Picture Snob

November 23, 2010

'Green Vase' Zelkova is Japanese origin but sounds like a good shade tree


This tree is call Green vase because when mature if forms the shape of a vase. It has upright arching branches and rich, dark green leaves that turn bronzy maroon in fall. The tree grows 60-70 feet high by 40-50 feet wide and prefers full sun to partial shade. The main thing about it for me is that it adapts to a variety of soils. Plus it tolerates wind, pollution, and drought so I'm thinking this is a good selection to try around the house, especially as it is also deer resistant.

There is a thousand year old tree in Japan. Don't think I need to plan that far ahead, but the challange will be finding the tree to plant at a nursery. Amazon has seeds for sale. The Green Vase is also used for bonzai.

At Zelkova serrata: Japanese Zelkova Seeds

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November 18, 2010

Baptisia australis--A wild indigo that's easy to grow


I have in my garden a plant I've been calling indigo and have felt very proud that I was going a species once considered so valuable in ancient times. Now I have discovered that the plant is not the tropical indigo grown in India but Baptisia australis a native American that was used as a substitute and is called False Indigo.

It's really a lovely plant that grow three or four feet tall and has racemes covered with blue pea like flowers. It is hardly ever bothered by pests or disease. The seed pods are pea shaped and turn black and make a nice background for flower gardens or flower arranging. The plant is hardy to zone 3 which makes it a great selection even in tough winter areas.

You can start these plants from seed and they also do well with cuttings. They tolerate drought well once established. I seldom water the part of the garden where they grow and reseed and propagate year after year. But I think I will spread the seed in the back of the flower beds where the blooms and foliage will grow over the lower plants in front.

At Blue Wild Indigo - Baptisia australis - Packet

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November 17, 2010

Solving the problem of the tree holes


I am going to plant about six trees at the corners of my new house which has nothing in the way of shade. The holes I dug are about three feet diameter and three feet deep. The soil however is terrible. Solid clay! To test the drainage, I filled the holes with water to see how fast they drained. After three days one hole was still full of water. The reason for this is that when they cleared the area to build the house, they scraped the soil down about four feet, so there is no topsoil!

I've been worrying about how to plant the trees. I thought of building boxes but wood decays and has to be replaced. Today as I was walking past rock walls in Arlington, it occurred to me that I could use the abundant rocks in my very rocky mountain home to make a border around the hole, larger than the hole and fill in the whole area with potting soil and the clay. The one hole that drained so badly I think I will have to dig a drain into the side of the hill where it sits; the other holes should be fine.

I can start now looking at possible trees to transplant.

At Nice October Maple Tree! Bright Color!

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November 10, 2010

A great idea from the Helpful Gardener


Brighten Up Your Winter Garden With Colorful Berries

Just because the trees are bare and there is snow on the ground doesn't mean that your garden has to become a winter wasteland. A well-planned garden will provide year-round interest and visual treats. Many evergreens and hardy ornamental grasses can be quite stunning in the colder months.

But perhaps nothing can compare to the vibrant color of berries during the winter. Berry palates range from bright red to yellow to pale blue and white, so there is something sure to please your eye. Many berries will also attract a variety of birds to your garden. Here are a few suggestions for hardy berry-bearing beauties that can provide a bit of pizzazz to the drab winter landscape.

American Cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum)
Berry: Red
Height: 10 to 12 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: This shrub bears clusters of white flowers in the spring. Some cultivars produce yellow berries. The European Cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus) has similar properties.

American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Berry: Red
Height: 20 to 25 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 5
Partial Sun
Notes: This evergreen tree bears small white flowers in the spring. It has many cultivars, such as "Xanthocarpa," which bears golden-yellow berries.

Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)
Berry: Bluish-Black
Height: 6 to10 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: This shrub bears clusters of dark berries that are very popular with birds and bears clusters of small white flowers in the spring.

Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
Berry: Dark Purple
Height: 4 to 6 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 4
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: The berries of the "Autumn Magic" cultivar last an especially long time into the winter. Although the Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) bears attractive red berries, it is considered invasive in many areas and should be avoided.

Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Berry: White
Height: 3 to 5 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Full Shade to Full Sun
Notes: This hardy shrub grows well in shade as well as sun and tolerates almost every soil type.

Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)
Berry: Reddish-Purple
Height: 3 to 5 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Full Shade to Full Sun
Notes: Like Snowberry, this shrub likes shade as well as sun and is very easy to grow. It is also know as Indian Currant.

Cranberry Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculatus)
Berry: Red
Height: 1 to 3 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 4
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: Great for ground cover, this shrub bears tiny pink flowers in the spring. Other low-growing cotoneasters include Bearberry Cotoneaster (C. dammeri) and Rockspray Cotoneaster (C. horizontalis).

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Berry: Powdery Periwinkle Blue
Height: 40 to 50 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Full Sun
Notes: The female trees bear these lovely berries (they are actually cones that look like berries) which are very popular with the birds.

Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
Berry: Pale Blue-Gray
Height: 4 to 10 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: This shrub is extremely hardy and easy to grow in most conditions. It is also salt tolerant.

Tea Viburnum (Viburnum setigerum)
Berry: Bright Red
Height: 8 to10 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 5
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: This shrub bears clusters of red berries in the fall and clusters of small white flowers in the spring.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Berry: Red or Yellow
Height: 8 to 10 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: Birds love these berries, so there is a risk that the berries will all be eaten before the winter is over. If you love having birds in your garden, however, this will do the trick.

Winter King Hawthorne (Crataegus viridis)
Berry: Bright Red
Height: 20 to 30 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 4
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: This tree bears clusters off white flowers in the spring. The Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) has similar properties to the Winter King.

The above list, of course, is just meant to get you started. There are many more varieties of berry and winter fruit bearing plants. Many roses, for example, will develop colorful rose hips if the faded blooms are not pruned back. Likewise, some flowering plants, such as clematis, produce beautiful seed heads that can add interest to your garden through the winter months.

The important thing is to keep in mind that winter does not have to mean dreary for your garden. With just a little bit of planning berries can bring color and vibrancy to the winter garden and give you (and the birds) something to enjoy during the cold weather months.

At Cranberry plants

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October 27, 2010

Clouds on the mountain and a soft rain falling and I remember the flower seeds


Yesterday I took the timers off the faucets and brought in the sprinklers. The fall rains are coming and it is wonderful to see the clouds come in bringing the soft moist air. The tables and outdoor chairs have been brought into the garage and I'm ready for the change of the season.

Today I'll spread the wildflower seed I bought a few weeks ago. I planted some last fall and had great success. The whole area around the new house had a continuous display blue, pink, purple and orange flowers. Some of the wildflowers will reseed, but to make sure and even increase the blooms, i'm planting more and today is the perfect day to do it.

Territorial seed has a great California wildflower mix I use. It has aprroximately 20 species of native and naturalized wildflowers are drought tolerant but will appreciate some water during the hottest part of the year. You can look forward to plants ranging 3 to 4 feet tall with blooms in shades of purple, red, white, yellow, and blue from spring through fall.

At Wildflower Seeds

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October 22, 2010

The October sun just keeps giving

We are having lovely golden days with falling leaves punctuating the time and reminding us that the weather is changing. It's very cool in the mornings, but no frost has come yet. The broccoli is still producing and there are even some beans coming on. The Sungold tomatoes were the first to ripen and they are still ripening and tasting so sweet that it's a contest between them and the grapes for sweetness. It's such a beautiful time of year.

I friend dropped by who grows roses and since I know nothing about pruning them, I asked her for advice. My roses are deer pruned, but somehow the deer never bother these by the side of the cabin.


She explained to me that a simple rule of thumb is to prune the branches that have bloomed down to the first leaf stalk that has five leaves. I have been doing that with good result. But I probably could benefit from this book, which has all the information about care and feeding of roses.

At Roses for Dummies [Paperback]

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October 21, 2010

Pumpkin time is here!

We love those orange globes that make great pies as well as provide the essential ingredients for Halloween fun.
This may be too late for this year, but many people, especially kids, like to personalize their pumpkins -- inscribe their names or draw a picture or a face on one of their growing treasures. Perhaps it has something to do with the urge to establish ownership, engage in primitive tribal scarring, or simply to co-create with nature. Wait until the pumpkin is about 3 to 4 weeks old or developed enough to have smooth, slightly toughened skin (all fuzz long gone). Any blunt tool will do; a large nail works fine or even a ball point pen. Break the skin and don't penetrate more than 1/8 inch. There will be some "bleeding" for a few hours after surgery. Wipe the marking during the next few hours, and it should seal within a day. At first, it may be hard to see the results; but the scar will show in time and will grow in size along with the pumpkin

As the fruit ripens, the vine displays the inevitable signs of age: older leaves become tattered, fewer flowers bloom and the energy of the plant seems to turn more inward, focusing on the fruit filled with the seeds that hold the promise of the future. Eventually, the scraggly vines lie like skeletons through the garden while the pumpkins -- fiery skulls that have trapped the energy of summer -- are scattered throughout.

Pumpkins are ready to harvest once the color of the fruit has deepened into one of the shades of the setting sun -- somewhere between deep yellow and fiery red, depending on the variety. Leave several inches of stem -- it helps them stay fresh -- and let them cure in the sun for 10 days. Cover them at night if there is danger of frost. Then, store the harvest in a dry cool place. With proper care, you may just have pumpkins until Spring.

And then of course, there's the Jack-o'Lantern!


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October 13, 2010

Time to plant the garlic!

9947_2398_large.jpgI tilled in chicken manure in the row where I am going to plant the garlic. It has been shipped from Territorial seed and is due to arrive any day. I also put manure on a row where i will plant some late lettuce and greens in hopes that they will prosper before the really cold weather hits.

I reseeded some clover on the bare places where the quail ate the ground cover and mulched around the broccoli and Brussel sprouts and the young tender beets to protect them from the coming frost. It felt good to be out in the late garden where a few tomatoes are still ripening and the grapes have gotten sweet so that it's hard to pass the vines without stopping for refreshment. It's a good time to be in the garden as the season settles into fall. There is a quiet and stillness there, with a few butterflys still exploring for food and bees busy on the later flowers. The earth seems to be at peace right now, having accomplished everything, before the big storms of winter come to toss and turn and freeze the remaining plants. I sat for a while just enjoying the moment, remembering and being grateful for the feasts the garden provides.

At Territorial Seed

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October 7, 2010

Garden greens--a forgotten treat


I was in the garden checking on the ground cover to see if any of it had survived the quail coveys coming through and I was pleased to see the rye up and some vetch. Then I came across a small patch of greens I had planted with leftover seeds. They were huge leaved and tall and I picked some for supper. I had forgotten all about them because once the summer crops of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and corn come on, I forget about everything but eating them.

I have to say the greens were delicious, sauted with olive oil and garlic and a welcome change. Now I' m going to plant more while the weather is warm enough for them to get some growth. In a couple of days, the little patch I planted will be eaten up.

At Salad Greens - Renee's Stir Fry Mix Seeds

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October 5, 2010

Cloudy and cool! Fall has come!


Everything is still mostly green and it hasn't frozen yet, but suddenly the weather has turned autumnal. It rained about 1/2 inch and since then the mornings have been foggy and cool and if sunshine comes, it comes too late in the day to do any good. I'm hoping that the quail have left some of the ground cover for the garden. They have been out there, scratching and clucking and chortling to themselves as they peck away. As soon as I go out of the house, the whole covey files up in the air, only to return, clucking and chucking to each other.

Everything has slowed way down. A friend came and picked about half the tomatoes and now I feel like the ones left are all I may have. All the warm weather vegies are just sitting still. I still want to make the ratatoiuie before all the warm vegetables are finished.

Here is a great recipe from Epicurious:

2 1/2 lb tomatoes (4 large)
8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
20 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 lb eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 large onions (1 1/2 lb total), quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
3 assorted bell peppers (green, red, and/or yellow; 1 1/2 lb total), cut into 1-inch pieces
4 medium zucchini (2 lb), quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick pieces
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Garnish: Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings and fresh basil
print a shopping list for this recipe


Skin the tomatoes then

Coarsely chop tomatoes and transfer to a 5-quart heavy pot with garlic, parsley, basil, and 1/3 cup oil. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, toss eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large colander and let stand in sink 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook onions in 3 tablespoons oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer onions with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, then add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook bell peppers with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer peppers with slotted spoon to bowl with onions. Add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook zucchini with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer zucchini with slotted spoon to bowl with other vegetables.

While zucchini are cooking, pat eggplant dry with paper towels. Add remaining oil (about 1/4 cup) to skillet and cook eggplant over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to12 minutes.

Add vegetables, remaining teaspoon salt, and black pepper to tomato sauce and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour. Cool, uncovered, and serve warm or at room temperature.

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