Six on Saturday: No Category

 

I do try. I prefer to submit pictures that conform at least somewhat to a particular theme. It just did not work out that way for this week. The only thing in common with these pictures is that they are from the same garden. It is garden at work, but one that I do not do much in.

1. Grape, which I still think of as dago wisteria, was planted here years ago, by someone who is no longer here to take care of it. The established vine grows like big voracious weed. I pruned it back last winter, and pulled up several stems that rooted where they flopped onto the ground. There are still six copies left at the storage nursery. I would like to plant some of them this winter, but the one original is already too much work. The grapes are somewhat tart when ripe, which makes me suspect that it is not quite warm enough here for them. It gets warm during the day, but cools off at night.P90720

2. Succulent of an unknown species grows so close to the grapevine that it was overwhelmed before I pruned the vine back. This is a common exotic succulent that has been around in the region for a long time. I remember that it grew on the sides of some of the roads in Montara, along with other vegetation that naturalized from the gardens of homes that had been there during the Victorian period. I suppose that it is naturalized also in some spots, but does not seem to be aggressive or invasive about it. This particular specimen was likely put here intentionally. The foliage is always yellowish.P90720+

3. Tillandsia, along with a few other epiphytic bromeliads, were added to this garden just this year. They are wired onto this branch from the Eucalyptus cinerea that I mentioned in ‘Silver‘ last week. The branch is a scrap from pruning that was just propped up in the landscape for the ephiphytes. The big gray limbs in the background are of an old ‘Kwanzan’ flowering cherry tree. The epiphyllums that I mentioned two weeks ago on Sunday in ‘Epiphyllum Surprise‘ get hung from the cherry tree while they are in bloom, and then sent back to the storage nursery for recovery when they finish.P90720++

4. Spanish moss hangs with the tillandsias on the same branch of the Eucalyptus cinerea. It does not grow here naturally of course. It would probably prefer a significantly more humid situation. It gets watered and misted automatically from above. So far all the epiphytes seem to be happy here, and do not see to mind that the stem that they are clinging to is from a eucalyptus. Mosses that cling to native oaks do not cling to eucalyptus trees until the trees are old. While viable, young eucalyptus bark is toxic to mosses and other epiphytes, and exfoliates too regularly for much to cling to it anyway.P90720+++

5. Alyssum happens to be one of my favorite wildflowers in this garden. When I was little kid, I found a small envelope of mixed wildflowers seed in a Sunset Magazine in a waiting room in a hospital. It is a long story, but to be brief, I ‘borrowed’ the seed, and put it out in my mother’s garden. The alyssum from that mix naturalized and self sowed quite nicely for decades. The original plants might have bloomed more colorfully, but eventually reverted to basic white, just like these that grow wild here. I still believe that white is the best, but would not mind other colors if I ever grew it intentionally.P90720++++

6. Morning Glory is another favorite, but for a different reason. I like it here because it is so much prettier than it ever was in any of my gardens. I sowed the seed, and cared for it, but morning glory was never very happy for me. In this garden, it sows its own seed, and does reasonably well. The vines are not as voracious as they are supposed to be, but the flowers are pretty. That is probably a good thing. These vines happen to be next to the grapevine, so could make quite a mess on top of the mess of the grapevine if they grew as well as they are supposed to. This is a good compromise.P90720+++++

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/

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Horridculture – Street Tree Neglect

P90717Many municipalities enforce tree preservation ordinances. Whether we agree with them or not, these ordinances are designed to preserve significant trees that are assets to the community. For the greater good, local governments have made it their business to limit what we can do with our own trees on our own properties. There are many advantages. There are many disadvantages. We arborists see it all.
Street trees, by general definition, are those that are close enough to a curb to shade a roadway and parked cars. In suburban and urban neighborhoods, many street trees are within parkstrips, which are the narrow spaces between curbs and sidewalks.
Neighborhoods of tract homes are typically outfitted with uniform trees of only one or two cultivars, that were all installed at the same time, as the homes were completed. Some neighborhoods of homes that were built individually are also outfitted with conforming street trees that were installed as parcels were subdivided. Most of such trees were installed as contingencies to development of the sites.
Since such trees were required by the associated municipality, they used to be maintained as such, just like any other trees in parks, medians or other public spaces. Municipalities that lacked tree preservation ordinances protected street trees as the public property that they were considered to be. Those who owned homes that were outfitted with such trees were not allowed to cut them down or even prune them without permission.
In some ways that sounds like a pretty good deal. The problem was that for many municipalities, it did not last. As the maintenance of maturing trees continually became more expensive, resources that used to be allocated for the maintenance of street trees were diverted to other projects. Although they do not like to talk about it, many municipalities no longer maintain their street trees, or do so selectively.
The aging trees remain. Many get cut down secretly by property owners who get frustrated by the lack of maintenance. Most are well maintained, but at the expense of those who own the properties where such trees live.
Most of us probably do not mind paying to have our street trees pruned when necessary. However, it is frustrating for those of us who must contend with some of the more problematic trees, and trees that are unusually expensive to maintain. Furthermore, property owners must assume the expense of repairing sidewalks, curbs and driveways that are damaged by roots, as well as damage to anything that limbs fall onto.
Municipalities that once required the installation of street trees, and that should still be encouraging residents to protect and appreciate their urban forests, are no longer able to assume the liability associated with street trees.
These pictures show two large limbs that fell from a big Canary Island pine onto two parked cars in Leimert Park of Los Angeles. A concerned citizen had contacted the Los Angeles Department of Public Works a few times about the tree, because one of the two fallen limbs had broken off quite some time ago, and was entangled with the other limb that broke and fell shortly before these pictures were taken on Sunday morning.P90717+

Six on Saturday: No Silver

 

We have bronze, and we have gold, but we have no silver, at least not in these six pictures. I suppose I could have posted a picture of Eucalyptus cinerea or Echeveria glauca. I thought it would be more interesting to contrast two different cultivars of each of these three species. Only two are truly bronze. Only one is truly gold. They contrast nicely anyway.

1. Bronze smoke tree – Cotinus goggygria – Modern cultivars with richer color like this are now considered to be ‘purple’. When I studied it in the 1980s, the old fashioned bronze cultivars were still available.P90713

2. Gold smoke tree – These might not have been available back in the 1980s. I do not remember every seeing one. I am not often impressed with their vigor; but I have seen them doing quite well in some situations.P90713+

3. Bronze canna – Canna spp. – I believe this is the cultivar ‘Wyoming’, with bronze foliage and rich orange bloom. The bronze color does not show up well here. Other cultivars are much darker purplish bronze.P90713++

4. Gold canna – Just as the bronze cannna is more bronze than it looks here, this one is more golden, particularly when the foliage is new. Obviously, it is variegated as well. The foliage is as interesting as the bloom.P90713+++

5. Bronze New Zealand flax – Phormium tenax – It might be known by a cultivar name rather than the species name of ‘tenax‘ followed by a cultivar name. Weird modern hybridization complicates nomenclature.P90713++++

6. Gold New Zealand flax – I really though that this one was ‘Yellow Wave’, but it does not look like that here. The variegation is more white than yellow. Could this variegation instead be classified as silvery?P90713+++++

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/

Horridculture – Parking Lot Islands

P80120kWhat a waste of space! What a waste of water! What a waste of time for the mow-blow-and-go ‘gardener’ who charges money to mow and edge it, but are too inept to suggest planting something that might actually be pretty, or shade the parking lot. There are a few of these between parking spaces marked for ‘compact’ cars, because it is cool to discriminate against full size cars that can not pull far enough forward to get out of the way.

Even between a Buick and a Chrysler, it is nothing to look at. It looks like something went seriously wrong with a grave site that was supposed to get a slab ‘over’ it (not ‘around’ it). It could be a Chia Pet litter box. There are much better spots to picnic at the park down the road. Whatever it is, it is not much better than the swales that are required in modern parking lots. It has potential to be a tripping hazard, but is not quite as dangerous.

I would make one of only two suggestions.

1 Pave over it. If there is not some building code that limits the area that can be paved, this might be thee most practical long term solution.

2. Landscape it responsibly. Yes; ‘responsibly’. Turf grass is just lame. Those trendy carpet roses that mow-blow-and-go ‘gardeners’ typically plant snag the clothing of those coming and going from the cars they park there. Since parking lots get warm, I would recommend shade trees with complaisant roots that are compatible with pavement. Such shade trees also should get tall enough to not obscure the signs on the buildings.

Parking lot islands contain some of the most deplorable landscapes. Trees commonly get hacked down below signs rather than pruned up and over them. Even if they get properly pruned with up-dos, their canopies must be carve around security lighting. Most problems result from negligent maintenance. Some problems result from design glitches. Realistically though, parking lot islands are very difficult to landscape well.

Six on Saturday: Under And Over

 

These are some of the bridges in the neighborhood where I work. There are several others that I did not get pictures of, as well as several more closer to town. Bean Creek happens to flow into Zayante Creek here, and Zayante Creek flows into the San Lorenzo River just a short distance away. Bean Creek flows through the farm a few miles upstream. Zayante Creek flows right past my home.

If you happen to know who Miley Cyrus is, she was photographed in the waterfall where Ferndell Creek flows into Bean Creek, which is literally just a few feet upstream from where Bean Creek flows into Zayante Creek. I do not know who she is, but I can understand why she came here to have her photograph taken.

1. Under the Conference Drive Bridge over Zayante Creek, East Zayante Road, Roaring Camp Road, Roaring Camp Railroad, and an access road to a (Rhody’s) baseball field, one would not guess that this bridge covers so much territory. The two roads below are on opposite sides of Zayante Creek. I posted pictures of this bridge before, but during winter while the box elders were bare. One box elder off to the left fell not too long ago.P90706

2. Over Zayante Creek, just a short distance upstream and around a bend to the east, this small pedestrian bridge is closed until it can be repaired or replaced. Rhody does not seem to mind. Except for the light green box elders off in the distance, the trees to the left are some rather nice specimens of white alder. The foliage to the right is that of California buckeye, which is a weirdly ‘twice deciduous’ species that can defoliate during summer.P90706+

3. Under Roaring Camp Railroad Bridge over Zayante creek, just another short distance upstream from the pedestrian bridge (#2), we can see some more white alders, as well as some coast live oaks in the background. The lighter foliage to the left is likely box elders. This railroad passes under the significantly higher Conference Drive Bridge (#1) just a short distance in the opposite direction. They are almost perpendicular to each other.P90706++

4. Over a nicely landscaped section of Ferndell Creek, this small pedestrian bridge is probably the best place to see most of the rhododendrons when they bloom. Most are off the left, but that unrecognizable shrub to the right is one of the biggest. It is about ten feet above the bridge, and about twelve feet below! The big camellia that was killed by gophers earlier was just to the left at the far end of this bridge, just in front of the redwoods.P90706+++

5. Under another pedestrian bridge just a very short distance downstream from the bridge pictured above (#4), recently planted Boston ivy is beginning to climb the pair of pillars in the background. Now that we know it does well here, we will eventually add more to climb the closer pair of pillars, after the English ivy gets removed. The site from which I removed sedge earlier is just upstream to the left, between the two pedestrian bridges.P90706++++

6. Over Conference Drive, and a short distance up the road form the Conference Drive Bridge (#1), this small pedestrian bridge was built at a time when Conference Drive carried much more traffic. The road was closed to through traffic and bypassed in 1968. I like how the bridge leaps up into the redwoods and back down again on the far end. I need to prune these redwoods for clearance, but try to leave them cozily close to the bridge.P90706+++++

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/

Horridculture – Tree Removal Permits

P90703There are mixed emotions about tree removal permits that so many municipalities need to issue in order for a ‘heritage’ tree to be cut down legally. Most of us want to believe that in America, we have certain rights to do what we want to on the properties that we own. Obviously, that makes the most sense. However, if it were that simple, many more prominent trees that are collective assets to the larger communities would be removed.
As an arborist who writes the reports needed to procure these permits, I see it both ways. There are many trees that are worth preserving for the Community, and there are probably many more that must be removed for the safety of those who live around them.
I sometimes hear of common homeowners who get fined for removing a tree without a permit, just because they were not aware that it was protected by an ordnance. Most have lived in their homes longer than such ordinances existed. Most planted the tree that they were fined for removing.
Conversely, I also hear about developers who just remove whatever trees get in the way of their developments, and then just pay the necessary fines. It is nothing to them because they make so much money from the development.
The picture above is a site that one of my former employers worked on just before I left my job because it was too morally challenging. You can see that there are no significant trees. The tree crew removed all of them.
I was not aware of it of course. The Home Owners Association did not want to pay for my inspections and reports, or for the permits to remove all the big sycamores in the front gardens there. Nor did they want to replace the removed trees with something more proportionate, as the local municipality would have required. They were not worried about getting caught, since everyone there wanted the trees gone.
Now realistically, I would have had no problem writing reports recommending the removal of all the trees, because they were ridiculously disproportionate to their particular application. You can see how tiny the front gardens are. It was just easier and less expensive to cut the trees down illegally, and then not be required to replace them with trees that would have later died ‘accidentally’ anyway. (The tree crew excelled at that too.)
In the end, it is disgraceful that the trees that were required as a contingency when the site was developed years earlier are now completely gone, and will not be replaced, . . . and that no one seems to care.

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: Sedge Removal

 

What a nasty job! We know this sedge, or whatever it is, as ‘razor grass’ because it cuts like razors. It is difficult to pull from the rocky creek bottom and bank with the creeping stolons still attached. The creek is mucky. The water is wet. The gloves I wear to avoid getting slashed obviously get just as mucky and wet.

It was such a miserable job last autumn that we postponed most of it for winter. I figured that I could wait for the dangerous foliage to die back, and then just pull up the stolons below the dead foliage. It might have been a good idea, if only we had returned to actually execute our plan. By the time we got back, new foliage was already maturing.

I was so dreading returning to this job, but then found that the fresh new foliage was not nearly as dangerous as the more mature foliage that we pulled late last summer and autumn Furthermore, the new rosettes had not dispersed their roots quite as firmly as expected. They were suspiciously easy to pull, with the stolons still attached. Dead old rosettes seemed to be completely necrotic and decayed. It was too easy.

I expect at least a few new rosettes will develop later. There were likely some down under the muck that were not up when I was there. I also expect that some will grow from bits of stolon that were left behind. However, nothing has been seen in the past three weeks or so since we did this. (I would have shared these pictures sooner, but there were other pictures to share instead.)

Speaking of other pictures to share, there are six more on my secondary ‘Six on Saturday‘ post. I did not want to save them for later because they are almost irrelevant to horticulture, but I did not want to delete them without first sharing either.

1. Sedge, or whatever it is, is difficult to handle, and is even more difficult to handle when trying to separate the stolons from the stones on the bank of the creek.P90629

2. It did not take long to fill each of these plastic bins. I did not leave any foliage hanging over the edge, because I did not want to get cut when picking up the bins.P90629+

3. These bins can be used as a flotation device. Actually, it was rather annoying that they kept floating away until they got filled. It was a nice day to be in the creek.P90629++

4. This acorus grass was mostly overwhelmed by the sedge, or whatever it is. I should have gotten a ‘before’ picture. It looks great now, and is happy in the muck.P90629+++

5. While pulling sedge, I found these two knees developing from the roots of one of our two bald cypress. This particular tree was supposed to be a dawn redwood.P90629++++

6. I also noticed that the montbretia was blooming more than it normally does down in the deep shade. It is a voracious weed too, but inhibits even worse weeds.P90629+++++

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: Serious Weeds

 

The humongous perennial pea that I showed off last week was relatively innocuous. These six are some of the more prolific weeds. Actually, except for the first two, these are some of the most aggressive and problematic weeds in this region. All are exotic, which means that they are not native. Some were imported intentionally. Some were more likely stowaways. All except for #2 were found right outside here. #2 was found closer to town.

1. Vetch was most likely imported intentionally as a cover crop, forage crop or both. Because I do not know which vetch this is, I do not know why it is here. This is neither of the two species of vetch that are native here. It is a polite and pretty weed that never seems to become much of problem. Consequently, not much is known about it, or how it affects the ecosystem. Most of us just let it do what it wants to because it improves the soil.P90622

2. Queen Anne’s lace might have been imported intentionally because the young roots, young leaves and flowers are edible. It is, after all, a wild version of carrot. However, the small roots mature quickly and become too tough to eat, and often develop bad flavor. Furthermore, it is avoided because it it too easily confused with the extremely toxic poison hemlock! It can be a companion plant for attracting pollinators, but is mostly ignored.P90622+

3. Saint John’s wort was imported intentionally as a ground cover for landscapes, and escaped into the wild where it competes aggressively with native plants. It is toxic to grazing animals, so must be removed from where it appears in pastureland. Unfortunately, its wiry but tough stolons are extremely difficult to eradicate. This species is unavailable here, not just because it is invasive, but because it is so susceptible to rust. It never looks good.P90622++

4. Broom is one of the nastiest. Some believe it to be Scottish broom (which we call ‘Scotch broom’). Some believe it to be Spanish. Actually, it is most likely French. It doesn’t matter. It is terribly prolific and aggressive, with seed that remain viable and continue to germinate for many years after parent plants get removed. It was imported intentionally just because it is so pretty in bloom. So many of the worst weeds arrived here like that.P90622+++

5. Himalayan blackberry, like Queen Anne’s lace, might have been imported intentionally because it produces something edible. It happens to makes decent blackberries. However, it is neither as reliable nor as productive as garden variety blackberries. Berries might be sparse and of inferior quality, and are very difficult to pick because the canes are so very wickedly thorny! Canes are extremely vigorous and aggressive, and difficult to kill!P90622++++

6. Thistle was likely a stowaway. There is no realistic reason to have imported it. Nothing eats it. It is too wickedly spiny to handle. It does not work as a cover crop, although it does try to cover as much area as it can get its prolific seed into. There are other thistles that are more invasive, but none that are as mean as this one is with those formidable spines! I do not know for certain what species this is, but it is not one of the native thistles.P90622+++++

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/

Horridculture – Security Clearance

P90619A well designed landscape should be an asset, not a liability. It should beautify and enhance the function of outdoor space, while harmonizing with associated indoor spaces. In order to continually do so, even a very well designed landscape requires maintenance so that it does not become so overgrown that it becomes unsightly and obstructive.
Some landscapes require less maintenance than others. There happens to be very few that can be allowed to grow wild, but only because their components are allowed the space they need to do what they do naturally. It is not fair to incorporate plants merely because they are appealing, and then expect them to conform to unnatural constraints without some degree of intervention.
As an arborist, I often see trees that must be pruned for clearance from roofs, gutters, walls, windows, lighting, utility cables and roadways. It is normal for trees and large shrubbery to encroach into such features. Furthermore, it should not be much of a problem if such trees and shrubbery are maintained properly.
The landscape in the picture above contains several desirable plants that could, with a bit of effort, be maintained within the very limited space; New Zealand tea tree, Chinese wisteria, golden bamboo, Heavenly bamboo (Nandina), star jasmine, Spanish lavender, fleabane, oxalis and a small juniper. Some of these might not have been identified correctly, and there may be more in there, but it is impossible to distinguish from this picture.
The golden bamboo and Chinese wisteria are probably a bit excessive. However, there is a nice arbor above that would be ideal for the Chinese wisteria if someone would be willing to put the effort into pruning and containing it. It takes serious commitment to contain golden bamboo, but it is possible, and might perhaps be justifiable to retain a more tolerable quantity of its handsome form outside the window that it is in front of.
One of the most obvious problems with this landscape is that it is so crowded that the various components are barely indistinguishable from each other, and lack the space to perform as they would like to. This is about clearance though. As you can see, the collective plant material has been pruned only to maintain clearance from around the lower part of the doorway, and from the pavement of the parking lot. So much more is needed.
Anyone getting out of or into a car parked next to this landscape must duck under the New Zealand tea tree or Chinese wisteria. The upper part of the doorway is not much better. Vertical clearance needs to be restored and maintained. The New Zealand tea tree seems to have some serious potential anyway, and would likely be very appealing if pruned to expose the main trunk and limbs.
Furthermore, there are windows behind all that mess! Unless someone really wants privacy and dislikes curtains, those windows should be exposed to allow sunlight in. All this obscuring vegetation darkens and cools the interior, which increases reliance on electrical lighting and some sort of heating. Besides, it just looks trashy.
Not only does the vegetation inhibit sunlight coming into the building, but it also inhibits light coming out from the building. The lighting that is barely visible at the top of the pillars flanking the doorway is there to illuminate the parking lot at night. Another doorway outside the left margin of this picture, is for ATM machines, so is outfitted with security lighting, which is almost inoperative because of the lack of pruning for adequate clearance.