Posts Tagged ‘plants’

how an arborist stakes a tree

Friday, August 5th, 2011

So, about those newly planted Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’ (Yoshino Japanese Cedar). Not to worry — they look happy. But at nearly 10′ tall, they needed staking before the coming nor’easter blasts topple them this winter. Shouldn’t be an issue next year when their roots have spread some to give them more support.

When you want things done right, it pays to know people who know people. Shiva hooked me up with Tim Lucksinger, an arborist out of Newport, RI. Nice guy. Curiously, he’s never tried karaoke even though he has the ideal name for it.

So how does a professional stake a tree? Like this…

the trio all staked



















So it doesn’t seem too hard, honestly. All it took was some sturdy rope (or really super heavy-duty twine)…

all strung up




















A sturdy wooden stake, pounded into the ground at an angle pointing away from the tree so that the rope will hold with some tension. Obviously this man knows his knots…

the stakes



















And then the rope runs through a section of rubber hose that fits around the trunk of the tree about 2/3 of the way up. Hose is a smart choice because it won’t abrade the bark and hurt the tree like rope alone would…

hose from the front



















The hose is cut in the back to give it more flexibility…

hose from the back



















And that’s that. The stakes come out in about a year. Thanks, Tim!

the replacements

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Remember when we took that oak tree down a while back? Well, his special-order replacements finally arrived…

the yoshinos arrive



















Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’ (Yoshino Japanese Cedar). Not native, from Asia obviously. They look like junipers in that shot, right? But they’re not. These are three fledglings and they’re typically bushy and cone-shaped when they start out. But as they add 3′ to 4′ feet a year, they loosen up so that you can see between the branches and become more irregular, like this…

cryptomeria japonica ‘yoshino’ adolescents



















Hard to believe that’s the same variety of tree but it is! That’s a grouping of three that I pass on one of my running routes.

I love that they naturally look like large bonsai. They’ll add introduce a small bit of Zen to our front yard, which will hopefully tie it to what’s going on out back. See how they’re only like 12′ to 15′ across? Perfect when you have power lines to content with. Plus I don’t really want to block my view of the city.

Here are two older Yoshinos that I pass on a different running route…

cryptomeria japonica ‘yoshino’ grownups



















They get stately as they age — and wicked tall. That doesn’t bother me. It will be a nice accompaniment to our scraggly oaks.

Now to finish getting them planted. Two in the ground now. One to go.


Many, many thanks to my gal Shiva for getting her grubby hands on the trees I wanted and then lugging them up here for me. You rawk, girlfriend.


the princess blooms!

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Our new hardy Pink Princess lotus started to open yesterday morning…

hardy lotus first opens



















Today at dawn, it was full-on glorious (click to biggify and be impressed)…

hardy lotus from the side, 24 hours later











hardy lotus from the front


it’s officially pond!

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Late Friday afternoon it was official: we have achieved pond. Plumbing, a go. Pump and filter, chugging away. Water, cold as heck because we’ve had no sunshine. Ya think that would stop me from getting pond plants the very next day?

I made the trip here…

paradise water gardens sign




















to Whitman, MA on a recommendation. They told me they didn’t have many plants left this “late” in the season, that all the best waterlilies were snapped up in April.

tons o’ water plants












But they had tub after tub of fantastical things to choose from! So, of course, I did.

Here’s the little bit I’ve learned from reading about waterlilies in New England: the flowers last about a day; the tropicals have the best scent, most brilliant colors and the most abundant blooms until about November when you have to overwinter them indoors (or replace them yearly); the hardies are still pretty amazing to look at and some are fragrant. So this is what I got to start with.

A day-blooming tropical:

key largo tropical waterlily |

key largo tropical waterlily |













And a night-blooming tropical:

red flare waterlily |

red flare waterlily |













A really pretty hardy:

firecrest waterlily |

firecrest waterlily |













The hardy Pink Princess lotus I cannot find a photo of. Bumma.

I snagged a dwarf Egyptian papyrus:

dwarf egyptian papyrus |

dwarf egyptian papyrus |
















An umbrella palm papyrus I’ve had for years will go in the pond:

umbrella palm papyrus |

umbrella palm papyrus |
















I’ll be adding to this, I’m sure. Bix votes for cattails. When the chlorine dissipates in the pond we’ll also look into fish. Bix votes for frogs.

speaking of trees

Thursday, May 12th, 2011


When we moved in, the one Cornus florida (red Flowering dogwood tree) on the lot was in a sad, sad state. Its roots were exposed. It suffered from lack of water. And in the spring, it grunted forth a handful of blossoms that quickly fell off.

Hoping to save it, we tried everything we could think of: [X] covered the roots with the a few inches of screened loam and compost, [X] watered it when the weather got dry, [X] added a layer of straw over the top to reduce moisture loss, [X] pounded a fertilizer spike in the ground to feed it.

I’m happy to say that this spring the tree looks ecstatic for the first time in three years. Flowers galore! Maybe we did something right. Maybe.


T I M M M B R R !

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Dear poor, scraggly oak tree…

oak tree, you must go

I am sorry that you have been trimmed by previous owners over the years in a manner that reveals not your broad and brawny potential but, instead, the malnourished skeleton of a mighty oak that can now never be.

There were other indignities. Being hemmed in by electrical lines. Foliage so scant that wildlife rarely paid you a visit. The precipitous slope — your roots clung desperately to the hard-packed incline with wooden, arthritic knuckles. You fought back by  dumping acorns annually on the only path up the hill, making for more than one comical pratfall. Touché, my friend. You dumped me on my ass, yes.

But now you can rest easy. Your Dr. Kavorkian is here at last.

here to help: the tree service

This leaves me conflicted. On the one hand, it seems a shame to end your life. On the other hand, your end was swift.

the end was swift

And your absence now makes way for the relative safety of steps up the hill where there used to be an icy slalom in winter. Not only that — three stately evergreens. Three!

tree, gone

You served well, oak tree. Be proud. Potential for great beauty now fills your negative space. And nine of your oaken tribe remain to carry on your acorn legacy in other parts of the yard.


signs of life

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

As a transplanted Westerner, I still have difficulty dealing with dismal, never-ending New England winters. This year, the snow has been relentless. Until this week, our yard has been whited out since December. Now I don’t want to appear overly optimistic but temps are finally rising and, here and there, I spy green.

The first ferns to brave the cold are Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’ (Autumn Fern)…

signs of life: dryoperis erythrosora “brilliance”

It doesn’t look like the snow slowed down my two Conradina ‘Snow’ Verticulata (Cumberland Rosemary) at all…

signs of life: white cumberland rosemary | “snow” conradina

The Euphorbia myrsinites (Donkey-tail Spurge) is going strong…

signs of life: donkey-tail spurge | euphorbia myrsinites

In fact, all the succulents look fabulous. The Sedum spurium ‘Voodoo’

signs of life: voodoo sedum


The Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’ (Blue Spruce Stonecrop)…

signs of life: “blue spruce” sedum

And the Sedum rupestra ‘Angelina’ (Angelina Stonecrop) just looks great year-round, that’s all there is to it…

signs of life: sedum “angelina”

Many more sedums around the yard are looking happy right now, just take my word for it. This Sempervivum ‘El Greco’ (hens and chicks), one of many varieties around the yard, is already sprouting…

signs of life: hens and chicks

Even the Agave parryi (Parry’s Century Plant), whose survival was never a sure thing, looks like it weathered 8 weeks  beneath two feet of snow…

signs of life: parry’s century plant | agave parryi

While the standard oregano over in the herb bed is still crunchy, brown and lifeless, my Origanum libanoticum (Cascading Ornamental Oregano) plants are leafing out all over the yard…

signs of life: cascading oregano

The Thymus pseudolanuginosus (Wooly Thyme) has a purplish cast to the edges of its stems but is fairly unaffected by winter…

signs of life: wooly thyme

Over in the veggie beds, I see lettuce starting to poke its head out of the straw. What kind? The delicious kind…

signs of life: lettuce

And my Rubus calycinoides (Creeping or Ornamental Raspberry… why do they call these ornamental? they fruit!) plants are already greening up the hillside…

signs of life: ornamental raspberry | rubus calycinoides

Two surprises, to me anyway. My Akebia Quinata ‘Shirobana’ (White-Flowered Chocolate Vine) is further ahead of the game than I thought it would be…

signs of life: akebia quinata “shirobana”

And that Rubus henryi bambusoides (Bamboo-like Vine) I wasn’t sure would make it through the winter looks awesome — especially for March!

signs of life: rubus bambusoides

So take heart, New Englanders! Spring is imminent! Probably.

the blizz

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Still digging out from the blizzard that blew in while were were sleeping…

early morning blizzard

icy railing

Snowflakes on the lens. My big fat glove in the photo. Nice.

My first order of business this morning was going out to knock the snow off my heavily coated trees. It doesn’t look like much in the photos but some of the branches on my conifers and Japanese maples were in danger of snapping off…



snow 3

snow on the river birch

My 2 1/2′ bamboo is up to its ears in snowdrift…

buried bamboo

The stone lantern looks very snowcapped Mt. Fuji…

snow-capped lantern

And the icy butterfly chairs remind me that spring is far, far away…

snow-covered butterfly chairs

67 days and counting.

high-tech garden geekery

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Hey gadget geeks: you should dig this. Just opened our new Wingscapes Digital Timelapse PlantCam.

plantcam box |

plantcam box |

It’s a  4.0 megapixel digital camera you can install indoors or out to capture the progress of your project, plant growth, etc.

camera setup |

camera setup |

We’ll be using it to snap shots of the patio install. Luckily, it’s weatherproof and came with a bracket, so we can attach it to one of our trees and forget about it for the next few weeks.

weatherproof exterior |

weatherproof exterior |

You can program it to snap photos or video at set intervals.

the inside |

the inside |

Unfortunately the package didn’t arrive until the end of the first day of our project. Damn. Would have made a more impressive time-lapse movie to start from zero.

Oh well. Next time. Only next time will be indoors. Stay tuned for results.

blam! crimsony goodness

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Just had to share our Crimson Queen Japanese Maple at its peak of fall color. It’s a pow in the eye socket!

all hail the crimson queen!

All hail the Crimson Queen!