- Author: JoEllen P Myslik
As a Master Gardener, it is our duty, but our joy, to continue to gain horticultural wisdom! Therefore it was a great pleasure to attend a quarterly meeting this past week and have Chuck Ingels presenting to us about Budding and Grafting. Mr. Ingels has an extensive background in Pomology, Viticulture, Environmental Horticulture, and is the Horticultural Advisor for the Sacramento Region of the UC Cooperative Extension. Basically, he knows a LOT about a lot of stuff! :)
Unfortunately I had to leave the presentation early, but the one key takeaway I learned is that with some precise techniques and great care, I too can attain my dream of having my favorite fruits grow on just one tree! Sounds easy, but it's not, however it's worth checking out the following information if you're the least bit intrigued:
Budding and Grafting Demystified: http://ucanr.org/sites/camg2011/files/101893.pdf
The Home Orchard, Part 1: http://www.uctv.tv/shows/The-Home-Orchard-Part-2-8433
The Home Orchard, Part 2: http://www.uctv.tv/series/?seriesnumber=11r
- Author: Jenni Dodini
After reading the very enjoyable Master Gardener article in the paper last Sunday, my eye was drawn to the article just below it. The article was about keeping oneself safe, particularly while driving. The article has been haunting me, not because of my driving, but because of my garden.
We are in that time of year when we have frosty or wet late nights and early mornings. When we had the freezing overnight temperatures, we dutifully protected our delicate plants. I pushed my outdoor palms together and wrapped them with Christmas tree lights. I made a little tent to go around them. I came home from work around 12:45 am and saw that I had not turned on the lights or closed the tent around them and saw that the deck was getting frosty. So, I got out of the car and went over to protect my lovelies. That's when I went for a little game of "slip n slide" on the step. Luckily, I did not fall, or even get a bruise. I was just plain lucky. Visions popped into my head of the poor little old "popsicle person" who was brought into the hospital a couple of winters ago who was "found down," broken, and very hypothermic in her garden by her equally old husband. That scenario could have easily been me!
So, one asks, why ever is she rambling so? The safety aspect was screaming in my mind!
It is that time of year where plants are mostly gone, or dormant, and kindly offering us an opportunity for an unobstructed view of our personal patch of paradise. I challenge you to take a look around your garden using your critical OSHA inspector eye for potential hazards in your garden. Are there tree roots popping up to grab your foot and throw you down? Tree limbs just waiting to smack your head as you walk by? Rotting wood that can go into attack mode as you walk by or on it? Now is a good time to make a list of things that need to be fixed or changed in order to prepare for spring planting safety.
There are so many things that we can be doing right now, in the garden, that have nothing to do with a plant, but everything to do with the beauty and enjoyment of our gardens.
Be safe out there....
- Author: Betty Homer
The latest exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco is on Aquascapes. The Conservatory defines an aquascape as "an ecosystem in which every living and non-living item contributes not only to the overall beauty to the aquarium, but also to the chemical and biological balance that allows the plants and animals to thrive."
Although I maintained aquariums as a child, the aquatic plants I included were mostly an aesthetic afterthought with little awareness towards creating an ecosystem. I learned from the exhibit that there was a whole movement beginning in the 1930s with the Dutch, devoted to designing aquascapes which can range anywhere from a 5 gallon tank to tanks holding many thousands of gallons of water. In the 1990s, a Japanese aquarist and photographer, Takashi Amano, elevated the art of the aquascape to a whole new level (google his name to view some of his amazing, awe-inspiring work).
The aquascapes featured in the exhibit, consisted of examples of fish and habitat from North America, South America/the Amazon, Africa, and Asia. However, unlike most botanical exhibits, the Aquascape exhibit was fairly light on education/information, which may be a relief to some; instead, visitors are invited to "imagine [themselves] . . .slowly floating through vibrant underwater forests, swaying with the hair grass, and sheltering in the towering sword plants."
One unusual aspect to this exhibit is that once it concludes, the general public has an opportunity to purchase the aquariums on display. You can begin by making those arrangements now, directly with the Conservatory if you are interested.
For more information, please see: http://www.conservatoryofflowers.org/special-exhibits. The exhibit runs from now until April 12, 2015.
- Author: Cheryl A Potts
Soft, quiet morning fog
Bringing wet to too dry plants
Washing my leaves and lawn.
Fog sheltering from early sun,
Dampening thirsty soil.
Gathering, and dripping down
Pretending to be rain.
- Author: Marian I Chmieleski
When I saw the hyacinth bulb this morning in my sister's kitchen, I thought of a poem I heard some years ago. How did that go? Off to the Internet, which, as it tends to do, led me to a whole garden of information.
When we think of hyacinths, what first comes to mind is the Dutch hyacinth, a collection of hybrids that come from Hyacinthus orientalis, which according to the Sunset Western Garden Book is a Mediterranean native. These beauties grow to about a foot tall; have tightly packed blooms in various colors from white, through pinks, salmons and blues to purple; and emit a wonderful perfume. They can be grown in all zones of the USA except Hawaii, but are treated as annuals except where winters are cold enough to really chill the bulbs.
Among other hyacinths are those native to the south of France (Hyacinthus orientalis albulus), which are smaller than the Dutch hybrids and do well year after year in zones 4-24 without needing a winter chill. There is also the wood hyacinth Hyacinthoides, (also known as bluebells)a taller plant with looser flower clusters. The Spanish Bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica /Scilla campanulata) is the only wood hyacinth that does well in our California lowlands. And finally, we have the grape hyacinth (Hyacinthella azurea/Muscari azureum), which is actually from a different genus entirely (Asparagaceae). The grape hyacinth can successfully be naturalized and will pop up year after year in your garden as a happy little harbinger of spring.
The name hyacinth has a very interesting legend behind it. According to Greek mythology, Hyacinthus was a beautiful young god and lover of Apollo. As the two were out throwing the discus one day, Hyacinthus decided to impress Apollo by running and catching Apollo's throw. (Please note, the discus is not a Frisbee, but rather a 4.4-pound stone disc thrown in field competitions.) As Hyacinthus attempted to catch the stone, it hit him in the head and killed him. A variation on this theme is that Zephyrus, god of the west wind, was also enamored of Hyacinthus and jealous of his relationship with Apollo. It was Zephyrus' blowing of the discus off its intended course then that caused it to kill Hyacinthus. Either way, Apollo, in his grief, made a flower of Hyacinthus' blood so that he would never be completely lost.
A curious aside: Mozart's first opera was Apollo et Hyacinthus. The young composer was 11 years old when he wrote it.
And, oh, yes! The poem....
"If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and from the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed the soul."
13th Century Persian Poet
You will find hyacinths now in your garden nursery or catalog.