Picture Snob

The flowering pear is planted!

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I drove to the nursery today and bought three tress--a flowering pear, a hybrid maple and an elm. It's very exciting to have these new trees home and to try to decide where they would go best. Christine, the nursery owner, told me to plant them high so that some of the top feeder roots will be above the soil line enabling the water to run off. At the same time, I have a small berm around the perimeter to make drip watering easier. The water will soak down to the roots.

The holes are so big that it's really hard work to fill in the hole around the plant. I'm using a bag of composted steer manure, adding a sack to each hole. It won't provide many nutrients but it will make it easier for the roots to move out into the hole. I putting a slow release fertilzer which I will bury under the last full shovel full of dirt, careful to put it out to the full diameter of the hole, so the roots will go searching for food farther out from the planted root ball.

These trees need to grow tall fast so plentiful food and water is important.

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January 24, 2011

Red Sunset Maple for shade in the back patio

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I planted this tree yesterday evening. I love maple trees since I grew up with them in Indiana and this Red Sunset Maple is supposed to have bright red leaves in the autumn. It will often grow to between forty and sixty feet tall which will be perfect for shade protection from the western summer sun.

The leaves of a red sunset maple tree are shiny green on top and pale green beneath in the spring and summer seasons. They typically have three to five lobes, and are up to six inches in diameter. The flowers are small and red, appearing in dense clusters during mid spring. Red fruit replaces the flowers in mid summer. Red sunset maple trees also have reddish stems and twigs, which provide a good deal of winter interest once all the foliage has fallen.

Another main reason to buy this tree is that red sunset maple trees are relatively fast growers, and can grow up to two feet per year until maximum height has been reached. I'm happy to have this plant and have put it in the best hole and given it some water. We are expected to have dry and sunny weather here for the next few weeks.

At Red Sunset Maple

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January 19, 2011

Transplanting a redwood tree

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I bought a redwood tree from Home Depot. It's about 15 feet tall and has new growth on it. I picked through the lot for a tree that was free from dead grey needles and had a healthy color. They were only $25 so I figured it was worth the chance. The real coastal redwood growing area is about 30 miles to the west, but several locals have had success with growing redwoods, including my neighbors on each side.

Today is a perfect day for transplanting. It's weather Coastal Redwoods should love. It's foggy, cool and drizzling rain. Yesterday I talked with a friend about this project and she suggested to fill the large hole I dug with the same dirt that came out of it instead of putting in potting soild and lots of fertilizer. She said the tree would act more like a container plant if I babied with the good growing medium and it's roots would just grow round and round the hole and never start to push out into a larger growing area. I'm going to compromise and fill the hole around the tree with two shovels of dirt and one shovel of potting soil and manure.

I've picked a place where the tree won't shade the house in winter and is far enough away to not be in danger of falling limbs. I'm very excited about growing a redwood.

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At 3 Fast Growing Baby California Redwood Tree Plugs

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January 18, 2011

American Persimmons

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A friend just brought me some American Persimmons from his father's orchard. They were soft and ripe and there's nothing as delicious as persimmon when fully ripe. The genus name is diospryros which means "fruit of the gods". Native Americans prized the fruit for it's flavor and sweetness and they are a popular food for wild turkey, mockingbirds, deer, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, rabbits, and other wildlife. They can be made into pudding, preserves, beer, and brandy, and can also be dried for winter eating.

At Thanksgiving we always had a persimmon pudding with whipped cream which was our traditional dessert. Delicious! The fruits I just got I ate fresh, biting off the end skin and sucking the pulpy insides out. So now I'm thinking of trying on in the yard in one of the new holes. In addition to its fruit, the tree can make an attractive mid-size yard tree. The large drooping leaves give it a soft look, and the dark checkered bark of mature trees provides winter interest. The flowers are an appealing creamy-yellow, very fragrant, and an excellent nectar source for honeybees.

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At American Persimmon Tree! 18 to 24 Inches Tall!

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January 14, 2011

Transplanting the rose bush

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I picked a great day to do the transplanting--a very cloudy day and the day after, rain and snow. Perfect! This red rose has been in the garden for about five or six years and I"ve never paid any attention to it or given it any care. But I decided I could move it to the new house and put it in a corner hole, I'd already dug where I could see it out of the sliding glass doors and where it could brighten the patio area I have planned.

The root ball was about two feet across and I had to break off a large piece and leave it in the original spot.. I put potting soil and composted steer manure in the hole and mixed it around. The root ball was so big it didn't leave much room for filling in around the plant, but I packed in as much dirt as I could and stepped on the filled hole to make sure the roots were touching dirt. It's not a good idea to leave air next to the roots.

I pruned off the branches and the roots before planting. A friend of mine kept reassuring me that you can't kill a rose and I hope that the case, but I'm very excited to have this new plant where I will be able to enjoy it's blossoms all summer long.

At Double Red Knock Out Rose Bush

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January 13, 2011

The Burpee Seed catalog is here!

Burpee Catalog is filled with tons of new items. The King of Color tomato collection is featured on the cover with four varieties each a different color and perfect for slicing. There is a "Green Envy" cherry tomato which is deep green. Most of the new items are hybrids. Brokali is a cross between borccoli and kale and there is a lovely exotic looking petunia called Phantom which has black petals with a yellow star on them.

Burpee has been in business for 135 years and is one of the oldest and most venerable of seed companies. It made itself famous during WWII promoting victory gardens and in 1954 offered $10,000 for a white marigold. This is the company that developed the Big Boy Tomato and has continued to supply seeds and plants, both perennial and annual as well as garden supplies.

Their catalog is a delight to look through. It has a huge flowers section listings from A to Z both perennials and annuals, a total of 40 pages. The sweet pepper collection is really vast, all sizes, colors and shapes--a joy to behold.

You can check it out online or order one at Burpee

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January 10, 2011

Chitalpa tree is fast growing, drought resistant

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The Chitalpa is a cross between Catalpa bignonioides and Chilopsis linearis. The Chilopsis is a desert tree, sometimes called a Desert Willow. From the Chilopsis, the Chitalpa inherits long 3 to 5 inch dark green leaves and the ability to withstand some dry heat. However, unlike its desert parent, the Chitalpa can withstand low temperatures of around minus 15 degrees. This sounds like the perfect tree to in the front of my house. It has lovely flowers and grows quickly, but doesn't get too tall so that it won't block the view from the kitchen window.

Chitalpas start flowering in the spring and continue all summer long. The flowers are large and beautiful.

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The local nursery is carrying these plants and I will talk to them about my concern about winter water being too much for the root system.

At Chitalpa

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January 4, 2011

Growing a Redwood tree demands a lot of water and some luck

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I"m ordering this tree in hopes of good results. I planted a redwood tree that was given to me about 10 years ago and although I water it well in summer, it has stood very quietly growing about six inches a year and it still isn't head high. You'd think results like that would give me pause, but I'm hoping with a nice, big hole and fertilizer that I will have better luck near the new house where I desperately need shade and something fresh and green outside the window.

This redwood start might be the one to do it for me. Although they thrive in the temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest, they can adapt to higher elevations and warmer and dryer climates, as well as colder areas. The secret is lots of water and sunshine. Sounds simple, huh? The product description says you can regulate the speed of growth by varying the light -- the lower the light, the slower the growth. We think these can be grown outdoors successfully from zones 5 through 9 if proper care is given. I live in zone 8.

At Nicely started California redwood tree - 22 inches high

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December 31, 2010

Celebrating the Madrone

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A California wildfire swept through my place six years ago, killing most all of the trees and burning down a just restored barn. I had many lovely madrones on my land, some three hundred years old and all of them died. Madrone bark is thin and provides no protection from fire while some of the big pine and fir trees survived. But amazingly enough, the madrones immediately resprouted from the roots and now many of them are 8 or 9 feet tall and thanks to a friend of mine have been shaped into a tree. The sprouts come out so thick that the madrones after the fire look like shrubs, but with some skillful pruning can be encouraged to begin a tree existence sooner than nature would allow.

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The Madrone is a lovely tree, evergreen, with large shiny green leaves and pink or red bark that peels off in the spring to reveal a satiny green new bark which in turn turns reddish. It has sweet smelling flowers in the spring that come in white droops and later a red berry forms which feeds wildlife, birds, deer, bear among others. I'm so happy my madrones are making a come back. They are notoriously hard to transplant and really thrive only in a Mediterreanean climate with hot summers and wet cool winters. If you're interested in trying to grow this lovely tree, you best start with a seed and plant it where you want it to grow. If you can't find a source of seeds, let me know and I can send you some this summer when the berries come ripe.

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December 30, 2010

Transplanting Peonies for summer blooms

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I'm digging three holes around the new house and transplanting the peonies from pots to the holes. I found some good advice from the "Gardner's Helper". The best time to plant peonies is in early fall. (early September until mid October are ideal) so they will have time to become established in the soil before winter. I"m assuming because mine are in pots this will not be a problem.

Mature plants will reach a diameter of three feet or more and so it is important to give them enough room to grow and develop. The planting hole should be at least 18 inches deep and about 18 inches in diameter. At the bottom of the hole, add a 4 inch layer of organic matter such as compost, pine bark, or well-aged manure. A half cup of a good organic plant food (10-6-4), bone meal or superphosphate should be mixed into this layer. You should avoid adding fertilizer to the soil that will be in direct contact with the roots.

Fill the hole half way with a mix of garden soil and compost, and then set the root division in place with the eyes facing upward. Spread the roots outward and evenly. Water thoroughly. Watering will not be a problem as it has rained and is supposed to keep raining for at least a week.

Make certain that the eyes will be no deeper than two inches when the planting is completed, or your Peony may fail to bloom. If potted peonies are being planted, plant them at same level as they are growing in the pot. I'm using potting soil and also returning some of the clay I dug for the hole. The rest I'll make a circle dam around the plant for easy watering in the summer.

After the division or plant is in place, work the soil in around the roots, finish filling the hole, and then water again. If root divisions are planted in the spring, they may not bloom for up to two years. However, peonies which are potted and already growing may bloom for you the first year when planted early enough in the spring.

"If childhood memories include gorgeous pink peonies from your grandmother's garden, ones with lots of full blossoms and perfume that made you swoon, there's a very good chance the variety was Monsieur Jules Elie. First introduced in 1888, this peony has graced countless gardens, edged thousands of driveways and been the featured flower on dining room tables across America for generations. Monsieur Jules Elie is an early bloomer with large, fully double rose-pink blossoms and plants that grow to almost three feet with a two foot spread. Deer resistant."

At Peony Monsieur Jules Elie - One 3/5 Eye Rhizome

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