- Author: Vivian Patterson
Viv Patterson and Trish Schlichting, both Inyo/Mono Master Gardeners, visited the Flower Clock in Geneva, Switzerland, this past October.
Geneva is recognized all around the world for its watch-making tradition. In 1955 Geneva created the biggest clock in the world made from flowers. The flower clock is in Le Jardin Anglais (the English Garden). The garden was constructed in 1855; the Flower Clock was built at the park's centennial to pay homage to Switzerland by perfectly combining watchmaking and horticultural know-how.
The Flower Clock was renovated in May 2017. A new floral concept consisting of more than 12,000 plants was carefully installed by mosaiculture* experts (see note) from the Greenspace Department of the City of Geneva. A watering system, essential for the survival of the plants and their full-sun exposure accompanies the installation. New hands, with an elegant design close to the original one, were manufactured and offered to the City by the firm Patek Philippe. The seconds hand is 2.5 meters long and is arguably the largest in the world. The clock has an electronic time setting via satellite.
*Mosaiculture is the horticultural art of creating giant topiary-like sculptures using thousands of annual bedding plants to carpet steel armature forms.
- Author: Dustin Blakey
I drove down to Ridgecrest last week hoping to check out the wildflowers. While I did eventually get to see some great blooms, I had to stop a couple times to clear off my windshield which looked something like this:
In March the annual northern migration of painted lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) had arrived in southern California, eventually arriving in our area. No doubt you have seen those that didn't collide with my windshield in great numbers on fruit tree blossoms and and other blooms.
This is a annual event, but according to Dr. Art Shapiro their numbers are huge on years that have large wildflower blooms. The last major large migration was in 2005.
The Eastern Sierra is a favored path for their travels to the Pacific Northwest. It will take several generations of the butterflies to make it northward, and then the process will repeat in the autumn when they return to Texas and Mexico for the winter.
NBC News down south did a piece on these butterflies. You can see it here.
I always find these mass migrations of insects interesting. I am glad that in this case it's something harmless and beautiful.
- Author: Erich Warkentine
An overflow crowd of master gardeners and interested members of the community gathered at the Community Garden on Sunday, March 24, 2019, to hear Alison Collin speak about herbs. Alison covered a wide range of topics, including growing needs of culinary herbs and aromatic varieties. The high points of her talk are summarized below.
Technically, an herb is a plant that doesn't produce a permanent woody stem; however, in common use, an herb is a plant that has culinary, aromatic or medicinal properties. Herbs can be annual (one season of growth), biennial (two seasons of growth with flowers in the second year), or perennial (ongoing growth, some lasting many years).
Herbs can be used in many different ways. Not only are they great for cooking and providing welcome fragrances, but many have been used in medicine. In every case, however, Alison cautioned the audience to know their herbs before use since many traditionally used herbs are now known to have detrimental side effects such as liver damage, increased bleeding times or alterations in blood pressure.
It is also important to time the harvest of your herbs carefully. Pick herbs for leaf harvest before flower stems are developed since this is when the leaves contain the highest concentration of oils. For example, she related the story of harvesting mint which was passed its first bloom and had lost all of its fragrance. Similarly, she cautioned about the need to pinch off flowers from basil, to keep the basil producing new edible shoots for as long as possible before it dies.
One of her helpful tips was that mint grows so vigorously that it can take over the garden; therefore, she suggested that those who wish to grow mint do so in a container.
For more information about growing and using fresh herbs, see:
- For more information about drying your own fresh herbs, see:http://sonomamg.ucanr.edu/Food_Gardening/Additional_KG_Articles/Drying_Herbs/
- Author: Alison Collin
The main quality of a competent gardener must surely be the skill of accurate observation. However, observations on their own do little to help us unless they are recorded in some way so that they may be referenced at a later time.
Keeping records of ones horticultural endeavors over a period of years is surely the best way to develop knowledge and experience as a gardener. I was therefore delighted, if a little daunted, to receive a very substantial ten-year Gardening Journal (from Lee Valley Hardware) as a present many years ago.
There are numerous ways to record what goes on in the garden through the year; old school notebooks, loose-leaf binders, purposely designed diaries, and even by annotating published gardening books with ones own notes. Indeed one of my most treasured books was published in 1911 and belonged to my grandfather who added copious notes in every margin, together with newspaper cuttings about the latest horticultural research, and advertisements from various mail-order companies selling obscure plants. And for those who have lost the art of using paper and pencil there are numerous computer programs offering templates, and apps for smart phones, some of which are free.
However, my 10-year version is delightfully and practically laid out so that entries are easy to make, and year by year comparisons are under each other on a page. There are separate pages for entering seed-sowing and planting dates which also include harvest dates and yields, plant inventories and plant purchases. There are pages printed with grids for planning one's garden which have proved invaluable for recording such things as underground irrigation pipes. And there are sound tips and ideas on how to grow various crops.
Each entry has a weather record with places to record maximum and minimum temperatures, and then just plain lines for the entry. I much prefer this to the types which have lots of headings such as “lawn”, “bulbs”, “flowers”, “fruit” or “greenhouse” on each page because there are many times of year when half the headings are not applicable. The only downside to my version is its substantial size, and that there is no ability to add photographs, so these have to be stored in my computer in a “garden timeline” file. I also have to store plant labels separately.
The first entries in the tome were in the winter of 2010-2011 and for several years I thought that I had made some sort of error since the temperatures and rainfall seemed to be so inconsistent with all the subsequent years which had much warmer temperatures. That is until this year which pretty well matches my earliest entries.
Taking just one day in the year, March 8, my entries show that the blossom on a Santa Rosa plum behaved as follows: 2012 “Well out”, 2013 “several blossoms out”, 2014 “Well out with some unopened buds”, 2015 “Well over”, 2016 “Well over”, 2017 “Buds just showing some white”, 2018 “Nearly out”, and 2019, “No flowers open, buds white”.
It is helpful to set aside a certain time of day to make entries so as to remain consistent. For me I find that just before retiring for the night works well, and I seldom miss a day if I keep to that time.
Just as I have enjoyed reading my grandfather's entries, I hope that someday one of my grandchildren will get pleasure from my efforts.
Link to 10-year Garden Journal: http://www.leevalley.com/us/garden/page.aspx?p=43043&cat=2,58054,46147,43043
- Author: Edith Warkentine
If you have not already done so, it is time to prune your young fruit trees!
On February 25, 2019, Dustin Blakey demonstrated how to prune young fruit trees to a group of about 25 Master Gardeners and other home gardeners at the home orchard of Kristin Ostly. This discussion covers some of the high points of his demonstration.
The primary purpose of pruning young trees is to develop structure so that the trees will be productive in the long haul. There are two primary shapes that can be chosen: the “vase,” or the “Christmas tree.” The vase shaped, or open structure, is the most commonly used in the home orchard. This method keeps the center of the tree free of large branches to allow sunlight to reach the lower fruiting wood. The Christmas tree shape, also known as the central leader system, is frequently used in commercial orchards, to allow trees to be closer together. This method keeps trees with lateral branches arranged in separate layers and branches in lower tiers wider than those in upper ones.
As Dustin proceeded to demonstrate young fruit tree pruning he moved from tree to tree and consistently: (1) removed branches that grew to the inside of his desired vase shape; (2) where branches were competing for space, chose the more vigorous branch to survive and cut back the competing branch; (3) removed dead wood and suckers; and (4) removed branches to keep the open center, removing branches that would overly shade lower fruiting wood.
For further information see Training and Pruning Deciduous Trees, Publication 8057, UC ANR.