Others do not get pruned aggressively enough. Either way, many get structurally compromised so that they drop limbs as they mature. Some trees get damaged too severely to salvage.

This is precisely why arboriculture should be done by qualified arborists. Unfortunately, finding such an arborist may not be as easy as it would seem to be. The industry is notoriously overrun with ‘hackers’, who are unfamiliar (and often unconcerned) with what trees need, and how trees respond to improper pruning.

The International Society of Arboriculture, or ISA, certifies arborists who pass an exam of arboricultural expertise. ISA certified arborists maintain their certification with regular involvement with the ISA, which involves arboricutural seminars and classes, as well as networking with other professional arborists. Certified arborists can be found at the website of the ISA at isa-arbor.com.