Six on Saturday: Service Interruption (I have nothing to share here this week.)

Unusually rainy weather here has been quite a problem. Flooding, mudslides and falling trees have kept us all very busy at work. They have also interfered with the utilities, such as electricity, cable and internet service. A message on my telephone informed me of the service interruption that prevented me from sending pictures to myself to share here on Six on Saturday. I intended to simply share pictures that were illustrations for my other blog, but as I was writing about them, I realized that I already shared them on Christmas Eve. I therefore have no more than these recycled pictures. More pictures from here are in the news.

1. The Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree was planted two and a half years ago, so it is the oldest Monterey cypress within this Memorial Grove, and is now almost six feet tall.

2. The David Noel Riddell Memorial Tree was installed with #3 below, only about a year ago. It is the smallest of the three cypress trees, and is only slightly taller than three feet.

3. The David Fritiof Lindberg Memorial Tree was installed a few days after David Fritiof Lindberg passed away on November 13, 2021, with #2 above. It is only four feet tall now.

4. The Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park is actually one of several Memorial Trees within its landscape. It is doing well, but needed a bit more pruning for clearance.

5. It looks scrawny after pruning, but will fluff out splendidly through spring. It may not need pruning for clearance again for quite a while. By that time, it will be too big for me.

6. Sunny weather is finally in the forecast. Rain is normally appreciated in our chaparral climate, but has been excessive for too long. It has not rained this much in four decades.

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

Six on Saturday: Memorial Trees +

Goodness! Not only did I not get good pictures of these Memorial Trees, but I needed to add two unrelated pictures for a total of Six on Saturday. Perhaps fewer Memorial Trees are better than more. Sadly, another must be added as space becomes vacated. Anyway, the first picture is something I am quite pleased with. The sixth complies with tradition. Links have more information about the Memorial Trees at my other blog, Felton League.

1. Australian tree fern, Cyathea cooperi, was relocated from my former neighborhood in town. It may not look like much, but the trunk, which is not visible here. is nine feet tall!

2. Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree was the first Tree of the Memorial Grove when it was installed on May 2, 2020, the third anniversary of his death. It is now about six feet tall, and inhabits a site that was formerly inhabited by Mr. Ralls while he was unhoused.

3. David Noel Riddell Memorial Tree was installed quite a while after Mr. Riddell passed away, so it is only about three feet tall. Incidentally, Mr. Riddell is a direct descendant of some of the first Spanish people to arrive in Monterey where Monterey cypress is native.

4. David Fritiof Lindberg Memorial Tree was installed shortly after Mr. Lindberg passed away on November 13, 2021, and in conjunction with The David Noel Riddell Memorial Tree. It is only about four feet tall. All three of those Memorialized were mutual friends.

5. Jeffrey Dale Scofield Memorial Tree became The Memorial Tree after a few friends of the Memorialized passed away within only a few years afterwards. It is maturing nicely!

6. Canna ‘Australia’ in the downtown planter box remain lush after harsh grooming, and after those at work were frosted. Of course, this picture is not actually about this Canna.

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

Six on Saturday: No Rhody

Rhody is again absent from my Six on Saturday for this week. Within such an odd mix of six unrelated pictures, I suppose that I should have added at least one picture of Rhody. After all, Rhody is who you are here to see. Well, I thought that some of these, especially #5, are interesting. Both #1 and #2 are Canna, so they are actually not totally unrelated. There might be more of Brent’s pointless pictures for next week; but perhaps one picture will be of Rhody.

1. ‘Wyoming’ canna provided this foliar picture that was too artsy to discard unused, but not compliant enough for my Six on Saturday of last week. All of those six were closeups.

2. ‘Australia’ canna likewise provided this picture that is interesting, but not compatible with the earlier Six on Saturday. It lives in a pond. That is duckweed in the background.

3. Blue elderberry is native here. Unfortunately, some of the most productive specimens are in awkward situations. I canned a few wild seedlings to install into better situations.

4. Poinciana has a complicated explanation. I told Brent that ‘Crazy Green Thumbs’ sent me seed of poinciana and esperanza. What I consider to be poinciana is actually pride of Barbados. After remembering the difference from what Brent considers to be poinciana, I still felt obligated to grow a poinciana tree for Brent, so actually purchased seed online!

5. Esperanza is real! It is not easy to grow though. Only a few seed germinated, and only a few seedlings survive. At this rate, they will still be dinky and need shelter for autumn.

6. Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park seems to be happy, but has grown a bit slower than it did by July 12 last year. I have not posted an update for it since December.

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

Six on Saturday: November 1, 2020 – Memorial Tree Update (on November 7)

These pictures are from a similar article with the same name at Felton League, which was linked to here last Wednesday. They demonstrate how efficiently the Memorial Tree is recovering from vandalism four months ago. Pointer . . . ‘thingies’ were added to more precisely identify what some of the pictures illustrate. The other two linked-to articles provide more information.

1. A gardener at Felton Covered Bridge Park installed this chicken wire cage around the Memorial Tree after it was vandalized. The protection is minimal, but the gesture is very thoughtful.

2. This now minimal damage is all that remains of of the formerly major vandalism. The worst of the damage to the left and right was very efficiently compartmentalized in just four months.

3. This scar is all that remains of formerly major damage. It is now completely compartmentalized. Growth above not only continued, but was unusually accelerated for so late in the season.

4. This damage was compartmentalized so efficiently that the scar is barely visible. Actually, I am not even certain if this is a scar. I remember only that the trunk was sliced in three places.

5. Growth for the season was adequate prior to the vandalism. The marker to the lower left shows where growth started early last spring. The marker to the upper right, near the center of the picture, shows where growth was decelerating and expected to blind out by the middle of summer. However, growth accelerated vigorously past that, as if stimulated by the vandalism.

6. Growth was unusually vigorous, especially for late summer. During winter, the stem designated by the marker to the left should be removed so that it does not develop into another major trunk. The stem designated by the marker to the right should probably be pruned back so that it does not compete with the two upper stems that are developing into the main lower limbs.

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

Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree

Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree is mostly camouflaged by the surrounding forest.

Steven Michael Ralls got his Memorial Tree this morning, three years after he passed away on May 2, 2017. The circumstances that coincided for this event were impossible to ignore. Just like the other Memorial Tree, which was installed to replace an oak that was missing from a parking lot island, the Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree also has a practical application.

The small tree is a young Monterey Cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa, that needed to be removed from one landscape, and was waiting in the recovery nursery to be installed into another. Of course, a Monterey cypress in no easy tree to accommodate. It is too big and too dark to be compatible with most of the landscapes into which we add smaller and mostly deciduous trees.

However, it happens to be ideal for obscuring undesirable scenery, just like a row of five Arizona cypress, Cupressus arizonica, will be expected to do when installed along a busy roadway. Furthermore, it just happens to grow bigger faster than Arizona cypress, so is even better for the low end of the row where a bigger tree is preferred. The row really needs six trees anyway.

The location of the tree just happens to be ideal as well. With all Arizona cypress spaced evenly along the roadway, and the Steven Michael Ralls Memorial Tree strategically situated around the lower corner of the fence, it is located precisely where Steven Michael Ralls camped while homeless late in 2012. I could not have selected a more appropriate location if I had planned it.

The new tree will need to be watered by bucket occasionally through summer, but will need no intervention after the rain starts next autumn. It knows what it needs to do to get established and become an evergreen asset to the forest.

It was easier to see before it was planted.

Memorial Tree Update – March 22, 2020

Memorial Tree – Before

Updates get complicated as they link back to previous updates to previous updates to previous updates and so on. Linking and reblogging from another blog adds more complication. The last update for the Memorial Tree was reblogged from Felton League on August 10. It and previous updates should link back to preceding updates chronologically. At least it sounds simple.

Another brief update that will reblog here from Felton League at noon will describe more of the social significance of the Memorial Tree rather than horticultural concerns. It really is special.

This little Memorial Tree has certainly been through some difficult times. Despite reassurances that it would not happen again, and that the tree would be outfitted with an ‘approved’ trunk guard, the trunk base has been gouged by weed whackers on more occasions than I can remember. That is an unfortunate consequence of efficient but unaware community service workers.

Such major damage severely inhibited growth. As it begins its fifth year, the Memorial Tree is barely six feet tall. By now, it should be developing branch structure above minimal clearance. Fortunately, it was quite healthy last year. If it continues to grow similarly this year, it will grow above six feet, where it can later develop scaffold limbs. I intend to apply fertilizer regularly.

Stubble had been left on the trunk to enhance caliper growth. That which was developing into significant branches was removed to concentrate resources into vertical trunk growth. Stubble that remains is minimal, but should be substantial enough by winter to get mostly pruned away again. It will more likely be unnecessary, and pruned away completely from the main trunk.

Binding is unfortunately still necessary. The species innately develops irregular form. Binding straightens the otherwise curved trunk. Once the trunk lignifies in the desired position, binding and the associated stake will not be necessary. The larger lodgepole stake holds the binding stake vertical, but is more important for protection from those who bump into the still small tree.

Weeds were removed from around the base of the Memorial Tree, so that there would be no need for a dreaded weed whacker to get close to it. Former damage is compartmentalizing well.

Memorial Tree – After

Horridculture – Memorials

Where are the cedars?

Memorial trees should be remembered . . . right? I mean, they are planted to remind us of . . . something, or . . . someone. They are typically trees that will be around for a long time, because that is how important memories should be. Redwoods and oaks work nicely. Most get outfitted with plaques to remind everyone what the trees are there to remind us of.

The old original Sunnyvale City Hall was landscaped with several memorial trees. The most prominent were redwoods and cedars that were mostly planted as memorials for local veterans of various wars. They accumulated over several decades and a few wars. City Hall seemed like a good place for them, where they could live for a long time without bother.

However, City Hall was demolished in the late 1970s, and replaced with a big mall. The larger redwood and cedar memorial trees were salvaged as the mall was build around them. Most survived in a courtyard within the mall until the mall was partly demolished less than a quarter of a century later.

All the cedar memorial trees died in captivity within the courtyard. One redwood that was not a memorial was added to the group where one of the cedars had been.

Prior to the demolition of the courtyard, I needed to inspect the surviving redwood to prescribe procedures for safe removal of surface pavement, and subsequent protection of exposed roots. The surviving trees were in remarkably good health. I was not very worried about them. What bothered me though, was the complete disregard for their historical significance.

The plaques associated with these memorial trees were a mess. It was as if they all had been collected from their respective trees, mixed up, and replaced randomly. Plaques from the absent cedars were assigned to some of the surviving redwoods. The oldest and grandest memorial redwood was labeled as the redwood that was added last, after the mall was built, and therefore of no historical significance. The smallest and youngest redwood that really was added after the mall was built was labeled as one of the more historically significant memorial trees.

I believe that all the trees that were there during my inspection are still quite healthy within a small park space that was built around them. I have no idea if they are outfitted with plaques. If they are, I can not help but doubt the accuracy of those plaques.

The End Of The Cherry Blossom Festival

P90331After decades of spectacular spring bloom, this pair of flowering cherry trees in the picture above must be removed. They have been deteriorating for a very long time. Below the limber blooming branches of the tree on the right, there is not much more than a bulky rotten trunk, one rotting limb, and a short stub of a limb that was cut back to a bit of viable twiggy growth last year. The tree to the left has only a few more viable but rotten limbs.
Through this last winter, it was finally decided that we would allow them to bloom one last time, and then replace them with a new pair of trees of the same cultivar. I will cut them down myself. I do not want anyone else to perform this unpleasant task. Nor do I want such dignified and admired trees to be cut down by anyone else. Like I do for other prominent trees, I will write the obituary; a joint obituary for two who were always together.
Since the new trees will be of the same cultivar, they will bloom with the same profuse pale pink spring bloom, and will hopefully last for more than half a century like the originals did. Because the originals had been pruned back so severely as they deteriorated over the past many years, the new trees should grow to be as large within only a few years. They will not be the same though. There will be no adequate replacement for the originals.
The cherry blossoms below are of another pair of trees a bit farther up the road. They are not nearly as old, so could be there for a few more decades. There are a few others, of various ages and different cultivars, scattered about the neighborhood.P90331+P90331++


IMG_1983Many towns display a Town Christmas Tree in a prominent and centrally located public space.

The Town Christmas Tree in Los Gatos is a now mature but formerly feral deodar cedar that grew by chance next to the railroad tracks where they passed through downtown a very long time ago. As the railroad tracks were removed, and the rail yard was redeveloped into the Town Plaza, the maturing cedar tree survived the process to become the most prominent tree there. Because it just happened to be a symmetrically conical coniferous tree in the most prominent spot in town, it was a natural choice for the Town Christmas Tree. It gets lit up and decorated for Christmas, and is where children can meet up with Santa Claus.

The Town Christmas Tree in Felton is the Featherstone Tree, which is a mature coastal redwood tree that happened to be planted right on the edge of Highway 9 a very long time ago by Mr. Featherstone, simply because he admired the species so much, . Like the Town Christmas Tree of Los Gatos, it just happened to develop into the right sort of tree in the right spot to become the Town Christmas Tree. It too gets lit up and decorated, although it is not as conical as it used to be.

Last year, someone delivered a decorated cut Christmas tree to a picnic area in Felton Covered Bridge Park, where many of the Homeless Community congregate. No one knows who delivered it, or how he, she or they did so undetected. It was a rather fancy tannenbaum (fir) that was not cheap. Someone or a few someones put quite a bit of effort and expense into this unusual gesture, to share a bit of joy with others in the Community.

It was not like a Town Christmas Tree for the Homeless Community, as if the Homeless Community is somehow separate from the rest of Felton. It was more like a household Christmas tree for those who lack a house to live in. It certainly made the annual Christmas Luncheon for the Homeless Community there at the picnic area much homier.

Memorial Memorial

P81014The little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge park that I so frequently write about is not the first to be planted there in its parking lot island. It is actually the fourth! The first was a California black oak like the other four in the other islands. They were all planted with the original landscape. It did not live there long before getting run over by a car. The island was empty for many years.

The second tree (above) was an Eastern red cedar that I brought from Oklahoma. It arrived here very early in the morning on the last day of 2012, in a bag with a few others that I pulled out of the ground the day before we left. They may be nothing special within their native range, but they are very exotic to me. At the time, I had no plans for the small trees. I just wanted to grow them.

I was downtown and up late the following night when I realized that it was nearing midnight between 2012 and 2013. I took out a trowel, dug a small hole in the island, and planted one of the Eastern red cedars right at the moment that one year changed to the next. I did not give it any more thought than that. Otherwise, I would have preferred a native species like the Park was originally landscaped with.

Sadly, that tree lasted only a few months before succumbing to what dogs do to young trees in parking lot islands. It was a bare root tree, so was not very resilient.

The third tree (below) was a native bigleaf maple that was planted the following winter between 2013 and 2014. It did not get much more planning than the Eastern red cedar. I found it growing on the side of the road where it would have been killed by vegetation management within the utility easement. Like the little Eastern red cedar, I pulled it up and planted it bare root. It was a better choice in some ways, but would have needed to be watered by bucket for the first few years. It survived through the first year and half way through 2015 before it too succumbed to what dogs do. I was being optimistic by thinking that a bare root tree would survive that.

The fourth tree is the little native valley oak Memorial Tree that is there now. I found it for just a few dollars at a local nursery. It was planted in the winter between 2015 and 2016, so this was its third summer. It was a canned tree, so started with more of a root system than the previous two trees that were planted bare root. Nonetheless, life out in that exposed parking lot island is not easy. The tree was severely damaged by weed whackers both in 2016 and in 2017, so barely grew, and is recovering slowly. It is quite well rooted now, so should have a much better season next summer. – This is a link to one of the more recent articles about the Memorial Tree. It includes a link to another previous article, which also links to other older articles. I really do not remember how many updates I have written about the Memorial Tree.P81014+