- Author: Karen Metz
As a Master Gardener we are frequently presented with problems that various gardeners face. Sometimes people will bring in pictures or even samples of the plant they are dealing with. Sometimes figuring out the problem is simple, other times definitely not.
We have learned to ask a series of questions to help tease out clues which may help us diagnose the problem. We also have many references and resources which we can use to help us narrow down the possibilities.
When we were in Germany we came upon what appeared to be an outbreak. First describe what you see. The manifestation seems to involve only the trunks of trees not the branches. The problem seems to be an enveloping, raised, almost furry growth. The coloration is quite variable, not only from trunk to trunk, but within a single trunk. We also saw that the outbreak did not limit itself to a single species but seemed to cross into several genera in the area of older Wiesbaden.
Next find out the history or progression of the symptoms.Find out what the gardener has done or not done. I didn't speak German well enough to ask questions, but I suspect if I had the answer would have been that the manifestation appeared overnight. Lastly, hit the books! In the last few years there have been similar outbreaks in cities and towns across the globe. They have even experienced an outbreak on the campus of UC Davis.
The manifestation is called..... yarnbombing. Some industrious knitters knit up multicolor sleeves which are generally put up and sewn together in the dead of night. The decoration is not necessarily limited to trees; we saw a few lamp posts adorned as well. It's a wonderful surprise for a town's inhabitants. In the dead of winter, under generally gray skies, it made for a wonderful pop of color.
- Author: Launa Herrmann
Old. Sick or dying. Creating a havoc on sidewalks. Non-native. Not heritage species. These are some of the reasons given for chopping down 400 trees that once grew along the 12-mile stretch of road traveled by the space shuttle Endeavor on October 12-13. From Los Angeles International Airport to Exposition Park, Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.), Jacaranda (Jacaranda spp.), and others were toppled to make room for the NASA transporter carrying the 75-ton, five-story tall spaceship that measured 122 feet in length and 78 feet wide.
Photos of the gaping spaces and enormous trunks left behind after tree removal can be viewed online at the link listed below. Some trees were more than 80 years old. While I don’t label myself a “greenie,” I am a softie for all things living, especially big and tall, old trees. For me, something seems amiss when a single two-day road trip trumps a survivor with almost a century of growth.
Certainly, the California Science Center expects the shuttle, which CSC president Jeffrey Rudolph called “a historical piece” and “a national treasure,” to draw 800,000 visitors a year. And by 2017, the center plans to build the shuttle’s permanent home—the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center complete with launch pad and replica fuel tanks and rocket boosters. Also, CSC pledged $500,000 for road improvements and landscaping, promising to replant more trees than were removed.
But I wonder about the arboreal impact on people in communities (Westchester, Inglewood, Los Angeles) now living without wind protection, air filtration and summer shade from those big and tall, old trees. In the dialogue of history, will anybody mention the measure of their worth?
Click below for link to a slide show of post-removal median strip in Inglewood, CA:
- Author: Karen Metz
I got the chance to visit a farm recently on Molokai. Amongst other things, they grow macadamia trees, Macadamia integrifolia. They had about fifty trees on their farm that had been there since the 1920s. Farmer Purdy explained that macadamia nuts start off as pale, slender, bottle-brush shaped flower clusters. The flower cluster is pollinated by bees and later forms small green nuts. The nuts grow and when they are ripe, they fall to the ground. The family gathers the nuts daily from the orchard floor. Harvest is essentially year round. The family then husks them, dries them, cracks them and roasts them without any preservatives.
The farmer said that because his is a small multi-crop farm, he has not found the need for any insecticides. The only thing he spreads around the trees is ashes from the burned leaves that he rakes up daily. He stressed that because the crop is picked up from the ground, the orchard must be kept very clean. It was so unique to look up into the tree and see every stage of the nuts' life cycle all growing at the same time. And cool to think of a year round harvest.
- Author: Sharon Leos
Annuals: one growing season; biennials: two growing seasons; perennials: many growing seasons. As gardeners, we know what to expect from our plants. Trees? Trees live forever, right? Nope. The fact that a tree may outlive a human is not disputed. There are dozens of ancient historical oak trees (Quercus spp.) that are several hundreds of years old, the “General Sherman” giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is nearly 3,000 years old, and “Methuselah” is a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) aged at more then 4,800 years and according to Wikipedia, is the oldest living organism on the planet.
With all those ancients in mind, I understand why we are perplexed when a tree dies. Especially when it is a relatively young tree. My colleague Kathy Thomas-Rico wrote recently about the death of European white birch trees (Betula pendula) in Vacaville. (“Birch Issues,” Under the Solano Sun, 9-2-11). It hit home this summer, right in our front yard. Our birch began to look less leafy than normal and subsequently died. Our tree was one of many planted by the developer that built the homes on our street. Over the last sixteen years our tree grew to about thirty feet tall and except for nearly all the branches being on one side due to the prevailing Solano wind, it seemed healthy. I have since learned that the European white birch is not suited to our growing zone, which is too dry and too hot. It is even considered a weed by the U.S. Forest Service - one gardener’s shade is another’s invasive species!
Over the last few years we have watched the birches disappear one-by-one from the neighborhood. I am sad our pretty white birch has been reduced to little more than a perch for the wild birds, which is still a pleasant purpose, just not the intended one. But it serves as a reminder that trees have a lifespan.