Horridculture – Antihorridculture

 

Wednesday has been my day for ranting about aberrations of horticulture. I certainly have plenty to rant about. However, there is plenty of other ranting going on nowadays without my help. Therefore, for this Wednesday only, I will forego the ranting. Furthermore, I will forego the horticulture too. I can not remember ever doing that before. This could be something totally new for me.

After Rhody photo bombed one of my pictures that was featured on Saturday, others suggested that I feature more pictures of Rhody. Everyone loves Rhody.

Most of these pictures are devoid of vegetation. The minimal vegetation that is visible in the other pictures is mostly unrecognizable in the background. There are a few redwoods, a few firs, some English ivy and all that riparian mess around Zayante Creek behind the abandoned ball field. They are unimportant in this post.

This post is just pictures of Rhody, complete with captions that all begin with ‘Rhody’.

Rhody really has been a good sport. He has been coming to work without his crew for more than a week. Only a few of them stop by in the morning. One or two rarely come by through the day. We avoid each other.

Rhody misses them very much. He frolics on their sofa where he typically does ‘laps’ during morning staff meetings, and sometimes settles into the rocker chair that he typically avoids when no one else in it. He neglects his favorite thrasher toys, but instead drags around a dirty glove that belonged to someone of his crew. He takes it to bed, but I somehow wake up with it.

We will work in the still unvegetated vegetable garden in the morning. It is right outside, so he will be here if anyone of his crew happens to stop by.

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Rhody found us a new car.
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Rhody still prefers his friend’s work truck.
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Rhody in camo.
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Rhody found it, . . . but doesn’t know what it is.
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Rhody likes the beach, . . . but can’t find the ocean. (It is a few miles away.)
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Rhody gets to second base and beyond, past the outfield of the abandoned ball field.
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Rhody is easily amused. I don’t get it.
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Rhody is still intent on finding . . . it.
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Rhody can be such a ham.
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Rhody knows how cool he is.
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Rhody misses his staff who can’t come to work yet.
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Rhody misses them a lot!
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Rhody still works hard at being cute, even though there is no one here to see it.
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Rhody is done with pictures for now.
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Rhody thinks the camera smells . . . interesting.

Six on Saturday: Rhody In Pictures

 

All I wanted was just one good picture of Rhody in the weeds for an illustration for the gardening column. I wrote about weed seeds, such as foxtail and burclover, that are dangerous to pets. That article will post on Monday, but can be found now at the Canyon News.

Anyway, Rhody would not cooperate. His defiance was so annoying, . . . but also adorable. I used a picture of another terrier on the lawn at Felton Covered Bridge Park instead. (The article in the Canyon News does not use the thumbnail image.) These are a few of the pictures of Rhody that I did not use.

Even though they are irrelevant to horticulture, I posted these pictures here because they are too amusing to delete without sharing. My primary ‘Six on Saturday‘ article was posted separately.

1. Rhody really can be cute until he realizes that I want to get a picture of him.P90629K

2. Then he gets pompous.P90629K+

3. He briefly considered trying to cooperate.P90629K++

4. He did not consider it for longP90629K+++

5. Then he got annoyed that I was still trying to talk him into being cute for pictures that he wanted no part of.P90629K++++

6. By this time, it was obvious that I needed to turn the camera off.P90629K+++++

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/

Six on Saturday: Rhody

 

Everyone loves Rhody. Regardless of how interesting I like to believe my articles are, nothing gets as much attention as the few illustrations that are photo bombed by Rhody. There are not many good pictures of Rhody, and it is difficult to get good pictures of him. He is too active, and when I try to get him to be still for the camera, he looks sad. I suppose that part of the problem is that I am not very proficient with taking pictures of him in action, rather than while he is trying to cooperate for a posed picture. These pictures are not exactly horticulturally oriented. Except for a few background bits, the only horticultural subjects are a big California sycamore that does not fit into the picture, a dead box elder that is mostly gone, and an uninteresting lawn.

1. Rhody is an expert of meteorology. He is looking to the gray sky and predicting rain. He will want to get inside before it arrives.p90119

2. Rhody is also an expert of arboriculture. After inspecting this big California sycamore, he concluded that the ‘bark’ is ‘ruff’. He happens to be particularly fond of dogwoods.p90119+

3. Rhody is stumped. He is wondering where all the firewood from this dead box elder went. It is within a protected riparian zone where deteriorating trees were to be cut down and made safe, but otherwise left on site.p90119++

4. Rhody occasionally inspects his big lawns to evaluate their maintenance, and perhaps find sticks or balls left by trespassing dogs.p90119+++

5. Rhody found the maintenance of this lawn to be satisfactory.p90119++++

6. Rhody is finished with his work and is getting ready for the incoming storm.p90119+++++

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/

Red Sky At Morning

81222K.JPGRed sky at morning; sailor take warning. Stormy weather is to be expected.
Back before modern meteorology, there were all sorts of ways to predict the weather. Some of the ways to know what to expect in the short term were obvious, such as simply observing what was happening off in the distance in the direction from which the weather comes. For the experienced, it is easy enough to feel changes in humidity and temperature in an incoming breeze.
Halos around the moon or sun, as well as the color of the sky at sunrise, provided a bit of insight about what could be expected a bit farther out than the short term. Some techniques were not always accurate, and some were not accurate at all.
Flora and fauna are better at predicting the weather than we are. Horses, dogs and cats get extra fluffy if they expect the winter weather to be colder than it normally is, and they shed early if they expect an unusually warm summer. Sycamore trees are so responsive to the weather that what they are saying about it is not always obvious. Are they browning and defoliating just because the weather got too hot and arid late in summer, or because autumn is going to be extra cool? Experts could tell, but because of modern meteorology, there are not many experts left here.
This red sky over Mount Hermon occurred at sunrise last Sunday, just prior to the storm that finished early Monday morning, and provide picture #6 for my earlier Six on Saturday post. I tried to avoid the streetlamp at the bottom of the right edge. I did not see the bird when I took the picture. The tree to the left is a golden honeylocust.

Memorial Memorial

P81014The little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge park that I so frequently write about is not the first to be planted there in its parking lot island. It is actually the fourth! The first was a California black oak like the other four in the other islands. They were all planted with the original landscape. It did not live there long before getting run over by a car. The island was empty for many years.

The second tree (above) was an Eastern red cedar that I brought from Oklahoma. It arrived here very early in the morning on the last day of 2012, in a bag with a few others that I pulled out of the ground the day before we left. They may be nothing special within their native range, but they are very exotic to me. At the time, I had no plans for the small trees. I just wanted to grow them.

I was downtown and up late the following night when I realized that it was nearing midnight between 2012 and 2013. I took out a trowel, dug a small hole in the island, and planted one of the Eastern red cedars right at the moment that one year changed to the next. I did not give it any more thought than that. Otherwise, I would have preferred a native species like the Park was originally landscaped with.

Sadly, that tree lasted only a few months before succumbing to what dogs do to young trees in parking lot islands. It was a bare root tree, so was not very resilient.

The third tree (below) was a native bigleaf maple that was planted the following winter between 2013 and 2014. It did not get much more planning than the Eastern red cedar. I found it growing on the side of the road where it would have been killed by vegetation management within the utility easement. Like the little Eastern red cedar, I pulled it up and planted it bare root. It was a better choice in some ways, but would have needed to be watered by bucket for the first few years. It survived through the first year and half way through 2015 before it too succumbed to what dogs do. I was being optimistic by thinking that a bare root tree would survive that.

The fourth tree is the little native valley oak Memorial Tree that is there now. I found it for just a few dollars at a local nursery. It was planted in the winter between 2015 and 2016, so this was its third summer. It was a canned tree, so started with more of a root system than the previous two trees that were planted bare root. Nonetheless, life out in that exposed parking lot island is not easy. The tree was severely damaged by weed whackers both in 2016 and in 2017, so barely grew, and is recovering slowly. It is quite well rooted now, so should have a much better season next summer.

https://tonytomeo.com/2018/09/22/illegally-planting/ – This is a link to one of the more recent articles about the Memorial Tree. It includes a link to another previous article, which also links to other older articles. I really do not remember how many updates I have written about the Memorial Tree.P81014+

Dogs

 

It is now September 2, the day after both the feastday of Saint Fiacre, patron saint of gardeners, and the first anniversary of this blog. It is also the anniversary of the only day in the last year that I did not post anything. Yes, the second day of the blog was the only day without a post. Early in those first few days, I posted the only article that was irrelevant to horticulture, and an explanation that I would not make a habit of doing so. I wanted to try it just once to see if I could do it like so many others do. It was overrated. Nonetheless, after almost a year since that naughty diversion from my self imposed discriminating standards, I want to try it again. After all, I have not yet posted a horticulturally oriented article on September 2 within the context of this blog, so why start now.

PRIVET
This is Privet. He passed away on December 1, 2004, after about eleven years of devout service since about 1993 or so.
Privet was a feral dog who lived in Thomspson Creek behind a retail nursery in the Evergreen District of San Jose where I worked temporarily in the early 1990s. Late every afternoon, he commuted down Thompson Creek to a neighborhood pet store where food was left out for him. Aster and Yarrow, two angry guard dogs who lived in the nursery, would thrash about on the inside of the enclosing cyclone fence as they tried to get to him, but only damaged the merchandise inside the fence. I would cuss at him and threaten him through the fence. He would just stare at me blankly, and keep a safe distance.
One day, Privet was noticeably absent. He was likewise absent the following day. In fact, I did not see him again until several weeks later when we went to the Humane Society of Santa Clara County to adopt a cat to help with the mice in the office. We happened to go through the wrong door to where the adoptable dogs were. There he was! As usual, I cussed at him and said all sorts of mean things to him . . . .until I noticed that his time was up. I asked someone who worked there what that ominous date on his placard meant, only to be told something too unpleasant to repeat here. They were understaffed, so had not gotten around to it yet. Well, the next thing I knew I had payed the adoption fees, and Privet was sitting defiantly next to me in the Buick as we drove away real fast. We never spoke of it again.

WILLOW
My niece named this cool dude Willow, but we just called him Bill because I was told that Willow is a girly name. He was not planned either. In about 2008, I saw his picture on the website of the Peninsula Humane Society in Burlingame. Without thinking, I drove up and adopted him on the spot. On the way, I telephone a friend who I though would try to talk me out of it. He did not. Those working at the Humane Society asked if I would like to interview other dogs. I told them who I was there for. Bill was a several years old when we met. He became blind and deaf in old age, but was still happy until he passed away on December 4, 2016.

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Rhody arrived only a few months later, early in 2017 and in the traditional unplanned manner. I can not imagine why he was available for adoption for several months in Santa Cruz. It was not my idea for him to come live with me. It was his. I could not talk him out of it. He seems to be remarkably happy with his simple lifestyle, although I can not imagine why. I wish I could provide better for him. Like Privet and Bill, he has more friends than he can keep up with. Privet was a Pontiac man. Bill was an Oldsmobile man. So far, Rhody seems to be a simple Chevrolet man.

BLACKJACK
Blackjack does not live with me. He is not a dog either. He is a big kitty who has enslaved one of my colleagues, although my colleague does not seem to be aware of it. Cats are of course masters of mind control techniques. Blackjack did not get his name from the blackjack oak. It is just a cool name that suits him well. He is not really as demonic as he seems to be in this picture. Nor is he trying to fly upside down. He just happened to yawn while laying on his back and stretching.
Of course, only the names are horticultural. None of these guys cares about gardening. I sort of feel guilty about not writing about a horticultural topic today, but perhaps I will get over it.

Summer Deciduous

P80623K+++That is a term that we do not hear much. There are not many plants that it applies to. Cyclamen is one of the more familiar plants that is summer deciduous. It is from a climate with reasonably mild winters and unpleasantly dry and warm summers. Just like most deciduous plants are dormant through winter to avoid the unpleasantries of the weather, cyclamen defoliates as the weather gets warm in early summer to avoid the expected heat and aridity. It somehow knows how to stay dormant until the weather starts to get cooler in autumn, and is ready to regenerate new foliage and bloom as the rain starts. The active growing season is through autumn, winter and into spring. It is all a matter of taking advantage of the weather while it can, and avoiding the discomforts of severe weather when necessary.

Rhody, like most dogs, has been shedding his fluffier inner winter coat through spring. He still seems to be too fluffy for the weather, but he must know what he is doing. The remaining wiry outer coat provides a bit of shade, and helps to dissipate a bit of warmth when necessary.

Unlike Rhody, I do not have a fluffier undercoat to shed. All that I could do is shed some of the sparse and wiry outer coat. It might have provided shade, but also interfered with cooling air circulation. It does not seem to be designed to dissipate heat like Rhody’s is. Regardless, it was shed just before the Summer Solstice, and will not regenerate until autumn. A barber sheared back the upper evergreen growth first. I then pollarded most of the lower growth, leaving only a pair of formally shorn hedges flanking the upper margin. They too may be removed soon. Antithetically of https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2018/01/17/winter-coat/P80623KP80623K+P80623K++

Year of the DOG!

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Tet, Vietnamese New Year’s Day, is today! This is the first day of the Year of the Dog! Tet is celebrated for at least three days, and besides all the popularly known traditions that go along with it, a few horticulturally oriented traditions are also observed.

When I grew citrus back in the early 1990s, I can remember than we sold every kumquat and calamondin tree that had fruit on it prior to Tet. When those ran out, we sold every fruited mandarin orange and tangerine tree, and then every fruited orange and lemon tree. Eventually, just about every fruited tree we could supply was gone. Citrus trees with colorful ripe fruit are traditional decoration for Tet, and might even be a gift for someone lacking such a tree. Kumquat trees are the favorite, but others will do if necessary.

Fruit baskets containing primarily citrus fruits are also very popular and traditional. Bananas, pineapple and any colorful fruit are fair game as well. Shaddock fruit is popular if available. Shaddock is the dwarfing understock for other dwarf citrus trees, but is not commonly grown for fruit production.

Blooming stems of apricot, peach and plum, as well as Saint John’s wort flowers, are the favorite traditional cut flowers for Tet. Each type of flower corresponds to the region of Vietnam from which the family displaying it originated. In the Santa Clara Valley years ago, there were plenty of fruit blossoms to go around. The stems were sometimes cut early and forced to bloom on time for Tet. Nowadays, such blooming stems can be purchased from florists, along with the other traditional flowers; chrysanthemums, narcissus, marigolds, pansies and cockscombs. Families who own a bonsai or more display them prominently for Tet.

Happy Tet and Year of the Dog!80131

Rhody

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It was not easy for me to start this blog. I do not mean that getting it set up and operating was difficult. That part was a breeze. I mean it was not easy for me to go along with the crowd and do something that is so hip, trendy and popular. I never liked trends, and I certainly do not like trends that use the internet and computers. Well, at least I get to write about gardening and horticulture. It is a topic that I happen to be good at writing about. I do not need to post pictures of puppies, kittens, babies, what I cooked for supper last night or where I went on vacation.

This is Rhody, in the picture above. He is a puppy. He is terrified of kittens, barks at babies, will eat anything that I cook for supper, and will go anywhere we might go on vacation. He can not write my blog for me because he can not type. Besides, he does not speak American English, or any other human language. He does not help in the garden much. As I said, he is a puppy.

So, there I did it. I started a blog, and posted a picture of a puppy.

Well, getting back to Rhody. He is a terrier, which literally means that he is terrestrial, or associated with the soil. In other words, he digs. His kind were bred to exterminate rodents, particularly in the soil. Rhody is just now starting to figure this out, but still needs to work on his technique. He has not started to dig for gophers, and actually seems to be more interested in getting more closely acquainted with them when they emerge from their holes and stare at him for more than a few seconds. Rhody just stares back. Perhaps his is in telepathic communication with the gophers, and is negotiating their relocation to a better home on a nearby vacant hillside.

I do not mind. It is bad enough that gophers dig in the garden. I do not need Rhody digging in the garden too.

It is the terrestrial part that Rhody does not seem to understand. He already knows that he dislikes all other rodents above the surface of the soil, such as squirrels, rabbits, deer and horses. The squirrels are not much of a problem, but the rabbits eat big patches of iceplant and other succulents, and have eaten the foliage and buds of several small potted plants. Rhody chases them off every morning.

We still need to work on Rhody’s concept of what a true ‘rodent’ is. The deer had been eating leafy plants in the garden, but have been notably absent since Rhody chased them away only a few times. I do not like him to chase the deer because I am afraid that he might actually catch one. Fortunately, he does not see them until they are already fleeing. Rhody also needs to learn to not bark at horses.

Rhody is not allowed far from the house because coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions live in the surrounding forest, and sometimes come close to home. None of them are known for pursuing dogs, but could get nasty if chased by one. I would be pleased if Rhody worked only in the garden, which happens to be close to the house.

So, in summary, posting a picture of puppy who does what he can to protect the garden from vermin is not completely irrelevant to gardening.