Six on Saturday: New Photinia

Renovation of an old photinia hedge on the main road at work has been more work than it should have been. It was too overgrown for simple shearing. I pruned it up as a row of small trees, with the intention of eliminating their upper canopies as basal watersprouts grew upward from the newly exposed trunks below. Well, water sprouts did not grow as readily as I hoped for. The trees were cut down while the hedge below was still scrawny. As planned, I layered a tall water sprout as a replacement for one of two missing shrubs, but needed to replace the other with the naturally layered specimen from another hedge. (Layers develop roots where they touch soil, while attached to their original specimens.)

1. Rain! The first storm of the season came and went about two weeks ago. The drainage pond flooded about two feet over its spillway! This duckweed was left on a nearby fence.

2. Controlled burns resume now that the beginning of the rainy season is also the end of the fire season. There has been no more rain since the first storm, but forests are damp.

3. Damp ground and cooler weather facilitate planting within areas that lack automated irrigation. This layered photinia stem got relocated from one old hedge to patch another.

4. It was not enough though. To compensate for lack of another, I simply made a second layer by bending over and mostly burying a vigorous water sprout of an adjacent stump.

5. A new photinia can now grow where the tip of the mostly buried water sprout emerges from the soil. I am very pleased with the very uniform spacing of all specimens involved.

6. Meanwhile, I plugged a rooted sucker of an ungrafted historic flowering cherry within the decayed center of the stump of the now deceased original tree. It could replace itself!

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Six on Saturday: Zinnia

Zinnia are enviable. They seem to perform exemplarily for everyone else and everywhere else. They have never done well for me though. I can not explain why. I stopped trying to grow them many years ago, but I encounter them at work, where the other horticulturist grows some as warm season annuals. This year here, some performed reasonably well as bedding plants, and a few more bloomed impressively within a pair of half wine barrels. They are done now that the weather is cool, but I got a few pictures of them as they were removed and replaced with pansies for winter.

1. Yellow is a primary color, but the scarcest among the few prolific zinnia that grew in a pair of half wine barrels through summer. Only one of the ten zinnia here bloom yellow.

2. Orange is a secondary color between yellow and red, but is a bit more abundant in our barrels than either yellow or red. Maybe three or so of the ten zinnia here bloom orange.

3. Red is another primary color, which is beyond orange from yellow. Perhaps two or so zinnia bloom red, but they are less profuse than those that bloom pink, orange or white.

4. Pink is not really a color, but is merely a tint of red, or red mixed with white. Only two of the ten zinnia here bloom pink, but they are bigger and more profuse than the others.

5. White should be my favorite, but to me, seems to be mundane relative to other colors. Two of the ten zinnia bloom white, but they are neither prominent nor prolific in bloom.

6. Rhody is as unimpressed with our unusually florific zinnia as he is uncooperative with my attempts for a good picture of him. Fortunately, even a bad picture of Rhody is good.

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Six on Saturday: Memories II

Like my Six on Saturday from last week, these Six are described in reverse chronology of their approximate acquisition. My first two were acquired only within the last two years, so do not yet have much history with me. The last was actually acquired prior to the first of last week, and in conjunction with the second of last week, so is not exactly compliant with chronology. The fourth and sixth would have been more interesting in bloom. They all represent memories for me regardless, like almost all of the inhabitants of my simple garden. I notice them more at this time of year, while I work with them more.

1. 2021 Cycas revoluta, sago palm is another of several excellent items that I got for free on Craigslist. It got cut into too many pieces for relocation. All but a few are now rooted.

2. 2020 Gladiolus murielae, Abyssinian gladiolus is native to Abyssinia, not an abyss. It came here from the garden of a neighbor though. I had wanted to grow it for a few years.

3. 2015 Haemanthus albiflos, white blood lily came from a garden of an elderly client in Santa Clara who was quite fond of it. That is why I am so fond of it, even if unimpressed.

4. 2012 Lonicera albiflora, white honeysuckle is one of many souvenirs from Oklahoma. Most were seed. This and only a few others were live plants. It has grown very well here.

5. 1990 Chamaedorea seifrizii, bamboo palm was one of the first houseplants that I took from Brent when I moved into my apartment in town after the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

6. 1982 Pelargonium hortorum, zonal geranium without a zone gets big and weedy with hideously bright pink bloom. It grew wild with the crocosmia #2 of the Six for last week.

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Six on Saturday: Memories

All but very few plants in my garden have history. Some have very extensive history, and a few have been with me for most of my life. Most were gifts. Some grew from pups, seed or cuttings that I collected from work, other gardens, or places that I travelled to. Almost nothing was purchased, although #1 of these six was a significant purchase for me while I was in high school. These Six are described in reverse chronology of their approximate acquisition. None are blooming now, but some get divided and planted now or a bit later through autumn. The roses will get pruned after defoliation. Only naked lady should not be disturbed until later.

1. 1983 Rosa hybrid, ‘Proud Land’ rose is the only one of these Six that I purchased, and also the only one that has not proliferated abundantly since acquisition. I got only three.

2. 1982 Montbretia masoniorum, crocosmia grew wild on a parcel in Montara where my Pa built his home. I do not know what variety it is. It is not as aggressive as most others.

3. 1980 Agapanthus orientalis, lily of the Nile has been with me since I removed it for a beloved neighbor who had brought it from a garden in Oakland about two decades prior.

4. 1979 Amaryllis belladonna, naked lady is from the homestead garden of my maternal maternal great grandparents in Hoot Owl Creek in Oklahoma, like my grape pop iris (5).

5. 1972 Iris pallida, Dalmatian iris, sweet iris or grape pop iris, came to my garden from the garden of my maternal maternal great grandparents, where it likely grew as an orris.

6. 1971 Rheum rhabarbarum, rhubarb likely grew in the garden of my paternal paternal great grandparents shortly after 1941. I got my copies of it before I got into kindergarten.

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Six on Saturday: Going Bananas

Bananas are getting to be a bit too abundant here nowadays. I certainly do not mind. All will go to good homes after winter. Coincidentally, to obtain one copy of ‘Golden African’ banana, I was about to violate my rule against purchasing any plants, when four pups of an unidentified banana became available. Because I expect fruit to be of inferior quality, I am not at all discriminating about cultivar. I can try ‘Golden African’ later if these four pups are somehow unsatisfactory. The smaller fruitless bananas that are producing pups were already here. So were the cannas, which are incidentally related to bananas. Ginger should have been included. Two species live here. (Links for 1, 2 and 3 are the same.)

1. Canna musifolia, which is one of three that grew from runty seed, produces this oddly striated foliage. It was too small in August to show with other foliage on Six on Saturday.

2. Canna musifolia, with scrawny pastel orange bloom and bronzed foliage, produces an abundance of seed, including one that grew into the seedling with striated green foliage.

3. Canna flaccida is not really Canna flaccida as I had hoped. Otherwise, it would be too genetically stable for this defiant specimen to add orange to its exclusively yellow bloom.

4. Musa basjoo may not be Musa basjoo either. Its identity is merely a guess. Of the two that stayed here, this one had three pups, shed one, but continues to fatten up these two.

5. Musa basjoo that initially lacked pups is more than compensating for the other’s loss, by producing two more pups. We could get six of these technically unidentified bananas!

6. Musa acuminata pups of unidentified cultivar arrived only recently. The smallest pup in front lacks rhizome, so is unlikely to survive. The other four are large and exemplary!

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Six on Saturday: Bad Timing

Autumn and winter are busy seasons here. They do not last long enough for all the work that must be done while particular plants are dormant. That is why pruning began early every autumn within the orchards that formerly occupied the Santa Clara Valley. Within the landscapes, scheduling in compliance with the seasons is complicated by factors that are not so seasonal, such as gophers, who eat whenever they want to. Major weeding of a new landscape is planned to begin next Wednesday because the weeds are so overgrown. Unfortunately, this does not coincide with the dormancy of plants that I would prefer to relocate from the same site. Furthermore, the achira is being uncooperative.

1. Hedychium gardnerianum, kahili ginger should not be disturbed so late in its season. Gophers do not care. I salvaged this cane with three buds and a root. It seems to survive.

2. Ceanothus papillosus, wartleaf ceanothus grew from seed within a new landscape that will get weeded next Wednesday. I pulled and canned them early to avoid wasting them.

3. Betula pendula, European white birch grew in the same landscape. Big seedlings were tagged and left until defoliation. These tiny seedlings in the front row were canned early.

4. Sambucus caerulea, blue elderberry was, as one might guess, in the same landscape. I could not bear to simply let it go with all of the other weeds. I pulled and canned it early.

5. Canna edulis, achira, like kahili ginger, should not be disturbed so close to dormancy. However, its busted can could not hold water. Although early, it moved into a larger can.

6. Canna edulis, achira really wanted out! If it did this to escape its can, do I really want to release it into the garden? Its new can will only contain it until dormancy this winter.

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Six on Saturday: Long Story

The Seventh Rule of Six on Saturday suggests that verbiage regarding pictures should be reasonably limited. I prefer to limit mine to three hundred words, although I sometimes exceed this limit. I certainly would have exceeded this limit this week if I had explained, for example, why I want so many new flax lily, what we intend to do with another lemon gum, why I intentionally plant elderberry seedlings and promote better pollination while so many grow wild, what our options for yellow flag are, why a perfectly good apple tree remains canned and underappreciated, and what justified a pair of white bougainvilleas. Perhaps I should limit words within individual sentences as well as cumulative verbiage.

1. Dianella caerulea, flax lily has been a notably reliable perennial. I know nothing more about it. I am not even sure of its identity. Grooming scraps make good cuttings though.

2. Eucalyptus citriodora, lemon gum came back with me from the Los Angeles region. It has a bad reputation as a Eucalyptus. My colleague here and I are very fond of it though.

3. Sambucus caerulea, blue elderberry seedlings grow like weeds. I can them though, to later install them where I want them, and because they pollinate a bit better than clones.

4. Iris pseudacorus, yellow flag can be invasive within riparian situations. I really craved it though. A colleague here got it for me from a roadside ditch. Now what do I do with it?

5. Malus domestica, ‘Golden Delicious’ apple is not exactly my favorite. It lives here in a can though. Perhaps it will go live in a garden this winter, where it can make better fruit.

6. Bougainvillea ‘Barbara Karst’ came with a pair of white Bougainvillea ‘Mary Palmer’s Enchantment’ from the Los Angeles region. It is unplanned. It is such the classic though.

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Six on Saturday: L. A. II

Los Angeles was fun, even if merely for five days. So was the indirect trip there and back. While there, I collected a few bits and pieces of vegetation to bring back here. Much of it, including these Six, needed to be removed from Brent’s garden anyway. I want to collect more Plumeria cuttings later, during the correct season. I only took what I got from this procedure because two of the dozen or so specimens needed minor pruning. Conversely, I collected many more giant bird of Paradise seedlings than I can accommodate because they needed to be removed from where they were. A neighbor here should hopefully take most of them. Most of these acquisitions were expected, although the quantities of some were unexpectedly excessive. Nonetheless, I am very pleased with them.

1. Heliconia of an unidentified species was phased out as other vegetation matured over the past several years. Remnants came up with only bits of rhizome, so may not survive.

2. Strelitzia nicolai, giant bird of Paradise grew from seed from a very mature specimen that was the first plant that Brent installed after he moved here almost twenty years ago.

3. Plumeria of an unidentified cultivar or even species needed to be pruned off the roof. It grows easily from cuttings, such as these, but needs protection from minor frost here.

4. Washingtonia robusta, Mexican fan palm, like giant bird of Paradise, grew from seed from a recycled specimen that Brent installed. Its parent is his brother’s Memorial Tree.

5. Clivia miniata, Natal lily formerly bloomed profusely in the front garden, but became overwhelmed by other vegetation. They were installed directly into a landscape at work.

6. Chamaedorea costaricana, pacaya, which Brent and I know as bamboo palm, is much more vigorous and larger than the more common bamboo palm, Chamaedorea seifrizii.

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Six on Saturday: L. A.

Los Angeles is commonly abbreviated as ‘L. A.’ or simply ‘LA’, which is not only insolent, but can be mistaken for Louisiana. I must spell it out. Anyway, I am in Los Angeles now. After postponing this trip for months, I left hastily without much of a plan. I am camped out in the backyard at Brent’s home, not only because it is the best place to stay here, but also because I did not bother to make reservations at the eccentric Hotel del Flores. I did not do much of what I wanted to do, and will not before I leave, but I do not mind. It has been good to simply relax and grab a few oddities from Brent’s garden, including #1, #2 and #5. Some of these shared earlier.

1. Platycerium bifurcatum, staghorn fern grew into a suspended colony that is about six feet wide. I may have mentioned earlier in Six on Saturday that it looks like coronavirus.

2. Platycerium grande, giant staghorn fern, which Brent and I refer to as moose antlers, flares out too much on top to form more spherical colonies like Platycerium bifurcatum.

3. Monstera Deliciosa ‘Albo Variegata’, variegated split leaf philodendrons is supposedly rather rare. I thought that it was more common years ago, but no one else remembers it.

4. Costus comosus, red tower ginger should bloom between late winter and early spring, rather than between later summer and early autumn. Maybe its bloom lasts for months.

5. Dichorisandra thyrsiflora, blue ginger, which is not actually related to ginger, should bloom about now, but is not blooming as spectacularly now as it did several months ago.

6. Aechmea fasciata, silver vase bromeliad should have bloomed half a year ago like red tower ginger. Likewise, bloom can last for a long time. However, this bloom looks young.

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Six on Saturday: Origins

Most of what comes to recover in the nursery here was originally from the landscapes at work. Some needed to be removed because it was deteriorating. Some was obstructive to another project. Some of what is here grows from seed that was found in the landscapes. Several plants here came from more unusual and unexpected sources. A few plants grew from seed or cuttings that I found while out and about elsewhere, merely because I took interest in them. Such procurement would not be such a bad habit if more of such plants were actually useful to the landscapes here. Vines require too much maintenance. Cacti, palms and tropical foliage are not sufficiently compliant with the style of our landscapes.

1. Salvia elegans, pineapple sage is the most likely of this Six to be useful to landscapes at work. I grew cuttings from a stem that was obstructive to my use of an ATM machine.

2. Distictis riversii (or Distictis ‘Rivers’), royal trumpet vine grew from cuttings of a wiry and stray stem that encroached far enough into a public parking space to annoy Carson.

3. Washingtonia filifera, California fan palm, or desert fan palm, is the only palm that is native to California, but is rare locally. I took seed when I got the chance, but now what?

4. Musa basjoo, Japanese banana is one of four pups that I was quite pleased to acquire from an established specimen within a private garden. It now has three additional pups!

5. Opuntia microdasys, bunny ears cactus was originally a component of a prefabricated ‘terrarium’ of small tropical plants that need regular water. It was removed and left here.

6. Carnegiea gigantea, saguaro cactus arrived with assorted potted succulents that were left by a relocating neighbor family. Actually though, I have no idea what species this is.

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