Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

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!

Advertisements
 

Late-Autumn Pursuits November 22, 2009

Filed under: fall — greenwalks @ 10:06 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

(AKA what I have been up to instead of gardening, blogging, or reading garden blogs, all three of which I wish I had more time for at the moment…)

Here in Seattle, it’s almost unrelentingly horrid out – storm system after storm system rips through, often bringing heavy rains and high winds. Flood levels are rising, the ground is ultra-saturated, and the things that need to get done outside are just not happening. Oddly, the things that need to get done inside aren’t really getting done either! ‘Tis the season to be too busy and feel like a hamster on a wheel.

I feel lucky that we haven’t had to deal with much in the way of storm-induced problems so far. Cleaning the gunk out of the rain barrel’s screen and making sure the basement stays dry has been about it. Well, we need to fix our gate – the post cracked and the strongest winds tend to carry the loose latch all the way through to the wrong side, effectively trapping us unless a screwdriver is at hand.

Windblown gate latch

Other fascinating fall activities have included watching Jack-o-Lanterns rot:

Rotten Jack-o-Lantern I

Rotten Jack-o-Lantern II

They disintegrated when I tried to put a shovel under them, but most of the bits made it to the worm bin, where I recently spotted the biggest, baddest, blackest spider I’d ever seen sitting on one fuzzy remnant. All together now – EWWWW!

This gourd, which languished on the sideboard for a bit too long, got even more Halloween-ish when it started turning black and silvery in spots:

Rotting gourd

I rush past neighbors’ gardens and only stop for a second to admire the turning leaves, as on this hedge I didn’t realize was deciduous:

Deciduous hedge in fall

We’ve been playing a lot (a lot a lot a lot) of Uno recently. If you don’t know this card game, it’s easy to learn and keeps a 5+ yr. old busy for long stretches, at least around here. We lost the rules a while back so we may have invented some, but at least they are consistent. Sometimes, when we take a break, our friendly household shark holds the cards for us until we return.

Great white shark playing Uno

What keeps you busy when the trees bend before the wind?

 

The Beauty of Birch November 18, 2009

We had a few white birch trees at our previous place, and I have to admit I didn’t appreciate them very much. One was poorly sited in the tiny front lawn, shading the struggling fruit trees, and the others were in the parking strip, dropping their tiny, storm-drain-clogging, hard-to-rake leaves everywhere in the fall. Their branches tended to hang low and get brutally thwacked every time the UPS truck barrelled down our hill, and when we tried to prune them, they bled fountains of weeping sap.

But now that I can admire them from afar, I have fallen in love with these trees. I think ours were Betula pendula (European white birch), which form huge jagged dark cracks in their white bark, but the ones I’m enjoying in the neighborhood are more likely B. papyrifera (Paper birch), at least I think so – please correct me if you think otherwise.

A white tree looks so very mod and chic in the fall landscape.

Birch alley

Looks like the children (or rodents?) of the neighborhood have not been able to resist a little peeling. Not good for the tree, I would imagine.

Paper-bark birch

This one might be my old nemesis, it seem to have more of a weeping shape.

Last birch leaves a-clinging

I had to really admire this trunk base for a while. It was hard not to peel just a little tiny strip – so tempting! But I managed to contain myself.

Frilly birch

Has a tree (or plant) ever lost your heart but then won it back again?

PS Acer negundo (aka Box elder), I am so over you. A decidious tree that is this blah in fall is just off my list. Thanks to everyone who warned me away from getting one!

Acer negundo (Box elder) in fall - blah!

 

Hunting Maple November 17, 2008

The tree that’s been on my must-have list for the longest time is a Japanese maple, or acer palmatum. I need to find the perfect home for one, or maybe a couple, and care for the tree(s) well enough so that they will survive. I have been afraid of the virus they can fall prey to (verticillium wilt), plus it’s just so hard to decide which one(s) to get. Should it be ‘Sango-kaku,’ with its brilliant yellow leaves and dramatic red bark? Or a red-purple ‘Rubrum’? Or how about ‘Linearilobum,’ with its finger-like leaves and multi-hued fall glory?

In Japanese culture, “Momiji-gari” or hunting/viewing maple trees is a tradition almost as revered as the springtime ritual of traveling to view cherry blossoms. This site, Way of Maple, promotes the aestetic prunining and enjoyment of the species, and provides a translation of one of the many Japanese poems celebrating the tree:

By the wind storm’s blast
From Mimuro’s mountain slopes
Maple’s leaves are torn,
Which turn Tatsuta River
Into a rich brocade.

-Monk Noin

Japanese maples are popular in Seattle, so I decided to go on my own little “maple hunt” one day last week and see how many I could find, especially in the parking strips of my neighborhood. Turns out there were a lot! I will share some with you below, and save a few for another time, perhaps when the leaves are all gone and we need a few bright colors to get us through the winter blahs.

Turning maple

Fiery maples

Maple sky

Tricolor maple II

Maple branches

Scarlet maple II

Maple leaf carpet

 

Sidewalk Scene November 15, 2008

Filed under: neighborhood gardens,trees — greenwalks @ 11:05 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been frantically working (like a squirrel in late autumn? Hm, maybe Dr. Destructo and I have more in common than I thought!) on a couple of bigger posts but nothing is quite ready to put up yet. Today is busy, no time to write, so all I have to offer is this photo from a recent walk.

Maple leaves on fence

I hope this weekend brings you time to commune with your garden, or at least a moment to think about it and plan for next year!

 

Freakishly Fabulous Fall Foliage November 10, 2008

I had been thinking the fall colors here in Seattle seemed more stunning than usual this year, and it turns out I was not wrong. Whenever there’s a noticeable change in how the plants behave, I start to worry and fret about global warming, but in this case it’s aprobably just a minor pattern shift, nothing to worry about.

Fiery fall leaves

The Seattle Weekly had a squib in their most recent issue about this local phenomenon, an unseasonably dry fall with warmer days and cooler nights than usual, plus fewer early-season windstorms to knock all that gorgeous foliage to the ground. Since there is no link to the article on the Weekly’s site, I will quote a portion of it here for those interested in the science behind fall leaf color beauty:

“The brightest foliage colors come when the nights are cool and the days are warm, explains atmospheric sciences professor Mark Stoelinga. This “diurnal effect” stimulates the chemical process that turns leaf color. Clouds, which we usually have plenty of this time of year, hamper this effect because they act like a blanket at night, stopping heat from radiating upward, and a barrier during the day, preventing the sun from permeating downward.”

Starting to turn

Of course, now that we’ve had a few of those wind storms, I’m regretting not having spent more time walking around looking at and taking pictures of all the lovely leaves. Oh well, even on the ground, they’re quite something.

Leaf carpet

Who knows when we’ll get a fall like this again, but I’m glad to have seen the beauty that it produced. Did anyone else notice any odd weather changes this autumn in your region?

 

P is for… November 9, 2008

parking strip gardens, the ostensible focus of this blog! The other day on a walk, it was also for

pyrecantha berries,

Pyrecantha berries

pampas grass, aka feather grass, aka Cortaderia selloana, which can be invasive in some areas,

Pampas grass

pathway,

Parking strip path

palm tree,

Palm and stones

planter boxes,

Parking strip planter boxes

and pebbles, massed in a flowing “river” under a stunning Japanese maple.

Stone river and Japanese maple

Can you tell I’ve been working with my 5 year old on her letters?!