Boom! Zap! Wow! Bam! Zing!

P90630P90630+P90630++P90630+++P90630++++Batman and Robin were here!
. . . well, not quite. It is decoration for summer camp. We never know what we will find in the landscapes that we maintain here. Those who work at camp arrive before guests, so that they can get ready, and of course, to decorate. Guests only started to arrive two weeks ago. It makes our work more interesting, as we try to work around the traffic and events, but it is SO gratifying to see so many guests enjoy the facilities that we maintain!
Those who work at camp enjoy being here too. It is obvious in all the work they put into preparation. It gets pretty wild and colorful, as I was reminded when I found what had been done in a grove of coast live oak just outside of one of the main auditoriums. Last year, I pruned and groomed the trees to expose their naturally sculptural trunks. I thought they were rather exemplary; but apparently, there was some room for improvement.
There is more to the wardrobe of a well rounded tree than mere ‘trunks’. One might select stylish attire such as this. Really though, I am not certain if this tree is feeling ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ or totally embarrassed.P90630+++++
This one went for an old fashioned veil.P90630++++++
English ivy on the ground below the grove is wearing too much makeup.P90630+++++++
It is not really makeup of course. It is paint from this mysteriously hovering door . . . as if that somehow makes more sense. It was locked.P90630++++++++
This one is more my style, and it has a window. There is no need to open it to see what is outside . . . or inside.P90630+++++++++
If neither of those are good enough, there are plenty of others to choose from.P90630++++++++++

Metallic Roses

P90203‘Sterling Silver’ and ‘Stainless Steel’ are two hybrid tea roses that were quite popular decades ago. ‘Copper’ and ‘Aluminum’ are not. However, I did happen to write a bit about the aluminum roses in the picture above on the Facebook page of Felton League on January 28, and included a link to an older article that featured a picture of copper roses. They are not at all relevant to horticulture, but are interesting nonetheless.

Felton League is an informational forum for the distinguished small group of displaced or socially outcast people and their friends in Felton, California. That is how it is described on Facebook. Those who are more directly familiar with us know us as a community group that not only advocates for the local homeless, but also provides compelling insight into homeless culture, and confronts the trend of animosity and hostility for anyone perceived to be homeless.

This is the post on Felton League from January 28:

Some of us participate in the River Cleanups here and elsewhere in Santa Cruz County. Some regularly collect trash for disposal throughout the year. One takes trash collection a step further by creating these metallic roses from some of the collected debris. They were featured in this article about garden art that was published in local newspapers between San Francisco and Beverly Hills in the summer of 2017; . (Not all of the articles used this illustration. The link is for the article as it was posted last July, about a year after it was published.) The copper roses of the original article were made from copper pipe. The newer silvery roses are made from flashing found in the San Lorenzo River. The thorny stems are made from scraps of fencing material that resembles a fine gauge of hog wire, that was found closer to Zayante Creek. The leaves are wired on with random bits of copper wire. These roses are often sold to tourists and local merchants to finance the banquets hosted by ‘Let’s Have Soup’ in Felton Covered Bridge Park.

Not My Style

P90202KThere is no shortage of artistic pictures online and within the context of gardening blogs. Some really are fascinating. I particularly like those that show the weather in far away and mythical lands like Colorado, Chicago, North Carolina, Australia, Oklahoma, New Zealand, Austin, and South Africa. Then there are the cats, dogs, hens, horses, pigs, and a few others that are not so entertaining. The close ups of flowers, fruits, leaves, mushrooms and any variety of odds and ends are amusing if they are not immediately recognizable. Yet, all these pictures are not my style. I am not the artistic sort.

I will try though. This shiny chestnut brown acorn half shell just looked like something that I should get a picture of. It was just laying there on the big sycamore leaf as if it were on display. The interior is even shinier and more richly colored than the exterior, although I did not turn it over to confirm. I am just guessing from my experience with other acorns.

The sycamore that provided the leaf is a California sycamore, Platanus racemosa.

I could not identify the species of the oak that provided the acorn. I am pretty certain that it is not from a coast live oak, valley oak, black oak or tanoak; respectively, Quercus agrifolia, Quercus lobata, Quercus kelogii or (Notho)Lithocarpus densiflorus. There are not many other options. I suspect that it could be from a canyon live oak or Shreve oak; respectively, Quercus chrysolepis or Quercus parvula ‘Shrevei’. Neither produces acorns that are typically as round as this one was.

Nor could I identify the species of squirrel, rat, raccoon, crow or whatever unknown animal dropped it.

Well, perhaps this is why I am not the artistic sort. I am instead the technical sort.

Windows Of Heaven

P81229KOr . . . a close encounter of the third kind. Let’s just go with the former rather than the latter.

I am no photographer. The pictures that I post are merely illustrations for articles from my gardening column, and other articles. This picture just happened to make itself available while I was getting the first of the six pictures of the earlier ‘Six on Saturday’ post. The location is nothing special. It is not really out in the forest like it seems to be. A lodge building of six suites is directly to the left. A big ‘housekeeping’ building is to the right. There is a road in the background above, as well as below, from where the picture was taken.

Even the flora in uninteresting. The most prominent straight trunk in the middle is that of a young Douglas fir. The slightly leaning trunk with upward reaching branches to the right is some sort of cypress. There are a few nice small coast live oaks to the left. Most of the other trees to the right are black locusts that I really should cut down. The small shoots in the foreground are watersprounts from black oak saplings that were already cut down. There are some California bay trees in there somewhere, probably off in the background to the very far left.

The deteriorated colony of oak root rot fungus, Armillaria mellea, that was described too graphically in the earlier post was located in the foreground of the lodge building to the left. . There was not much left of it then, so there would be even less now. . . fortunately.

Well, isn’t this way more information than necessary? I should have left this (too artistic for my ability) picture with just the title.

Time Travel

P81124KOne never knows what strange artifacts might be found out in public landscapes. It is amusing enough to find items discarded or simply misplaced long ago by former occupants of a home out in a private home garden. Public landscapes are even more interesting, since they collect debris and artifacts from many more people. Some landscapes have been doing so for a long time.
Besides litter, the most commonly found artifacts are sporting equipment. Frisbees, baseballs, tennis balls, soccer balls, volleyballs and such are commonly lost in dense vegetation. Golf clubs, baseball bats and tennis rackets sort of make one wonder. Chew toys are sometimes left by dogs who go after them, but then return with something they perceive to be more interesting.
Landscapes that are near roadways often feature car parts that might have fallen out of cars as they drove by, as well as a few that cars could not have driven by without. Obviously stolen items, such as purses and wallets, often surrounded by a few credit cards that they likely contained sometimes appear. Stolen mail might fit into that category.
I have yet to find anything as interesting as tickets to a San Jose Sharks game, a big bag of money, Elvis, a purple dinosaur from another plant or a flying saucer that brought it here. However, I have found evidence of time travel!
A retaining wall that holds back an embankment above a parking lot at work was apparently constructed by Mike Menard in 1982, who left his name and the date inscribed into the concrete on top of the wall. That by itself is nothing too remarkable. What IS remarkable is that an adjacent retaining wall was constructed four hundred years later, and three hundred and sixty-four years from now, in 2382!P81124K+

Be Tactful With Garden Art

70712thumbSaint Francis is actually the patron saint of animals. Saint Fiacre is the real patron saint of gardening. However, statues of Saint Francis, usually accompanied by birds, and sometimes by a deer, are popular in home gardens. Has anyone ever seen even a single statue of Saint Fiacre? Statues of Snow White are more common; but her only experience with horticulture was one bad apple.

There is good garden statuary, and there is bad garden statuary. Some of the bad can be exceptionally so. It is one of the many things that back yards are for. Not much offends neighbors like a bronzed lawn mower on a pedestal in the middle of a paved front yard. Yes, it has happened. Perhaps there is beauty in the diversity of unique artistic expression. Saint Francis can not do it all.

Garden statuary and other forms of garden art work like any other household art. For many of us, it merely provide dramatic form, and perhaps color that is more permanent than flowers are. For others, there is a certain degree of self expression associated with the careful selection and display of garden art. Some of us take this even further by creating our own distinctive garden art.

Fountains and wind chimes are often incorporated into gardens to detract from less pleasant ambient sound, or simply because they sound nice. A loud fountain probably would not obscure the sound of a freeway in the neighborhood; but the sound of even a modest fountain might be adequately distracting. Wind chimes are as variable as the delicate to bold breezes that operate them.

As far as garden art is concerned, fountains and wind chimes need more maintenance than simple inactive sculpture. Chimes might sometimes need to be tied up or taken down if they get too noisy in windy weather. They can get tangled or so weathered that the strings that suspend the chimes need to be replaced. When this happens, it might be easier to simply get new wind chimes.

Fountains are more involved. Water must be added to replace what evaporates. Mineral deposits must be cleaned from some surfaces. Any aquatic plants need to be groomed like other plants in the garden. For larger fountains, fish might be employed to control mosquitoes. However, fish might attract raccoons! Small fountains with neither fish nor plants might be kept clear with bleach. So, even though garden art is not as dynamic as living and growing plants are, some of it requires significant maintenance anyway.