Growing horticultural commodities can be a very rewarding occupation, even if not very lucrative. Growing random plants merely because they are available may be a bad habit. Sometimes, I procure propagation stock intentionally because I want to grow copies of a particular plant. Perhaps more often, I grow something merely because I can not bear to discard good propagation stock or actual plants. That is why there are so many homeless cannas here now! After I prune zonal geraniums, I feel obligated to process all the scraps into cuttings rather than simply discard them into the compost.
1. Opuntia (of unidentified species or hybrid), prickly pear lives at a clinic in Santa Cruz. Someone with a weed whacker busted off a few pads. It is good for both nopal and tuna. It is shabby and canned because someone with a weed whacker here kept cutting it also.
2. Clivia miniata, Natal lily was pulled from a trailside prior to weed whacking. I do not know if it is feral from seed or a cultivar from landscape debris. They have not bloomed.
3. Iris pseudacorus, yellow flag is naturalized in a roadside ditch in Ben Lomond. It is an invasive species in some regions. Therefore, it must be contained and deadheaded here.
4. Platanus racemosa, California sycamore was a sucker on one of the big trees at work. It pulled off with roots attached, so got canned. Its trunk died, so is now replacing itself.
5. Washingtonia robusta, Mexican fan palm needed to be removed from a yard in Santa Clara. Many were in pavement. Someone else got most that were salvageable. I got eight.
6. Cinnamomum camphora, camphor tree seedlings grew out sidewalk expansion joints at a job in San Jose. I pulled some out. A few came out with roots, and grew up like this.
There is quite a bit of open space in some parts of the landscapes. It is not as if the landscapes are lacking much. There just happens to be a few spots where a bit more could be added. This expanse of healthy English ivy was already appealing, but lacked interest.
There is also quite a bit of spare plants out and about in the landscapes. It is not as if there is anything wrong with spare plants. There just happens to be too many of them. These cannas got overgrown and crowded within their original colony in another landscape, so needed to be divided and thinned out.
We are not a so-called ‘landscape’ company, which profits from the removal of some plants, and the installation of others. There is no incentive to dispose of as much vegetation as we could bill a client for. Nor is there any incentive to install as many new and expensive plants as we could fit into any available space. It is not a ‘business’.
To the contrary, it is in our own best interest to exploit resources that are already available to us. For example, when we thinned out these crowded cannas from one situation, we reassigned them to other situations where they could grow and become assets to their new landscapes. Also, viburnums that were removed from one site were reassigned as hedges in other situations.
We will be doing more of this sort of reassignment now that the weather is cooler and rainier, and the plants that will get relocated are dormant. Carpet roses that must be removed from the boundary of a playground because they are too thorny will be relocated to a broad roadside, where they can grow wild. They will be replaced with lily-of-the-Nile that is crowded elsewhere.
A plant that clings to another plant for support without parasitizing it is an epiphyte. Some do it to get a bit more sunlight closer to the ceiling of a dense forest. Others do it to get up off of the forest floor to avoid competition with conventionally terrestrial plants. Maybe some just want to avoid grazing animals. It is often difficult to determine why plants do what they do.
Spider plants, ephiphyllums and many types of orchids, bromeliads and ferns are some of the more familiar epiphytes. Most do not actually cling to trees. They instead live in the crotches of limbs where debris from the foliar canopy above accumulates. Either way, they do not need much organic matter in which to disperse their roots, and some need none at all. Many collect what they need from the air and precipitation.
This is not about an epiphyte.
It is about a Mexican fan palm that thought it was epiphyte.
You might have though that the picture above depicts a common Mexican fan palm next to a surly London planetree. With closer inspection, you will notice that the palm lacks a trunk at ground level. The utility pole visible below the palm is not attached to it, and does not support it. Yet, the palm does not just hover there. It grew from a cavity in the London planetree.
Most of us know how many plants self sow in weird places. Sometimes they appear where they are welcome. Usually, they end up in pots with other plants, too close to pavement, or in rain gutters that have not been cleaned out enough. Of course, big trees commonly appear under utility cables. Once in a while something self sows in a decaying cavity of a tree.
Most of us have enough sense to remove self sown trees and plants that appears where they can not live for long without causing problems. Those of us who hire gardeners tend to trust and hope that the gardeners would exhibit the same sort of common sense. After all, that is part of what they are payed significant money for.
Unfortunately, Mexican fan palms are not epiphytic. They are just too heavy, even when young.