Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Planting Trees

I've finally made progress planting some trees. Some of them, like this Silk Floss, have been in pots for years. I originally got this tree at Sunset Nursery about 10 years ago.
Ceiba speciosa
I've bumped it up to successively bigger pots but it has always limped along. It also seems to struggle in the heat of the summer.

When I pulled it out of the pot I was surprised at how small the root ball was. Most of the space was taken up by the roots of some narcissus bulbs that were growing in the pot.

I'm not sure why there were narcissus in there. I can't stand the smell of the blooms and they don't flower dependably in our climate anyway.
I chose a spot on the side of the yard up the hill. Fancy Face became very interested as soon as I started digging the hole. I'm not sure what he expected to find.

I wanted to give it a big trench around it so that I can really soak it and encourage the roots to grow down. I think I need to be a little more deliberate in my fertilization efforts as well. Most plants in the yard get a little chicken dirt now and then but I could be more aggressive about improving the soil.

This tree has a bit of a wonky trunk due to an injury it received as a young tree. During a wind storm at my studio in Echo Park a piece of corrugated metal roofing flew of and stuck into the the tree like a knife. It caused so much damage that a new trunk sprouted under the injury and the original one withered.

A couple days later it already seemed happier with new leaves sprouting.
Cinnamomum camphora
Another tree I was eager to get in the ground was this volunteer Camphor that grew from a seed from the trees in my yard in Eagle Rock. I love the dappled shade cast by Camphor trees and their perfect arching branches and textured bark.

Camphor trees are known for their aggressive roots and the parents of this one did attack the sewer pipe at my old house. Not fun.

I'm hoping that planting this one 60 feet above the house will keep it from causing any damage, and that one day I'll have that wonderful shade to lounge under.
The hole got a protective cage to protect the roots from gophers. I'm not sure what all gophers will eat but I've been surprised by the damage they can do. I lost my Tipu tree to a gopher that basically ate all of the tree that was below the ground. I didn't know what killed it until I pulled on it realized it was just a rootless stick resting on the ground.
This little sapling has already put a lot of energy into growing roots, so I don't want anything to eat them.

Camphor trees are evergreen here but they still put out new leaves in spring and drop the old ones. I planted this early in the spring so that it could hopefully establish itself before it got too hot.

You can see the new growth that is lighter green.

For now it's barely visible above the jade but it's already grown about a foot this Summer.

I planted a larger one at my old job at the Natural History Museum in the Butterfly Pavilion that grew about 4  feet a year once it became established, so I'm hoping that this one will be happy here.

The other trees I had to plant were these bare root fruit trees from Dave Wilson Nursery. There's 8 in there, mostly plum x apricot hybrids. I'm a little mad for pluots and apriums. Dave Wilson does a great job of describing when various trees will fruit and advocates backyard growers to plant multiple trees in one hole to get a wider variety of fruit over a longer period of the year. It makes sense that most people wouldn't be able to eat 400 pounds of plums that all ripened in 2 weeks.

I also like the idea of a more compact orchard. Despite feeling that I have such a large yard, there's not a lot of space that I feel I could devote to an orchard.

I'd like to fence in the top 20 feet of my property for the chickens, and one day goats (!), so I don't want to plant the fruit trees there where they would make good goat fodder.

I chose the next area down the hill which is a steep sliver between the Sapote tree and the pepper trees.

I  made mesh cages again to keep out the varmints that also serve as temporary retaining walls to hold in the dirt. One day I'll build an actual retaining wall to level out this area and fill in more dirt, but for now the trees will have to make due with the dirt held in the cage.
This is why they are called bare root trees. They've had most of their branches pruned and their roots trimmed for shipping.

You can also see where the tree has been grafted to the root stock. Dave Wilson has a number of different root stocks that perform differently in various conditions. I tried to choose stock that grow fast and do well with less water.
Following the nursery's suggestion, I planted four in a hole, 18" apart. Each of the four will ripen at a different time of the years.

I put in 8, but there are at least 8 more that I would love to have.

The last one I got in the ground was another Silk Floss that was one of three given to me by a friend of a friend. She and her son grew them from seed and were more successful than they expected and were looking for good homes for their trees.

It's a little hard to see in this photo but the tree is about 4' high and has new spring leaves growing.
Fancy was again very interested in the goings on.
Holes fascinate him.
Another mesh cage.
This one is on the opposite side of the yard, right on the edge of where I ended up planting the squash.
The squash threatened to take over but, the little tree did some good growing and is holding it's own.

All of these photos are a few months old, so I'll try to take some more to compare.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Huntington Plant Sale

I'm playing catch up a bit with posts so I'm going to make this fast. I went to the Huntington Plant Sale a few weeks ago. This was the first time I went as a member so we could go a day early. I wasn't sure if that would make a difference but I was still excited.

Agave desmettiana "Joe Hoaks"
I felt like the membership might have paid off when I saw this plant. A. desmettiana "Joe Hoaks." This plant has been on my wish list since I saw a beautiful specimen at the Inter City show last year.

Unfortunately this one seemed a bit fried on the ends. I'm sure I could have nursed it back to health but I wasn't keen on spending a lot of money on a plant that was clearly distressed. "Joe" is gaining popularity so I figured I'd run into him again. I took a pass.

These are the plants I ended up getting. Not a bad haul.

Agave "Blue Flame"
These A. "Blue Flame" are small, but some day I think they will make a nice contrast against my attenuatas. I'm still hoping to find some nice variegated attenuatas as well to make a nice varied clump. Hopefully it will come together in the next ten years or so.

Agave gueingola

I've been interested in the A gueingola since seeing it at the LA Arboretum. Maybe these are available all over the place now but I was still surprised to see them so quickly after they went on my wish list.

Dyckia marnier-lapostollei
I love the hard spikiness of dyckias but the big ones are always so expensive. I've been starting out small like with this one on that is only about 3.5" accross. The tag says that it will form clumps but not how big it will get.

Agave dasyliroides
The A. Dasyliroides will also form clumps. I've seen some mature ones in the Huntington's succulent garden that were almost 4' high and 3' across.

Agave parrasana

Agave scabra

The last plant I got was the most exciting for me because it was on the top of my wish list. When I first wrote about it I didn't think I would ever find it but maybe it's been available to members all this time. It's hard to tell from this tiny offset, but one day this plant could be 20-30 feet across. Agave mapisaga var. lisa All of the big plants at the Huntington have bloomed but I guess they have enough offsets to offer them for sale.
Agave mapisaga var. lisa