Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hanging Pensively, Miss Pendula of Niles

Humorous Horticultural Writing from the library

Niles Redwood Develops 'Flop'

Sequoia Giganticus Branches Grow in All Directions on Freakish Tree

"An occasional diversion of species into the "cuckoo class" seems a privilege given by Nature to other than human beings.

"At the gardens of the California Nursery Company in Niles a specimen of the Sequoia Gigantea, California's favorite wonder tree, has gone so completely "haywire" that it is given an extra nursery-Latin handle to describe it. This acquired adjective is Pendula, meaning to hang pensively.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Is there a Niles Cochet rose in Niles?

Bouquet collected in April 2017. 

A year and a half ago, I found a Niles Cochet rose in the Morcom Rose Garden in Oakland.

The Niles Cochet is a fairly large bush, maybe two bushes, about 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide. The rose garden label credits the California Nursery Company, 1906.

The Niles Cochet rose is a sport of the Maman Cochet rose and was introduced by the California Nursery Company.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Palms go to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition

The California Nursery Company in Niles supplied many palm trees for the Panama Pacific International Exposition. In the 1915 catalog, there is a photo of Canary Island palms on a railcar. It says "Trainload of large Phoenix canariensis. Were planted on Palm Avenue at 1915 Exposition."

The Conifers go to the Fair

The 1915 California Nursery Company Catalog is a departure from the previous years' simpler text catalogs. It looks like something special is going on this year.  The front cover is beautifully designed. The catalog is filled with photos: Norfolk Island pines, Monkey Puzzle Trees, deodars, Irish Junipers, spruces, weeping Sequoia, and Irish Yew.  There are pictures of how the Spanish pines are dug and boxed. And that's only the first 15 pages of about 130 pages.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

California Nurserymen Knee-slappers!

"During the last year much has been said and written about the Avocado, known in Mexico as the "Ahuacate," in Peru as "Palta," in the West Indies as "Midshipmen's Butter," but generally spoken of here in the United States as "Alligator Pear." I expect you will think some of the stories I will tell about the income from individual trees will sound pretty big, but you know we of the southern end of the State have the reputation of being very careful, when speaking of our section or resources, not to speak of them in too small a way.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Considering Cascades

From a 1931 picture from
the Friends of the Cleveland Cascade.
The cascades were lit
with different colors of light.
I recently ran across a reference to the Cleveland Cascade. It is not in Cleveland, but is a water work that cascades down a portion of too-steep-for-cars Cleveland Street in Oakland. I found this reference through a strange series of searches from tulips, to the California Nursery Company spring flowering bulbs shows, to Howard Gilkey who designed Oakland flower shows, and finally to the Cleveland Cascades.

We went over to see the Cleveland Cascade today. Unfortunately the basins were all removed and so now there are just steps. Lots of people are still enjoying the steps as their daily exercise. It sure beats the gym.

The Nurserymen Discuss the Merits of Native Plants, 100 Years Ago

One hundred years ago, the members of the California Association of Nurserymen (CAN) were talking about growing and selling California native plants.

Many of the nurserymen at a meeting in 1913 were very enthusiastic about native plants: They are beautiful. They don't need summer water when they are established. They harmonize with the natural landscape. We should be selling them.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tracking down Luther Burbank, two girls, and a dog

I recently saw two intriguing photos in the California Nursery Company archives. In the photos Luther Burbank is standing in a group near two girls and a dog in the front row. George C. Roeding is also in the front, on the right. Probably lots of other movers and shakers of the nurseryman world in these photos. Who are they? I was curious.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Nursery and Exposition Logos, 1912 - 1913

A smattering of logos from the Transaction and Proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting of the California Association of Nurserymen, Held in Oakland, on Thurs. Fri. and Sat. November 7-9, 1912 and the Transaction and Proceedings of the Third Annual Meeting of the California Association of Nurserymen, Held in Fresno, on Thurs. Fri. and Sat. October 16-18, 1913.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Quincunx, mystically considered

Huge fan, I am, of reading old gardening books.

While looking for some good pictures of roses for the current Días de los Muertos art project, I ran across this odd word - Quincunx. Odd and old, not to mention hard to pronounce and slightly naughty sounding.

Wikipedia has an entry for it. Merriam Webster has a definition. Visually it is the five spot on a domino - four dots on the corner and one in the middle.  The origin is thus: "Latin quincunc-, quincunx, literally, five twelfths, from quinque five + uncia twelfth part". According to MW, first known use was 1485. Now I'm still thinking how does 5/12 relate to planting.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Visiting with your favorite deceased horticulturist

The redwood has embraced this gravestone.
This is an early start to thinking about this year's Días de los Muertos. Maybe these are thoughts you have when you take out the old tomatoes and start thinking about planting fava beans.

Last week our landscape drawing class had a field trip to the Mountain View Cemetery. On the way up the hill, Bryn and Robert and I had a conversation which, because we were in a cemetery, it was only slightly morbid. Where did we want to be parked when we are done with our earthly bodies?

Over the years of taking care of the older folks, I have decided that I want to be sprinkled about in some of my favorite mushroom hunting grounds. I'm hoping to hitch a ride up and down the xylem and phloem of a redwood until I settle into a ring of wood. That redwood might be long lived enough that I could spend some time there before being made into a fence or a mole den.

So that's what I said - I just want my folks (whoever they are at that time) to sprinkle me up and down the coastal forests.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Trees of Katie Elder

Earlier this year we watched The Sons of Katie Elder. It was a great classic Western. In the final shoot-out, however, the forest really stole the show. The trees were huge and the roots gnarly. They were clustered at water's edge and (in the movie) growing near a triple waterfall. Surely this place must be famous. The movie poster, here, integrates the trees into the action. WOW!

Where is that forest and what kind of trees are they? Time for some forestry forensics!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Undecidable Woods - Le Bois de Lauzelle

Le Bois de Lauzelle is located in Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium.
The trees may be beeches.
I will look through my pics to see if I can confirm.
Photo by M. Balk
When Little Bart was in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, she posted this picture of le Bois de Lauzelle on her blog. The photo of green trees and red forest floor immediately resonated with something that I had seen before. I pictured a horsewoman, gliding in and out of the trees, at least sort of, but in an odd way.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sequoiadendron giganteum...Who named it first?

"Hermit and Burnt Tree" from Calisphere.

The "Big Tree" has had many names and there is much interesting controversy over how it was named and claimed. This is but one of many articles that I have found in google books and Internet Archive and other archives.

What I have read elsewhere is that the English scooped the Californians in describing the tree now known as Sequoiadenron giganteum. To the Americans it must have seemed very nervy and audacious when Dr. Lindley named our great tree after one of the English military greats, the Duke of Wellington. How much sense did that make? Apparently it's ok if you are the first one out of the gate. But not surprisingly there was a bit of fallout and controversy. And as you know, it didn't stick, except in the U.K. where you can still see signs for the "Wellingtonia".

Monday, July 28, 2014

Stripy Rainbow Tulips at Holland's flower garden, the Keukenof

At an early age, I must have decided that flowers
could be stripy rainbow colors.
Orbiting above the flower and the earth,
I think it might be John Glenn,
also in rainbow color.
Our TVs were black and white
but our imagination was in color.
Keukenof is world famous for its spring flowering bulb displays. Their English landscape style garden near Amsterdam is huge. It takes a couple of hours to see the gardens.

In my family, flowers are not necessarily everyone's favorite thing to look at in large quantities, but luckily it was Mother's Day when we visited. And so I was able to cash in on that happy circumstance. I am so glad we went. It was the last weekend they were open to the public and many of the beds had already finished up. There was still an amazing display of flowers.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Branch Studies

Oak tree branch and rocks and hills
Whenever I hike in our local parks, I see the scenes that Eyvind Earle painted. (No, silly, not Sleeping Beauty's castle)

His landscape pictures capture the look and feel of the coastal hills of California - coastlines, green or golden rolling oak hills, long shadows of cattle or trees. Many of his pictures have a tree branch in the foreground. I have wondered about those tree branches. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thirty-Six Views of Mission Peak

Many of us Fremont-ers treat Mission Peak as our Mt. Fuji.
Wherever we go we have our own "Where's Waldo?".
This view is from Sabercat Creek.
I really love the  Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji. Each picture has Mt. Fuji in it somewhere, either prominently or somewhat hidden. When you look at each picture, it's like looking for a friend in a crowd or .... a "Where's Waldo?" game!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Farkleberry on the 36th Parallel

There we were on the 36th parallel in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, in Durham, North Carolina, and I couldn't help but laugh at this plant sign, identifying the "FARKLEBERRY".

For many of us baby boomers, the word "Farkle" conjures up some very funny television.

During our teen era 1968-1973, we were well aware of the battles between television censors and television writers. The Laugh-In show was full of words that sounded bad but were not: "Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls", "Want a Walnetto?", and "Ring my Chimes!".

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Technology Expanding the Park Experience

Go ahead and point your QR reader
at this QR code and you will see one of the stations,
The Jose de Jesus Vallejo Adobe,
on the California Nursery Historic Park tour.

I go to lots of parks. I love parks.
I also love computers and the internet and smart phones.

When they all combine, I am super happy.

More and more often, I am seeing QR codes and other technology in the parks. Here are some of my favorites uses of technology in our parks and beyond.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tomato Sepal Sprites

At this time of the year, Tomato Season, I am always amused by the tops of the fresh garden tomatoes. Also known as the sepals of the tomato flower and fruit, the tops are very animated looking, almost like little happy people.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Turkey-tangle fog-fruit, what's in a name?

Ran across a little flower today in Sunol park. Found it in the Sunol plant pictures, named lemon verbena. Really? That's something else in my garden that really smells like lemon. Let's try again on that name. Its Latin name is Phyla nodiflora var. nodiflora, that much we agree. And it's in the Verbena family, Verbenaceae.

Piggiwiggia Pyramidalis
Calflora has it listed as Lippia, Common Lippia, Garden Lippia, and my favorite, Turkey-tangle fogfruit. I think we are getting closer to a name here! CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names adds capeweed, daisy lawn, knotted-flower phyla, and frog fruit.

Generally, in our household, if we don't know the name of something we will give it a temporary name like "Fuzzy yellow-top" or "Knock-your-socks-off". But Turkey-tangle fogfruit? I'm intrigued. That sounds like something Edward Lear made up in his Nonsense Book or should have made up. Like these pictures here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Big Yellow Zucchini Goes on a Voyage

The Challenge: use local summer produce to create a floral design.

At our second Slow Flower meeting this summer, in a charming old Hayward backyard, we met our challenge with green baby California Concord grapes, giant rainbow carrots, and a huge yellow squash.

My choice was the big yellow zucchini squash.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The plant genus with the angel and the devil

Angel flower versus Devil flower
Vinegar weed (Trichostema lanceolatum) is a really pretty little plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae). What a cute lavender flower. But boy oh boy if you rub your fingers on the leaves then smell it, it will curl your toes, knock your socks off, wake you right up, and then put X's over your eyes! I compare it to that ammonia capsule that someone waves under your nose to wake you up from a dead faint.

I like vinegar and that's no vinegar. Other names for this little plant are turpentine weed and camphor weed. I think it's even worse than that. Maybe it is all of the above and more stuff thrown in.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunol Park, Wild and Rugged Scenes

Remember in a previous post on Rock Gardening that I mentioned that F.W. Meyer looked at Nature to inspire his rock gardens? His words reminded me of one of my favorite places, Sunol Regional Wilderness.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

F. W. Meyer, author of "The Rock Garden" column... Who was he?

F.W. Meyer wrote many articles in the journal The Garden in the early 1900's. I wrote about "The Rock Garden" column in a previous blog. But, who was he? Where did he create these rock gardens? Can I go see one?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rock Gardens, one of the Branches of Gardening

Sometimes old horticulture journals and books in Google Books turn up in my searches. A favorite is William Robinson's The Garden, An Illustrated Weekly Journal of Gardening in all its Branches. William Robinson is credited with popularizing the wild garden in response to the more controlled Victorian gardens in England.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why your dry creek garden look funny, and so does mine!

Not quite dry creek bed in Sunol Park.
When I was re-working our dry creek bed to make it look more natural, I googled and found the Town Mouse Country Mouse's blog page "Creating a Dry Creek Bed  - with Tips for a Natural Look". I pinned that helpful page and to my surprise it is one of the most re-pinned topics (right after log storage). That is why I titled this post in a somewhat cruel manner. I haven't actually seen your dry creek garden, but I know you are trying to make it look more natural!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Illustrated Plant Nut picture

The original Illustrated Plant Nut picture was inspired by a sculpture called "De Zee" or "The Sea".  It is commonly known as Dikke Matilde (Thick Matilda) and is near Leopold Park in Ostende, Belgium. The artist is Georges Grard (1901-1984) who was influenced by Aristide Maillol, Charles Despiau, and Pierre Renoir.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The awkward boulevard strip

We have a very small parking strip or "boulevard", as my friend, Debcot, calls it. Just 2 feet wide.

(A very interesting word, "boulevard", from 1700's French meaning an avenue built on a razed rampart. Also very interesting what that strip is called all over the U.S. according to Wikipedia. This strip name even turned up in the New York Times quiz that shows you "How Y'all, Youse and You Guys Talk". Just all around interesting.) 

I rather like the terms devilstrip, furniture zone, and hellstrip and there is even a book written called Hellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise between the Sidewalk and Curb.

Our old boulevard was filled with Liquidambar trunk and roots, ice plant, and African Iris. The sidewalk was a hazard - tilted concrete - from the roots snaking under to our lawn. It was really bad. Our neighbor chastised us for causing her husband to have to climb over the humps with his walker. The final straw was when the local teens started using it to get airborne on their skateboards. A true accident waiting to happen. The city no longer repairs sidewalks so we decided we needed to take this into our own hands. We removed the two Liquidambars and put in a couple of landing pads and a brand-new flat sidewalk. Heaven!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Plant ID at 60 MPH - What the heck was that?!?

Seen on the median strip travelling north on 680 through Castro Valley - a tree with large light colored flowers and no foliage to speak of. When I saw it whizzing by, I said "What the heck is that?".

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Yellow Leaves on the "Bouquets de Fleurs" Citrus Tree

Our "Bouquets de Fleurs" is now forming tiny citrus. I despaired that it would ever form fruit or even flowers, but this year we now have several bunches of fruits.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ladybug Ladybug, Fly Away Home

We were at a neighbors' house, sitting in their beautiful garden, when the question of lady bugs came up.  Both of our gardens have been visited by aphids on the broccoli and kale. What to do? Do we buy lady bugs? What about what we've heard about lady bugs flying away and going to someone else's garden? Good questions!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Visiting Our East Bay Trees...cheaply

Magnolia from Strybing Arboretum
I like to go to gardens all the time. It can get expensive. I like to be able to pop in frequently for a few mins at a local garden as if it were mine. And when travelling, I like to go to whatever garden or arboretum I find.

I am facing a renewal of my UC Bot Garden membership and am weighing the plusses and minuses of their different levels. This is beginning to hurt my head trying to figure this out. I may have to get out the spreadsheet to help decide what is the best way to visit gardens (and possibly museums) cheaply.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Blooming in December! Chinese plum, Japanese apricot, Prunus mume

The show stopper

The Prunus mume that is blooming now.
I think this one is Matsubara Red.
I will keep looking to make sure.

Last night I found two neighbors looking at the flowers of our street-side Prunus mume and taking pictures. One neighbor said that they are Chinese plums and they are called mei. She said that they are early blooming and in China they sometimes get snowed on. The other neighbor was wondering if she could plant one and what kind of care do they need and what do they look like when not in bloom.