- Author: Kathy Thomas-Rico
By Kathy Thomas-Rico
From where I sit, I have a bird’s-eye view of the changing leaf colors that fall brings. Who says California doesn’t have autumnal color? Vacaville’s stately evergreens — oaks, redwoods, Italian cypress, even palms — are getting some colorful competition from the Chinese pistache, liquidambars and ‘Raywood’ ashes.
Alas, nothing yet from the ginkgos, what some folks call maidenhair trees. Patience pays off with these trees; the colorful show will come a little later in autumn. If you are in the market for a showstopper of a tree, one that’s rather slow growing and pest resistant, a visit to the nursery to look at ginkgos is in order. If your yard is not huge, consider a dwarf or semi-dwarf variety, as full-sized ginkgos can reach 80 feet in height. And make sure you pick out a male ginkgo; female trees produce messy, smelly fruit.
Here are some examples, which should be available regionally. Check online for availability:
‘Jade Butterfly’ — Large, scalloped leaves are divided almost in two in the center evoking the image of fluttering butterflies. As a semi-dwarf ginkgo, one can expect a height of 9-12 feet in about 10 years — less if grown in a container.
‘Jehosephat’ — Very dense and very slow growing. Expect a height of 6-8 feet in 10 years. Height, as with all dwarf and semi-dwarf ginkgos, is variable depending on climate, soil conditions, fertilizer.
‘Mariken’ — This unique ginkgo naturally grows in a tight, globe shape. It is a dwarf yet has a typical leaf size.
‘Munchkin’ — Tiny leaves and twiggy branches. Munchkin is slow growing to around 3 feet in 10 years. This may be the smallest growing of the dwarf ginkgos.
‘Shangri-La’ — A fine, upright growing male variety with golden fall foliage.
‘Thelma’ — New compact form. Some leaves emerge fringed, some are rolled. The same tree will display lacy foliage right next to small, rolled leaves. Thelma is pretty wild.
‘Troll’ — Small, deep green foliage is arranged in irregular clumps. The foliage also appears very dense. Dwarf.
- Author: Sharon L. Rico
Now that planting the Solano County Fair gardens is history, we can begin focusing on the upcoming Plant Exchange. This will be held on Saturday, September 8th at the Cooperative Extension office, 501 Texas Street, 1st floor conference room, Fairfield, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The plant exchange is open to the public and is a busy, enthusiastic time where everything is FREE. We ask participants to bring a plant to share. Some do and some don’t, but we let everyone join in the fun.
If you haven’t been to the plant exchange in the past, this is the time to come. Many of the Master Gardeners are busy planting seeds, dividing plants, propagating and collecting unwanted or unneeded garden paraphernalia. Anything you want to clean or clear out will work. In the past, I have asked my friends to check for unused items and some have contributed containers, yard art, books and other “hot” items. Remember the saying, “One persons trash is another's treasure”?
You may be good at growing herbs that can be shared. Pot up a few. Do you have winter vegetables started yet? Set some aside for the plant exchange. My yard is getting full of ‘garden art’, so I plan to downsize and bring a few metal fence hangings. My sweet peas were a huge hit this year, so the harvested sweet pea seeds will be placed in envelopes to share. Our two Hibiscus syriacus have volunteer baby trees underneath. These have been potted and labels will be added . It helps if you can provide photos or information on the items you donate. As Master Gardeners, we are there to share and to educate.
Just had to add this, too. Some of my favorite items from previous plant exchanges? The magnificent Ginkgo biloba bonsai (a real treasure), a small green ceramic pot with a frog, reference books and some goofy, unique garden books. Oh, almost forgot; a funky little fork that I use to groom bonsai and succulents planted in small containers. You can find the unusual and the ordinary. So mark your calendar before you forget. See you there!