Stick to gardening by Elizabeth Licata

Bulb forcing provides bright color and warm scent when it’s most needed. Life is messy. I think we can all agree. You’d like to keep all the separate activities—professional life, family, hobbies, friends, travel, politics—in their little boxes, but it’s never easy. Things run together, things collide, especially in the age of social media. I look at my Facebook posts from five years ago or more, and they’re usually images of food, flowers, and friends. Back then, Facebook was like a byway of the Shire, punctuated by jolly feasts and minor scuffles. Now, it’s more like the outskirts of Mordor, filled with spiky rocks and dank swamps—a land of anger and fear. In one of the first posts I saw on my feed this morning, someone wrote: “6:28 and my first block of the day.” Over the past week, both Susan and I have been separately asked (in so many words) to “stick to gardening” when it comes to Rant posts, whatever we may write about in other outlets. We definitely could write about gardeni..
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Douglasfir: A Western Champion

Tree of the Week Douglasfir: A Western Champion By Sheereen Othman | January 31, 2017 Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca Early Beginnings Scottish botanist David Douglas was among early explorers to North America. He travelled to and from the continent on numerous voyages studying plant culture. On his second expedition, he explored the pacific northwest of the United States in what the Royal Horticultural Society called his most successful expedition. Douglas introduced more than 240 species of plants to Britain, including the Douglasfir. Although the common name of the species is named after David Douglas, its scientific name is actually named after rival botanist Archibald Menzies who discovered the species 40 years before Douglas. Among other misleading names, the douglasfir is not a fir tree at all. It is often written as douglasfir or douglas-fir to distinguish it from real firs. In fact, the douglasfir is its own genus comprised of five species. To add to its co..
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Too Warm To Grow Tree Crops? Pushing Through Climate Change Challenges

Misc Trees Too Warm To Grow Tree Crops? Pushing Through Climate Change Challenges By Ezra David Romero | January 30, 2017 This story originally ran on KVPR, an NPR member station in Central California. Written by Ezra David Romero. The valley’s fruit and nut trees need cold temperatures in the winter in order to go to sleep and wake up healthy in the spring. New research suggests that in as little as 30 years, it may be too warm in the valley to grow these trees due to climate change. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports that the agriculture industry is taking the issue very seriously. Tom Coleman is busy pruning branches off pistachio trees that aren’t budding at an orchard just north of Fresno in Madera County. He farms and manages more than 8,000 acres of pistachios across the state. “Here’s an example of some hanging down nuts from last year that just wouldn’t come off because of the position on the tree so we want to remove that,” says Coleman. Coleman’..
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Ask an Arborist: Why Should I Plant Evergreens?

Ask An Arborist Ask an Arborist: Why Should I Plant Evergreens? By Pete Smith | January 27, 2017 Certified arborist Pete Smith explains the benefits of planting evergreens on your home landscape. Evergreen trees provide numerous benefits when planted around your home. They can be used as a living snow fence, provide energy savings, and block cold winds. Additionally, they beautify your home. Living Snow Fence Planting a living snow fence is more cost effective than installing a slatted snow fence. Trees are not only cheaper to plant, but they live longer and require less maintenance than a slatted snow fence. On average, a slatted fence lasts 7-20 years, versus a living snow fence which lasts 40-50 years. A living snow fence captures up to 12 times more snow than a slatted fence and requires less maintenance. Windbreak Aside from redirecting snow from driveways or streets, planting a row of trees blocks strong winds. In the winter, this means less cold drafts through ..
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A Fond Farewell to Evelyn Hadden by Susan Harris

After three years as a regular GardenRanter, Evelyn Hadden has retired from blogging to concentrate on her music. Her last post was in October but in hopes that she’d change her mind, none of us announced it, or thanked her for her many wonderful posts, which we know readers will miss. But it’s time. I recently browsed through her posts for the Rant and all that great writing and photography from a nature-loving perspective just made me feel worse about her leaving. Here are some quick thoughts about what I saw in my review. I’ll miss seeing her garden, a full year younger than my new garden and already better established (damn!). She taught me that it’s possible, after just three years in a new garden, to show off its “grandplants” and already be winnowing out the extras. My garden? As if. She covered nature, not just gardening. She was serious about conveying lots of important information, and about conveying it accurately -about topics like food forests, ways to use fallen leave..
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Leyland Cypress: A Transatlantic Hybrid

Tree of the Week Leyland Cypress: A Transatlantic Hybrid By Sheereen Othman | January 24, 2017 x Cupressocyparis leylandii Seven hundred fifty years ago, a wealthy Englishman in Wales imported trees from the Pacific coast of the U.S. to add to his collection of trees from around the world. A Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) from California and an Alaskan Cedar (Cupressus nootkatensis) —a cedar-like tree found in the forests of northwest North America. The Discovery In their natural habitat, the two trees grow hundreds of miles apart, with no chance of crossing paths. But when the trees were planted near each other on John Naylor’s estate, nature took its course. Pollen from the Monterey cypress landed on the cone of the Alaskan Cedar, pollinating its flowers. Christopher Leyland, Naylor’s brother-in-law noticed the seedlings were different, but still shared resemblance to their parent trees. So, in 1888, Leyland planted six of the seedlings on his own estate, H..
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Just the facts by Elizabeth Licata

Everything will be as perfect as this Abraham Darby bloom. Alternative facts, that is. If there is any group of people that has learned to accept unpleasant realities—often brought on by natural forces—that group is gardeners. So I’m happy to know that I can devise, twist, and present my own version of gardening facts. Now is the time, before the spring season begins. I am pleased to announce that, as of 2017, these are the facts that will be governing the progress of my garden throughout the year: • All the bulbs that I planted will bloom: 100%. No animal depredations, none not planted deep enough for survival, no duds. They’ll look amazing. Everyone will agree. • Despite the deep shade thrown by 3 Norway maples in the easeway, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t plant luxuriant stands of sun-loving perennials like delphinium, daisies, coreopsis, salvia, and rudbeckia. It will be beautiful. • I reject the very idea of weeds. They will not be allowed. • Whatever rainfall we get will..
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The Obamas’ New Yard by Susan Harris

Part 2 of my Garden-Related Thoughts on Inauguration Day is a look-see the Obamas’ home and garden for at least two years while Sasha finishes high school. Enjoy the whole slide show on Cafe Mom, titled: “It’s no White House but Obama’s new $5.3M Mansion is Still Pretty Freakin’ Impressive”. You’ll want to see the rooms, of course but for us gardeners, there are these shots of the yard. In “There goes the neighborhood,” the Washington Post focused on the Obamas’ new neighbors – Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and the Washington Post, and Ivanka Trump and her husband. The link includes a walking tour of the street. But the latest Obama Neighborhood News I saw is the BEST – the Bidens are looking for a “small house” nearby. The bromance continues. The Obamas’ New Yard originally appeared on Garden Rant on January 18, 2017.
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Beauty from the Boreal Forest

Misc Trees Beauty from the Boreal Forest By Sheereen Othman | January 20, 2017 The taiga forest —or boreal forest as we call it in North America — is the largest terrestrial biome in the world (other than the oceans). Taiga is Russian for forest, but it also refers to the northern-most, barren part of the biome situated on the edge of the tundra, whereas boreal —named after the Greek god of the North wind — is often used to refer to the southern part of the biome most commonly in North America. The boreal forest makes up 29% of the world’s forests, spreading across Alaska, Canada, Russia and some of the northern-most parts of Europe and the United States. The biome sits right below the arctic tundra where long, cold winters are the dominant season. The average temperatures vary from -65°F to 50°F, however most winter days are well below freezing. Because of the cold climate, most of the tree species are comprised of pines, spruces and firs. It’s hard to ignore their beau..
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Canada, o Canada by Susan Harris

This is part 1 of my garden-related thoughts on Inauguration Day. The view from Linda’s deck, for crissakes. If, like millions, you’ve been pining for Trudeau-led Canada, picture this. It’s my friend Linda’s new home on Salt Spring Island near Vancouver, and a view from her deck. She moved there last summer (prescient!) after a two-year legal process and decades of living in a lovely DC neighborhood. Now with this view, a lively community of artsy people, and universal health care, it looks to me like she’s found her bliss. The island’s tourism website grabs you with this opening page photo and cruelly asks, “When can you get here?” I’m afraid I missed that boat. Here in DC it’ll be raining today, but not tomorrow for the Women’s March on Washington. Five of the marchers are arriving today from North Carolina to crash, college-dorm-style, in my tiny house. I’m focusing on them today. Canada, o Canada originally appeared on Garden Rant on January 20, 2017.
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