Six on Saturday: Calm Before The Storm


Six on Saturday‘ is a meme that I participate in on Saturday morning. The link below explains that participants post pictures from our gardens, landscapes, greenhouses, or wherever we find subjects of horticultural interest. You might post six of your own.

I posted this second set of six this afternoon both because these six pictures will be outdated by next Saturday, and because they are more relevant to horticulture than the six that I posted this morning.

1. Rose – Unless there is a rose out there somewhere that I neglected to prune, this is the last rose bloom of last year. It got pruned after I got this picture. Even here, roses get to hibernate.P00118K-1

2. Wallflower – Does it look like it cares that it is the middle of winter? Actually, from a distance, it is more obvious that sporadic bloom is somewhat subdued. It just never stops completely.P00118K-2

3. Sasanqua Camellia – This was one of the few last flowers, and likely disintegrated shortly after the picture was taken and the weather warmed up. That was actually before last Saturday.P00118K-3

4. Narcissus – Since I so regularly express a preference for white flowers, I tried to find yellow daffodils. They were only beginning to bloom though. These paperwhite narcissus are prettier.P00118K-4

5. Pigsqueak – The name is rad. I intend to grow more in my own garden. It is such a classic winter blooming perennial. More importantly, I want to brag to my friends about my pigsqueak.P00118K-5

6. Cyclamen – I intentionally got a picture of the red instead of the white. I would prefer them to be more than just common winter annuals. Nevermind the irrigation line in the background.P00118K-6

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

Six on Saturday: When It Rains, It Pours


The frequency and duration of rainy weather here is not very much more than in the rain shadow where the inland base of the Santa Cruz Mountains merges into the Santa Clara Valley. However, the volume is about triple! My former neighborhood in town just about fifteen miles away gets about one foot of rain annually. The average annual rainfall here is about three feet.

That extra two feet sometimes seems to fall all at once.

1. Rain got heavy enough for me to bother recording this first of six brief videos. I do not know why the lights upstairs were pulsating and blinking. The downspout seems to be jet propelled.

2. This was certainly more than I expected. Off to the left, there were only two sandbags to put in front of a doorway that is three sandbags wide. This was a major problem. I did not panic.

3. Now I panicked. I called for help, but my radio was too wet to operate. There was nothing anyone could do anyway; or so I thought. I stopped the camera and went upstairs to investigate.

4. Removal of debris from the grate over this drain fixed everything fast. This was more than I expected too. We all know that this drain is partially clogged. The water and hail was freezing!

5. Within a minute or so, the water drained away surprisingly efficiently, leaving this icy mess on the small patio between the two stairways. It was like a Slurpee mixed with redwood debris.

6. More of the grungy Slurpee remained on the lower patio outside the doorway that lacked adequate sandbags. Water barely crossed the threshold to dampen a few square inches of carpet.

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

Horridculture – NO TRESSPASSING

NO TRESPASSING? . . . No respect!

Growing fruit takes a bit of effort. Trees that produce the fruit must be planted and maintained for all the many years that they produce. They might need to be irrigated through summer. Most need specialized pruning every winter.

Canning surplus fruit takes a bit of effort too. All the jars must be cleaned. All the fruit must be collected, processed and cooked. The jars must be packed and boiled and so on.

Drying fruit is less work than canning, but takes a bit of effort nonetheless.

Where I lived in town, I grew a peach tree closer to the apartment building to the north, and a fig tree closer to the apartment building to the south. I maintained both trees meticulously. Many of the neighbors appreciated the fresh fruit. At the end of their season, there was (almost) always surplus peaches for canning. Sometimes, there were surplus figs for drying.

I really would not have minded if there had not been surplus fruit. It would have been better to have it consumed by the neighbors while fresh, than after it had been canned. Besides, it would have been less work for me.

One summer, there was a major surplus of peaches. We wanted to can them as efficiently as possible because we know how perishable they are. We planned to do all the canning on a Saturday, so got all the jars from the attic and washed them on Friday afternoon. The canning pots and utensils were ready to go. We had purchased lids and several pounds of sugar.

Also on Friday afternoon, the so-called ‘gardeners’ came to the apartment building next door to the north.

The major surplus of peaches, every last peach, was completely gone when we went to collect early Saturday morning.

Now, really, I don’t mind sharing. That is what the tree is there for. I really don’t even mind if a few people want to take all the surplus fruit. I just want to be told about it before I make plans and prepare to do something else with it. What really angered me was the complete disregard for those of us who put the effort into growing all those excellent peaches.

The fig tree to the south produced an early crop of figs before the peaches, and a late crop of figs after the peaches. Each crop lasted a long time, so there were not often too many figs at any one time that needed to be dried. Most were eaten fresh.

I often noticed an annoying absence of figs each day after the so-called ‘gardeners’ came to the apartment building next door to the south. It was not as bothersome as the missing peaches, since I got quite a bit of figs in between. What angered me was that every fig that could be harvested at the appointed time was taken, leaving none for anyone else.

Six on Saturday: White Album


‘Album’ is Latin for ‘white’. That is why ‘album’ or a derivation of it is the species or varietal name for several plants. That does not apply to any of these six though. They are just incidentally . . . and coincidentally white. Even though white is my favorite color, I really did not intentionally select these because they are white. I just wanted to show off some of what is blooming now.

I would say that most are unseasonable, but our mild seasons can be rather vague.

1. Pelargonium hortorum – Two florets managed to bloom on a stunted truss that should have been plucked from rooting cuttings in the nursery. Full trusses are blooming in the landscape.P00111-1

2. Primula vulgaris – Heavy rain overnight splattered a bit of the mulch onto the these and other nearby flowers that are low to the ground. A bit more drizzly rain should rinse them all off.P00111-2

3. Helleborus X hybridus – Of these six subjects, only this and #2 above are actually in season. Their pale bloom is mediocre and faces the ground. This one is turned upward for this picture.P00111-3

4. Solanum jasminoides – Foliage is pekid through cool winter weather. Vines will get pruned back before growth resumes in spring. Regardless, flowers bloom whenever they get a chance.P00111-4

5. Rhododendron (Azalea) – As delightful as this unseasonable bloom is now, it would have been much better if it had waited until spring as expected. It will not last long in this weather.P00111-5

6. Hydrangea macrophylla – Bloom continues even as the yellowed deciduous foliage is falling to the ground. Other juvenile blooms are still developing. I will elaborate on this topic at noon.P00111-6

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

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:

Six on Saturday: Tracks


Tracking is not done for hunting here. Anyone who can hunt here would merely wait for deer or turkey to arrive as they so frequently do through the day. I only notice the tracks while they are so visible in the mud and damp soil. Most are from harmless animals. Some are from animals who control unwelcome rodents. Even notoriously destructive deer are not a problem here.

No one knows why deer avoid the landscapes here. There are no fences, so deer can come and go as they please. They are a serious problem for some of the home gardens nearby, but avoid others like they avoid our landscapes. I got these pictures outside of landscaped areas. Bobcats have never bothered anyone except the rodents who are not wanted in the landscape anyway.

I saw no tracks left by raccoons, skunks, turkeys or mountain lions, which is just fine. Mountain lions are rare, so their tracks are rarely seen around areas of human activity. The others are too lightweight to leave well defined tracks that I could get pictures of anyway. Skunks are actually beneficial to the landscapes, by eating grubs and slugs. They refrain from digging in lawns.

Turkeys are only becoming a concern because of their proliferation. The minor damage that they cause while scratching for grubs and pecking at anything colorful is likely to become a major concern when there are more of them shredding flowers, fruit and vegetation. Raccoons are more obnoxious for the messes they make with garbage than for their damage in the landscapes.

1. Deer often leave double prints, with the second set slightly back from the first. This pair seems to be single prints from different hooves that just happened to land right next to each other.00128-1

2. Bobcat prints must have appeared while the weather was still drizzly enough to mute the detail. Bobcats are common enough here for (La Rinconada de) Los Gatos to be named for them.00128-2

3. Coyote prints are fresher. They seem to be too small to be left by a coyote; but fox tracks are even smaller, and rare. Foxes are so lightweight that they leave tracks only in very soft mud.00128-3

4. Human prints are very fresh. I did not notice them on my way out, but found them on my way back. Whoever or whatever left these prints could have been dangerously close at the time!00128-4

5. Chevrolet prints over John Deere prints are also rather fresh. There are prints of Ford, Dodge and even a rare Buick in the area. It must have been quite a herd! I should track that Buick!00128-5

6. Rhody the terrier leaves no more prints than a fox, since he too is so lightweight. I tried to press his paw into the mud for this one, but he did not cooperate. This was the best we could do.00128-6

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

Horridculture – That Blows!

P91218-1Blowers put the ‘blow’ in ‘mow, blow and go’. They really blow! The only power tool used by so-called ‘gardeners’ that is more detestable to the rest of us is the power hedge shears, and that claim is contestable. Some consider blowers to be worse because they are so obnoxiously noisy, and generate so much dust. Some municipalities have outlawed the use of the noisiest sorts.

The mess on the hood and windshield in the picture above was not actually caused by blowers. The picture below shows the bridge that was power washed above. Oops. I should have been suspicious that no one wanted that parking space. Anyway, this picture was just too funny to not share; . . . and I happen to lack pictures of the sorts of dusty messes that blowers can stir up.

Where I lived in town, the so-called ‘gardeners’ who ‘maintained’ the apartment buildings on either side used blowers. There is a noise ordinance there, but we never bothered to enforce it. We did not want to interfere with what needed to be done. There was a lot of pavement, and we wanted it to be kept clean. We could not expect it all to be quietly swept like I swept mine.

To the north, the blowers were either off or on full-throttle. There was nothing in between. The cars in the carport collected all the dust that was stirred up. If the door to the washroom was left open, debris got blown in, and the pilot light for the only water heater in the building got blown out. Most of the debris got blown to the southeast corner, and under a fence into my yard.

The same happened to the south, but the water heater was less exposed, and there was much more debris. The largest valley oak around lived there, and dropped leaves for several months. I replaced the kickboard at the base of the fence in their northeast corner a few times, but it was just as regularly kicked out and removed so that debris could continue to be blown under!

In other neighborhoods, so-called ‘gardeners’ are notorious for blowing debris out into roads, where it gets dispersed by traffic. Even if they do not blow it away just to become a problem somewhere else, they are likely to blow too much of it into shrubbery, along with any mixed litter. It accumulates faster than it decomposes to benefit the soil and roots below. What a mess!P91218-2

Six on Saturday: Nursery Work


This is more like what I should be doing. My part time job here was supposed to be temporary, just until I went back to work growing things. It is not easy to leave. Actually, it is downright difficult. Well, that is another story. Yesterday, Friday, I got to pretend I was back at work, dividing perennials and plugging cuttings. It all came from what already lives in the landscapes.

These seasonal tasks had been delayed until the rainy season started.

1. African iris, Dietes bicolor, got plucked around the edges where it was getting too close to a walkway. These plucked and groomed scraps will be plugged directly where more are desired.P91214-1

2. Lily-of-the-Nile, Agapanthus africanus, got pulled a long time ago, and just left here on the floor. It can get split into many individual pups, but will more likely be planted as a full clump.P91214-2

3. Pigsqueak, Bergenia crassifolia, got pulled where it was creeping over a stone wall. Most was plugged back behind where it came from. Sixteen groups of three pups were canned for later.P91214-3

4. Boston ivy, Parthenocissus tricuspidata, provided this mess when it was relieved of its stakes and groomed. It grew so fast in the first year, that there is concern about planting more of it.P91214-4

5. 100 cuttings is too many! There are only a few concrete structures that it can climb onto. It probably would have been more practical to plug a few cuttings directly into only a few cans.P91214-5

6. Cuttings would have fit better into cans too. These cuttings are plugged diagonally, leaning back toward the top of the picture, with the front row leaning toward the bottom of the picture.P91214-6

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

Six on Saturday: Pet Rock Amongst Redwoods


Macabee Gopher Trap was invented in Los Gatos. So was the Bean Pesticide Sprayer. Both were very useful in the vast orchards that formerly occupied the Santa Clara Valley. Another one of the more famous invention that originated in Los Gatos was not so practical. Actually, it was weirdly impractical. What was weirder was that it became such a craze in 1975 and early 1976.

It was the Pet Rock.

1. Pigeons don’t lay eggs in December. They certainly don’t lay such big eggs, or leave them without a few twigs to keep the from rolling away. Now that I think of it, pigeons don’t live here.P91207-1

2. Oh, it is just a rock, painted by someone named Madeline. Perhaps, it is a Pet Rock named Madeline. It seems to be of impeccable breeding. Form, color and temperament are exemplary.P91207-2

3. Perhaps it was painted by someone named Joy, or it is named Joy. Well, whatever or whoever it is, it seems to be very important. It was put back in the hanging basket of zonal geranium.P91207-3

4. That’s the hanging basket with the zonal geranium in it, right there, second from the left. It is not exactly a good place for a Pet Rock to nest. Notice the plaque over the rail right below it.P91207-4

5. The plaque identifies all three species of redwood in the landscape. The green, blue and brown dots next to the names correspond to a diagram showing where each is within the landscape.P91207-5

6. The defoliated dawn redwood is to the left. The small giant redwood is to the right. Those in between and in the background are the native coastal redwoods, which grow wild in the region.P91207-6

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

Six on Saturday: First Storm


The first storm since spring came through Tuesday night. It was cool enough for a bit of snow on the summits of the Diablo Range, including Mount Hamilton, east of the Santa Clara Valley. The fire season is now over. More storms are forecast. More will continue through the remainder of winter and into spring. Even chaparral climates eventually get a seasonal ration of rain.

1. An inch and a half of rain is generous for a first storm. It is more than 10% of what my garden in town got annually. This side of the Santa Cruz Mountains gets about three times as much.P91130

2. My reflection in the rain caught in this ‘tote’ is not as artistic as it was in the green bucket last year. I tried. A flash would have added interest. I do not really know how the camera works.P91130+

3. Cyclamen, even the common florists’ type, deserve more than to be grown as cool season annuals, and then discarded in spring. I can rant about that later. For now, they sure are pretty.P91130++

4. After the rain, even a close up of this seriously abused juniper is pretty. It was recycled from one site into another, only to be removed again. It is now canned and waiting for a new home.P91130+++

5. Storms are messy. There was not much wind with this storm. Nonetheless, rotten limbs get heavier and softer as they get soaked by rain. This one broke apart more as I dragged it away.P91130++++

6. What is worse than runoff from the road washing away some of the yellow birch foliage dislodged by rain, is that it likely took away some of the amaryllis seed tossed out here earlier.P91130+++++

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