Two at Two

This species of Rhus remains unidentified.

Apologies for the delay of posting something for noon as I typically do.

These are just two pictures of two species that were not interesting enough for my Six on Saturday post this morning. Now that it is past one as I write this, it will be scheduled to post at two, hence Two at Two.

Most of what we propagate or recycle here has some potential to be used in the landscapes. Sometimes, we salvage something just because it it too appealing to waste, even if there is no plan for what will be done with it later. For example, we now have five nicely canned but otherwise useless Norway maples, just because they needed to be removed from a landscape.

I canned the four specimens of unidentified Rhus in the picture above because I thought I knew what they are, and that I wanted to plant them somewhere. Now that I realize that I have no idea what they are, and that the one thing I know about them is that they are invasive, I really do not know what to do with them. For now, they will stay canned right here where they are.

The buckeye in the picture below were grown just because the huge seed were too compelling to discard. Although I know what species they are, I also know that they are not very popular. Actually, because they defoliate and seem to be dead through summer, they are rather unpopular. They will likely just get planted in a bare spot on the bank of Zayante Creek right outside.

That is part of the problem of enjoying our work a bit too much. We take horticulture a bit too seriously, and feel compelled to find homes for all the unwanted flora that we can salvage.

Buckeye will not be easy to find a home for.

Norwegian Wood

Isn’t it good?

This is really getting to be a problem. Too many feral plants that we find at work get canned as if they will eventually be installed back into a landscape somewhere. The small nursery where they recover until their relocation is getting crowded. Although many are practical and appropriate for such recycling within the landscapes here, some are not, so may be with us for a while.

Five feral Norway maple saplings were found in one of the landscapes where mature trees were pruned for clearance from a roof. We could not just leave them there. They eventually would have been overwhelmed by the rest of the forest, or grown too close to the same roof that we pruned other trees away from. They were very easily dug, so came back to the nursery with us.

It was too late to prune them as necessary. They are tall and lanky trunks, with too many comparably lanky branches. As much as I am instinctively compelled to prune them while they are bare and dormant, I will refrain until later in spring or summer, when they will not bleed so much. They look ridiculous. They seem happy though. Their buds are beginning to swell already.

We have no idea where they will go from here. After pruning, they should develop into exemplary specimens. As goofy as they are now, their trunks are remarkably straight. I happen to be fond of Norway maple, and would be pleased to find an application for them here. The problems is that there are too many trees here, and the forests and landscapes continue to make more!

Horticulture in a forest can be like that. It seems like there is plenty of space out there, but so much of the space is too shaded or too crowded.

Six on Saturday: Two Too Many Redwoods


Redwoods are such admirable trees that no one wants to cut any of them down. On rare occasion, it becomes necessary to do so. Seedlings sometimes grow in situations where they can not stay. They might be too close to buildings or other infrastructure. Sometimes, they are merely in the process of crowding other important plants in the landscape. That was the problem with the young redwood pictured here, and another just like it.

1. There it is, an exemplary specimen barely left of center. The problem was that it would have crowded other trees if left to grow. The dogwood to the left is feral too, but will not get too big.P00104-1

2. This juvenile tree had been cut off at the ground, and regenerated. This meant that I expected it to be more firmly rooted than it would have been if it had not experienced such trauma.P00104-2

3. What a surprise! Roots on one side had already been severed by earlier excavation for a drainage pipe. As I cut a few more roots on other sides, this unfortunate young tree just fell over.P00104-3

4. There were enough roots remaining for this tree to survive if there had been someplace to put it where it could have been irrigated and guyed until it recovered and dispersed new roots.P00104-4

5. Guying would have been difficult though. The young and slender tree was just too tall and flimsy for any downward tension applied by guys. Sadly, this young redwood was not salvaged.P00104-5

6. This is really why I was here. Besides removing two feral redwoods, I dug two Japanese maples that had been stagnating in the landscape for years, and canned them to hopefully recover.P00104-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:



There is quite a bit of open space in some parts of the landscapes. It is not as if the landscapes are lacking much. There just happens to be a few spots where a bit more could be added. This expanse of healthy English ivy was already appealing, but lacked interest.

There is also quite a bit of spare plants out and about in the landscapes. It is not as if there is anything wrong with spare plants. There just happens to be too many of them. These cannas got overgrown and crowded within their original colony in another landscape, so needed to be divided and thinned out.

We are not a so-called ‘landscape’ company, which profits from the removal of some plants, and the installation of others. There is no incentive to dispose of as much vegetation as we could bill a client for. Nor is there any incentive to install as many new and expensive plants as we could fit into any available space. It is not a ‘business’.

To the contrary, it is in our own best interest to exploit resources that are already available to us. For example, when we thinned out these crowded cannas from one situation, we reassigned them to other situations where they could grow and become assets to their new landscapes. Also, viburnums that were removed from one site were reassigned as hedges in other situations.

We will be doing more of this sort of reassignment now that the weather is cooler and rainier, and the plants that will get relocated are dormant. Carpet roses that must be removed from the boundary of a playground because they are too thorny will be relocated to a broad roadside, where they can grow wild. They will be replaced with lily-of-the-Nile that is crowded elsewhere.

Horridculture – The Wrong Plant In The Wrong Place

P80627This is the opposite of the ‘right plant in the right place’. It is something that horticultural professionals should neither promote nor tolerate when feral plants appear in landscapes that they are getting payed to maintain. This example looks like it is more relevant to the topic of ‘Fat Hedges’ from , but there is more to this feral pyracantha than that. Yes, it is shorn too frequently to bloom or produce colorful berries. Yes, it looks like an upside-down and halfway buried Christmas tree. Yes, it contributes nothing to the landscape. What is worst of all is that it does not even belong there. It was certainly not planted there on the edge of the curb. There are others nearby, but they happened to appear in spots where they could have actually been assets to the landscape if they had not also been shorn into this weird upside-down and halfway buried Christmas tree shape.

Pulling or at least cutting weeds is generally one of the responsibilities of maintenance ‘gardeners’. It might be acceptable or even preferred to leave a few feral plants if they happen to appear where they might be useful. Those that appear where they would be a problem must be removed. It really would not have been much work to pull this particular pyracantha if it had been done when it first appeared. Even if it had not been pulled right away, and gotten cut down by a weed whacker long enough to develop strongly attached roots, it could have been dug out while young with only a bit of effort.

Okay, so that is in the past now, just like all the other days, weeks, months and years that this feral pyracantha was not removed. Okay, so if for some reason known only the maintenance ‘gardener’ who likely charges significant fees for the maintenance of this landscape, this specimen is to be salvaged, should it not have been pruned back away from the curb? Of course! Although it is right on the curb, much of the growth could have been directed back away from the curb and over the bare embankment. That area is not used for anything anyway. The emptiness of the embankment is certainly no asset to the landscape. Empty pavement is an asset here.

A chain is only as strong as the weakest link. A driveway is only as wide as the narrowest part. All this asphalt pavement and concrete curb is expensive. It was probably worth it to get a nice wide driveway. However, the usable area is not as wide now as it was originally. The feral pyracantha that looks like an upside-down and halfway buried Christmas tree extends nearly four feet into it. That means that the usable space of the expensive driveway is nearly four feet narrower in that spot than it should be. Just think of all the expense that could have been saved if the driveway had been constructed four feet narrower than it had been!



Dogs and humans have been in a symbiotic relationship longer than history can document. Dogs naturally became more domesticated as humans did, and have been more or less selectively bred for a few thousand years.

Dingos are different. No one knows for certain how domesticated they were when they first came to Australia. They probably had been domesticated enough to come on boats with the first humans to migrate to Australia. After arriving in Australia, they became feral, although still symbiotically migrating with humans. They are now considered a native species of Australia.

Many species of plants have lived symbiotically with humans as well. As long as humans have been living with dogs, they have been domesticating and breeding plants. As plants were more extensively bred, they became more dependent on humans for their perpetuation. Some are so overly bred that they are sterile and unable to perpetuate without human intervention to propagate them vegetatively. Others, although unnaturally productive in regard to what humans want from them, are too weak or otherwise inferior to survive in the wild.

However, there are some extensively bred plants that escape their domestic lifestyles, and perpetuate feral descendants who retain some of the domestic characteristics of their extensively bred ancestors. They are not quite like naturalized plants that were merely imported in a more or less natural state from other regions, or those that naturalize and revert to a natural state. Characteristically, they are between wild plants and extensively bred and selected domestic plants. They have developed their own stable but feral lineage that can perpetuate in the wild.

For example, the purple leaf plum has been developed as an ornamental tree for a very long time. Several vegetatively propagated cultivars are now available. The ancestors were likely discovered as mutants with darker bronzed foliage. These primitive mutants were more or less genetically stable, and were likely able to perpetuate naturally. It is difficult to say for certain. From these ancestors, seedlings with even darker foliage were selected, and bred to find more seedlings with even darker foliage, and so on. Because of this selective breeding, purple leaf plum trees grown as domesticated ornamental trees now have darker foliage they would naturally in the wild. They are propagated vegetatively because some are so overly bred that they are sterile, and seedlings from those that can produce viable seed would be likely be more genetically stable, and therefore less genetically ‘developed’. This is why feral seedlings from purple leaf plums that can produce viable seed are not as dark purplish bronze as their parents. Seedlings from the seedling trees are even lighter bronze. They may never be completely green, but they will not be dark purplish bronze either. They are feral purple leaf plums, like dingoes.