Horridculture – High Fences

P90522There is no doubt that fences are useful for a variety of functions. They exclude deer from the garden. They confine livestock. For suburban homes, they enclose a relatively safe space for children and pets. Fences should be designed according to their intended functions. Those designed to exclude deer might be as simple as coarse mesh on posts. Those enclosing backyards might be more refined and compatible with the landscape.
Over the years, conformity to modern suburban and urban landscapes, as well as modern architecture and lifestyles, has changed the standards of how fences are designed. Low picket fences do not adequately obscure the scenery that adjacent and often dissimilar landscapes contribute to a view. Where common vegetable gardens might have been, most of us want private outdoor rooms, with a distinct style of landscape.
It seems that everyone wants privacy nowadays. Those who have no need for privacy will get it anyway because no one will build fences that will not provide it. In the 1950, fences were commonly four feet high, and not every backyard had them. By the 1970s, they were more commonly six feet high, and standard for almost every backyard. Now, fences are expected, and many are seven feet high or higher, with lattice on top!
Modern architecture and lifestyles are part of the justification for such tall fences. Low profile older homes on formerly suburban lots are commonly replaced with two or more larger homes on smaller subdivided city lots. They are much closer to each other than the older homes were, with only narrow spaces between upstairs windows, where even eight foot high fences will not provide privacy.
So, not only do much larger homes on much smaller parcels mean that there is much less space for gardening, but taller two story (or taller) homes with weirdly high fences mean that more of the very limited space available for gardening is shaded!

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Six on Saturday: Willow

 

Rain is rare here so late in the season. It is also potentially damaging to some of the plants in the landscapes, and some of the latest of the spring flowers that are still blooming. Most of the deciduous plants are lush with new foliage on limber stems that are still adapting to the increased foliar weight. Foliage gets even heavier when it gets wet from rain. For the willows, the extra weight is enough to break limbs.

Willow limbs do not often break away cleanly. They instead split apart so that they fall slowly while still attached to the main tree. In the swampy conditions where they naturally grow, the broken but still attached limbs develop roots where they touch the ground, and then grow into new trees. Broken limbs are therefore not a problem for willows. Nonetheless, they are a problem in the landscapes.

1. This looks like mozzarella cheese being pulled apart. My great uncle used to bring some of the good Italian stuff when he came up from Long Beach for some of the Holidays. Oh my, how off topic!P90518

2. This is what it really was. Willow limbs are surprisingly weak this time of year. They don’t just break. They split apart. I should have gotten a picture of it before I cut it up.P90518+

3. It landed right across a walkway, where I could not put off breaking it apart and taking it away. With all the rain that caused it to break, the lawn was too swampy to walk around on.P90518++

4. It landed on this bench too, or at least the left half of it. With hundreds of acres of unused and unlandscaped forest out there, why must falling trees land in such inappropriate situations?P90518+++

5. All that mess was not even a full load. It just didn’t take up much space after it was all broken apart and loaded up. There was plenty of other willow to cut later in the day, and for the next few days.P90518++++

6. Willow! My niece named him. I knew better than to argue. I never liked the name though. I and almost everyone but my niece knew him as Bill, which is short for Willow. My friend Steven knew him as William.WILLOW

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/

The Seventh On Saturday

P90511KThis is the one that got away; or actually, the one that was never caught. It bloomed after I got the pictures for the ‘Six on Saturday’ post for this morning. It could be the same unopened bud in picture #3 of the Six on Saturday post, as it is now blooming. If not the same bud, it is on the same plant, and now looks even more like the common ‘Simplicity’ rose. It is not my favorite, but I did not select it.
That is how the recovery nursery works. It is where we bring salvageable plants that need to be removed from their landscapes. Some were in the way of other projects. Some were not the right plants for their particular situations. Some were even donated by neighbors who thought we might be able to utilize them somewhere in the landscapes.
Some of plants brought in are not there long. They might get groomed and then moved directly to a more appropriate situation. That happens more during winter, when we dig up dormant plants and relocate them while the weather is still cool and rainy. We did this with a big overgrown forsythia that was dug and divided into five or so new plants before getting relocated into a new landscape. It helps is we can delay relocation until winter.
There are many potentially salvageable plants that must be moved at a particular time, even if it is not while they are dormant. They get groomed and canned (potted), and can take their time to recover before we put them back into the landscapes. Unfortunately, many do not recover adequately. Some end up staying too long because we can not find homes for them. After several years, the roses will finally be going to a new home soon.

Six on Saturday: The Yard

 

This is no home garden. It is the yard outside the various shops of the Maintenance Department where I work part time. It contains some of the salvageable plant material that we try to recycle from some of the landscapes from which it must be removed. Over winter, some plants get dug and relocated directly, rather than come to the yard. Otherwise, plants come here to get canned (potted) to recover, and then find a home.

Because no one sees our yard, we need not maintain it like we maintain the rest of the landscapes. Consequently, it collects a few weeds. Also, because there are other shops in the same buildings, there are a few unexpected odds and ends left strewn about by other types of professionals, such as the electrician. Hence, #6.

1. You know, when I took this picture, I though that the annual grassy weeds somehow looked pretty in front of the wild cucumber vine on the cyclone fence. I’m not the artsy sort; so will not try to explain it.P90511

2. Mixed in with the wild cucumber vine, which incidentally makes not edible cucumbers, this potato vine blooms, but incidentally makes not potatoes. Of course, I never dug it up to confirm that claim.P90511+

3. This rose, which might be ‘Simplicity’, has been here for a few years. No one remembers where it came from. It was supposed to get planted into a landscape while it was still dormant. Too late now.P90511++

4. This rose might be ‘Medallion’, but it is hard to say for certain. It is not as big as it should be. It was supposed to get planted while dormant too. There actually is a landscape that can use both of them.P90511+++

5. Shasta daisy has been blooming for a while now. You would think that it would be easy to find a home for this one, but it is still in the yard. It is big enough to divide into more plants if still here this winter.P90511++++

6. Spring bulbs are done now.P90511+++++

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: Rhody!!

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This is not really about Rhody, the terrier whom I work for. I just threw that extra picture in because, if you know who Rhody is, you were expecting to see his picture after reading the title. The six pictures below are really just rhododendrons that were blooming last week.

Last year was the best bloom of rhododendrons and azaleas in many years here. Those who have known them for many years can not remember a more spectacular bloom, with so many of different cultivars of the rhododendrons blooming so profusely in the same season.

The bloom this year is unusually sparse. No one can explain it. They have good years and bad years, just like anything else in the garden. Fortunately, even in their bad years, the flowers that bloom are spectacular.

1. Of the six this week, this is my least favorite. It is a vary pale pink, but not pale enough to be white. There are not many florets on the trusses.P90504

2. I refer to this one as ‘Taurus’; but I really do not know what it is. ‘Taurus’ is very susceptible to thrip. This one sustains only minor damage from thrip, while a few others nearby are are seriously damaged.P90504+

3. This one may not look much better than #1, but the color is pinker, and the trusses are impressively big with more florets when it is in full bloom. It grows as a tree nearly twenty feet tall.P90504++

4. I refer to this one as ‘Anah Kruschke’, but like for #2 above and #5 below, I am not sure about its identity. ‘Anah Kruschke’ should not be damaged by thrip as badly as this one is. I think my colleague grew this one.P90504+++

5. Of the three here that I have names for, this is the one that is most certainly not what I like to think it is. ‘Helene Schiffner’, which happens to be one of my favorites, is not blushed with yellow.P90504++++

6. I believe that my esteemed colleague grew this one as well as #4. I remember delivering a significant order of rhododendrons here years ago, at about the same time this and #4 were installed.P90504+++++

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: Above And Below

 

Flowers are almost everywhere this time of year. Even some of the lawns are blooming with English daisy. Warm season annuals are starting to bloom nicely while a few cool season annuals that have not yet been replaced are still going. Although those that were established before this spring finished a while ago, a herd of daffodils that got planted very late last winter are just now finishing bloom. New flowers start bloom as old flowers fade.

I got these pictures of some of the more perishable blooms while I could, so some are already outdated. #1 was actually already fading before last Saturday, but I had other pictures to show at the time. #2 lasted only a few days because it is still recovering from getting relocated in the warmth of last spring, after it had already foliated. Of these only #3 and some of 4, 5 and 6 are in good bloom now, but they do happen to be quite spectacular.

Flowering cherry, star magnolia and flowering dogwood are small or mid sized trees that are above the low Pacific Coast iris below; hence ‘Above and Below’. (However, this particular star magnolia is only about four feet tall so far.) I can only identify the cultivar of the ‘Kwanzan’ flowering cherry. The rest are identified only by species.

Incidentally, there is far more above all of this that is not seen in these pictures. Almost all of the ‘biomass’ here is suspended by the grand but remarkably blandly blooming redwoods.

1. Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’ – ‘Kwanzan’ flowering cherryP90427

2. Magnolia stellata – star magnoliaP90427+

3. Cornus florida – flowering dogwoodP90427++

4 + 5 + 6 Iris douglasiana – Pacific Coast irisP90427+++P90427++++P90427+++++

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 – That’s Just Swale

P90424Building and environmental codes are so ridiculous. So much of what I would want in my home is now illegal. So much modern technology that I do not want is now required. Fireplaces and wood stoves are not allowed. Overly elaborate electrical systems to serve every room are necessary. I would prefer a technologically simple home comparable to those built more than a century ago, but am prohibited by law from ever constructing one.
The area outside of a home is no easier to work with. Dead trees inhabited by the wrong sorts of woodpeckers can not be cut down. Excavation can be prohibited if a particular beetle happens to be in the way. Even some of the increasingly combustible trees and overgrown vegetation have more rights on my land than I do. Now, I am a horticulturist; so I know more about vegetation management than the treehuggers formulating these laws.
Even some of the weather has more rights than people do. In some municipalities, rain that falls onto a property has the right to percolate into the soil. Rain water that drains from roofs and pavement must be provided with ‘swales’ or basins where it can do so. It can not be evicted into old drainage systems that drain into local creeks and rivers. However, such rain water must not be detained in tanks for use in the landscape through summer.
The picture above shows part of a new landscape in the middle of a new parking lot at a newly constructed building. It looks simple for a reason. It is a pair of swales. The meadow grasses conceal a pair of surprisingly deep ditches on either side of the central walkway. Rain water drains here to percolate into the ground. The soil below the walkway might have been replaced with coarse gravel to promote drainage into that area as well.
Do not park a car at the curb and try to step from the curb into a swale to get to the walkway! You could get hurt. As I mentioned, that grass is concealing ditches that are deeper than they look. It is safer to walk through the parking lot to a large paved patio like area that is out of view behind where the picture was taken from. The other option is to walk away from the building to the far end of the walkway, but really, who would do that?
Why is the walkway even there? I really don’t know. There are no curbs on it, so anyone in a wheelchair who feels so compelled to go to the far end to use it could get seriously hurt by tumbling off the edge while trying to get out of way of someone going the opposite direction! The swales are snares for walkers and baby buggies too. Perhaps the walkway is merely bait. What are the surveillance cameras really for? What sick entertainment!

Six on Saturday: Azaleas

 

As the flowering cherry trees fade, the azaleas get their turn. Like the flowering cherry trees, the azaleas are not as spectacular as they were last year. I know it is relevant to the weather, although I do not know what the weather did to inhibit so much bloom with so many of the early spring bloomers. I know there was a lot of rain, but that should not have been a major problem. There was not much chill, but there should have been enough.

I do not know if this will be the most subdued bloom ever witnessed here, but the limited color might be more apparent because the azaleas and rhododendrons were more spectacular last year than they had ever been. According to their bud set, the rhododendrons will be even less impressive than the azaleas. The dogwoods might have had the potential to be as spectacular as last year, but some were disadvantaged by structural pruning.

These six azaleas were the best of what was blooming here this year. The pictures were taken about a week ago. I should know the names of all the cultivars, but I don’t. They do not look the same in landscape as they do on the farm where they grow. I could guess on a few. The only one that there is no mistake about is #4, which is ‘Coral Bells’. Color is a bit off in this picture. #5 looks like ‘Hino Crimson’, but without bronzed new foliage.

Rhododendrons are coming along slowly but surely. They will not be ready for next week. Fortunately, as wimpy as our bloom is this spring, there is plenty to get more pictures of for next week.

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5.P90420++++

6.P90420+++++

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: Spring Flowering Trees – With Problems

 

You probably do not notice the problems while distracted by the profuse bloom. That is just swell. It is gratifying that the trees that I work with are appealing to those who see them. Since I work with them, I notice their problems. I would have posted just close up pictures of the flowering cherries and flowering crabapples, but because they are blooming at different times this year, I got only these three.

1. The shade of the big redwood trees is a bit too dark for this flowering cherry tree. It is always this sparse. What is worse is that the upper layer of bloom is suspended on a single horizontal limb that extends from the right, out the backside, back in toward the center and off to the left as it is seen here in the picture. What looks like supporting limbs is actually trunks of birch trees in the background. I would prefer to cut the awkward limb off, but you can see how flat topped the remaining portion of the tree would be without it.P90413

2. This is the main reason the tree remains. These double white flowers are the whitest of the trees here.P90413+

3. My absence at a previous work day at the Presbyterian Church was the problem with this ‘Prairie Fire’ flowering crabapple. I had worked with this tree for a few years to thin out the thicket growth, and repair structural damage. Then, because I was not there, someone else pruned it indiscriminately with hedge shears and loppers! What a mess! It is best that you can not see the damage within the canopy. I don’t know why this was done. The tree only needed minor trimming for clearance above parked cars. After bloom, I will start the process of structural repair all over again.P90413++

4. These rosy pink flowers make it all worth it though.P90413+++

5. This flowering cherry actually looks better than I expected it to this year. I pruned out so much necrosis last years that I figured that the tree was deteriorating. I expected a bit more new necrosis to develop this years. As you can see, that did not happen so much. I am not disappointed. Actually, I am impressed that there is no necrosis worth noticing. The worst problem with the tree right now is that it is disfigured by the unexplained necrosis. Well, that will not prevent us from appreciating the bloom.P90413++++

6. This is the bloom close up. It is very similar to the other two old cherry trees that I will be cutting down this year. I wrote an article, and perhaps others, about them earlier. https://tonytomeo.com/2019/03/31/the-end-of-the-cherry-blossom-festival/P90413+++++

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: Brent’s Garden II

 

Yes, this is another sequel; and yes, this is my second Six on Saturday post for today. So far, no one has told me that posting twice is against the rules.

These are six more of the many pictures that my colleague, Brent Green, sent to me. They are of his home garden in Mid City Los Angeles, which is much more interesting than my utilitarian sort of garden. I explained the situation in more detail with the first post last week, and briefly mentioned it in the other Six on Saturday post just prior to this one.

The other Six on Saturday for today was posted here: https://tonytomeo.com/2019/04/06/six-on-saturday-brents-garden/

1. This is the small elevated porch-like patio at the rear of the garden from which the first of the six pictures in the previous post was taken. (This picture was taken from the back porch seen in that picture.) You can see how it, and the low wall to the left, were constructed from the broken concrete of the old driveway. The very edge of the new driveway is barely visible at the left edge of the picture. More on that with the fourth picture.P90406K

2. You can not see the most interesting feature of this picture, which is just to the left of the previous picture. Right there in the middle, completely obscured by vegetation, there is a small garage that was converted to an office with a deck on the roof, where I camp out when I go to Los Angeles. It is like sleeping in a tropical jungle with a view of the ‘HOLLYWOOD’ sign, which by the way, is different from sleeping in a redwood forest.P90406K+

3. Just to the left of the previous picture, the ‘driveway’, which I will explain next, extends from the garage that is now an office to the street out front. In the narrow space between the driveway and fence, this overgrown mess of pink jasmine on top of a ficus hedge behind a thicket of bamboo palms obscures the house next door. All this jasmine is VERY fragrant all day and into evening when the angel’s trumpet gets powerfully fragrant too.P90406K++

4. Now the driveway. The old pavement was removed and recycled into other features. The new pavement replaced it . . . but was never used as a driveway. The gate seen here is wide enough for a car to fit through, but is never opened. A car couldn’t get through all this vegetation anyway. A French door from the dining room opens up onto a wide spot where that weird orange fountain in the middle is. It all became more nice patios space.P90406K+++

5. Coming back around to the back patio from where the first two pictures (of these six) were taken, we can see how thoroughly the garden space is enclosed by vegetation. No outside structures are visible. You would never guess that this garden is about a block from the Santa Monica Freeway, and that it is surrounded by other homes and apartment buildings. Even the utility cables out back are hidden. Fountains obscure ambient noise.P90406K++++

6. Way back in the corner on the right of the previous picture, behind the kentia palm and past the glass door of the master bedroom, we find another blooming azalea, like the specimen in the third of the six pictures posted earlier. For Southern California, this is an impressive specimen. The big staghorn fern above and behind it is really getting monstrous. I have no idea what that weird twisted purple plastic device is. Brent has such bad taste.P90406K+++++

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/