Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

The Curtain’s Going Up December 28, 2009

Filed under: flora,trees — greenwalks @ 9:24 am
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… on the annual Witch hazel show! Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’, with its unusual orange flowers, takes pride of place in my garden every January and I noticed while passing by it yesterday that the very first blossoms have begun to unfurl. They will slowly cover the tree and if all goes well, should be in full flower by mid-January. I didn’t plant this tree, but am grateful to the previous gardener here who did.

Dec 27 09 1st Witch Hazel 'Jelena' Flower

Is it showtime, or almost, for any of your favorites yet this winter?

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Wishing You A Reindeer’s Rest on Dec. 25 December 24, 2009

Filed under: digressions,fauna — greenwalks @ 11:50 pm
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They must be pretty tired today, those sky-striders. So is anyone else who has been scurrying around getting stuff ready for the big day, if they celebrate Christmas in any secular or sacred way.

Best wishes to all and hope there is time to relax in this season that can overtake us all with too much of ***everything*** (food, people, stuff, emotions, expectations) at times.

Sleepy Reindeer at Swanson's

(We met this particular reindeer at Swanson’s Nursery in Seattle. Don’t you love those soulful eyes?)

 

PlanTV December 19, 2009

Filed under: digressions — greenwalks @ 3:24 pm
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This post on nestmaker made me start looking more closely at plant images in feature films and TV that we watch. Hope I am not breaking too many copyright laws here, and sorry for the poor-quality images.

Disney’s “Jungle Book” is full of tropical flora. Whether or not it is accurately rendered, that’s for someone more in the know to judge, but I enjoyed it and did see in the credits that there were certain animators who worked specifically on the backgrounds.

The titular jungle:

'Jungle Book' jungle

Little Mowgli all tucked in snugly by his friend Balou the bear in an understory plant:

Mowgli asleep in a plant

Grouchy but protective panther Bagheera and Mowgli asleep in a tree (can you tell we have the smallest TV on the planet, outside of a handheld?):

Bagheera and Mowgli asleep in a tree

And finally, Coach’s wife on “Friday Night Lights” chatting on the phone while taking a pot of aloes outside:

Coach's wife with aloe plant

What are your favorite guest-starring appearances for plants on film?

 

New But Not Necessarily Improved December 12, 2009

Filed under: digressions,edibles — greenwalks @ 9:28 pm
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Since my family is a little bit apple-crazy, I figure I have to try just about any named apple variety I can lay my hands on. Farmers markets and orchard stands are of course the best places to find unusual varieties, but every once in a while something new pops up in the grocery store.

Last week, I spotted a sign for a new hybrid of Braeburn X Royal Gala, called a Jazz. It had the super-firm feel of a Fuji, which is not my favorite (I’d like to keep my front teeth into old age, thanks), but I decided to try it anyway.

"Jazz" apple

I don’t know if I got a poor specimen of the variety, but I have to say it did not make the cut for me in terms of flavor or texture (too sweet and chalky). Looking it up to make sure I had the hybrid varieties right, I saw that this particular apple has not only a trademark, but its own web site, Facebook page and Twitter following. I kid you not. I am not linking to any of them since I fear their PR flaks would take me to task for criticizing their product, which seems to have originated in New Zealand but is licensed to growers here in Washington state and elsewhere. But you can look it up if you don’t believe me or just want to see the cute young members of the JAZZ™ Apple Tangy-Sweet Crunch Bunch, coming soon to a town near you to offer up some slices. No, I did not make that up either.

I’m not knocking hybrids, I know they are an important part of keeping the plant kingdom thriving. In fact, it seems that the Royal Gala itself is a hybrid from New Zealand (Golden Delicious X Kidd’s Orange Red), ditto Braeburn (Granny Smith X Lady Hamilton, possibly). Those two combined represent a huge chunk of worldwide apple sales, so I guess I can’t blame them for trying to find the next golden goose. Has anyone else tried this apple? Was it any good? Did the name attract or repel you? (Do you think they focus-grouped the heck out of it?) Am I just being an old grump for preferring my apples not to wear stickers with company logos and trademarks on them?

 

Winter’s Late Arrival December 10, 2009

Filed under: my garden,Seattle,winter — greenwalks @ 12:52 pm
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Seattle’s fall was warm and wet, with way more rain in the month of November than is normal. I am trying to wrap my head around winter now that it is here for real, and although I should have known it was coming, I didn’t really get the garden ready.

So, new phormium and fig, rosemary and raspberries, welcome to the place where you are probably going to have to learn to live with your own resources and no more, or you will not be survivors. I will be sorry to see any of you go, but I’m just not together enough to get little houses and wraps and other coddlings ready for you at the exact right time. I will have to rely a bit on hope that you are going to be okay with some dips into the 20s and go with that. Well, okay, the teens. It was 14 on our side porch this morning!?! We don’t get that a lot, or at least we didn’t used to. Now maybe it’s the new norm.

Before the really bad cold set in (you know it’s cold when your relatives in Massachusetts are cracking up that it’s warmer there than here!), we had one really great foggy morning. It was so thick, we could barely see across the back garden or across the street. I didn’t think to try a photo until it was partly burned off, but still enjoyed the view of the neighbor’s plum tree hovering in the mist.

Plum tree in winter fog

After that, the mercury plunged and hasn’t really been up much above freezing for almost a week, at least at our place. We are on a little hill and it seems to bring the temp down a few notches vs. what the forecast says. The birdbath froze and has yet to thaw out:

Frozen birdbath in half light

I guess candied sage is probably not something I’d eat, but frosted with ice, it did remind me of something sugar-encrusted:

Frosted sage

There are plenty of plants I don’t have to worry about at all, who in fact seem to be happier the colder it gets!

The first blossom appeared on my Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ last week. The flowers do tend to get frost burn sometimes so I hope it waits to put out more blooms until a little later.

Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' - first blossom

I dug up a huge, mature Sarcococca confusa in the summer, it was turning yellow from too much sunlight. I put it in a big empty mulch bag and dragged it over into the shade, and completely forgot about it. Now it’s putting out its shiny black (poisonous!) berries and soon will do the super-scented flower thing. Anyone in/near Seattle want to take this one home for some TLC in a shady spot? Please leave me a comment or email me at greenwalksblog@yahoo.com. It’s a great plant, but I just don’t have the right place for it (a garden with no shade – you’d think I wouldn’t complain but there are definitely some plants that I’d like but are off the list because they’d get burned to a crisp!)

Sarcococca berries in late November

The red-twig dogwood dropped a lot of leaves this summer in the super hot spell (105F, I’m still not done moaning about it yet) but seems to have survived. I am working up the nerve to pollard the heck out of it this year, on the recommendation of a few experts. Having decried similar pruning efforts I’ve seen elsewhere, I am hesitant about giving mine such a severe “haircut” but have heard it will produce more new (i.e. red) twigs and then I’ll be happy. Anyone with good/bad experiences on this score to share?

Red-twig dogwood in winter

What about you – did you get your garden all ready for winter? Or, like me, are you going to have to wait and see what managed to survive on its own?

 

Duck at Dusk December 8, 2009

Filed under: birds,public gardens — greenwalks @ 5:43 pm
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Duck/dusk

If you look closely, you can see a glint of orange near the bottom center of the picture. There were some really impressive carp in this pond, near the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. They seemed to get along fine with the mallards, who are vegetarians as far as I know (and who are about the same size as the fish, if not smaller!).

 

There’s Something About Street Trees December 6, 2009

I seem to be on a tree kick here so maybe I will just keep it going…

Garden Rant had an invitation to discuss thoughts on street tree policy here. Lots of comments! People feel strongly about their streets and trees, go figure.

Local Ecologist blogger Georgia writes from NYC now, she always has great insights about public policy and plants.

A monthly Festival of the Trees rotates among a variety of blogs, including co-founder Dave’s at Via Negativa this month. Always good arboreal stuff in this round-up, from photos to poetry to links that will lead you to look at our leafy friends in new ways.

Now, back to photos. Some of my favorite street trees in the neighborhood, all taken a few weeks ago when more leaves were up than down.

Japanese maple, unknown variety (it would be on my short-list for the back garden, if only I knew what it was!):

Unknown Japanese maple variety in fall - lovely

A pretty dogwood (I would say maybe Cornus kousa except that I have one and it lost its leaves much earlier, so I’m not sure):

Dogwood in fall

Close up of dogwood fruit – do they remind anyone else of Crunchberries?

Dogwood fruit in November

Another Japanese maple, I’m going to go with ‘Bloodgood’:

Bloodgood maple tree

Nothing like sunlight through those leaves, turns them from wine to scarlet:

Light through Bloodgood maple

I’ll save the neighbor’s magnificent gingkos for another time. They deserve their very own page, I think!