Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A little brightness please and evergreen decline

First a drought and now three or is it four days of overcast rain and drizzle-what an August. Last week I was out in the yard watering one half of the garden each day, about an hour's chore. The Douglas firs were especially hard hit as branch tips turned brown and the trees looked dry and brittle. Everything's starting to come back now but slowly. We lost only a few annuals we planted during the drought period and a Hinoki evergreen that I transplanted.

Funny about evergreens. We've lost several not noticing that they were in decline... and then they're dead. By the time we notice the color has turned, no amount of watering or shading will bring them back.

I just planted a pretty robust Austrian pine several week ago, watered it well and in two days the needles at the tips were turning brown. I kept watering it daily and hosed down the needles but it kept getting brown and even started to drop the green needles. I kept on watering and now with the cloudy weather I think we saved the tree although it looks rather forlorn with about a foot of all the new growth brown and dead. I hope it comes back.

Anyway here's splash of needed color - some pictures of pinks and one of pinks and penstemons earlier this summer. Some are volunteer which is nice as they seem die back but self seed to come up every year.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Plumeria (frangipani) Singapore blooms

The Singapore plumeria I bought a couple of years ago was in pretty bad shape this Spring. The leaves were covered with scale insects despite my treatment with systemic insecticide which I hated to use.

When the warm weather arrived I put it out on the deck thinking it needed full sun. It dropped most of its leaves but sprouted new ones. However the new leaves were stunted, mishappened and the stems were also shriveled. I pretty much thought it was in major decline and was thinking about chucking it when my wife watered it despite my warning not to do so because I read that rot was the main cause of plumeria dying.

Well, water was exactly what it needed. I originally planted it in very loose good quality potting soil with a 2" gravel topping. I guess the planting mixture has good enough drainage so watering everyday during the growing season does not lead to rot. The plant is now thriving with many new shoots and leaves and has even bloomed again. Curious though that the flowers which are known for fragrance used in Hawaiian leis have almost none only to be noticed when the nose is almost in the flower.

I'm glad my wife usually ignores what I say.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Quorn - meat substitute warning

I previously wrote about Quorn the fungi patties meatless protein source. My wife experienced gastric upset and vomiting after eating two of the breaded patties about a month ago. Yesterday after eating one of the "naked patties" the company's uncoated patty she had a severe bout of vomiting (4 times), runny nose, was very weak and will not be going to work today. I had a breaded patty and have not experienced any ill effects.

My wife has eaten the patties about 4 times and was not affected for the first two. Apparently it may take a few times before the allergic reaction set in. Please be careful if you try Quorn. Some people have experienced anaphalaxis and have trouble breathing. Here's a website that describes some of the adverse effects with Quorn.

Needless to say we threw out the rest of the Quorn in our freezer and I can no longer recommend that people try this product. I'll stick with the Morningstar (non-fungi)products in the future.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More on moss rose (portulaca)

I was in the doctor's waiting room when I came across a magazine article on moss rose that I previously wrote about. Apparently people use it for medicinal and food purposes. The leaves were purportedly good for teeth clenching, muscle spasms and supposedly is very nutritious - being taken aboard ships to prevent scurvy.

So being culinaryly adventurous I pulled a leaf, washed it and popped it in my mouth. The taste was not very appealing, rather sour and the leaf itself was mucilagenous and the skin was quite tough. Similar to purslane which I tried once more than 20 years ago. I could see it being used sparingly in a wild salad but it's not to my taste.

Later I looked up portulaca in my botanical book and of course the moss rose tasted like purslane for they are both portulacas (head slap). The variety we have even has the rounded leaf of purslane rather than the skinny longer leaves of most desert rose.

I took a picture of strange looking clouds at dusk. The clouds were like spread out fingers on a giant hand seemingly emanating from a point. How can the winds be blowing in so many directions from a point?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hazel nut bush has nuts for the first time

I planted a couple of hazel nut (Corylus avellana) shrubs several years ago foolishly thinking that the land should be productive in a food way and the one bush that survived my wife's culling has produced nuts for the first time.

I bought it bareroot by mail order and it arrived as a tiny plant about 8" tall. It's taken 3 years to reach a height and spread of 2 1/2 feet tall by 3 feet wide. I wonder what pollenated the bush as my wife dug out the other one last year deeming it too ugly and sprawling? Anyway it seems we'll have about 8 nuts this year.

They are supposed to be a variety that has giant nuts and it seems that the fruit is of a large size already. And it was named a filbert. I don't know what the difference is between a hazel nut and a filbert if there is any.

I remember visiting a friends in the Mid-west where they used the hazelnut shrubs/trees to screen out the neighbors. The bushes were at least 10-15 feet tall with very thick foilage but not much was said about the nuts so I don't know if they were very fruitful or if the nuts were good tasting. So apparently after a time they grow to be quite large and make a pretty good tall screen in the Spring through Fall if you want to block out your neighbors when you're outside. Ugh, more pruning in the future.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What's blooming?

Not much colorful is blooming in our yard in the late summer. The Hydrangea panniculata is about done. We bought some portulaca in hanging pots which are blooming profusely, giving us some welcome color in the dry and hot August. We really need some rain. Only about .06 inches for August so far.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Dawn Redwood Metasequoia "Ogon" grows 4 feet !

One of our dawn redwoods has grown 4 feet so far this year. The other grew 40" and the last, tranplanted twice grew only about 2 feet. Remarkable growth. They'll become the dominant trees in the yard in no time. That's fine by us tho as they are so beautiful. Our other trees have grown quite a bit too. The Dr. Merrill magnolia has grown close to 4 feet and the Japanese tree lilac has probably grown more than that. Also the Edith Bogue, Magnolia grandiflora is a contender for fastest growing tree. The bald cypresses are growing pretty rapidly but seem to have slowed down a bit, the tallest about 20' tall. We bought them at about 8' tall so they've grown 12 feet in three years. We'll have a jungle in no time. All to good purpose in blocking a new development just beyond the backyard - a massive 5 bedroom house being built just 40' from the propety line. Yuck!

The photos are of the dawn redwood. The one of the full tree is a low res photo taken with a toy camera. The other a closeup of the beautiful, glowing leaves/needles.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Desert rose blooms! Adenium obesum

Our desert rose, Adenium obesum, has bloomed again after a year. The colors are more vivid than when we first bought them. Maybe because the leaves have been attacked unmercifully by scale insects and we've kept them in small pots. One of the gardening books mentioned that if kept rootbound and dwarfed in a small pot the plant blooms more profusely. As with many desert plants the flowers are startlingly colorful.

The other photo is of the previously mentioned Hibiscus trionum showing more flowers and the full plant.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cheap plants!

Our Sourwood (oxydenron) tree died last month and I wanted to replace it with another sweet bay magnolia (M. virginiana). I previously saw some at a Lowe's so we went there the other day and many of the trees were on sale for 75% off! We bought 2 magnolias but when I saw the price was only $8.50 each, I picked up the last one too. I was willing to pay the full price for the two at $33.99 each so this was a real steal. We then went to HomeDepot and their sweetbay mags were also on sale but only half price at $17.99 but the trees were much better looking with more foilage, didn't buy one tho. There was a lone blue atlas cedar so we bought it for 1/3 off. Several of the other plants were also on sale so I picked up two Japanese Hakone grass for shady areas for 1/3 off at $6.69 each. I saw many Japanese maples for sale but I had to pass as we already have a jungle and had most of the varieties they had in stock. So now I have my work cut out for me this weekend. Thank heavens it will be a little cooler and much less humid.

Check out your local big box stores they may have equally good sales. This is a great time to buy your plants. And fall is actually a better time to plant because the plants are not so stressed by the burning sun.

Photos are of sweetbay mags, Hakone grass and blue atlas cedar. Sorry for the bad photos. Took it with a low res 1 mb camera.
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Location: Zone 6, New Jersey, United States

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