Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Villa Taranto japanese maple

Here's the photo of the "Villa Taranto" which was to be included with the previous post but somehow was eliminated. Behind it are two "Black Dragon" cryptomeria at least I think they are cryptomerias. Well they can't be cryptomeria because I looked it up and that's a zone 7-10 tree and these are very hardy with exposure to NW winter winds that funnel through a gap between houses. I'll look it up later. And to the right a bit of the much devoured by japanese beetle crepe myrtle. I've seen crepe myrtle spelled crape and I don't know why but somehow I think that would be the preferred spelling.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Japanese maple fever! acer palmatum et al

Removing the plums and apricots created voids in the landscape that needed to be filled but what to plant? I was prowling through a big box home improvement store's garden section as I am prone to do and saw several named cultivars of japanese maple which was quite unusual. Normally only no name varieties are sold as "red/green leaf japanese maple". The price was very good for a 4-6 foot tree so we bought three a "Beni Otake and two "Villa Taranto". Now there's a 33% off sale so I couldn't resist and bought another. Also earlier this spring I spotted another unusual variety "Seiryu" a dissected leaf green maple. It's unusual because this one has an upright growth habit. All of the dissectums are weeping. So of course I had to buy this tree also. Now five fairly large JMs grace our yard.

Of course being obsessive I did some research on the web and also read some books on japanese maples. Apparently there are over 400 different cultivars and related maples! Oh joy! I've previously been interested in JMs for about 4 years but had not followed up on the interest. Now the dam has broken and I am buying tiny grafted trees online. I recently bought "Ao kanzashi, Green Trompenburg, Sazanami, Osakazuki, Katsura, Koshibori nishiki, Butterfly, Aka shigitatsusawa, Hubb's red willow, Kinran, Kihachijo and earlier in spring Koto no ito, Oridono nishiki, Beni kawa, Sango kaku and the related acer shirasawanum aureum, acer japonicum "Otaki" and "Maiku Jaku" (dancing peacock) and a "Tsumagaki" that died of fusarium disease.

Now where to put them all? Someone on the Gardenweb forums wrote that all this wanting is a disease. OCD. Apparently there are some who have almost all the 400 plus cultivars in their collection. I wonder where they plant them all? There are new varieties available every year. The japanese maple seeds readily mutates into interesting forms and colors. There are the cut leaf dissectums, upright trees, weeping forms, dwarfs, colored bark, variegated leaf, speckled leaf and different leaf colors when the leaves appear in spring then change to their summer color and of course the fall red, yellow and orange color. Well, as you can probably guess I'm in hog heaven and will be no doubt writing about this ad nauseum. Above I've included pictures of "Seiryu green upright dissectum on the left of the first photo and "Beni otake" (big red bamboo)next to the deck railing and "Villa taranto" in the photo on the right, a tree discovered on the grounds of the Italian resort Villa Taranto.

Friday, August 05, 2005


This is the photo that was supposed to be included with the previous blog.

Fruit growing defeat and other negative topics

These few plums are all that's left of three trees planted earlier. I got tired fighting bugs, birds and disease. The blueberries and service berries I'll keep but the apples will go after the fruit ripen-I have to at least taste the Roxbury russet before I dig it out (fire blight and powdery mildew). The apricots went earlier producing only smallish fruit despite the June drop and thinning and each fruit was stung numerous times by an unknown assailant probably somekind of fruitfly or stinkbug and it also had somekind of blackish discoloration, a fungus? and bird holes. It's a shame because the tiny apricot were sweet but not much apricot taste for a tree ripened fruit.

At this late date I'm still fighting the japanese beetles! Yesterday I killed at least 200. They now favor dahlias, pussy willows, plums (now no longer a food source) and especially the crepe (crape)myrtle. I caught over 160 beetles on the crepe myrtle alone yesterday. I've modified my previous squirt them with soap solution clean method and just mash them with my fingers since they are only on low bushes. It is difficult to get them all especially if there are 20 of them on a branch. I cup one hand below the branch and brush them off with the other and because of their tactic of bailing out I get most of them. Then I mash them one at a time. Dirty and not for the squeamish but effective. It's easier if you squeeze them sideways. The record for one grab is 16 beetles. You can see that I've gotten a bit tetched in the head about this...I sort of look forward to killing them each afternoon. They've pretty much decimated the blooms on the crepe myrtle this after a severe dieback because of last winter's prolonged cold make it almost pointless to keep it.

Since this post is a downer I might as well add that the giant magnolia scale has made a comeback. According to one book if the infestation is great enough this scale can kill a tree. I believe it. What was an interesting entomological phenomenon last year has become a nightmare this year. Earlier in spring I noticed the bare branches seemed darker than usual in fact almost black. Closer inspection revealed tiny no smaller than a pin head black dots pebbling the branches. Rubbing it produced a dark fluid so I thought it might be some kind of small scale insect. Later a horrible thought crossed my mind that this could be the young of the giant magnolia scale which it indeed turned out to be in millions on all branches of the Jane magnolia. I rubbed off as much as I could and bought some insecticidal soap which was useless. I eventually let the remainder grow larger which made it easier to spot and kill and I'm still doing spot checks to make sure I get them all. As much as I hate to use insecticides I'll use dormant oil sprays in the early fall to make sure I don't have another recurrence.

We also noticed a mugo pine was yellowing and dying. There seemed to be a whitish bloom on the new growth which I thougth looked like some kind of fungus so I sprayed it with a soluble sulfur. It didn't help that plant but almost all the other mugo pines and couple other small pine trees seemed to have this whitish bloom so I sprayed and it seemed to have stemmed the disease. I guess this really humid weather is ideal for the funguses.

Enough of this negativity for now.
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Location: Zone 6, New Jersey, United States

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