- Author: Trisha E Rose
- Author: Betty Victor
A few getaway days found us in Fort Bragg. Our first destination was the Mendocino Botanical Gardens. This garden is on 47 acres that has a forest of coastal pines, some wetlands and as you walk on the path that takes you to the ocean you can hear the waves.
The garden is home to huge rhododendrons some are native to the area, and they grow wild, usually the purple ones. It is also home to some of the largest camellias trees that I have ever seen. They must be very old from the sizes of their trunks. It has almost every type of garden you can think of some are very manicured, some look natural with the native flowers of Mendocino County. The woodland garden was one of my favorites. It was hard to choose since all the gardens are beautiful. There is a dahlia garden but unfortunately, we did not have time to walk the path to the ocean to see that, so it will be saved for our next trip.
If you have not been to the Mendocino coast and these gardens it worth the trip.
- Author: Karen Metz
The two wind events we had awhile ago were pretty frightening. There were trees down and fences down all over the city. We were very lucky at our house when I went out to check all I found damaged was our olive tree. The olive tree had been planted in a wine barrel and lived on the patio for many years. It was getting a bit large and blocking our view so we had moved it to the edge of the yard next to the fence. About a year or so ago it became very, very exuberant and I figured that the roots had broken through the barrel bottom and into the earth.
After the first wind event, the tree was tilted over a bit and I could see it was shifted in the barrel as well. I wasn't sure what I should do. Should I try and straighten the tree back up and just pack in more potting soil? Should I transplant the tree and sever any roots that had gone into the soil? I am recovering from a muscular injury and my husband was out of town, so I knew nothing was going to happen right then. Then we had wind event 2. I went outside to see it leaning even farther and the tree had rotated. At that point, I didn't think we had any choice but to transplant the tree and sever any roots.
My husband was home the next day and he agreed with the plan. He went down to the local big-box store to look for a wine barrel half. No luck, he went to the second big box store with the same result. My sister suggested a nursery near where she lives. Success and they drilled holes in the bottom and loaded it into the truck for us. We also loaded up on potting soil.
Back at home the first thing I did was prune the tree significantly. Since I knew we were going to be reducing its root mass, we had to decrease the canopy as well. And the tree was way overgrown anyway, I had been holding off pruning it previously because I was hoping to do it around the time of the Master Gardener's Wreath Workshop in December. But this year it just wasn't going to happen. Pruning it first also decreased the weight of the tree that we were going to have to manhandle.
The next thing to do was sever the roots that were growing into the ground. We tried to tilt the tree so we could peer underneath. We finally saw one, so while I pulled the tree as hard as I could my husband was able to use a hand saw to cut the root. Wonderful, we high-fived, and then tried to lift the tree up. Nothing happened. We tilted the tree the other way and saw another root. My husband cut it, but we still couldn't lift it. This went on for quite a while until finally, we found a very thick root which took a lot of sawing. After that, we were finally able to lift the tree out of the old wine barrel. The old barrel promptly collapsed at that point so we hauled those parts away.
We decided to put some wooden boards under the new wine barrel so it would be more difficult for the roots to go into the soil. That done we set up the wine barrel, put in the new potting soil, and wrestled the tree into it. All that was left to do was water it all in. I had some fertilizer dissolved in the water. This project had ended up taking the entire day and we were exhausted. Now we just have to wait and see if the tree will make it. I've got my fingers crossed.
- Author: Lanie Keystone
What a wonderful surprise! I walked into our local post office today asking for a book of flower stamps. I was shown the “usual suspects” of rose love stamps and the cactus stamps. And then, the clerk brought out the newest stamps—a book of winter berries. They're beautifully designed and seasonally perfect.
The book has four different winter berries, each perfectly executed: Juniper Berry, Winter Berry, Beauty Berry, and Soap Berry. After using a few, I became curious about each of these seasonal berries. So, a quick check found these few bits of information:
Winter Berries: Ilex verticillata, is a holly, native to eastern North America in the US and Southern Canada. It's a dioecious plant—one that has separate male and female plants and is fast-growing.
Soap Berry: Shephercia canadensus: is in the Oleaster family. It's found in most of Northern and Western North America. Here, in our area, it can be found inland and is most happy in dry, moist open woods with rocky or sandy soils.
Juniper Berry: Is the female seed cone produced by various specious of Junipers. The cones from a handful of species are used as a spice—especially in European cuisine and is what gives gin its distinctive flavor. It may be the only spice derived from conifers.
Beauty Berry: Callicarpa americana: grows 3-5 feet tall—often as tall as 9 feet. It's a deciduous shrub found in the Southeast US. While the foliage is not spectacular, it's known for it's one remarkable feature—the bright purple berries that grow around the plants stems in plump clusters.
It would have been great if some information about these wonderful berries could have been printed on the stamp packet—but, how grand that the postal service has featured them and we have these beautiful stamps to use. I think they'll be getting everyone's “stamp of approval”!
- Author: Kathy Low
Now that we're in the midst of the holiday season you see poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants in many homes and businesses. But how much do you know about the history of the poinsettia? And have you wondered why it's associated with the holidays?
Native to Central America, the Aztecs called the plant “Cuetlaxochitl.” They used the plant's latex as a fever treatment and made a dye from the plant's leaves.
The plant was named after Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 – 1851), who was a doctor, amateur botanist, former member of Congress, and who served in a variety of government positions. He helped found the National Institute for the Promotion of Science and the Useful Arts, which later became the Smithsonian Institution. While he was the first American Ambassador to Mexico, he first encountered the red-leaved plants and was taken by its beauty. So he sent plants home to his greenhouse and began propagating the plant in smaller sizes (it can grow naturally in Central America to small tree size) and sending it to botanic gardens. Since Mr. Poinsett is credited with introducing the “Cuetlaxochitl” to the United States, the plant became known as the Poinsettia.
There are a few explanations as to how it became associated with Christmas. The first is in Mexico the plant leaves only turn red naturally around Christmas. Another explanation is that the shape of the plant leaves is believed to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem and the red leaves the blood of Christ. The third explanation concerns an old Mexican legend.
According to the legend, a poor Mexican girl didn't have a present to give to the Baby Jesus during Christmas Eve services. As she walked to the chapel with her cousin, her cousin told her that any gift given by someone who loves him will make him happy. She still had nothing to give him. So along the road, she gathered a small bouquet of weeds to give him. When she arrived at the chapel she placed the bouquet of weeds at the base of the nativity scene. To everyone's surprise, the weeds suddenly turned into beautiful bright red flowers, i.e. poinsettias.
Poinsettias have become a very important floriculture crop in the United States. In fact, December 12th is now celebrated as National Poinsettia Day. So if you've purchased poinsettia plants for your home this holiday season, you're not alone!