Wednesday, June 27, 2007


John Davis June 2007

sky blue pansies looking up at the blue sky

Garden images June 27

Labrador Violets

two hostas who survived the move

spiderwort, budding bloom

Southern Elder, taking nicely to it's new home along the west fence

beginning to dig and amend the shade side garden beneath the giant lilac and dangling virgina creeper

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Amy's Garden, update June 26

Not all in the first sketch have been planted yet (or in some cases found & bought yet, like raspberry canes and a rhubarb for behind the shed). I'd like to think of this as a reasonable (rough) plan for the coming months. Most of these are here, some planted - along with a flash mob of sweet peas that I planted and left in the warm porch (they need to be planted, and will be along the back fence). There will be other perennials - a lady's mantle near the spruce for instance, and the rudbeckia isn't sketched in, nor is the veronica, a snowmound spirea will be planted but I don't know where. I'm just drawin'.

Structurally, I have projects like a compost bin that I'd like to complete sooner than later, one that I've designed myself of wood planks and heavy mesh; the location for which has been designated in an awkward area between the shed and the location for the small greenhouse, the ramp into the shed, and the westward neighbors fence. It's out of the way but accessible, perfect.

The maximilian sunflower (Given to me by a greenhouse customer who had once come into the gh hoping for some "gardening advice" but took one took at me, wrongly assumed my youthful appearance equaled youthful naivety, and *almost* insulted me with his questions until he realized I knew what I was talking about, gave me credit for that, and took my advice. He returned a week or so later with a big pot of the sunflower, which he had devided from the one growing in his yard. He gave it to me to apologize for judging me, and to thank me for our conversation.) is growing happily from behind the compost, between the shed and the fence. I wasn't worried about it surviving (it's far too hardy to have much trouble), but I have to say that I'm happy to see it again, always warmed by what it represents.

I did some amending and planting last night. The Annabell Hydrangea is finally in it's place, along with a Hosta 'High Society', an Astilbe: Thunbergii (False Spirea) 'Straussenfeder' surrounded by two Pulmonaria (Boraginaceae) (Lungwort). Closer to the space between where the neighbors draping Lilac/Virginia Creeper meet the crawling Hops, near the Southern Elder, I planted an Aruncus Dioicus (Goat's Beard); between the two I hope to plant a Solomon's Seal (don't have it yet tho).

Amended and planted the tomatoes (my Grape and Hannah's mystery-school-trip-tomato-plant). I also planted Hannah's strawberry plant in a good area near the garden egde (so that she can reach the berries easily) - I have to go find a wire cage to keep is safe from nastysquirrels as soon as possible, or we'll miss out! Between all this and along the garden border, as usual, cucumbers will curl and twist. I loved how they appeared everywhere through my garden last year, climbing the strawberry cage, and weaving through the peas all the way to the path and beyond - perhaps it was unruly behavior (for a cucumber), but it was funny to me, and the yeild was fantastic ;).

On Saturday, working at the main greenhouse rather than at the 55+ Centre, I was climbing tables, playing with perennials, listened to schmultzy easy listening until I felt like mush inside, and topped the day off with wine with Sue & Dennis under the bubble. It was the greenhouse at it's best (as far as my enjoyment with it this season) - I realy enjoyed being at the main greenhouse, and was sad to have passed the season without it. So, I made the most of it. It was busy. I was busy. I feel great.

John Davis is blooming on the East side of the front steps. He's a little gangly, a side effect from the move for sure - I'll have to prune him well. For now though, I don't want to disturb him, or any of the other roses until they've had a longer time to get comfortable. Poor Morden Fireglow is blooming in his pot right now because I've not found the time to plant that bed yet. It's easier to imagine the shrubs in bloom now, more full - next year; I look forward to it.

Tomorrow his Hannah's last day of 3rd grade. She'll be bringing pumpkin plants to all the children in her class. I hope the parents don't mind. Tomatoes and flowers are one thing - a vine that will take over a good portion of a yard is another. Ah well, it'll be fun for the moment. I brought a couple plants for Cooper, my neighbor - aged 3, who likes to ask me lots of questions over the fence while I dig and photograph my yard take meeeee! take pictuuure of mee tooo! take meeee! he yells over the fence, along with what are you doing? what are you doing now? what are you doing? what are you doing now? what are you doing? which is said so utterly adorably, no blogged words could do him justice.

Last night, my dirty digging self was compared to a dirty digging Cooper (shortly before his bath) by his visiting uncle. Some might cringe at the thought, but I love being covered in earth: my hands feeling soil all around them crumbling, fingers like earthworms my feet bare and black with earth that soils the floor and the bathtub my bare legs exfloliated by the texture - who wouldn't love that? I was really dirty last night. The soil is loamy, but cool and damp.

My paper on urban forestry has led me back to The Lorax by Dr. Suess. grin.

It's past my bedtime. Goudanight, sleep tight, don't let the space bugs bite.

got milkweed?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hazeldean Rose

I've had my heart set on a yellow rose (a rambler) to climb along the backyard fence (somewhere). My hope is to have both Compassion (apricot pink) and a yellow climber back there. I have no doubt about Compassion - it's just a matter of ordering one now, however deciding on, and locating, a yellow rose has been difficult.

Yellow roses in our zone 3 range are few. Most tend to be on the pale yellow side, like J.P. Connell - and from what I've seen of Golden Showers, the blooms vary in shade from a pale yellow to a deep buttery color. I thought my heart was set until I learned an important lesson in rose hunting:

Along the road to finding a hardy yellow climbing rose, one should never forget to stop to smell the roses, especially on campus - because sometimes you find what you've been looking for right under your nose!

I hadn't even thought about the yellow rose I had taken pictures of last year, but returning to the blooming sight outside the university's greenhouse this year, I have fallen head over feet for Hazeldean, an old fashioned hybrid rose, with multiples of gorgeous yellow blooms. This campus shrub is currently covered in large buds and bloom after bloom which fill the air with their sweet spicey fragrance.

Lakehead University campus greenhouse
June 21 (summer solstice) 2007

Bred by Canadian Percy Wright (1898 -1990) in 1948 (R. spinosissima altaica X Persian Yellow), this very hardy rose produces quantities of double yellow roses in June. The
bush is upright and will grow to 180 cm. It is absolutely striking in bloom!!

'Hazeldean Yellow' is a spinosissima hybrid which produces semi-double, fragrant yellow flowers. It is extremely thorny, suckers freely, but is also extremely hardy. Leaves are typically medium to dark green, glossy and ovate, with finely toothed edges.

Cultivar: Hazeldean Yellow
Family: Rosaceae
Size: Height: 1.5 ft. to 5 ft. / Width: 1.5 ft. to 4 ft.
Plant Characteristics: edible flowers,
Foliage Characteristics: deciduous / color: green
Flower Characteristics: double, erect, fragrant, long lasting, showy
Flower Color: yellows
Tolerances: deer
Bloomtime Range: Early Summer
USDA Hardiness Zone: 2 to 9
AHS Heat Zone: 3 to 9
Light Range: Sun to Full Sun
pH Range: 4.5 to 8
Soil Range: Sandy Loam to Clay Loam
Water Range: Normal to Moist

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Birches - Robert Frost

WHEN I see birches bend to left and right
Across the line of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches;
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ladybug Ladybug

C. septempunctata
seven-spotted lady beetle

The lady beetle I found exploring my 'Butterfly' Argyranthemum yesterday morning is a European species which is abundant and widespread in North America. Adults and larvae prey on aphids in open habitats. Adults are active in spring and dormant in summer; they hibernate in large aggregations in winter.

The nine-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella novemnotata), which is native to North America is declining in northeastern parts of range due to habitat destruction, declining prey populations, disease, or parasitism. It has a yellowish red or orange elytra, each one with four spots, with pale yellowish markings on sides of the pronotum.

The two-spotted Lady Beetle (Adalia bipunctata) is found in the range of southern Canada and Northern United States, and are a widely distributed species. The are packaged and sold as biological agents to control aphids infestations in gardens, agricultural fields, and vineyards. Adults and larvae feed on aphids from spring through fall, then seek shelter to overwinter. Females lay up to 50 ling, yellowish eggs a day.
The elyton is variably patterned, usually with one round black spot in the middle of each. They have a black head with a red-orange elytron. The black promotum has irregular white margins often resembling a black M.
Convergent Lady Beetles (Hippodamia convergens) range from British columbia to eastern Ontario and south into Mexico. Both adults and larvae feed on aphids; adults will also eat pollen and other plant materials. In California adults migrate to lush mountain canyons in summer to search for food and overwinter in large aggregations; they are collected there and sold in the garden centres for pest control; however, when released into gardens they usually fly away. The long, flat, velvety larvae are black or gray, with small orange spots on the 1st and 4th adominal segments. The orange and black spotted pupae are found attached upside down to plants, walls, and fences. The orange-redelytron usually has seven black spots, with the black pronotum having 2 long converging whitish spots.
Ladybugs will eat about 5,400 ahpids in a lifetime.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Amy's Garden, June 10th 2007

container: purple millet, sweet potato vines, fountain grass...
strange fruit in the neighbors tree...

irises :)

and, J.P. Connell, again...

Friday, June 8, 2007

Urban Forests - resources

Graboski, Jason, Nina Bassuk, Peter Trowbridge. "Structural Soils: A New Medium to Allow Urban Trees to Grow in Pavement". LATIS, American Society of Landscape Architects. Washington, 2002.
Green Streets Canada is a flagship program of the Tree Canada Foundation – the only nationally based municipal forestry innovation program. With a total of 345 municipalities (including Thunder Bay's Tree Stewardship Program) participating since its inception in 1994, the program was in 2006-2007 sponsored by the Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, Trans Canada and BC Hydro.
The purpose of the Program is to encourage the adoption of innovative best management practices and policies in municipal forest management on as wide a regional basis as possible.

Thunder Bay Tree Stewardship Program's Tree Care Guide .

What Trees Can Do to Prevent Atmospheric Co2 (a Tree Canada Foundation publication)

The Canadian Urban Forest Network Compendium of Best Management Practices for Canadian Urban Forests *resources

The Ontario Urban Forest Council

Tree Resources for Kids

For Kids (and teachers) from

Teaching Older Children and Youth about Trees

Greening Canada's School Grounds (a Tree Canada Foundation publication)

The Top 10 Myths of Tree Care


MYTH #1: When a tree is planted it should be securely staked to ensure the development of a stable root system and a strong trunk. Although it is sometimes necessary to stake trees to keep them upright and allow establishment, there are some adverse effects of staking. Compared to staked trees, unstaked trees tend to develop a more extensive root system and better trunk taper. Allowing a small amount of movement can help root and trunk development. Of course, the worst effect of staking is the possibility of trunk damage from the staking wires or ties. Staking materials usually should be removed after one year to avoid "girdling" the tree.

MYTH #2: Newly planted trees should have their trunks wrapped with tree wrap to prevent sunscald and insect entry. Studies using most common tree wraps have shown that they do not prevent extreme fluctuations in temperature on the bark. In some cases, the temperature extremes are worse. Also, tree wraps have proven quite ineffective in preventing insect entry. In fact, some insects like to burrow under it.

MYTH #3: Trees should be pruned back heavily when they are planted to compensate for the loss of roots. Tree establishment is best with unpruned trees. Although pruning the top can reduce the amount of water that evaporates from the leaves, the tree needs a full crown to produce the much-needed food and the plant hormones that induce root growth. The tree will develop a stronger, more extensive root system if it has a fuller crown. Limit pruning at the time of planting to structural training and the removal of damaged branches.

MYTH #4: When removing a branch from a tree, the final cut should be flush with the stem to optimize healing. First of all, trees don't "heal" in the sense that wounds on people heal. Our bodies regenerate tissues in much the same form of the tissues that were removed (to a limited extent). Trees compartmentalize wounds, generating woundwood over the wounded area. Flush cutting removes the "branch collar," creating a larger wound than if the branch were removed outside the collar. Also, it is likely that some of the parent branch tissue will be removed. The spread of decay inside the tree is greater with flush cuts.

MYTH #5: Pruning wounds greater than three inches in diameter should be painted with a wound dressing. Research has shown that the common wound dressings do not inhibit decay, do not prevent insect entry, and do not bring about faster wound closure. In fact, many of the commonly used dressings slow wound closure.

MYTH #6: Certain fast-growing, weak-wooded trees such as silver maple and Siberian elm should be "topped" to make them less hazardous in the landscape. While topping these trees may reduce the potential hazard at first, they will likely be more dangerous in the future. Topping stimulates growth of twigs below the cuts. Growth of many, vigorous shoots leads to branches with weak attachments. Also decay spreads inside the stubs and branches that were topped. Within 2-5 years after topping, the tree will have regained its height, but will be more hazardous than before the topping. Besides, topping makes trees ugly. Alternatives to topping include thinning, cabling, or removal and replacement with a more suitable species.

MYTH #7: If certain species of trees are pruned early in the spring, they will "bleed," stressing the tree and causing health problems. True, some trees such as maples and birches will "bleed" or lose sap from pruning cuts made early in the spring. This bleeding does not hurt the tree, and the loss of sap is inconsequential. With a few exceptions, most routine pruning can be done anytime of year. The worst time is just as the tree has leafed out in the spring. The best time is when the tree is dormant. To maximize flowering for the following year, prune just after bloom this year.

MYTH #8: The root system of a tree is a mirror image of the top. Many people envision a large, branching taproot growing deep into the soil. Actually, taproots are very uncommon in mature trees. If taproots do develop, they usually will be forced into horizontal growth when they encounter hard subsoils beneath the surface. The entire root systems of most trees can be found within three feet of soil. The spread of the root system however, can be very extensive, often extending 2-3 times the spread of the crown.

MYTH #9: Trees require "deep root fertilization" to reach their root system. In most soils, the vast majority of trees' fibrous, absorbing roots are in the top eight inches of soil. Roots grow where conditions are best for root growth, where water and oxygen are available. When we place fertilizer 12" - 18" deep in the soil, we are putting it too deep.

MYTH #10: When a tree has lost a significant portion of its root system such as in construction damage, the crown should be cut back to compensate for root loss. While this is a common recommendation, research has not supported it. Following root loss, unpruned trees seem to respond better than pruned trees. Obviously, any removal of branches will reduce the capacity of the tree to produce food in the leaves. Although the tree will probably lose some branches as a result of the root damage (if the tree survives the trauma), it is best to let the tree decide which ones. Thus, pruning should be limited to hazard reduction at first. Later, after the tree has responded to the damage, further pruning would be in order.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

"For the Love We Have of Trees"

After consideration, I've decided to write about urban trees, specifically boulevard trees and their unfortunate soil conditions in northern climates (i.e. road salts). After the loss of yet another mature Birch on my block, and while watching our little Ash struggle to keep up with the rest I'm provoked to learn more about planting, maintenance, and the long term health of these very beneficial (and beautiful) members of our community.

It's so sad to watch these enormous trees come down - thinking about how long it will take for their replacements to fill their void -

Although you may never sit in its shade, plant a tree for those who will.


two pdf files:

Tree Planting Guidelines

Canadian Trees eBook Vol. ONE, No. 1, 2004

...and a very helpful resource web page: Canadian Urban Forest Network (resources) (wow, what gardenerd loot!)

and I've ordered a copy of:
Ingram, David. Science and the Garden: The Scientific Basis of Horticultural Practice Blackwell Science Ltd (30 Jul 2002) ISBN 978-0632053087

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Sunday Mornings

J.P. Connell opened a bud this morning, after a night of light rain.

The window boxes were buggin' me - something wasn't right about them, something was missing. So, I added to each a Lemon Licorice and a vinca. Now, I am pleased. They needed something to punch up the hues (too many pinks, and too much of the same shade of green foliage was blah) and now, I have to say - I think they look pretty cool, and they'll look even better up against the colors of the house.

I've been too busy to do anthing else so nothing's been done. I have soil - but I am starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the decision of where to dig first. I don't have a lot of time (or energy) these days, so I have to work by strict priority. I'd like to get a few vegetables planted (because I miss being able to nibble in my yard), but I'd also like to get the back area near the fence dug and amended so that I can get something climbing on that lattice (a clematis or two, one honeysuckle, maybe some scarlet runner beans and sweet peas too..).

I can imagine the coziness of my former sitting nook when I sit in the back near the fence. With the canopy above - it'll be quite a hideaway once the plants mature. *grin*

I want to be surrounded in cottage garden plants back there, with edibles everywhere, and pots of herbs & cherry tomatoesmmmmmmm. The canopy of manitoba maples was highlighted this week with the blooms of the one (very large) white crabapple. Its petals fell like snowflakes.

Through the kitchen window I've been enjoying watching the neighbors lilac (heaped with creeper) (try to) bloom. It's quite a tangle. I think it's beautiful, but I also think that tree is being choked.

I was able to get a closer look at the hops pouring over the fence. I've never had the opportunity before - I had no idea they were so twisty. I love 'em! :)

The course is challenging, but has already given me a new perspective in garden planning - so it's proven it's worth in the first two weeks. I'm learning so much and putting so many other things in order - which has really come in handy at the greenhouse, making me feel more confident in the information I give to others. Rethinking chemistry, wow - I've had to borrow Hannah's laminated periodic table binder divider.
No decision on a topic, nevermind writing an abstract for my final paper. I just don't know what direction to go in (there are so many). I'll give myself 'til tomorrows eve to make my choice, so that it might be written by Friday - so that when I get walloped at the greenhouse again next weekend I won't have to worry about it (when I collapse at the end of the day).
It was a very busy weekend. Gardeners everywhere asking every possible question... today was a blur in the heat. I'm going to go sleep now.