Six on Saturday: Long Story

The Seventh Rule of Six on Saturday suggests that verbiage regarding pictures should be reasonably limited. I prefer to limit mine to three hundred words, although I sometimes exceed this limit. I certainly would have exceeded this limit this week if I had explained, for example, why I want so many new flax lily, what we intend to do with another lemon gum, why I intentionally plant elderberry seedlings and promote better pollination while so many grow wild, what our options for yellow flag are, why a perfectly good apple tree remains canned and underappreciated, and what justified a pair of white bougainvilleas. Perhaps I should limit words within individual sentences as well as cumulative verbiage.

1. Dianella caerulea, flax lily has been a notably reliable perennial. I know nothing more about it. I am not even sure of its identity. Grooming scraps make good cuttings though.

2. Eucalyptus citriodora, lemon gum came back with me from the Los Angeles region. It has a bad reputation as a Eucalyptus. My colleague here and I are very fond of it though.

3. Sambucus caerulea, blue elderberry seedlings grow like weeds. I can them though, to later install them where I want them, and because they pollinate a bit better than clones.

4. Iris pseudacorus, yellow flag can be invasive within riparian situations. I really craved it though. A colleague here got it for me from a roadside ditch. Now what do I do with it?

5. Malus domestica, ‘Golden Delicious’ apple is not exactly my favorite. It lives here in a can though. Perhaps it will go live in a garden this winter, where it can make better fruit.

6. Bougainvillea ‘Barbara Karst’ came with a pair of white Bougainvillea ‘Mary Palmer’s Enchantment’ from the Los Angeles region. It is unplanned. It is such the classic though.

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/

Silver Mountain Gum

Silver mountain gum is remarkably glaucous.

The strikingly glaucous juvenile foliage of silver mountain gum, Eucalyptus pulverulenta, is likely more familiar within floral design than in home gardens. Actually, it is uncommon within home gardens, although quite popular as cut foliage among florists. Its paired and sessile leaves are oval or bluntly cordate (‘heart shaped’), and about an inch or two long.

Adult growth is rare, even among established trees. However, small white flowers bloom from the axils of juvenile leaves that are a year old. (Juvenile growth of most species can not bloom.) Bloom might continue from spring until autumn, as blooming stems sag from the weight of younger distal growth. The aromatic and evergreen leaves stiffen with age.

Low and shrubby specimens with a few trunks may not get much higher than fifteen feet. They have potential to get twice as tall though, particularly if pruned up onto bare trunks. Lignotubers expand below the trunks. Strips of old bark shed to reveal fresh matte brown bark. Incidentally, the Latin name of this species often transposes for Eucalyptus cinerea.

Argyle Apple

Silvery foliage with fibrous brown bark.

Such silvery foliage provides a bold display on such a substantial tree. Most comparably silvery foliage is of smaller perennials or shrubbery, such as agaves or artemisias. Agyle apple, Eucalyptus cinerea, grows intimidatingly fast to nearly thirty feet tall and almost as wide. Although shorter than most other eucalypti, it can get a hundred feet tall in the wild. 

Paired juvenile leaves of young trees are circular and sessile (clinging directly to stems, without petioles). Unpaired adult leaves are lanceolate and as silvery as juvenile leaves. Coppicing or pollarding force juvenile growth and temporarily eliminate adult growth, but also ruin structural integrity. Trees subsequently rely on repetition of the same technique. 

Trunks and limbs can be disproportionately bulky, and create an illusion of a bigger tree. Irregular branch structure can be sculptural. Fibrous brown bark is handsomely furrowed. Juvenile foliage is a popular accessory to cut flowers. Adult foliage is likewise delightful. Incidentally, the Latin name of this species often transposes for Eucalyptus pulverulenta.

Blue Gum

Juvenile blue gum foliage is very aromatic.

This is the primary eucalyptus that earned a bad reputation for all other eucalyptus. Blue gum, Eucalyptus globulus, arrived in California in the 1850s, and grew on plantations for timber. As its timber proved to be of inferior quality, and demand for wood pulp dwindled, the plantations succumbed to abandonment. Feral trees naturalized into adjacent areas.

Although once a common timber and wood pulp commodity, and effective as windbreaks for agricultural purposes, blue gum was never popular for landscapes. Those that inhabit urban or suburban situations were generally there prior to urban expansion around them. They are far too massive, messy and combustible, and inhibit the growth of other plants.

Mature blue gum trees can be significantly taller than a hundred feet, with elegantly high branched form. Limbs that fall freely from such heights are very dangerous. The aromatic foliage is evergreen. Adult leaves are stereotypically lanceolate and curved. Silvery blue juvenile leaves are blunt, sessile (lacking petioles) and more aromatic than adult foliage. Strips of smooth tan bark shed to reveal paler bark.

Red Ironbark Eucalyptus

The pendulous foliage of red ironbark eucalyptus moves softly in the breeze. The tall, curvy trunks are elegant and sculptural.

The many varied eucalypti never seem to outgrow the bad reputation of the blue gum and red gum eucalypti that get too big, messy and dangerous for urban gardens. Fortunately though, most others do not get nearly as large, and many stay proportionate to urban gardens. Their smaller canopies are neither as messy, nor as structurally unsound. Their adaptability to so many California climates and tolerance of aridity are serious advantages.

Red ironbark eucalyptus, Eucalyptus sideroxylon, is one of the mid-sized eucalypti that can eventually get quite tall, so is probably best where it has room to grow. Pruning for containment in compact gardens is actually quite a bit of work. Their coffee colored and deeply furrowed bark on elegantly sculptural trunks and limbs contrast nicely behind the mint frosting colored and softly pendulous foliage. The lanceolate leaves are about five inches long and three quarters of an inch wide. Flowers are almost always pinkish red, but can be pink or white.

Six on Saturday: Eucalyptus

Blue gum earned a bad reputation for all species of the genus decades ago. It really is as massive, messy, combustible, unstable and structurally deficient as reputed. Some find its foliar aroma to be objectionable. Fortunately, it is not as invasive as formerly alleged. It is common only because it was planted so extensively a long time ago, and is somewhat naturalized in some regions.

Other eucalypti are more appropriate to landscape situations than blue gum, which is #6 below. #3 and many others are now classified as Corymbia, rather than Eucalyptus. Genus is omitted for these Six.

1. pulverulenta or cinerea is the only eucalyptus that was here when I arrived. I learned this species as ‘cinerea’. However, the correct designation seems to be ‘pulverulenta’. #2 should match.

2. cinerea or pulverulenta, as mentioned above, was supposed to match #1. It was labeled as cinerea. I thought that #1 is cinerea. I still do not know which is cinerea and which is pulverulenta.

3. sideroxylon is the first tree I planted in 2021. For such a dinky tree, it already has quite a history. I gave it to my colleague who appreciates the distinctively dark and coarsely textured bark.

4. citriodora is as goofy as it looks. It is about fifteen feet tall, with just a few leaves at the very top. Its smooth white bark contrasts with that of #3, which it will be planted close to this winter.

5. globulus ‘Compacta’ gets coppiced to produce aromatic juvenile foliage, but is less aromatic than the straight species, #6. It might be my least favorite eucalyptus, although I am fond of #6.

6. globulus gets pollarded to produce aromatic juvenile foliage, like #5, but on a trunk. It is the eucalyptus that gives all other eucalyptus a bad reputation. Nonetheless, I like its grand stature.

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/

Silver Lining

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This little silver dollar tree did well with a second chance.

Among the more than seven hundred species of Eucalyptus, nomenclature gets confusing. It certainly does not help that some species have multiple common names. Eucalyptus cinerea is a rather distinctive species with at least two equally distinctive common names. The problem with these names is that, although sensible in Australian, they are not so sensible to Californians.

‘Mealy stringybark’ is a name that must describe something of the physical characteristics of the species. The bark is rather stringy, but no more stringy than that of so many other species. The glaucous foliage might be described as mealy in Australian English. ‘Argyle apple’ is a weirder name. Again, it must make sense in Australian culture. I just know it as ‘silver dollar tree’.

A few years ago, I acquired a severely disfigured and overgrown #5 (5 gallon) specimen of silver dollar tree, along with three comparable specimens of dwarf blue gum, Eucalyptus globulus ‘Compacta’. They were about to be discarded from the nursery where I found them. They got canned into #15 cans, and coppiced back to their distended lignotubers. All regenerated nicely.

Two of the blue gums found appropriate homes. One remains here, and was coppiced again last year. The silver dollar tree stayed late too, but happened to get planted into a landscape last autumn. It is developing into such an appealing tree that one would not guess that it had experienced such neglect and subsequent trauma. The exemplary silvery gray foliage is so healthy.

As it regenerated after getting coppiced, the strongest of the new stems was bound to a stake to form a single straight trunk. All smaller basal stems were pruned away after the first season. The little tree cooperated through the process, and now lives happily ever after. I still do not know its name.

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Silver dollar tree produces strikingly silvery foliage.

silver dollar gum

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There are actually a few different eucalypti known as silver dollar gum. The most familiar and largest is Eucalyptus polyanthemos. Mature trees that were popularly planted through the 1960s are about forty or fifty feet tall. Some stay smaller. A few that compete with taller trees are more than sixty feet tall. Trunks and limbs are somewhat sculptural, with fibrous bark.

Grayish foliage on limber stems forms a billowy and rounded canopy that blows softly in the breeze. Juvenile leaves are nearly circular, and more silvery gray than adult foliage is, like silver dollars. Ovate adult leaves are about three inches long and half as wide. Tiny flowers with prominent white stamens bloom amongst the adult foliage in spring and summer.

Smaller trees are often pruned aggressively or pollarded so that they continually produce the more desirable juvenile foliage without bloom. The problem with this technique is that it must be repeated every few years or even annually. Otherwise, vigorous secondary growth can get too heavy and break away.

Argyle Apple

51104What an odd name. It sure sounds interesting, like some sort of exotic fruit tree. Alas; argyle apple is a eucalyptus; to be specific, Eucalyptus cinerea. Compared to most other eucalypti, it stays rather low. It barely gets as tall as a two story house, even if it gets broad enough to shade most of the backyard. The rusty brown bark becomes roughly furrowed. The irregular branch structure can be quite sculptural.

The main attraction of argyle apple is the aromatic silvery foliage. Young trees are outfitted with circular juvenile leaves that are attached directly to the stems without petioles (leaf stalks). Lanceolate adult leaves are as silvery as juvenile foliage is. (Juvenile foliage of most other eucalypti is more colorful than adult foliage is.) Aggressive pruning of small trees keeps foliage juvenile for a long time.

Actually, those who know how to work with it might pollard or coppice argyle apple. Pollarding eliminates all foliated stems at the end of winter, but for the rest of the year, allows vigorous arching canes of very silvery juvenile foliage to spread outward from a few stout limbs on top of a trunk. Coppicing allows the same sort of growth from stumps just above grade.

Pinnate Leaves

P80428K.JPGThat refers to the pattern of the veins in the leaves. Long before studying horticulture and botany at Cal Poly, my classmates and I learned a bit about horticulture within the contexts of studying ‘nature’. While in the sixth grade, we all went to camp for a week. One of the many projects we did during that time was collecting a few leaves to represent three different vein patterns, and mounting them under clear plastic on a cardboard plaque. The three different patters were, ‘pinnate’, ‘palmate’, and ‘parallel’. I do not remember if we all used the same leaves, but for my plaque, I got a blue gum eucalyptus leaf to represent pinnate veins. Palmate veins were represented by English ivy. Parallel veins were represented by English plantain.

These two blue gum trees are the same trees that provided the leaf with pinnate veins for my plaque. This is not a good picture. There really are two trees here. The picture below is even worse, but shows that there really are two separate trees. They probably flanked a driveway to the old house outside of the picture to the right. They are not very healthy right now, and do not seem to be much bigger than they were back in November of 1978, when my sixth grade class was here at camp with them.

This camp happens to be right down the road from the farm. We are neighbors. It is gratifying to see that so much of the camp is just as it was four decades ago. The English ivy that was so common back than is completely gone now, probably because it is so invasive. The lawn around the blue gum eucalyptus used to be much weedier, and provided the English plantain leaves for my plaque.P80428K+