Six on Saturday: The Endless Summer

 

Summer really did end here. There was a minimal frostless frost to prove it more than two weeks ago. This climate just happens to lack the more apparent seasonal changes that others get to show off. Except for a bit of drizzle last Thursday, and a bit at the end of September, there has been no rain since last spring. It may seem to be boring, but such weather is normal here.

1. There is typically more foliar color by now. Sweetgums are only beginning to yellow. However, these dogwoods started to defoliate early without much color. This is about as good as it got.P91116

2. Not all of the warm season annuals have been replaced with cool season annuals. These petunias are blooming too happily to be replaced with pansies or violas like we installed elsewhere.P91116+

3. Roses continue to bloom. This one looks like ‘Double Delight’ to me. I really do not know what it is. The flowers are rather small, so it must have noticed that nights are longer and cooler.P91116++

4. These two look silly to me because both are grafted together onto the same standard (tree rose). I believe they are ‘Iceberg’ and ‘Burgundy Iceberg’. I would not mind them individually.P91116+++

5. Even by our local standards, roses should be finishing by now, with only a few that are still blooming when they get pruned in winter. I do not know what this one is, but it still looks great.P91116++++

6. This is my favorite of these six pictures. I do not know what this rose is either. It is in a neighbor’s garden. It did not start to bloom until part was through summer, and is now at its best.P91116+++++

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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Six on Saturday: Tree Removal

 

The forest is constantly producing trees faster than we can cut them down. Even if we were not too busy with our many other tasks, we are not equipped to safely remove all of the large trees that become hazardous as they mature. Therefore, a crew who is so equipped is sometimes hired, and was here just this last week to remove several locusts, a few bays and a live oak.

1. The 80s are over. Someone painted this water pipe like this so that a crew cutting trees down nearby would not drop anything on it. The crew would have just put an orange cone over it.P91109

2. I was much younger and healthier back in the summer of 1988, when I did an internship with some of the most excellent arborists in the Santa Clara Valley, but I never climbed like this.P91109+

3. These trees are not much more than eighty feet tall, but needed to be parted out over those roofs. They are less than forty years old, from the 1980s or so. The arborist is in the middle.P91109++

4. Locust is unpopular firewood. These locust trees were therefore cut into logs less than seven feet (or 84 inches) long to fit into a pickup for removal, but were then instead chipped on site.P91109+++

5. This structurally deficient oak will eventually need to be removed. For now, it is groomed and lightened for winter storms. It was a nice day at the time, with temperatures in the low 80s.P91109++++

6. Mature bay trees develop distended lignotubers. The trunk of this bay tree was significantly narrower just two feet above this stump. The tree was not much more than eighty years old.P91109+++++

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: Light Duty Autumn

 

Autumn is mild here. There has been no rain yet. None is in the forecast. Nights are only beginning to get cool. A thermometer outside claims that it has been cool enough for frost, although none has yet been observed. As pleasant as such mild weather is, it can be boring in the garden. The few deciduous trees that develop good color are only beginning to do so, and in no rush. Some chores that rely on chill or rain get delayed.

1. 32 degrees! Does this qualify as frost? This is the same thermometer that said it was 96 degrees last week. I do not believe everything it says, although cold is not as easy to fake as heat.P92202

2. Krispy Kritter had a bad day. It is not from frost though. This formerly exemplary Heavenly bamboo succumbed to warmth and aridity, . . . . and unintended disconnection of irrigation.P92202+

3. California buckeye defoliated through the warmth of summer, and should foliate for early winter, only to defoliate as winter gets cooler. I knock these big seeds out because they look silly.P92202++

4. African iris, Morea bicolor, got split early where it crowded a walkway. We did not want to plug it until the rain starts, so soaked it in a bucket of water, where the roots started growing!P92202+++

5. Mrs. Pollock zonal geranium, Pelargonium hortorum ‘Mrs. Pollock’, likewise needed to be pruned back prematurely. I was able to process cuttings from the scraps, and plug them directly.P92202++++

6. Such intricate variegation is genetically unstable. Mrs. Pollock zonal geranium often gets less variegated mutant growth that must be plucked. Well, . . . . I sort of plugged some as cuttings.P92202+++++

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: More Outages

 

Electricity is expected to be turned off again tomorrow. The weather is predicted to be too warm, windy and arid (with minimal humidity) to leave it on. Otherwise, sparks from electrical cables out in forested areas could potentially start catastrophic fires. Although unlikely, it is more likely during such weather.

Hopefully, fires will not be started by candles, oil lamps, barbecues, or any of what will compensate for the lack of electricity. One of the worst fires in history here was incidentally started by sparks from a generator.

Trees are regularly and efficiently pruned for clearance from electrical cables. That does not fix everything though. Utility cables can spark even without trees blowing into them. Many trees in many areas are much higher than the utility cables, so can drop limbs onto them.

1. These are the regions of Northern California where electricity will be turned off.

P91026

2. This is a close up of our region, between San Jose and Santa Cruz. At the moment, I am near the first ‘t’ in Scott’s Valley.

P91026+

3. I am not as concerned about the garden in this weather as I am about this freezer without electricity. I would not use a freezer, but this one if for Felton League. I would not normally freeze bread either, but there happened to be space at the time, and it was better than discarding it.P91026++

4. Although this thermometer supposedly got to a hundred today after I got this picture, it was really not much more than ninety degrees. This thermometer is just in a hot spot. According to the weather forecast, it should be only in the mid seventies tomorrow. Obviously, the predicted fire risk is determined by a combination of heat, humidity and wind.P91026+++

5. There was a bit of horticulture to mention too. These are seeds of naked lady amaryllis. They certainly are weird, like mutant salmon eggs, or pink pomegranate seeds. They are supposed to be sown while still pink and fleshy like this, rather than dried. It just seems wrong.P91026++++

6. There were a few amaryllis bulbs in a group that made these unusually big seed capsules. I should have put something else in the picture to show scale. The largest is about as big as a ping pong ball. I suspect that they are the same as the others, but I will sow them separately anyway. Although unlikely, neighborhood crinum could have gotten in the mix.P91026+++++

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: Moss Rose

Moss rose has something in common with fern pine and cabbage palm. ‘It is neither this nor that’. Fern pine is neither a fern nor a pine. Cabbage palm is neither a cabbage nor a palm. Well, moss rose is neither a moss nor a rose. It is Portulaca grandiflora. It is a somewhat uncommon warm season annual that blooms until frost, with potential to toss a few seed for next year.

Ours were planted a bit late, after English daisies that were where they are now succumbed unexpectedly to rust. Because they are in three small planter boxes, where annuals get replaced regularly, they will not be able to naturalize. I suppose I could collect some of the seed to toss about nearby, or in a sunnier place where they would be happier. It really is that time of year.

These six picture show six of the colors of our moss rose. There might have been a seventh color that was very pale pink. It was omitted because it was so similar to the white that I am still not certain that it was not white. Peach #3 is more distinct from orange #4 than it seems to be in these pictures. Red, which is common among moss rose, is strangely lacking from our mix.

Flowers are somewhat variable. Pink #1 seems to be a bit fluffier than the others. Yellow #5 has a bit of red around the center. Rose #2 seems to have a very slight bit of white at the center. I only guessed on the names of the colors ‘rose’ for #2 and ‘peach’ for #3.

1. pinkP91019

2. roseP91019+

3. peachP91019++

4. orangeP91019+++

5. yellowP91019++++

6. whiteP91019+++++

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: Souvenirs From Oklahoma

 

Oklahoma is a place that I mention often in my writing. It was one of those very few places outside of California that I had always wanted to go to. After actually going there seven years ago, I want to go back to see what another season besides autumn is like. The flora there was so fascinating and unfamiliar. In the short time I was there, I collected seed of several species. Amazingly, most seed were viable a few years after collection.

1. Seed ~ was collected in these old pill bottles. These seed are not really from Oklahoma. They are mostly from canna, and were collected more recently. Collecting seed can be a bad habit.P91012

2. Yucca glauca ~ seed was collected at a truck stop in New Mexico on the way to Oklahoma, where it is also native. I found a shoot of Yucca arkansana in Oklahoma, but it did not survive.P91012+

3. Sapindus saponaria ~ seed was found hanging over a fence from a backyard into an alley in Norman. The ‘seedling’ on the left grew from a root that broke from the seedling on the right.P91012++

4. Diospyros virginiana ~ happened to be in season while we were there in November and December. The small persimmons are very different from Japanese sorts, and loaded with seeds.P91012+++

5. Cercis canadensis ~ is the state tree of Oklahoma. Supposedly, the variety that grows wild there is ‘Texensis’. Several native plants are named for places where they were first identified.P91012++++

6. Juniperus virginiana ~ was not grown from seed, but gathered as wild seedlings. It is unpopular among those more familiar with it, and for good reason. I, however, am unfamiliar with it.P91012+++++

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: Souvenirs

 

My first rhubarb was given to my by my paternal-paternal great grandfather before I was in kindergarten. My Iris pallida also goes back four generations. I got one of my two favorite zonal geraniums from a compost pile in Montara, and snuck it back on the train when I was in the seventh grade. Some of the plants I grow have been with me for a remarkably long time.

Well, I did not get pictures of my rhubarb, Iris pallida or zonal geranium for today. Instead, these are five plants with whom I became acquainted more recently, and my first yucca whom I met three decades ago. They all have their respective stories that are more interesting than what I mentioned here. None are directly from nurseries, although #2 and #4 are from cultivars.

I sort of suspect that these plants and others of such significance to me will be with me for a very long time. I know that blue gum is nearly impossible to tame, and that windmill palm can’t be pruned down like the others. I will not force them to comply. The others can give me more cuttings to replace themselves indefinitely. The place names designate where I acquired them.

1. Holmby Hills ~ Los Angeles – Yucca elephantipes – This was my very first Yucca. My colleague, Brent Green, removed it from a project he was working on back in about 1988. It lived as a houseplant next to my desk for many years, and produced a few pups.P91095

2. Mid City ~ Los Angeles – Brugmansia suaveolens – Brent got me cuttings for this angels’ trumpet from another of his landscapes a few years ago because I really wanted a single white to add to the four more complicated cultivars that I already accumulated.P91095+

3. Reno ~ Nevada – Salix laevigata – I know that there is nothing special about the all too common red willow. I like this one anyway, because it grew from a broken twig I happened to grab on the Truckee Riverwalk through Reno. I should be more discriminating.P91095++

4. Murphys – Ficus carica – A few of these little fig trees were grown from pruning scraps. A friend wanted copies of the original tree before selling the home where the tree lived. We do not now what cultivar it is, but we sort of suspect it is the common ‘Mission’.P91095+++

5. Santa Cruz – Eucalyptus globulus – While waiting for a friend who needed a ride, and pacing outside, I started plucking a few tiny weeds from planter. One of the weeds happened to be a tiny blue gum seedling. Against my better judgment, I did not discard it.P91095++++

6. West San Jose – Trachycarpus fortunei – An old friend’s mother grew flowery annuals and perennials in pots on the porch. This windmill palm grew from seed in one of the pots, and was happy there for a few years, but eventually got too big. It lives here now.P91095+++++

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: Still NO Blue Ribbon

 

That could change later today, at the Jam, Pie and Chili Contest of the Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival. My jams or jellies have won second place every year for the past few years, except for only one year when my mother’s peach jam won second place. How embarrassing! Anyway, for some of the past few years, my entries have won both second and third place.

However, none of my jams or jellies have won a first place blue ribbon!

This could be the year!

Will it be? Well, that is doubtful.

Blue elderberry jelly is what most often wins second place, except only when blackberry jelly . . . or my mother’s peach jam . . . is better. Unfortunately, blue elderberries were rather scarce this year, and what I got were not very good. In fact, they were downright bad. Other fruits, such as currants and gooseberries, were too scarce. Dogwood berries did not ripen soon enough.

For this year:

Peach jam looks and tastes great, but is about as chewy as a gummy bear.

Plum jelly is a sloppy mess that tastes sort of burnt.

Elderberry jelly is a bit sloppier, and, as mentioned above, is made with inferior fruit.

Blueberry jam is sort of like preserves. It is not bad. However, it is made from surplus ‘store-bought’ blueberries from a neighbor, instead of from locally grown or collected fruit.

Blackberry jam tastes great, but the seeds are weirdly tough this year, like wooden gravel.

Blackberry jelly is probably the best of the six, but tastes more like sugar than berries.

1. Do you notice anything missing among these few of the several ribbons that have been awarded to our jams and jellies in the past? There is not a single blue ribbon . . . yet. It will be mine!90928

2. Do you see what else is missing? Of course not. If you could see it, then it would not be missing. It would also be blue; as in the blue elderberries that normally make the ‘second’ best jelly!90928+

3. The native currants were no better. They are never abundant like blue elderberries are, but there are normally more than there were this year. I did not bother looking for gooseberries.90928++

4. Kousa dogwood made plenty of fruit, but it is not ripe yet! Oh well. Ironically, this particular tree might get cut down this winter. The abundant fruit is too messy on the pavement below.90928+++

5. Tomatoes are insultingly abundant where they grow wild around the compost piles and on roadsides. I do not need any more stoopid tomatoes! They will not help me win my blue ribbon!90928++++

6. Six submissions are ready for the Jam Contest later today: peach jam, plum jelly, elderberry jelly, blueberry jam, blackberry jam, blackberry jelly. I will write about the results tomorrow.90928+++++

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 – II: Six More

 

Six on Saturday‘ is a popular popular gardening meme that many of us garden bloggers participate in on Saturdays. The link explains how it works. Simply, we post six pictures of what is happening in our gardens or landscapes at the time, along with brief explanations. Mine just posted at midnight. I know I should be done, but I happened to find a few more pictures to share.

These six pictures of marigolds that were just installed at work are not as interesting as the topic I wrote about earlier, but are just too pretty to be discarded before I show them off. The second and third pictures, as well as the fourth and the fifth pictures, might be redundant to each other if they show the same varieties of marigolds, but I do not care. They are all so pretty.

Marigold will not likely be featured in my weekly gardening column this year, because the bigger but related African marigold was featured last October. These here are the smaller and more traditional French marigold. Their bright yellows, bright oranges and rusty reds suit late summer and autumn like miniature chrysanthemums. Their foliage is so delightfully aromatic.

Although I am none too keen on annual bedding plants, I happen to like marigold. They were more popular when I was a kid. They were not so variable back then; and there were certainly none of those pathetic fake white sorts that are really just pale yellow. They were plain and simple orange, yellow and rusty red, in blends or uniform. We could easily grow them from seed.

Unfortunately, marigolds will not be with us for long. They were planted to replace petunias that did not last long enough. At the end of autumn, they will be replaced by cyclamen for winter.

P90921KP90921K+P90921K++P90921K+++P90921K++++P90921K+++++

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: Locust

 

John the Baptist did not really eat orthopteran insects out in the desert. The locust he ate were the beans of the carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua. They are actually quite nutritious. Supposedly, they are known as locust because they resemble the elongated abdomens of the insects with the same name. A few other related trees that also produce beans are collective known as such.

Robinia pseudoacacia happens to be known as black locust, even though there is nothing black about it, and the tiny and papery beans do not even remotely resemble insects. Supposedly, it arrived with Gold Rush prospectors who wanted something of their homes in Eastern North America. It naturalized aggressively, and is now an invasive exotic species in much of the West.

We tolerate a few at work. They are too pretty to cut down without a good excuse. However, one gave us a good excuse when it fell last winter. It was notably polite about it, by falling into a gap between two roofs that a cat could jump across. Damage was very minimal. Nonetheless, the tree and its destabilizing associates needed to be removed. They are gone but not forgotten.

1. Thorns of black locust only look blurry in this picture. They are wickedly sharp! The sharpest are on the most vigorous stems, which is exactly what the freshly cut stumps here generate.P90921

2. Thickets of suckers (or watersprouts) like these developed where black locust trees were cut down last winter. Most developed on freshly cut stumps. Many emerged from random roots.P90921+

3. More than half of the suckers from the formerly impenetrable thicket around the stump at the center of the picture were removed to relinquish space for the lauristinus in the foreground.P90921++

4. A few bay trees got cut down with the black locust trees. I wanted them coppiced, but was away when they instead got VERY badly pollarded. Oh, the shame! (I will coppice them later.)P90921+++

5. As nasty as black locust is, it has a few attributes. Spring bloom resembles that of white wisteria, and is almost as fragrant. This finely textured pinnately compound foliage is quite elegant.P90921++++

6. Their high and open canopies provide nice shade too. It is just enough for warm summer weather, but not too much to exclude turf grass and understory plants that tolerate partial shade.P90921+++++

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/