Archive for the ‘Pruning’ Category

Random5

Ginny Gee Rhododendron/Rhodendron “Ginny Gee” – March

This will be the last of my Random posts.  I could do many more I guess but this’ll be over 5 dozen, and that’s a lot of plants to profile.  This has been a fun exercise for me, and I hope for you too.  In the future I’ll try to keep up with the changes in the garden more as they happen, but I got so far behind this seemed the best way to try to catch us all up.  I don’t make any promises about how often I’ll post tho.  I go by my emotions and they change so often, and sometimes I just can’t bring myself to write anything clever or informative.  We’ll see how it goes as time goes along.  Here are the last Random plants.

This is such a cute little rhode.  It’s smothered in light pink blossoms, with some yellow shading to them.  It grows relatively slowly and will only get to be a 2-3′ ball.  It’s been in our garden for about 4 years and has grown a lot since then.  I had it in a shadier spot and it only put on a few blooms last year.  But I moved it to a sunnier spot and it loves it.  This year it rewarded us with zillions of blooms.  Again, it shows just how much difference the sun makes!

Sango-Kaku Japanese Maple/Acer palatum “Sango-kaku” – now

We planted this tree at the corner of the path to the front steps and the one into the garden.  It’s also known as a Coral Bark Maple.  Its red stems (supposedly) look like a tower of coral rising from the sea in spring when it puts on new growth.  You can’t really see that now because the trunk grays out with age, but it’s brilliant in spring.  It makes a wonderful archway with the Green pine as you walk under it into the garden.  It’s gotten this big in 10 years and will grow to 25′ or 30′ in time.

Ward’s Ruby Azalea/Azalea kurume “Ward’s Ruby” – May

This may be my all time favorite azalea.  I love the deep dark red and the intense effect it creates when it forms a mass of tiny blossoms.  By some wonderful chance I planted it where you can see it directly from the back door of the house straight thru the garden.  It’s so bright it shows up way back there.  It’s been here for 10 years and won’t get much bigger, just fuller.

Wissel’s Saguaro Lawson False Cypress/Chamaecyparis lawsoniana “Wissel’s Saguaro” – now

This is one strange looking plant.  It’s named for the Saguaro Cactus of the southwest area of the US because the arms spread out and up like the cactus does.  It’s grown great here – to over 8′ in just 5 years.  No one seems to know just how big it will eventually get.  15′, 20′, ??? – who knows?  I even cut a hole in the maple above it to allow it to grow thru it if it gets big enough to reach that high.  It’s a great plant to have at the front entry to the house.  It gives the impression that perhaps the folks who live here are just a bit eccentric.  Now why would they think that??  Ha ha…

Pacific Fire Vine Maple/Acer circinatum “Pacific Fire” – now

This is a cultivar of our native Vine Maple that grows abundantly all over the Pacific Northwest, and down into California.   In the forest the species of this tree will grow to 30′ as it grows up thru the surrounding trees like a vine.  In less shaded areas it’s only a bush 15 or 20′ tall and wide.  This variety is called Pacific Fire because the new growth is a brilliant red and the stems keep some orangish color in them as they age.  It’s been here for 3 years and has grown this big from a 5′ sapling.

Anna Rose Whitney Rhododendron/Rhododendron “Anna Rose Whitney” – May

The flowers on this rhodie come in trusses of 10 or 12 flowers, and are so abundant the whole plant is just covered in them in spring.  It’s gotten pretty big in the 10 years it’s been here, and will get bigger still.  The only fault I find with this plant is that the blooms only last for 2-3 weeks – not as long as some, and not as long as I’d like.  But they’re so beautiful when they bloom I’m just being picky.  And after all – photos are in bloom forever!

Howard McMinn Manzanita/Arctostaphyllos densiflora “Howard McMinn” – February

I lived in the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California for many years, and the Sierras were my “backyard” as I was growing up.  So manzanitas have been in my life for over 60 years.  Their mahogany brown bark is a defining characteristic of them.  They twist and turn and form amazing shapes as they grow.  Some are as big as small trees, but this one only gets about 6′ x 5′.  It’s been here 10 years.  The flowers are very fragrant and the bees love them.  A bee-keeper friend in the Sierras would bring us manzanita honey sometimes.  It was so fine it set up and crystalized almost immediately.  Yummy!

Underplanting of the Red Pygmy Maple – now

There’s no one plant to focus on here.  You can see the leaves of the Red Pygmy up above and the Treasure Island Cypress at the right.  In the center are 3 nice rhodies – on the left is a Ken Janeck with its new leaves such a soft light green.  Next to it is a Ramapo rhodie which has light purple flowers.  Barely seen behind them is an Impeditum that doesn’t get enough sun to bloom (remember what I said about enough sun??).  The Japanese Tassel fern is on the right and the Japanese Forest Grass is behind the maple’s trunk.  The ground cover is Redwood Sorrel, the plant that grows all under the trees in the Redwood groves on the California coast.  I love it but it’s also a terribly invasive pest.  Gotta go with the love I guess.

Irish Heath/Daboecia cantabrica – now

This is an unusual heath. Most heaths are Ericas, and heathers are Callunas, but this one is a whole different genus.  I got it 10 years ago at the Kruckerberg Botanical Garden in a 2″ pot.  I stuck it in between the heathers in this bed, which have since all frozen off.   I had to move it, but it’s survived all the rest.  It’s full of lush spring growth but I’ll show it off later when it’s in bloom.  It has lovely lavender bell shaped flowers (like all the Ericaceae) that bloom from midsummer to early fall.

Little Heath Lily of the Valley Shrub/Pieris japonica “Little Heath” – now

This got pretty crowded over the 10 years it’s been here, so last fall I decided to prune out the deadwood and open it up to see how it would look.  I was amazed.  A little hint – always take out the dead wood first.  You may find that’s all you need to do to make the plant look spectacular.  At least always start with deadwood before you prune the rest of it.  You can see the intricate form of the branches here now with a few flowers at the top (where it gets sun) and some new pinkish growth on the tips.  In front of it is a small growing Gemstone Hinoki False Cypress.  We just panted it over this last winter.  It’s a dwarf, only growing to about 24″ tall and 18″ wide.  It may take 20 years to get that big.  It’s truly a gem!

Cilpinense Pink Rhodendron/Rhododendron “Cilpinense Pink” – February

One of the earliest rhodies to bloom here.  It has delicate light lavender flowers that contrast nicely with the soft blue of the Snow White Lawson Cypress next to it.  It’s been here for 4 years and has tripled in size in that time.  It’s not super hardy tho and one year the entire set of blooms got hit by a late freeze just as they were blooming.  Since then we cover it with burlap sacks to keep them safe, and it’s worked well.  It also has very lustrous leaves that are a bit downy looking at the margins.

Stockholm Scotch Heather/Calluna vulgaris “Stockholm” – now

A most unusual Heather.  It only grows upright and doesn’t bloom at all, supposedly.  It had a few blossoms on it when we got it 2 years ago, but none since.  It turns a darker purple-brown in the winter.  It fits in well here with the Wild Ginger at the left and the Western Bleeding Heart above it.  To the right is a Nana Dwarf Hinoki Cypress – one of the smallest Hinokis.  I like how heathers and heaths have coniferous looking foliage.  I’ve planted some just for their foliage, knowing that they won’t get enough sun to bloom.  But that’s OK sometimes….

Entrance to the Front Garden – now

This is where you come into the front garden.  You can just see the arch I created with the Japanese Maple on the left and the Oregon Green pine on the right.  The ground drops slightly as you go under the arch so it really feels like you’re walking down into a little glade in the forest.  It’s a charming garden to be in.  I did a post called A Hidden Gem awhile ago that shows it off much more fully.  You can see the Waterfall Maple at the back right, and the Silver Knight heather on the front left.  Our Wildlife Sanctuary sign is just under the Maple by the  heather.  This seems like a good photo to stop with, so I will.

For those of you who have been counting you’ll notice that this is actually the 13th photo in this post, as opposed to only 12 in the previous 4 Random posts.  I guess I had an extra one somewhere.  I decided it was more important to show you all of them than to cut one for the sake of continuity.  I think it was the right decision.  They’re all cool photos.

I’ve really enjoyed putting out all these photos in such quick succession.   I do prefer to do more informative posts, focused on certain plants or collections of plants, but this was cool to do because I didn’t have a focus.  Sometimes Random is the way to go, especially in this chaotic world we live in.  It just seemed natural.  I have no idea when I’ll post again, but I hope it’s not another 5 months like it was this last time.  As I’ve said, my moods determine when I post, and my life in general, so I just hope they give me the impetus to post more often again. Time will tell…

Randomly yours no more,

Steve

 

 

Random4

Oregon Green Pine/Pinus nigra “Oregon Green” – now

I just came in from my usual morning stroll thru the garden.  It was a bit damp with a slight drizzle.  I particularly like to walk in the garden when it’s all wet.  The plants feel incredibly alive!  The rainfall is so nourishing.  It seems like all the plants are rejoicing.  Walking in the garden got me all excited about it so I thought it was a good time to do my next post of miscellaneous photos.  Most are very recent but a few are from Fall or Winter.  I’ll tell you.

I already showed you a photo of this pine from the front so you could see the candles on the outside.  This is the inside.  I pruned it out in February.  My main goal was to open up the center for both sight and air circulation.  I also just felt it was a little crowded inside.  It felt like the energy wasn’t moving thru it properly.   I tried to bring out the inner “flow” to it.   It all radiates out from the main trunk now.  The tree has done most of this itself.   I pruned out the inner part but the tree itself created the sinuous form.  You can’t see it in the photo but it continues to twist and turn as it reaches the top.

3 Fabulous Ferns – now

This is the west end of the fern bed that runs along the north side of the garage.  The 3 ferns here are, from left to right, a Hard Shied Fern (Polystichum aculeatum), and Mackino’s Holly Fern (Polystichum mackinoi” and a Remote Wood Fern (Dryopteris remota).  Underneath them all is a wonderful patch of Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii).  I’ve loved this little plant since we had it growing at my parent’s home in the first landscape I ever did for them.  It brings back good memories.

 

Tomato Seedlings In the Greenhouse – April

I started 9 seeds each of 3 different heirloom varieties.  2 I bought form the Seed Saver’s Exchange, a seed bank/seller I recommend highly.  The other one I planted with seeds I grew last year.  Beam’s Yellow Pears.  Small sweet pear shape yellow fruits kids eat like candy, and so do adults… These were so well developed we could plant them in early May.  They’re good sized now.  I had way too many of course – I only planted 2 of each variety for us.  So I put the others out on the front parking strip and people took them almost immediately.  I love sharing the plants I grow.

Silver Knight Scotch Heather/Calluna vulgaris “Silver Knight” – now

This lovely little heather is at the foot of our front steps.  In late summer it’s covered with light lavender blooms, but I planted it more for the foliage and form than the flower, since that’s what we see most of the year.  We planted it about 5 years ago.

Tenzan Sugi/Cryptomeria japonica “Tenzan” – now

This is the one plant in the garden that I can say with surety is a truly rare plant.  The nursery where I bought it labeled it as such and my reading confirms this to be true.  It’s the smallest form of Cryptomeria there is and valued as such.  Brand new here.  It only grows about 1/4″ a year.  It’s supposed to get about a foot big.  It’s only 8″ now.  It’ll take it years to do that.

Charity Mahonia/Mahonia media “Charity” – now

This one has been here about 9 years.  In that time it’s grown to 12′ x 10′, give or take.  It’s a prickly thing so I had to prune it back quite a bit from the path at its foot.  I pruned up the branches but this year it’s putting back all the foliage I cut off!   Only it’s further back from the front so I won’t have to mess with it, and it won’t mess with us.  I did a post awhile back called Hummer Heaven that shows this in full bloom, covered with brilliant yellow flowers that the bees and hummers love.  On the left below it is a Soft Shield Fern (Polystichum setiferum), also known as Alaska Fern, tho it’s native to Europe.  Go figure.

Graciosa Hinoki False Cypress/Chamaecyparis obtusa “Graciosa” – now

I took this photo from the porch above this plant so you could see the delicate tracery on its branches.  We planted this tree just last year after the snow destroyed the big Arborvitae we had here.  It grows slowly at less than a foot a year.  It’ll get 10′ tall and 8′ wide.  It fits nicely among the rhododendrons, azaleas and kinnickinnick, under the Japanese maple at the right.

Waterfall Dissected Japanese Maple/Acer palmatum dissectum “Waterfall” – now

It does look a bit like a waterfall doesn’t it. The way the leaves overlap one another resembles water flowing down over it.  This tree has been growing here since 2013.  It’s grown from 2′ across to over 8′.  It’s supposed to get even bigger, so I have to prune it back from the lawn every spring.  It puts on 2′ of growth a year so it’s a bit of a job.  It gets harder every year.

Firefly Scotch Heather/Calluna vulgaris “Firefly” – Fall

This is one of the most colorful heathers there is.  In summer it’s orangish green, but the real show is in fall and winter when it turns this deep brick red.  We planted a line of them along the North side of our veggie garden.  It was too weird to watch the South side of the plants turn this great red color, but from the North side, where we stand to look at them, you can’t even tell the South side is red.  Shows you how important it is for plants to get sun, and at the right time, to turn color in fall.

Lady Fern/Athyrium filix-femina – now

This lovely fern is a native of the Pacific Northwest.  We never plant them but they come up all over the garden, often in perfect places like this one.  It’s a deciduous fern so it dies back to the ground in fall.  This one is over 5′ tall and got that way because it was growing behind a large Arborvitae that supported it.  Now it tends to flop on the rhodies in front of it.

Bloodgood Japanese Maple/Acer palmatum atropurpureum “Bloodgood” – now

This maple is in the middle of the garden.  When you look at it all from the back deck it really stands out.  It’s been here for 8 years, and is now 14 1/2′ x 11′.  It will eventually get large enough to fill the space it inhabits now. I’ll have to do some pruning as the years go by to encourage the trees to all fit together, as I do so often.  In fall this tree gets much darker red, almost black and burgundy and is truly stunning.  It’s big enough now to feel like it’s a real tree when you’re underneath it.

Primo Eastern Arborvitae/Thuja occidentalis “Isl/Prm Primo” – now

We just got this cute little thing this last winter.  When we bought it it was a darkish brown color.  Now it’s this lovely dark green.  I love how the branches grow upward like some stone formations I’ve seen in the terrain of the inner mountain west. But this is actually from the east coast and has the same parent as the ubiquitous Pyrimidal Arborviate, the columnar tree grown so frequently as a tall fast growing hedge.  By contrast “Primo” only grows an inch a year, if that.

OK, that’s another batch.  I may only have one more set, but I have to count them to see.  I may add a few more too, if I see some more I like.  I keep taking photos so you never know.  I’m really enjoying this casual flowing show of photos.  It’s so much easier to just post them and write a bit about them.  I don’t have to have an overarching theme to follow.  But I imagine I’ll get back to that format now that I’m feeling somewhat caught up.

This blog is partly a chronicle of the timeline of the plants in this garden, so I have to keep posting their pictures as they grow up.  I’ve taken over 9,000 photos of this garden so I never lack for subjects to post.  It’s so interesting to me to show them as they’ve grown.  It’s very educational, and lots of fun.  I’ve learned a lot growing this garden.  Skills I use in my daily life – Patience being the biggest one I suppose.  You absolutely have to be patient to be a gardener (and I have to work at it).  Plants grow on their own schedules, not ours.  The same is true of life.

Acceptance that it is what it is, is the key.

Steve

Winter Views From the Elegans

This is the Elegans.  It’s formally called Cryptomeria japonica “Elegans”, or Elegans Sugi in Japanese.  This is a photo I took from our neighbor’s yard because you can’t see this full a picture from our yard.  Too many trees in the way.  I planted it about 10 years ago from an 18″ sapling.  I’d say it’s closing in on 30′ now.  Wow.  It’s one of my favorite “pettable” trees because you can literally pet it it’s so soft and luxurious.  Not like other conifers at all – the ones that stick you so readily.

The photos in the following series form a panoramic view of the back garden from the base of the Elegans, on the other side of this photo. From there you can pretty much see the whole back garden.  It’s a comfortable, dry spot to stand at  times when there’s a little bit of drizzle like we have coming down today.  I’ll show you in the next photo.

This is where I’m standing. The trunk is angled in such a perfect way that I can lean back against it and it supports my back like a recliner.  Nice for a bad back – the gardener’s curse.  Underneath the Elegans is what’s left of the formerly large Gold Dust plant (Aucuba japonica) that I almost killed by planting the Eleagns were I did.  Silly me.  I was able to prune the Aucuba so that it now grows luxuriously on the margin of the Elegans.   It gets lots of sun and can grow tall again.

On the right is a Blue Peter rhododendron that Louie planted here some 30 years ago.  In the  spring it’s a mass of light purple flowers with darker purple centers.  A lovely older variety.  Below is the most wonderful azalea in the garden, in my opinion.  It’s a Kurume called “Ward’s Ruby” (Azalea kurume “Ward’s Ruby”).  When it blooms it’s covered with the deepest red blossoms imaginable and can be seen from the house.  It loves it here.  In fact all the Ericaceae (Heather family) thrive in the deep, wet, peaty soil we have here in our little Nature Sanctuary.  You’ll see a variety of acid loving plants here.

This is what I see when I look to my left.  The tall spindly tree on the left is a “bound” Japanese Umbrella Pine form called “Wintergreen” (Sciadopytis verticillata “Wintergreen”).  It’s bound because it was damaged in the “snopocalypse” we had in February (we don’t get much snow here so we tend to be dramatic about it when we do get it….).  I had to tie up all the branches because they were drooping so badly from the weight of the snow.  I’ll keep the ties on for a year or so and then remove them.  The branches will (hopefully) bounce back up to where they’re supposed to be.  Below it is a huge patch of Licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza).  It’s a PNW native you often see on the trunks of trees in the rainforest.

Next to is is a stalwart rhodie called Anna Rose Whitney.  It’s about 6′ x 7′ now and when it blooms in spring it’s a mass of brilliant hot pink with huge trusses of 8 or 10 flowers each.  Very impressive.  The tall tree with the twisty branches to the right is a “Diana” contorted Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi “Diana”).  It’s one of the handful of deciduous conifers in the world.  It has apple green needles all summer that turn a marvelous shade of deep orange before dropping in the fall.

At the bottom right is a rarely seen Alpine Yew Pine (Podocarpus alpinus “Red Tips”).  It’s from New Zealand and is related to the better known Japanese Yew Pine (Podocarpus macrophylla).  It has beautiful reddish purple tips in late spring.  It looks like a haze over the whole plant.  Above it is the trunk of the Radicans Sugi.  That’s the big dark green tree in back, behind the lamp.  It covers an edge of the little deck we built so we could hang out in the garden.  More on the Sugi in a moment.

When I turn to my right I see the Yew Pine in the foreground with the hanging light above it.  The reddish brown trunk to its left belongs to the Radicans Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica “Radicans”).  It’s like the Elegans in size now but is definitely not pettable.  It gets bigger too – up to 55 feet or so they say.  The tall dark shape in the background is a Weeping Giant Sequoia  (Sequoiadendron giganteum “Pendulum”).  It’s grown over 35′ tall it 10 years, and is the tallest tree we’ve planted.

In the middle foreground is a Red Pygmy Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum “Red Pygmy”).  Below are a couple of nice rhodies – Ken Janeck and Ramapo.  The light yellow plant is a large clump of Japanese Forest Grass (Hakanechloa macra “All Gold”).  Behind the maple is the fountain, which we keep empty in the colder times of the year.  It’s raining now so it’s full.

Going clockwise some more you can see the fountain more clearly and a fuller view of the Red Pygmy.  I’ve recently pruned it out and I’m very pleased with my efforts.   It all seems to be growing the way it wants to and should be a fine strong structure over the years to come.  I’ve been reading about Aesthetic Pruning lately.  The descriptions sound like what I’ve been doing for decades, more or less.  When I was first starting out in the landscape biz I worked with a tree pruner who did “Aesthetic and Therapeutic” pruning.  I took it to heart and have tried to emulate his practices ever since.  It’s about the health and beauty of the whole garden environment, taking all factors into consideration.  Seems like common sense to me.

On the right is a Vanessa Persian Ironwood (Parrotia Persica “Vanessa”).  I’ve trained it quite a bit to be very narrow at its base since it tends to spread out as it gets taller and we need to be able to walk around both sides of it.  It’s turned out really well and I think it will grow companionably with the big plum behind it. (You can barely see it on the right). The Ironwood turns a spectacular brilliant golden color in the fall.  You can see it shining from the back door of the house.

In this one you can see the Plum and why I need to prune the Parrotia away from it.  They have to agree to share the air space above them.  I think I did a good job of preparing them to play nice.  The small blue conifer at the bottom is a RH Montgomery blue spruce.  It wants to get bigger than it can here so I have to prune it very judiciously to keep it looking nice and healthy where it is.  We’ll see how long I can do that.  At the right is a mid-size Lily of the Valley shrub called Little Heath (Pieris japonica “Little Heath”).  It has lovely racemes of small  white bell shaped flowers in early spring.  The leaves are nicely variegated with light green and pink on the margins, especially in spring.  It’s another plant in the Heather family.

On the left is the Little Heath and in the middle is a Jade Butterflies dwarf Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba “Jade Butterflies”).  It’s so named because the leaves look like little butterflies.  Ginkgos are supposed to turn a spectacular shade of golden yellow in the fall. They’re known for it.  But for some odd reason ours never does this.  lt’s usually a pallid shade of yellow.  Except last year when Everything was brilliant it did what it’s supposed to do.  ???

Behind the Ginkgo is a snatch of our veggie garden, with a Spaan’s Slow Column Scots pine (Pinus sylvestnis “Spaan’s Slow Column”) at the north end of the veggies where it won’t shade them.  You can see a patch of Lacinato Kale at the back.  They’ll be in fine shape to start to grow at the very beginning of spring.  They overwinter quite well.  The blue barrels hold garden soil, compost and fertile mulch for when we need a bit of help with things.  It’s handy to keep a bit of each on hand.

This is the final shot in the panorama.  You can see the Ginkgo on the left and in the middle is the Miss Grace Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides “Miss Grace”).  It’s another of the few deciduous conifers that exist.   We also have a third – a dwarf Swamp Cypress (Taxodium distichum).  (It didn’t show up in this series of photos).  Both the Metasequoia and Ginkgo are very ancient trees, formerly found only in the fossil record.  It’s nice to have them in cultivation.  You can see the strawberry bed better here.  It’s not that big but we get quarts of berries.  Fresh fruit is so wonderful to pick and eat right out of the garden.  Above you on the right is the Elegans again.  We’re almost back where we started.

Here we are back at the trunk again.  I intentionally pruned up a hollow in this tree so we could stand under it when it rains, which it was doing just now when I took all these photos.  I didn’t plan for this to be such a wonderful viewing spot but I’m so glad I “discovered” it one day when I was perambulating the garden, which I try to do every morning.  I like to keep up on the doings of all the plants and do bits of “micro pruning” to keep everyone growing happily and harmoniously together.  It’s a magical sanctuary but it takes constant, careful work to keep it that way.  Having a spot like this where I can overlook the whole garden at once helps me get a more holistic perspective on things. It’s easier to comprehend it all as one large entity.

I hope you enjoyed these panoramic views of the garden.  It all feels so much bigger when you’re in the thick of it.

Relaxing on a rainy day,

Steve

“Vanessa” Persian Ironwood

August 2015 – home from the nursery

August 2015 – Just planted

October 2015

March 2016

May 2016

November 2016

February 2017

May 2017

October 2017

February 2018

May 2018

October 2018

January 2019

May 2019

August 2019 – Today

 

The Persian Ironwood tree (Parrotia persica) is native to Iran, or Persia, as it was originally known.  This is a selected variety introduced in England in 1840.  It’s much more narrow growing than the species, which can get quite wide, tho not that tall.  They’re wonderful 4 season trees, with tiny red flowers in late winter and early spring.  Then in summer the scallop shaped leaves come out with reddish tinges on the margins and very lush growth.  By fall it turns spectacular shades of bright golden yellow, which you can see in some of these photos here.  In winter the bark is the beautiful part, turning a mottled green, cream and tan as it ages.  The form is also quite lovely in winter when you can easily see its branching patterns.

This is a relatively columnar form of this tree and is supposed to grow 20 – 40 feel tall and 10 – 20 feet wide.  I’ve pruned the base of it to keep it narrow so it will fit in between the paths where we’ve planted it.  It’s been growing by leaps and bounds every year.  You can see how large it’s gotten in just 5 growing seasons, and the summer isn’t over yet so it’s still growing now.  It’s pretty cool to see it put on 3 – 4 feet of growth each year, tho some  websites say it’s slow growing.  Not for us!  At first the foliage just flops all over itself and falls down into the paths.  But as the summer progresses the branches pull themselves back up into a more narrow form.  I had to restrain myself to keep from pruning it the first year as I watched this habit develop.  Sometimes it’s best to just wait and see what a tree will do before you lop off a branch or two.  You can’t put them back on you know…

Vanessa, which was named for a colorful species of butterfly, has received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticulture Society, and is also a Great Plant Pick chosen by the Elisabeth Miller botanical garden here in Seattle.  It’s in the same family as the witch hazels, but the flowers on this one don’t have any fragrance.  I’ve never seen a really large specimen of this tree, but I’ve seen lots of photos, and it’s really striking as it gets bigger.  As usual I didn’t really give it quite as much room as it might like so I’ll have to continue to do some aesthetic and therapeutic pruning on it as time goes on.  Right now I’m training a couple of the main trunks to head out from under the canopy of the plum next to it so it will grow up and over the plum and the two won’t fight each other as much.  It’s challenging to do this training but it’s also a lot of fun figuring out just how to get everyone here to get along with one another.

This tree likes the moist peaty soil we have in our little Nature Sanctuary here in Greenwood.  It holds the water well but also drains nicely so there’s no worry about over watering.  I also don’t have to give it nearly as much water as other gardeners here in Seattle say they need to do to establish their trees.  I have a system of counting to a certain number based on how many gallons of water the hose puts out per minute.  Yes, I measured the output of the hose to do this.  Sometimes it gets a little bit nuts to count out all the plants to be sure they get enough water.  At times I can’t seem to stop myself from counting everything I run into!  It’s useful to help the plants to establish well, but it makes me a little bit crazy… 😉

Happy gardening!

Steve

Cool Little Conifers

Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca var. albertiana f. conica)

All the conifers I’ll be showing you in this post are small ones that only grow up to 10′ tall.  I love the little ones a lot. They take up little room so there’s space to plant several of them in small areas.  Of course I have them all over the garden.  These two have been growing here for over 35 years.  Louie planted them long ago and they’ve gotten quite large in that time. They’ll get still bigger, but not more than 10′.  Discovered in 1904 they are native to SW Canada and across the Northern US to Maine.  You’ve probably seen these all over, as they are sold as christmas trees at holiday time.  Naturally no one ever realizes just how large they get and are surprised when they outgrow their tiny planting spaces.  Ah well…  Live and learn…

Snow White Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana “Snow White”)

This is a dwarf form of the Lawson Cypress, or Port Orford Cedar, that grows in southern Oregon. The species tree is a large forest dweller that gets quite tall, but this one will only get 6 or 8′ tall.  It’s 6 1/2′ now after about 10 years in the ground here.  It’s soft and fluffy to the touch and is tinged with a light yellow white color in spring.  One of my favorites.

Red Star Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides “Red Star”, aka “Rubicon”)

We jump across the United States from the last one with this Red Star False Cypress.  I just planted this a few months ago and it’s still very small, but it will get 4-5′ tall in time (some people say much larger, but who knows…).  Its blue green juvenile foliage turns a warm red purple in winter and is quite lovely.  A slow grower, it will take years to achieve its full size.

Mr Bowling Ball Arborvitae (Thuja occidentals “Bobozam”)

Where do they get these names anyway?  Doesn’t look much like a bowling ball to me, and I don’t have a clue why it’s called Bobozam, but it’s kind of a cool name.  Native to the NE United States and SE Canada it has filiferous foliage that turns this lovely light color in winter, when this photo was taken.  It’s green now.  It might become a 3′ ball, but it will take awhile.

“Grune Kugel” Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata “Grune Kugel”)

This is a dwarf form of the signature PNW tree – the mighty Western Red Cedar. This special tree was used by the indigenous people for just about everything.  They made buildings and canoes of it, used it for basketry, and used it in ceremonies.  It was the “buffalo” of the Northwest, as far as its utility to the native people goes.  It will take it years to become much more than a 2′ ball.  It always amazes me to see a small dwarf form of a huge tree.  Trees do such incredible things!

Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata “Blue Star”)

A very slow growing juniper with a lovely bluish color to it that looks great next to its neighbors.  It’s a nice contrast at the front of the garden as you view it from the house.  It will never get very big – maybe 2-3′ x 3-5′ in a long time.  I’ve heard they look ugly when they get old but this one is 10 years here and still looks great to me.  I expect it to stay nice for years.

Spreading English Yew (Taxus baccata “Repandens”)

Slow and elegant looking, this dwarf English yew is native to many parts of Europe and Asia.  The main species tree is well known in old churchyards in England, which I saw for myself back in the late 60’s when I was there. This will only get 3-5′ tall and 4-7′ wide, but I have to keep it gently pruned to keep it in its space here.  10 years have gotten it to this size.

Amersfoort English Yew (Taxus baccata “Amersfoort”)

This is a rare one, that many people think may be a cross between English and Japanese Yew, but they call it English, for now anyway.  It’s kind of weird looking, almost reptilian. I have to carefully remove the new growth in late spring every year to keep it from attaining its full size of 5 – 8′.  It’s next to the fountain and I want to be able to see the fountain from the house so I keep it low. Yews take to pruning very well and it always comes back great.  It was found on the grounds of the Amersfoort Insane Asylum in Holland and some wits  in the nursery trade describe it as “one crazy plant”.  Whatever…

Elegans Nana Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica “Elegans Nana”)

Sugi is the Japanese name for Cryptomeria, or Japanese Cedar (tho it’s not a true cedar).  The large species tree is the national tree of Japan.  I love the way this looks like a mop headed Sesame Street character.  It’s pretty slow growing and has taken 8 years or so to get this size.  There’s a full size Elegans next to it and they look similar but also quite different.  There are several hundred cultivars of Cryptomeria, from dwarves only a foot tall to trees over 150′.  A very versatile tree.

“Kelly’s Prostrate” Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens “Kelly’s Prostrate”)

It’s hard to believe that this is the tallest tree in the world, maxing out at over 365′ tall!  This is a very dwarf form that is now only 2 1/2′ tall and about 7-8′ across.  It grows pretty fast and has been here for a good 9 years now.  I got it in a 10 gallon can that was very big when I planted it, but it’s gotten way bigger since then.  Native to the California and N. Oregon coast.

Tansu Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica “Tansu”)

Another Japanese Cedar, this is one of the smallest ones.  In 10 years it’s still less than 2′ around.  It’s grown very slowly to get even this big and will never get a lot bigger.  It’s a bit prickly to the touch but I love the craggy mountainous look of it.

Alpine Yew Pine (Podocarpus alpinus (“Red Tip”)

Native to Australia and Tasmania this is called Red Tip because the tips of the branches turn a deep purple red in late spring.  It looks very nice when the color is on it.  I don’t have many plants from the Southern Hemisphere, but I have a few, like this one here.  Most podocarpus are native to Asia and some are large trees, but this will never get more than 4′ or so.

“Ryokogo Coyokyu” Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica “Ryokogo Coyokyu”)

Also called Green Jewel Dragon, a much more interesting name than the botanical one, this is another very small Japanese Cedar.  It looks a little like the Tansu in that they both look like small craggy mountains and grow very slowly.  This one puts on about 1/16″ per year.  You can barely see it grow.  The tips turn a nice reddish color in the winter.

Japanese Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia “Fastigiata”)

Not a yew at all, this is actually in the Cephalotaxaceae family. (say that fast three times…)  It’s a very narrow plant, only getting 2-3′ wide but close to 10′ tall in many years.   This has been here for 9 years and has put on a foot of growth every year.  I’m very fond of it, but had a hard time shooting it.  I had to stand on the deck above it to get the whole thing.

Wissel’s Saguaro False Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana “Wissel’s Saguaro”)

This may actually grow to over 10′, but it seems no one really knows how big it will get.  It’s called the Saguaro because it looks so much like the famous Saguaro cactus in the desserts of Southern California.  The tree is a form of the Lawson Cypress I mentioned earlier.  This mad cap form was developed in Holland, or maybe it was just “found”, I’m not sure.  Planted at the entrance to our house, it’s a very cool plant to greet our visitors.

Baby Blue Sawara Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera “Baby Blue”)

When I planted this it was a 1 1/2′ ball, but over the last 10 years it’s turned into a very nice cone shaped small tree.  It may get somewhat taller but not a lot.  It’s a little over 6′ now and is one of the softest plants we have.  I love to “pet” it.   The blue makes a nice contrast to the surrounding plants and gives a bit of color, besides green!, to the back garden area.

Nana Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa “Nana”)

Supposedly one of the smallest forms of the Hinoki Cypress, or Fire Tree, this is native to Japan.  The species tree is used for building temples and ceremonial purposes there, and is considered a sacred tree.  As with Cryptomeria there are literally hundreds of cultivars of Hinoki Cypress. The species is a tall forest tree, but the cultivars range down from there to this one.

Graciosa Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa “Graciosa”)

We just planted this one in February after we had “snowmageddon” here that dropped a couple of feet of snow on the Seattle area and destroyed the large arborvitae we had here.  It was tragic, but we took it out and re-made the whole area.  It looks really nice and open now, tho we lost our major privacy.  It’ll come back tho, since this tree grows to become 8-10′ tall and 6-8′ wide.  It grows a foot a year and is very soft to the touch and looks quite graceful – thus Graciosa.

Carstens Wintergold Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo “Carstens Wintergold”)

Mugo pines are small trees native to Europe.  This cultivar was created/found in 1988 in Germany.  It turns this gorgeous golden color in winter, but in spring it reverts back to a plain old green mugo pine.  It only grows 2″ a year so it will stay in this pot for quite some time.  It needs sun to change color well so I’ll have to move it soon so it gets enough by fall.

Morgan’s Chinese Arborvitae (Thuja orientalis “Morgan”)

I don’t have a clue why they call this “Chinese” since it comes from Australia, another one from the Southern Hemisphere.  It’s a wonderful plant for color that turns purple in the fall, warm orange/brown in winter and then this fine lime green in summer.  I had to site it in a sunny spot so it would change color.  This place seems to work just fine for that.

Chirimen Hinoki False Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa “Chirimen”)

Chirimen is a type of crinkly kimono fabric that gives its name to this unique plant.  It grows very slowly and only gets 4′ tall and not very wide, as you can see.  I pruned off the inner foliage some years ago and kinda wish I hadn’t, but it still looks OK.  It’s in a very shady spot and does just fine there.

Snow Sawara False Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera “Snow”)

This is the same tree as the Baby Blue I showed you earlier.  The tips of the plant turn this lovely whitish color as they grow, even in the full shade it’s in.  The American Conifer Society tag on it said it would only get 16″ tall!!  Huh??  I saw one in a  botanical garden that was 4′-5′ around.  I’ve had to carefully prune it so it will still fit here.  Very soft and elegant.

That’s it!  All the little ones.  I have so many more conifers to show you, but I figured I’d limit it by size this time.  As I said, none of these is supposed to get even 10′ tall, tho some come very close to that, as I’ve mentioned in the commentaries.  I’m a big fan of conifers and these 22 plants are just a small sampling of all the conifers in general here in our little Nature Sanctuary.  Conifers can be enjoyed all year round with their evergreen, or blue, or gold, foliage.  They form the backbones of many gardens and offer a great deal of stability.  I love them, as you can probably tell!

Evergreenly yours,

Steve

Cryptomeria “Radicans”

Cryptomeria japonica “Radicans”, or Radicans Sugi as it’s called in Japan, is one of my favorite trees in our little nature sanctuary, and one of the two tallest growing trees we have.  This one will eventually get to 45 or 50 feet tall in time, and not too long a time really,  as you can see in the following  pictures.  It grows very fast and loves the wet peat soil we have here in our garden.  We got this tree in a big box from a nursery in Oklahoma.  I couldn’t find it locally so I went on the web. It was 4’11” tall in this tiny pot it came in.  It’s gotten a lot bigger since then.  It’s one of the larger growing of the several hundred cultivars of Cryptomeria.

Cryptomeria, or Sugi, is the national tree of Japan, and grows well over 150 feet tall in its native habitats.  One story of it I like is that of a feudal vassal who wanted to honor his Lord, but didn’t have the funds to do it the way he wanted to.  So he planted an avenue of these trees that was several miles long.  Today it’s a prized site of huge trees for visitors to marvel at.  This tree is quite unique – the only species of its genus (maybe – there’s some disagreement among botanists).  It used to be in the same family as the Redwoods, which it resembles – especially the Giant Sequoia.  In fact it still is, but now it’s the Cupressaceae, instead of the more descriptive one of Taxodiaceae (my bias.)  They use the bark to side temples and shrines, as well as using the wood for all sorts of construction.

This is taken shortly after we planted it in June of 2013.  It looks so tiny there now but even in its first year it grew well over a foot and 1/2, not bad for a new planting.  It replaced an old cherry tree that died on us, a very sad event, so we wanted a fast grower to fill the spot left by the cherries absence.

This was taken in November of the same year, 2013, and shows the growth it put on in that time.  I left all the lower branches on at first to give the tree as much sunshine as it could get in its first year.

This is February 2014, after I pruned it up to begin the process of raising the skirt so we could eventually walk under it.  I haven’t had to prune is since then, but will surely have to at some point in the next few years.

This was taken in July of the same year – 2014 – and you can see how much it’s grown.  It actually put on 3 feet of growth that year.  It totally amazed and thrilled me, as you can imagine.  It’s living up to its reputation as a fast growing tree.

This is in the same year, but in October, after it’s put on even more top growth.  It’s about 9 1/2 feet tall now.

I  took this picture in May of 2015 – the year after the previous photo.  It’s beginning to put on the seasons growth.  It’s getting wider now and filling out more, and the skirt is still the same height as when I first pruned it up.

It’s much fuller now in August of 2015.  Amazing how much it’s grown in just 3 months isn’t it?  It’s beginning to look  more like a real tree.

This is taken in late winter, February of 2016.  It hasn’t grown much since the last photo but you can see the trunk better.  It’s still pretty skinny for such a tall tree, but it’s getting thicker every year.

A few more months and it’s added more growth by the time this photo was taken in July of 2016.  Look at it next to the light post and you can see it grow as the photos go on.

See what I mean about the post?   This is just 2 months more growth in September of 2016.  It’s starting to look a lot fuller now and the whole area is filling out along with it.

This is taken from a different angle and shows the undergrowth well.  This is in July of 2017, just over a year or so ago.  I’m being continually amazed by the growth this tree is putting on.  It’s getting way too big for me to measure it with my measuring stick anymore, but I’d guess it’s at least 16 or 17 feet tall by now.

By October of 2017 it’s even taller – probably 18 or 20 feet now.  That means it’s grown an average of 3 feet a year for it’s 5 years of life here in our garden.  Wow…  When I stand next to it and look up it’s starting to feel like the top is really far away now.

Here it is last month – February 2018.  It hasn’t really grown much since the last photo but it has all sorts of pollen on it that scattered all over the place during the winter.  In Japan it’s a prime source of allergies, so I hope it doesn’t do that too badly to us.  Both of us have allergies to things like this, but that’s the price you pay for such sylvan beauty!

No, this isn’t our tree.   It’s a specimen of the actual species of Cryptomeria japonica that’s growing in the lawn of the Quinalt Lodge in the Quinalt Rain Forest on the central coast of Washington.  We were there just last week and of course I had to take a picture of this tree.  The Lodge was built in 1926 and the tree was planted soon after, so it’s about 90 years old now.  We figure it’s about 80 or 90 feet tall, maybe more.  Not quite as tall as the native spruces and Douglas firs, or even the redwoods they also planted, but it’s still magnificent.  Ours won’t ever get this big, more like half of it, I hope…

So that’s some of the story of this beautiful tree.  I’m continually impressed with the beauty of it and how fast it’s taken its place in our landscape.  The cherry was a big loss and now this tree is slowly filling that gap.  It’s not that big yet but it will get even bigger than the cherry was so it’ll do it quite well in time.  It’s only supposed to get 15-20 feet wide, and I hope that’s true, but it’ll probably get wider.  You just can’t trust the labels, or even the descriptions on the websites.  Not a problem tho.  It’ll get the size it’ll get and that’s just the way it is.  Might as well love it…

Some day I’ll do a post on all the Cryptomerias I have here in our little Nature Sanctuary –  a dozen or so of them now – and show how varied they can really be.  But this will do for now.  Thank you for visiting me and I hope you enjoyed this exploration as much as I enjoyed presenting it.

For all the Sugis everywhere,

Steve

Beneath the Leaves

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana “Contorta)

I usually like to showcase lush green gardens or individual plants in this blog, with some miscellaneous posts here and there.  But it’s Winter and there isn’t much lushness around now.  So I thought I’d do something different.  It’s always fascinated me to look at the trees in the fall and winter when they’re bare of leaves.  You can finally see the structure of them.  They look so different without their clothes on and you can really see how the buds look and the ways they grow.  I’ll show you a few of the deciduous trees in our garden so you can see this structure and appreciate the trees from a whole new perspective.  They’re still beautiful to look at now, and you can see how I’ve pruned them to attain their current shapes.  It’s something that’s so much harder to see when they’re in full leaf.  Hope you enjoy the tour…

Jade Butterflies Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba “Jade Butterflies”)

Vanessa Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica “Vanessa”)

Red Pygmy Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum “Red Pygmy”)

Diana Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi “Diana”)

Eddie’s White Wonder Dogwood (Cornus florida x nuttallii)

Coral Bark Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum “Sango-Kaku”)

Korean Butterfly Maple (Acer tschnoskii ssp. “Koreanum”)

Waterfall Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum “Waterfall”)

Dwarf Swamp Cypress (Taxodium distichum “Peve Minaret”)

Bloodgood Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum “Bloodgood”)

Miss Grace Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides “Miss Grace”)

Weeping Purple Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica “Purpurea Pendula”)

Red Fox Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum “Rot Fuchs”)

I hope this little story has given you a different idea of a new way to look at trees when they don’t have their leaves on them.  It’s a true art to learn to identify them by their buds and growth habits, without the leaves to guide us.  It takes practice, and I’ve personally found that the aspect is an easier way to identify them then the buds are, but that’s just because I haven’t learned the buds as well.  It’s a lot harder to do, but totally worthwhile to try to learn them.   There’s so much more going on beneath the leaves…

Seeing thru them,

Steve

Welcome to Our Home

I really did mean to publish this when I took it back in October.  But life was too busy then and I just never got around to it.   But it’s a nice image of the entrance to our house and I wanted to put it into the blog, so here it is, a bit late but still beautiful.

From the left the plants here are:  the Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum Sango-Kaku), turning its lovely golden fall colors here.  It’s only about 7 1/2 years old and has grown really fast.  I trained it to be narrow at the bottom so we could still walk past it to the steps and into the garden to its right.  It forms a nice arch to enter beneath.

Next to it is a cultivar of the Austrian Black Pine called an Oregon Green Pine.  It’s been here for 8 years and is expected to get twice its present size.  It has beautiful white candles on it in the spring.  It forms the other half of the arch to walk under to get into the garden.

The tree in the back is a Korean Butterfly Maple (Acer tschonoskii ssp. Koreanum).  It’s only been here for 3 1/2 years and has grown about 8 feet in that time.  It turns this beautiful reddish orange fall color and is the first tree to change color.  It’s also the first tree to leaf out in the spring and the first to lose it leaves in the fall as well.  Balance I guess.

Below it is a gray green Pfitzer Juniper (Juniperus chinensis “pfitzeriana”).  It’s one that Louie planted over 30 years ago.  It’d be huge now but I keep it cut back so we can walk the path and drive into the driveway.  Louie wants to dynamite it but I’ve got him to hold off so far with some selective pruning.  They do get large tho, and it’s going to be a constant chore as time goes on.

Above the juniper is a hedge of Pyramidal Arborvitae (Thuja occidentals “Pyrimadalis”).   Louie planted these over 30 years ago as well and they were only in gallon cans then.  They form a dense screen across the front of the garden so that it’s very private inside it all.  It’s a peaceful place to hang out in any time in the year.

The ones at the far right are a line of Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica “Moyer’s Red”).   They’re interspersed with Oregon grape across the front of the garden and were some of the first plants I planted here in 2008.  The nandinas turn this amazing purple red in the fall and winter and you can see the colors from way down the block as you drive towards us. They have brilliant red berries on them in winter but they aren’t edible, even by the birds.  Go figure…

That’s the entrance to our home.  We hope to see you coming up the walk one of these days to visit.  You’ll be very welcome here.  Cheers!

Nandina

Nandina domestica, also known as Heavenly Bamboo, is a medium sized shrub that grows a bit like bamboo, thus the common name. But it’s actually in the same family as Barberry – the Berberidaceae. It can grow up to 8 feet tall, or more, with a spread of 4-6 feet given room. It grows in a fountain shape and the way you prune it is to lop off the tallest canes from the ground up and let the new ones take over, which they will do rapidly. This is a fast growing plant and this variety – “Moyer’s Red” – turns a lovely reddish shade in the winter.

The red berries follow the flowers you can see in the following pictures. In some you can even see a few berries. They are a common plant and in some areas are considered invasive, but not here in Seattle where we are. This is one of the few plants we have more than one of. Mostly I try not to repeat myself, but a line of them was too attractive to miss, so we did that as you’ll  see below. All the plants you’ll see are almost 8 years old, and are some of the first plants I planted when I moved in with Louie in 2009.

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This is a shot of the front of the yard, as seen from the street. This is the first view people have of our garden. As you can see the Thuja pyramidalis behind the Nandina are about 16 feet tall and make a nice backdrop for them. In between them we planted Oregon Grape, also in the Barberry family. They have small purple berries on them now that are pretty good to eat, but are a bit sour so they’re best for jelly and such.  The Nandina berries are poisonous and even the birds tend to leave them alone.

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This one is right by our front porch. It’s at least 8 feet tall, and there is a legend that if the Heavenly Bamboo gets taller than the door jamb that it protects the home.  This one will do that pretty well I’d say. It has a lot of flowers on it now and a few berries left over from last season. It frames the entrance to the house and provides interest all year round with its various changes.

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This last one is by the door of the garage and is well over the door jamb, so I guess the garage is well protected. I did a little bit of fancy pruning on it to air it out some and give the form a chance to show itself off. You can see a couple of little reddish new shoots coming up thru the neighboring foliage at the bottom. I’ll let them grow and in time they’ll replace the taller canes now growing. It never turns very red because it’s in a north facing area and just doesn’t get much sun at all.  The ones in front do much better at changing color because they get so much more sun.

I’ve known Nandina for some 45 years of gardening and have planted so many of them in landscapes I really couldn’t begin to tell you how many of them I’ve put in the ground. They used them a lot where I grew up in central California and are in fact pretty overused there in places. I almost grew to dislike them when I worked there doing landscapes, but I’ve overcome my prejudices as I’ve gotten older and away from that business end of things. Now I just plant what I like and am happy with them.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of these plants in various shapes. They’re nice plants for narrow spaces or for screening, and to provide that Asian flair for the garden. They aren’t hard to find and  there are many varieties, from small mounding shrublets to this tall natural form I’ve shown you. Some turn blazing red in winter, some don’t. All in all it’s a very versatile plant for many gardens.

Happy Growing!

Steve

Acer palmatum “Sango Kaku”

I wanted a nice tree to walk in under as we came up to our front porch. I didn’t have the room to plant a big tree so I planted a smaller one that gets maybe 25-30 feet tall – big enough for my purposes for sure. In the following pictures I’ll show you how it’s grown so well over the last few years. It was small when we got it and I had to pick one that would allow me to train it so that it wouldn’t block the paths and stairs around it. I did a lot of work to accomplish that, including at one point tying it up so that it was straight, more or less. I dunno if that was really necessary but it worked and now it’s full and big and does the job I wanted it to do. See for yourself!

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April 2010 – shortly after planting

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October 2010 – with some nice fall color

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May 2011 – after a year’s growth

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August 2011 – getting a bit sprawly

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January 2012 – in a little bit of snow – why’s it leaning?

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August 2012 – much fuller now – getting big

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May 2013- nice spring growth

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November 2013 – bare after leaf drop. See how skinny it is?

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May 2014  – lots of growth!

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November 2014 – Fall color – see how the tips are going last? Last to grow – last to turn…

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July 2015 – still skinny

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October 2015 – gentle fall color – it gets brighter!

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March 2016 – just starting to grow – see how red the new growth is?

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April 2016 – in the rain – makes it look huge and cool-looking!

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June 2016 – today – big enough to be a real tree to walk under now – finally!

It’s a bit hard to believe that this tree grew from a few sticks in 2010 to this 20 ft tree in about 7 years of growth. It’s still growing as I write this so I know it’ll get even bigger this year -and it’s still a baby in tree years. I did manage to accomplish my goal of keeping it very narrow so that we can walk up the stairs and into the garden without hitting our heads on the branches.

It’ll get a lot wider and still another 10 feet of of height perhaps and pictures I’ve seen of big ones make me kind of shudder – it’s going to be a big tree here, despite it’s being classified as a “small tree” in my books. It doesn’t get quite as big as the straight species which will get over 40 feet – even 50 for a really big, old one.

This one will do for us. It’s also known as the Coral Bark Maple for the bright red stems it puts on when they first come out. It’s supposed to resemble a tower of sea corral in Japanese, thus the name – “Sango Kaku”. Its lovely in winter, especially with a bit of snow on the ground around it. As they age the limbs turn an undistinguished brown but I still like it fine.

It’s pretty common in nurseries and even the big box stores (where I got mine! – eek!), so if you like this you’ll probably be able to find it somewhere in your area, depending on where you live of course. But common doesn’t mean it’s not great ya know – just that a lot of us like it… 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip thru memory lane with this wonderful tree. I only had a couple of good shots of the really excellent fall colors it turns – from the yellow I did show to a striking reddish orange that you can see from up the street. It’s a beautiful tree and I’m happy to have it to walk in under when I come home. Maybe you could do this too…

Rising from the sea…

Steve

A Fine Day for Pruning

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I’ve been itching to get my shears out and prune these Japanese Maples for some time now. There’s some controversy about just when is the “proper” time to prune these delicate creatures. I tend to follow the advice of Cass Turnbull, of Plant Amnesty, a Master Pruner here in Seattle. She says the best time is basically “when the shears are sharp”.

In other words you prune them when you’re ready to do it. You have to be in the right frame of mind to do these trees. They can be messed up so easily if you make the wrong cuts. I have spent literally hours gazing at these two trees to determine just which branches to cut and why. My goal is to prune so that you can’t tell that I’ve even done it.

I suppose you’re wondering why I put  up these two shots. After all you can’t tell anything can you? I sure hope not. If you can tell I’ve just pruned a couple of buckets of branches off the two of them then I’ve done a poor job. If you could see them up close you’d see a scar or two of course but otherwise I think you can’t tell.

We were lucky to have a perfect day today for this work. It’s been sunny and warmish, for Seattle anyway, with no rain, another rare occurrence just lately. And I just felt good about it today. I was in the right frame of mind and felt prepared to do it and suffer the consequences if I screwed up. But I don’t think I did. They look just like I had in mind for them to look when I was done.

I pruned several other things in the yard but the prostrate rosemary that half froze to death isn’t that pretty right now and the Pfitzer Juniper didn’t fit my theme of maples so I’m not showing those. I did a bunch of other chores around the yard since it was so nice out and I was in the mood. I’ve really been wanting to do some gardening and it’s just been too wet recently so I’ve put it off.

So today when I got home from an appointment I put on my pruning gear and got myself prepared. I sharpened my shears and got out the buckets and bins to put the prunings in. I spent an little time just looking at the trees again to make sure I was ready for this and I got out the tall pruning ladder so I could get at the top of the bigger one and off I went.

The top shot is of a Japanese Maple, or Acer palmatum, called Sangokaku or Coral Bark Maple, for its reddish new bark. It means Pillar of Coral in Japanese, or Sea Corral to be precise since that’s what it supposedly reminds folks of there. It gets about 25 or 30 feet tall and grows in this vase shape tho I’ve emphasized it and made it tighter since it’s between two paths and we need to be able to walk under it.

The other one is an Acer palmatum dissectum called “Waterfall” we just got about a year ago. It was pretty low to the ground when we first got it and I had to prune quite a bit last year. Over the past growing season it put on a lot of growth and so I had to do some more work on it today to keep it off the Rhodie in front of it and keep it in good shape. It may get to 10 feet tall they say and as wide. I’ll have more pruning to do in time.

I have 4 other Japanese maples in this garden and the rest of them don’t really take any pruning to speak of yet. They’re growing very slowly, except for one I’ll profile soon, and just can’t handle any loss of limbs. I’m waiting for them to gain some size first before I attempt to prune them much and some of them will probably never need much pruning. I’ll get to them when it’s time.

I have pruned them a bit tho and you can’t tell at all that I’ve even touched them it’s so subtle. That’s the way I approach most of my pruning. I’ll try to be as subtle as I can so you can’t tell what I’ve done. It’s like how when you clean a house it just looks right when you’re done, you can’t tell you cleaned it actually and done any work. Good pruning can be like that. You can’t see it.

I was taught to prune by a few talented people in my youth and one of them gave me a motto I love. He said he did “Aesthetic and Therapeutic Pruning”, a phrase I’ve used ever since. This practice means that you take into account the nature of the plant you’re working on and allow it to be itself as much as possible, with minor adjustments to keep it in shape and healthy as well as beautiful. It’s a great way to think about it.

I don’t believe in topping plants if there’s any other way to prune them. But sometimes it’s necessary. I almost lost a big Viburnum rhytidophyllum a year or so ago and thought it was going to die so I topped it way back and tied it up and in a few months it started to grow again and is a gorgeous shrub that looks grand now. You can see where I cut it still but that will disappear in time as it’s an evergreen so will cover up its scars. But it’s rare I’ll do something that radical unless I’m trying to save a plants’ life, which was so in that case.

But topping trees is often a tragedy and I really try to talk people out of it if there’s any other way to go. Often it’s more work to do it right I’ll admit, but you end up with a plant that has it’s natural form instead of bare arms sticking up out of the jungle of suckers that will come on after you top something. It looks like hell to me and I hate it. There are better ways to do it if you just look closely and see where to cut it.

We have a big pruning project we still have to do – an Italian plum in the back yard that shades much of the garden. It’s gotten way too heavy and needs to be thinned badly. It’ll be a few hours project tho and we just haven’t gotten to it yet. But we will soon, before it starts to bud out. The cherry next to it has buds showing now and I think I got to the Maples just in time too because one of the ones I have in a pot is definitely starting to push its buds out already. I’m so excited I can’t stand it! Wow… 😉

Anyway, that’s enough about pruning for now. I know that as time goes on I’ll have many more plants to prune in this garden that have yet to mature. But I hope I’ve done a good enough job of planting them with enough space to grow that I won’t have to do a whole lot of pruning to keep them happy together. Time will tell but if I can do it so you can’t tell I’ll be happy. And so will the plants!

Pruning to be invisible,

Steve

PS: Here are a couple of posts I’ve done on pruning before: https://gardeningingreenwood.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/plant-amnesty-says-stop-topping-trees/ and https://gardeningingreenwood.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/some-thoughts-on-pruning-and-size/. Both have some redundant material but new stuff too, especially about Plant Amnesty, which is so cool I want to share it again… ;). Thanks for reading.

Fagus sylvatica “Purpurea Pendula”

This plant is a unique specimen in my garden. I planted it as a memorial to my brother Randy, who died of AIDS in 2009. I put some of his ashes under it and always introduce it as “Randy’s Tree”. It has grown steadily even when Louie accidentally cut its bark with the weedeater, but it recovered and is growing strong and full today. Unlike him…

I really miss my brother. We were just the two of us growing up and tho we didn’t always get along great we loved each other a lot. He was my best friend and my best enemy, as it often is with brothers. It’s been over 4 years now since I lost him and the pain is still sharp at times, and a dull ache at others. It’s hard to lose someone as close to you as a brother, especially a younger one and the only one you have.

He was an artist and I have a nice collection of his paintings from early in his life when we all lived together on an old homestead in the High Sierras in central California. He painted many paintings of the place we lived and every time I see them on our walls I’m reminded of better days when he was OK and healthy as a horse.

Sometime in the mid-80s he was diagnosed as having HIV antibodies in his system. He refused to go to western doctors, or should I say he tried to go to them but they all said he was just going to die so he quit their death rants and started on Chinese Medicine. He used Chinese herbs to alleviate his condition for many many years and kept himself healthy for a long time – over 20 years.

But he was also Bipolar like me, only he wouldn’t get a check up and get diagnosed till the end of his life and it started to eat away at his brain sometime in the early 2000’s. He slowly developed dementia and by the time he died he was barely there much of the time. I spent the last few months of his life first going to CA to get him back and then going to the hospice we put him in when we got him home to Seattle.

I can’t say enough good things about Bailey Boushay House here in Seattle. They are truly wondrous caring compassionate people and they made his last days so much better than they might have been. I visited him almost every day for over 2 months till the end and I’m so glad we had that time together. It was very hard being with him but I loved him so much, and he loved me back, and that made it OK to be there.

I lost him on Oct. 2, 2009 in the middle of the afternoon. I wasn’t there yet but a close friend of his was, and he sang him to sleep and let him slowly pass on in peace and harmony. It was a “good death” if there is such a thing. He wasn’t in pain and suffering like he had been for so many years and for that I’m grateful. But I’ll always miss him so much…. Sigh.

A little about this tree itself… It’s a weeping copper beech tree and it’s parent covers much of Europe. This is a garden cultivar that grows to maybe 10 feet tall or more with a mounding habit. I’ve trained it up to about that 10 feet now and expect it to mound up on itself and become more broad as time goes on. It’ll eventually have to be pruned to let us pass it when we go thru the gate next to it.

I’ve been amazed at how fast it’s grown here. Maybe a foot or more a year which surprised me as I thought they were slow growers. I guess it likes it here. Maybe it’s because of all the attention I give it. I spend a lot of time with this tree, just admiring it and thinking of Randy. Even now it makes me cry to think about him. It’s a living memorial to him and it’s the only one like this I have in my garden.

I’ve arranged the photos as I usually do, in chronological order so you can see it as it grows and in different seasons as well. I’m seriously considering taking the stake out but I think I’ll wait till warmer weather when the wind stops blowing so hard and it’ll have a better chance of staying upright. I’m not worried, just cautious. I don’t want to lose this one… not that I want to lose anything, but this is a special plant in this special Sanctuary…

So that’s about it. I didn’t talk about the tree so much as I did my brother. I guess I needed to do that. I honor his memory by writing this and I wish you all had a chance to know him as I did. He was such a creative guy and so loving and kind. I wish there were more people like him in the world. It’d be a much better place.

A great tree for a great guy,

Steve

Metasequoia in Training

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This is a cultivar of the Dawn Redwood, or Metasequoia glyptostroboides, called “Miss Grace”.  As I understand the story, it was developed by Talon Bucholz in his nursery and he thought it was going to be a ground cover. One night his employees tied them all up into trees and that’s what they’ve become in the nursery trade now. A weeping Metasequoia instead of a ground cover.

I planted this tree in the winter of 2008 when it was only about 4 feet tall. It’s now over 8 feet and still growing, but I’ve had to work at it to get it that tall. If you click twice on this photo and look closely you can see the green ties at the top of the tree where I’ve trained the tips up to be straight up in the air. No weeping here, tho it was a lateral I tied up and it wanted to be level to the ground. I had different plans.

I’ve been training this tree up by tying up the laterals since I’ve had it and I’ve gained several feet of growth in that time because of it. I just tie up the tips Very carefully and let them grow. They seem to want to continue to weep tho, so I’ve had to go clear to the top of the tree to get it to stay as straight as it can and let it grow upright instead of weeping.

I’m not sure what would happen if I let it alone. I suspect it might build up on itself, in time anyway, but it’d be a much slower process and I’d have a very different tree. I like that it’s getting up to its supposed 10 foot height so fast. I suspect it may get even taller, but then I may have to train it up to do that and I don’t know how long I want to do this.

These trees are Very fast growing as you can see with this one. I dunno how well you can see the trunk on this but the base of it is a full two hands around and that amazes me. Up close this tree looks like something from some prehistoric time, which in fact it is. I love its aged look. It’s very evocative of old growth forests and almost hoary in its shape and character.

The Metasequoia was only discovered by modern man in the early 40’s in China in a wet valley where it rains all summer. But they seem to do fine here in Seattle where they don’t get much summer water from the sky. I’ve also grown them in central CA where they also thrive even in the abysmal heat and dryness there. I planted a species for my folks there and it’s huge now. They do like a lot of water.

They’re in the family of the Cupressaceae, the Cypress family, but it contains far more than cypress. It also holds the redwoods of California, and many other wonderful conifers. It’s a huge family and I have many of its representatives in my garden.

One of the things I love the most about this tree is how “pettable” it is when the leaves are on it. They’re very fine and lacy and look like a sheer version of the coast redwood, and feel like soft feathers when you brush them with your fingers. It’s really delightful.

Then in winter they start to develop their spring buds as soon as the leaves fall, so it always looks like it’s about to burst forth in new growth. It makes me happy to see it like this and I love the unique structure it has that you can see in the winter when it’s bare and lost its covering of leaves. You can see that structure well now.

Growing dwarf plants is a joy and a challenge if you want to keep them in their spots and yet allow them to get to the sizes they want to become. They usually grow so slowly that it takes them years to do this. But with a fast grower like this, and a few others, I have to take a hand in training them. I wrote about my Red Twig Dogwood recently and how I’ve trained it into a tree. I’ve done the same with other trees and plants.

This Metasequpia is one of my favorites in the garden and it has been for many years as a large tree. It’s so cool to be able to still have its beauty as a dwarf that will grow to a reasonable size for me. This is really my secret. Growing things that will fit where I put them and growing them with minimal training and adjustment with pruning is my goal, but it takes careful work to do it well.

I love that work. Helping the plants to grow to be themselves as much as possible is one of my chief joys in growing the garden. It’s such a pleasure to see things become themselves, just as it is with my fellow humans. We all become ourselves with the proper training and it’s as true with trees as with people. Good training when you’re young makes you a good person or a good plant.

It’s worth the time and energy it takes and I recommend it to you who have plants that need some assistance in their growing habits. You can change them some but you always have to do it in context with what a plant wants to be on its own or it won’t work. So follow the lead of the plant world and you’ll do well.

Happy Training to you,

Steve

Arborizing a Red Twig Dogwood

As any of you who have grown this plant knows, it tends to want to become a 10-15 foot ball. I’m trying something different. I’m training it up to become a tree. I got the idea at the NW Flower and Garden Show a couple of years ago with a yellow twig one and it caught my imagination. And since I had a wet space for a small tree but not a ball, I decided to try to see if I could train it up to become that small tree.

This can be done with many plants that are often at that middle range between real trees and large shrubs. I’ve seen this done well with lilacs, and laurels, strawberry trees and even some rhodies. If it gets too big to be a shrub for you, you might consider making it a tree instead. It exposes the inner bark which can be wonderful. Many shrubby trees have nice bark… like this dogwood that is bright red in the winter.

So often I think people think in terms of cutting Back a plant, cutting it Down in effect. Sometimes it’s good to look up and see what can happen in that piece of sky above the plant. Maybe you can make use of it to increase your garden “airprint” as well as its footprint. It makes your garden bigger even if it’s not… Something we smallholders have to keep in mind…

I’ve put these pictures in chronological order and you can see how insanely fast this thing grows. I  was shocked. I planted it in April of 2011 as the first couple of pictures show. Even there you can see the difference in just 3 weeks of growth. The next one is in July and it’s grown a lot by then. I’m beginning to be amazed…

Here it’s the spring of March in 2012. Then March again and later on in June. The next one is of the tree in fall in November after losing its leaves. You can see that I’ve done some removal of branches I didn’t want but I haven’t taken off everything. I just want to be careful. I sometimes have a tendency to prune too heavily and that’s not always wise…

The next shot, in March of 2013, is one of the whole north side fence area. It shows you how huge that dogwood has gotten in context with the other plants. You can see how big the Scotch Pine Inverleith has grown well here and the choke cherry near the dogwood too has done well. But the dogwood is the standout. I am truly amazed by now!!

The remaining shots are all during this last year. I guess I decided to shoot it often. I pruned it heavily at first and then let it go where it wanted except for pruning off some suckers that I knew I wouldn’t want. I established a good framework with the 6 branches I had in the first year. And I waited to prune it this year till all those gorgeous colored leaves had fallen. Patience has its rewards…

The next shot shows you the same line of the north side back fence that I showed you above. But here it’s taken in late October of this year and you can barely make out the branches of the dogwood high above the ones of the Taxodium and the choke cherry. It’s much taller than they are.

The last shot shows you the tree as it is today, actually this morning since I took this just now. I pruned it a bit after it lost its leaves so it has the structure I hope will work for it for now at least. I have no idea what will come in the years ahead. I’m envisioning a round headed tree about 10-12 feet tall and the same across, but up high.

It’ll compete with the Taxodium and the Cryptomeria perhaps, but I think they’ll do alright together. I’ll try to help them along to do that. They both grow much slower than the dogwood does, tho both do pretty well. They can hold their own I believe, with some careful pruning to make sure the dogwood doesn’t shade them out too much.

So this is it. I let the dogwood grow a lot and then pruned it to shape it and removed the suckers and crossing branches I knew I didn’t want early on. I’ve kept to that practice since the first year or so and pruned off things I thought were in the way of the framework developing into a tree like structure. It’s different I’ll admit. But I like it, and I think it’ll work really fine… 😉

Making trees from shrubs,

Steve

BTW: In actual specific fact this tree is a Conus sericea “Baileyi”, or Bailey’s Red Twig Dogwood, a cultivar selected for it’s lack of suckers (Ha!) and it’s intense red colors in the winter (Yeah!). The species may in fact get somewhat larger and I’ve seen them at 20 feet or more in the wilds. Just so ya know…

Plant Amnesty Says: Stop Topping Trees

PlantAmnesty bumpersticker

This is a blatant promotion of a non-profit organization here in Seattle that I think more people should be aware of. I’ve been a member for a few years and have deep respect for their work. They’ve literally changed the way people see Trees and plants in this area and show statistics of some of those changes here in this Info. kit I’ve copied from their website, (with permission I might add). The words are theirs, but they could just as well be mine. Please think about what they are saying and consider contacting them about joining them or starting a similar group in your area. The world needs its Trees and needs them to be healthy and well pruned. It’s all about pruning to Plant Amnesty and they deserve a lot of support. I’m just trying to do my share here.

A Stand for Trees.

“We promise that when we take what we want from Nature, that we will do so selectively and with respect. Always we will preserve the health and integrity of the whole, be it a plant, a rainforest, or a planet.” Cass Turnbull, Founder, PlantAmnesty.

PlantAmnesty Mission Statement
To end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs caused by mal-pruning (and other common forms of plant mis-management).

Most people take it for granted that trees and plants are being maintained properly, or that it’s not really a major issue. But think of the green infrastructure of our city — improper pruning and tree topping add up to an expensive waste of resources, and many trees and plants pay for these mistakes with their lives.

PlantAmnesty was founded in 1987 to “stop the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs.” The nonprofit group uses a unique blend of humor and controversy to raise public awareness of “Crimes Against Nature” committed in our own backyards. PlantAmnesty vows to end Crimes Against Nature. After alerting the public to this problem, our volunteers provide readily accessible and accurate information, materials and services.

PlantAmnesty’s solutions to plant abuse and neglect include garden renovation workshops, classes, videos, a referral service and volunteer pruning and tree projects throughout the community. Several grants have allowed our group to produce and distribute thousands of Pruning Guides, Saving Trees and Views pamphlets, tree biology quizzes for local students, tree planting guides and locally-produced public service announcements.

A serious “Crime Against Nature” is the misguided practice of topping trees. One of PlantAmnesty’s major efforts over the past two decades has been to stop this “torture and mutilation.” Why doesn’t topping work? Topping actually increases a tree’s growth rate rather than slowing it, and this makes it an expensive choice. It’s also ugly. But mostly it’s dangerous because it rots, starves and weakens a tree. Topping trees can also decrease property values for a homeowner and the entire neighborhood.

PlantAmnesty’s media campaign works. In the Seattle 1990 edition of the yellow pages, 17 of the 28 businesses with display ads advertised topping as a service. That’s 61%. In 1998 that number was 10/22 or 45%. In 2001 it was 8/34 or 23%. In 2003 only 3 in 36 advertised topping – a mere 8%!

Heritage Tree Program: Since there is little legal protection for trees in Seattle, PlantAmnesty decided to identify and celebrate the City’s special trees.
Funding for the Seattle Heritage Tree program was originally supplied by a grant from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service. Additional support has been provided from time to time by various departments of the City of Seattle. In-kind volunteer services are provided by PlantAmnesty arborists and members of the Heritage Tree Committee. In 1999 the City of Seattle became an official partner of the program, providing staff support and the Heritage Tree web site at: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/heritagetree.htm.

Goals:
Raise Awareness of the Problem.
Provide Solutions (referral service, education, volunteer pruning and care).
Engender Respect for Plants.
We Affirm:
That our organization is inclusive, tolerant and based on grassroots collective action.
That our educational materials are clear, current and technically accurate.
That we will maintain a sense of humor and good-will being outspoken on the issues.

PlantAmnesty has more than 1000 members in 31 states and four countries. We are part of a growing movement to lead society out of the dark ages of landscape care.
PlantAmnesty members share a common bond of caring about green things, and they know that an immense amount of damage is done to our landscapes as a simple result of widespread ignorance.

PlantAmnesty provides these valuable services to the community:
• Alerting the public to Crimes Against Nature with a media campaign that employs humor, education and controversy to raise public awareness. We average one million readers – viewers – listeners per year.
• Educational materials and literature including “how-to” guides, videos, pruning topics, articles, essays and slide shows. We average 300 free DVDs and videos, 6,000 free pruning guides and $3,000 worth of literature are distributed annually.
• Pruning classes, lectures, and hands-on lessons, workshops and demonstrations. Average 50 classes and 2,000 people taught annually.
• Professional arborist and gardener donated work days.
• Web Site: http://www.plantamnesty.org.
Password Library available to members.
• Seattle Heritage Tree Program.
• Master Pruner Program.
• Nasty Letter Writer.
• Thousands of calls and requests for information answered by our office staff and volunteers.
• Educational display booths and speakers bureau.
• Gardener and Arborist referrals made through our free Referral Service.

PlantAmensty engenders respect for our urban ecology by speaking out on behalf of the urban forest. We have fun while we try to change the world, because we take our mission, but not ourselves, seriously.

Volunteers are the heart of most any non-profit organization, PlantAmnesty included. Our members spend countless hours providing much-needed services and education to the public. Volunteers participate in events such as the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, PlantAmnesty’s Fall FUN(d)raiser, Master Gardener’s Plant Sale and the International Society of Arboriculture’s annual conference. PlantAmnesty always needs people to speak on behalf of trees, and serve on our committees. PlantAmnesty staffs educational booths with volunteers, always pairing up a veteran with a newcomer. We also encourage members to come to Volunteer Yard Renovations. These group projects allow professional gardeners the opportunity to share tricks of the trade, tool information, and to get to know others of their kind. Novices get the opportunity to learn how to weed and prune from more experienced members. And besides, everybody feels great after saving a needy and deserving landscape from years of neglect.
Volunteers are invited to serve on these PlantAmnesty committees:
• Heritage Tree
• Education & Advocacy
• Tree Programs
• Financial Development
• Events (Fall Plant Sale)

Awards: Seattle’s Friend of the Trees Award, International Society of Arboriculture’s Gold Leaf Award, National Arbor Day Foundation’s Education Award.
PlantAmnesty is a federally approved 501 C-3 non-profit organization. As such, donations are tax deductible. Our Federal EIN Number is 91-1393557

PlantAmnesty
P.O. Box 15377
Seattle, WA 98115-0377
Tel: 206-783-9813
Fax: 206-529-8023
Email: info@plantamnesty.org
http://www.plantamnesty.org

Back to me again. I hope this has been a fun read for you. It always is for me and I get inspired just reading about their work as well as doing it in my own ways of educating people about how to prune correctly or choose the right plants to put in our yards and gardens. It’s a mission for some of us and has been for me my whole life as a gardener and landscaper, since I was in my teens even. I never did like topped trees and now I understand a lot more about why I didn’t and don’t. Please think about your choices when you prune your trees and shrubs. It can make or break your garden and leave horrid scars that last for years and may never be overcome. I’ve seen too much of it and if I seem a bit over zealous, well, it’s because I am 😉

Happy and Safe Pruning to you all,

Steve

Some Thoughts on Pruning and Size

There are  a lot of aspects to maintaining a good garden. And one of them is pruning. Another is choosing the right size plant to fit where they belong. I have some opinions about this which I’ll talk about a bit here. I’m talking about the way I’ve done things in my landscaping businesses and nurseries I’ve worked in for over 20 years as well as my own gardens for longer than that. I don’t say this is the only way to do things but it’s what I’ve come to believe works best. It’s how I approach my own garden.

I have to be creative in my pruning methods but that’s ok. I love to prune and learned from a man who taught me to do “aesthetic and therapeutic’ pruning so that the plant remains healthy but its artistic elements are also encouraged and so it would fit in place with its neighbors in harmony. I try to do that with all my garden work. I believe that plants, and people, do best when they are allowed to grow to be themselves. So in my garden design businesses I always tried to allow for the eventual size and shape of a plant to be allowed for in the design.

I have a theory that the reason many people don’t like some plants is simply that they were planted in the wrong spots and thus required too much work. If a plant had been put there that matured to the right size it might never have been a problem. Anyway I’ve tried my best to follow this in my own garden but I admit my collector’s eye has gotten me into some tight spaces here and there and I’ll have to be very careful as to how I grow this garden at times. That’s ok tho as it gives me something exciting to do and work to accomplish for many years as I live and grow with this garden.

And remember: Stop Topping Trees! ( slogan courtesy of Plant Amnesty, of which I am a member. It’s an organization that advocates for proper pruning and other fine things.) It may have its place in an orchard but rarely in a good garden. Be careful. Would You want Your head and limbs cut off willy nilly? Think about it. There’s almost always a better way.

Happy and Careful Pruning and Planting,

Steve