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.

The Great Pumpkin

P81007The Third Day of Creation was when it all started. Plant life was created just two days after Heaven and Earth, and Night and Day. It must have been a pretty big deal. Humans were not created until three whole days later!
After all this time since Creation, the flora of the World is still just as important as it has always been. Vegans can survive without the consumption of animal products, but no one can survive without the consumption of plants, or the consumption of animals who were sustained by plants. We breath oxygen generated by plants. We live in homes made of wood. We wear clothes made of cotton. Until relatively recent history, wood was the primary fuel for cooking and warmth through winter. Even modern fossil fuels that have replaced wood are derived partly from fossilized plants. There seems to be no end to the long list of what plants do for us.
As if all that were not enough, plants provide pleasure. Some are dazzling desert wildflowers. Some are majestic forest trees. Most are something in between. Many are invited to inhabit our gardens, landscapes and even our homes and offices. Some are bred to do what they do even better than they did originally.
David Paul, in the picture above, made a career of cabinetry, which involved all sorts of fancy and exotic woods. Most of these woods were derived from genetically unimproved trees that would have been found growing in the wild. Most were from eastern North America. Some were from other continents. Some of the favorite maple burls were specifically from New England and the Pacific Northwest. David Paul was no horticulturist, but he knew quite a bit about the flora that produced the fancy woods that he worked with.
The pumpkin is another story. David Paul grew giant pumpkins for several years in Colorado Springs merely because he enjoyed doing so. It required serious dedication throughout the entire long growing season. Yet, the pumpkins were grown only for the fun of competition. As huge as they were, they were not to be eaten. That is the epitome of growing something merely for the fun of it. This is such an excellent picture of that epic pumpkin that it was the illustration for the obituary of David Paul.



This is no ordinary honeysuckle. It is quite less than ordinary. It is not available in local nurseries. No one here wants it. Although it might be available from nurseries that provide native plants within the native range of this honeysuckle, most of those who find it in their garden probably do not want it there. After all, there are plenty of more desirable honeysuckles to grow. Some have more fragrant bloom. Some have more colorful bloom.

As you can see, this honeysuckle is not very impressive. It is about as shrubby as it is vining, and does not get very big. The small white flowers lack fragrance, and are not very abundant.

What I like about this honeysuckle is that it came all the way from Oklahoma. ( ) It is native there. I do not remember what honeysuckle it is at the moment. I brought it back with all sorts of seed and a few native plants that I obtained while there, including Arkansas yucca, Eastern red cedar and prickly pear. I can still remember sorting and packing some of the ‘specimens’ at a table outside a coffee shoppe on the bank of the Oklahoma River in downtown Oklahoma city, in Oklahoma County, in . . . Oklahoma.

When I grew rhododendrons, I knew people who bragged about rare cultivars that they and only a few of their friends and colleagues had obtained. Most were very pretty, with impressive bloom and bright color. Some were not so appealing; but no one wanted to say so. Sometimes, it seemed that the rarity of a cultivar was more important than any actual attributes.

I can remember many rare cultivars of rhododendron.

However, I know of none as rare as my honeysuckle from Oklahoma. I have the only one.


P80429Redwood Glen was the ‘camp’ that we all went to in the sixth grade. It was probably our equivalent of what is now known as ‘nature camp’. For most of us, our experience at Redwood Glen was the longest time we had ever been away from our homes and families. We arrived on Monday morning, and returned home on Friday afternoon. It was something that we looked forward to with great anticipation for the few years prior.

While there, we studied nature in a variety of ways. We found animal tracks and made plaster casts of them. We went hiking through a variety of ecosystems, and went on a night hike. We searched for fossils; and I found and still have the most complete fossil of half of a fish. We studied ecology and native flora and fauna. We identified redwoods, Douglas firs, ponderosa pines, bays, live oaks, bigleaf maples and box elders. We collected a few edible herbaceous plants and made our own salads with them. The three leaves that I collected to distinguish leaves with pinnate, palmate and parallel veins was a project in one of our botanical workshops. I described it yesterday at:

For my class, that was back in November of 1978. In 1995, when I went to grow rhododendrons nearby, I became a neighbor to Redwood Glen. I always knew where it was, but never had any excuse to stop by; until now. Some of my colleagues who manage the facilities and landscapes at a nearby conference center toured the site. I was right there with them.

Some of the buildings were new since 1978. Some had been renovated. The big dining room had not changed. What was most excellent about touring the facility was finding the same old cabin I stayed in back in 1978. I think that it was simply designated as Cabin 4 back then, but is now known as ‘PINE’.

Except for a modern roof and windows, Pine looks just like it did when I was there three decades ago. The middle front door was for the counselors who stayed in their own tiny room between the two wings to the left and right. I stayed in the wing on the right. My bunk was the lower of the two just inside the front door to the right. I so wanted to see the interior of Pine, but the door was locked.

I rarely want to see places that I remember so fondly. I prefer to remember them as they were rather than find that they had been renovated disgracefully, or demolished and replaced with something new. I sort of expected to find something new here. What an excellent surprise!P80429+


P71119Standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, specifically on the corner of West Second Street and North Kinsley Avenue, there was this bronze statue of someone famous. I am still not certain who he was. A statue of Glenn Frey was added nearby later, and might have replaced this one, but I could not find much news about it. The new statue does not look anything like this statue, which was the only one there when we stopped to get our picture taken there five years ago on our way to Oklahoma.

We did not plan the trip very well. We did not plan it much at all. We were in a less than ideal situation at home, so loaded up a tired old Blazer and went on our way. I sort of planned on staying for a few days or maybe two weeks, and then returning alone to Felton, and then tending to some work near Hilo in Hawaii by early December. Steven and Gayle who are with me and the bronze guy in the picture were to stay in Oklahoma. Of course, even these meager plans did not go as planned. I stayed much later, and all three of us, Bill the terrier and Darla the kitty all returned to Felton on the last day of 2012.

What a trip! It was the farthest I had ever gone from the West Coast, and the longest time I had ever been out of California. It was my first time in another time zone, and then another! I actually ‘lived’, albeit temporarily, in Oklahoma; and I got to drive through Arizona, New Mexico and a small part of Texas to get there!

I had always wanted to go to Oklahoma because I had heard so much about it growing up. My maternal grandmother was an Okie, so much of what I learned about horticulture was from that background. To me, it was one of those magical places where great grandparents lived and grew tons of fruits and vegetables in the rich red soil on their farm. It was where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, and the fragrant wheat sure smells sweet . . . okay, so maybe not that part.

Oklahoma certainly did not disappoint. It was exactly as I knew it would be, but was completely fascinating anyway. Pecan, black walnut and various hickory trees grew wild, as well as American persimmon, Eastern red cedar, redbud, honeylocust and blackjack oak. Vacant parcels were overrun with native red mulberry, campsis, honeysuckle, Arkansas yucca and sumac. I collected seed from more specie than I can remember.

The funny thing about all this is that the Okies did not understand my interest in all their flora. Much of it was the sort of stuff that they cut down and burn. The Eastern red cedar, honeylocust, red mulberry, campsis and sumac were quite unpopular for their habit of growing into rangeland. Even less invasive plants did not impress those who had always been around them. To them, redwood, big oaks, avocado, citrus and all the cool exotic specie that we grow in California are much more interesting. It was a matter of perspective.