Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Monumental Trees, World-wide, and especially in Belgium

Castle Bleu in Trooz
The Monumental Trees website tracks trees, world-wide, that are monumental in some way - the oldest, tallest, biggest, thickest. Anyone can add to their database. Giant sequoia seems to be a favorite.

You can find the monumental trees in Belgium. Listed are 1448 specimens of various species. And you can find Giant Sequoia trees that are growing in Belgium! Today there are 956 Sequoias listed. I had trouble clicking on the marker except when I was in the big map. Look at all of those trees! Indeed, the Castle of Dave has three specimens! Mammoetbomen! Not so often, do you see a castle with a Giant Sequoia. Or do you if you are looking outside of California?

Friday, October 25, 2013

The California Nursery Company's Float in the 1929 Fiesta de las Rosas

The California Nursery Company float
in the 1929 Fiesta de las Rosas parade.
Photographer - Frank Steiner, May 18, 1929
From OCLC WorldCat
San Jose has a very long history of parades to celebrate roses and to highlight San Jose as a "garden city". In 1896, the first "Carnival of the Roses" parade was held.  The Rose Carnival became the "Fiesta del las Rosas" in 1926.  The parade has since transformed into the Rose, White, and Blue parade.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

An Abundance of Apples

This is the time of year to make Julia Child's version of the apple Tarte Tatin.  (What with "little Bart" being in Belgium, I was tempted to call it Tart Tintin... and apparently I am not alone.)

From Wikipedia 

Tree Rings

From the book, Sequoia National Park, 1937.
Most school kids in California have probably seen a redwood tree section showing the annular rings on it with dates, like "WWII ends", "Columbus discovers America", "Jesus was born", dates like that.  So it's pretty common knowledge that trees can show years passing by the number and kind of rings they set down.

If you want to refresh your memory, here's the NOAA website that talks about tree rings. And here's the wikipedia article on dendrochronology.

Ok, so now you know all about that tree ring stuff.  Did you know that humans also have annular rings?

Selecting that perfect tree

Looking for that plant that is low maintenance, drought tolerant, and is a great tree?  And maybe one that will not grow so tall that the utility company hacks at it periodically? 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Chorus of Winter Buds

This is a really sweet book that shows the winter buds of plants that look strangely human: Chorus of Winter buds.
This book is very reminiscent of Karl Blossfeldt's photos from Urformen der Kunst, only with poetry and a humorous slant.

I first heard about Karl Blossfeldt while taking a drawing class with my daughter and several other grade-school children.  What fun that class was to see how kids draw.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Even Famous Architects build Fruit and Vegetable Gardens

I was looking through the Bernard Maybeck archives in the UC Berkeley Environmental Design Archives and ran across this plan for a fruit tree and vegetable garden. The garden is for the Leon L. Roos House in San Francisco.
Look! A vegetable garden designed by Bernard Maybeck!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"I had a little nut-tree" by Roald Dahl

Walnut on Mission Creek

I had a little nut-tree,
Nothing would it bear.
I searched in all its branches,
But not a nut was there.

'Oh, little tree,' I begged,
'Give me just a few.'
The little tree looked down at me
And whispered, 'Nuts to you.' 

We all think that Grandpa Dean would have loved this poem!

And here is a famous "Nuts to you!" from WWII.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Stinkwort, Stinkweed, a stinky weed by any name

Stinkwort - not only does it smell very bad, but
it can cause dermititis and diarrhea.

You can't avoid running into it where ever you go. In Fremont, I see it along side the road here and there, at the California Nursery Park, at Coyote Hills, at Ohlone College. You can identify it 65 miles per hour along the freeway. It's one of the only green plants at this time of year.

In August and September, in our hills in the Mission Peak Preserve, the sticky monkeyflower is burnt to a crisp, the California Fuchsias are blooming, and we see various kinds of flowers in the Asteraceae family (what I used to call a "comp"..."daisy" flowers to others). It's nice to visit the native plants that are blooming at this time of year.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Garden of the Vallejo Adobe - Designed by Johannes Reimers

Johannes Reimers designed the garden surrounding the Old Adobe when the adobe was renovated by his son, the Bay Area architect, Frederick Reimers, in 1923(?). 

It is not known at this time what the original garden looked like.  However, the original plans are possibly available.

Why was Johannes Reimers chosen to do the garden?

A Walk Around the Old Vallejo Adobe

The garden around the Vallejo Adobe is often referred to as the "Reimers garden".   So far, I found this out about Johannes Reimers.  The original design for the garden still exists in the archives (supposedly). 

Johannes Reimers could be considered (at least by me) a really early drought-tolerant garden planner. He planned gardens for some of the driest most neglected areas, railroad stations.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mrs. George Roeding Jr's History of the Old Adobe and its Garden

The Bay Area architect, Frederick Reimers, renovated the Old Adobe. Johannes Reimers, his father, designed the garden around the Vallejo Adobe.

This 1974 Argus column "An Informal History of California" by John Sandoval (The Argus, Sunday, August 04, 1974, page 12 ),  turned up while looking for Johannes Reimers.  It also answered the question about the bulb shows.  I added the photos.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A History of the Nursery Trade (1904)

To understand the importance of the California Nursery Company, it is helpful to understand the context of the times. How many nurseries were there around the turn of the 20th century?  Who were they supplying?  What were they supplying?  

The Horticultural Wishbooks

Catalogs, a window to the past

I love to look at old catalogs.  You get to see the ordinary or the fleeting or exactly what you got for Christmas back in 1965.  It was a big deal to get that Christmas Sears Roebuck catalog  each year. We called it the wishbook.  Indeed, the old catalogs give us a view into the lives of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. What were some of those things used for?  You could buy anything in there. I always wish I could still order out of the catalog. Maybe there is a Sears Hazelton house kit languishing in some warehouse waiting for me.

Old seed catalogs are great wishbooks, too.  You see varieties that are hard or impossible to find now. You see trees that must have been just introduced to California.  All kinds of wondrous stuff.
I found several places online that have scanned in old catalogs and looked for the California Nursery Company catalogs.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The California Nursery Company History

The California Nursery Company is one of the best kept historical horticultural secrets of Fremont and of California.

Folks in Fremont probably all know that we have a early California mission, Mission San Jose.   And we have some historic buildings - Ardenwood Farm, the Chadbourne Carriage House, and Shinn Park.  Then there is the Niles Canyon Railway and the Essanay Silent Film Museum.  However, if you are the average Fremontian you probably don't know much or anything about the California Nursery Company.

Yet, at one time, the California Nursery Company was the largest nursery West of the Rockies.

A Google Map tour of the California Nursery Company in Niles, California

In the Niles District in Fremont, there is an under-developed mostly unknown park called the California Nursery Historical Park.

For years I have driven by on my way to somewhere else, or stopped by the small retail nursery that was there for a while, or admired the inaccessible Vallejo Adobe, or looked at their antique rose garden and wondered about the windmill. Then there are all those large trees and some of those trees are kind of unusual.

For an "Introduction to Horticulture" class at Merritt College, I decided I would find out what I could about the California Nursery Historical Park and all of those big trees on the property. Certainly there must be an interesting story there!