Six on Saturday – 5/3/2022

OMG I’m a nervous wreck. They arrived to start on our drive on Thursday. A day of breaking concrete ensued, a day in fear of them breaking much more than concrete. Friday was a bit of a respite as they were only here for three hours, levelling out the base layer. I’d had to clear loads of plants, half my water storage and piles of other stuff out of the way earlier in the week. There’s a long way to go yet, I’m hoping the stress levels will go down a bit next week.

I did a post about Camellias yesterday and was tempted to post it as my Saturday six. I wouldn’t have got to mention the works though, and there’s no denying its place as the main event in my sheltered life.

One.
Mayhem.


Two.
Crocus tomasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’. For some reason I thought rubies were red, but there you go. These have been fantastic this year, far better than the paler ones. Admittedly, they were up a little earlier and barely opened as it was too cold. I wish I could report that I’d seen lots of bumblebees on them but I’m not sure I’ve seen one.

Three.
Camellia ‘Show Girl’ is still going strong. I put it into my six of the first of January when it had opened its first blooms, then repeated it on the 22nd when it was in full flower. It has weathered storms and rain, a couple of light frosts and still it goes on. With a bit of luck it will still be flowering when the magnolia beside it opens its first blooms.

Four.
Correa ‘Federation Bell’ was another that featured in the new year’s day post and it too is still going strong. I’m particularly surprised it has survived the battering by the wind; it has been thrashing about in a way that would have seen off most plants. I couldn’t really say it’s been tested for frost hardiness though, we’ve barely had any, so far.

Five.
I rooted a few cuttings of a pale yellow flowered Melaleuca a few years back and eventually planted one in the garden. It seems my efforts are to be rewarded with a decent show of flower this year, I noticed lots of buds on my pre SoS circuit of the estate and failed to get a picture that shows them off well. Melaleuca squarrosa seems to be the name that was missing from the parent bush.

Six.
I started with chaos and will finish with more. The area at the side of the house was where I had six connected water butts set up to store water. Unable to bear the thought of pouring 1380 litres of rainwater down the drain, I emptied two into my big tank, moved them to the top of the garden, filled them from the next two butts, moved them and filled them from the last two. Then I lowered the level in my big tank to make room for any rain we get now by filling butt number five. It took ages and will have to be repeated when they go back where they were. Someone asked me the other day if I was OCD; I denied it.

But, but, but, but, but, but…….

Saturday morning and the sun so bright I can barely see the computer screen. Shredding would seem to be what I have lined up for today. I’d better let my neighbour sleep off her late night (working, not partying). The sixes are rolling in over at The Propagator’s shed, you should call in.

37 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 5/3/2022

  1. I’m sure it’ll be worth it!

    Nice to see the Correa flowering away and looking in fine fettle. I noticed one in a front garden further up my road this week. I was quite surprised as I never really considered them hardy outside of the milder parts of the country. Having said that, it’s only been recently planted so hasn’t had to go through much cold weather yet!

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    1. It was one in a garden near here that got me started with them, I knocked the door and asked for a cutting; very out of character, never done that before. They said yes and that plant is in the greenhouse waiting to go out.

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  2. You’ve got guts and determination, and a great ability to bring on plants and share your knowledge. Nice Correa ‘Federation Bell’. I might look out for one, as I plan to dig out the huge and overgrown Mahonia this year which is suckering all over the place. That should leave room for a little planting project!

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    1. It’s looking increasingly like I’ve killed my Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’, it looks terrible. Every dead plant is a planting opportunity and it’s rare indeed to be replaced with the same thing.

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  3. What an abundunce of crocuses. I am particularly drawn to the malaleuca of course. I look forward to seeing it in flower. Your heroic efforts with the water storage containers will pay off this summer.

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    1. I wish I could find the order details for the crocus, just to confirm the variety. I want to order more. I pinched a few cuttings of the Melaleuca from the park where I volunteer, theirs has died and I have another I need to get into shape to give back to them.

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  4. Just the tractor and trailer look huge, no wonder they are causing you stress. I was out letting buckets fill with rainwater from a broken gutter, it seemed a shame to waste the rainwater after such a dry start to the year, now if I had a water butt….!

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    1. As far as I could work out, plastic water butts were the cheapest option for water storage, plus I put them in a row, put a shelf on top and effectively lost no space. That tractor was a monster, my thoughts were with the people stuck behind him on the drive back to Plymouth, taking the concrete to be crushed and recycled, which is good.

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  5. Moving the water butts made me smile. And I bet your neighbours are glad that all the digging up of the concrete is finished! What finish are you having on your new driveway? Bricks? Cornish setts? Gravel?

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    1. Block paviers, mid range price so look like setts rather than bricks. It’s not just the neighbours are glad the concrete breaking is done, so am I. I hope it doesn’t rain all summer making the water butt shenanigans a waste of time.

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    1. Concrete block paviers, they looked OK in the brochure! All the pictures are taken when they’re wet, so I’m assuming it’ll look nice in the rain and rather dull when it’s dry.

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  6. I have never before heard anyone question the color of ‘Ruby Giant’. I got to thinking that perhaps it really is red, and that I am the only one who sees it differently. I figured that they all knew more about it than I do, since I do not grow it.
    Anyway, besides Correa, species of Melaleuca also surprise me there. That genus seems so Californian. It is not native here of course, but suits the climate well. I would not expect it to be so happy there.

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    1. As far as I know, only a couple of Melaleucas are hardy here, and then only in the mildest parts. Looking up availability, M. alternifolia is the most widely available, which I had never heard of. I see on Wikipedia that M. quinquenervia has become an invasive species in Florida. You presumably are able to grow a much wider range of species than we are including more ornamental sorts perhaps?

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      1. Well, yes, but some are a bit . . . less than ornamental. I believe that the less than ornamental sorts became popular for their resiliency to the long and dry summers. They work well as windbreaks close to the San Francisco Bay, where they do not need to be pretty. They certainly can be pretty if pruned up to expose their gnarly trunks and shaggy bark. Some are striking street trees in places like San Francisco and Oakland, but are not as pretty from upper windows as they are from sidewalks and ground floors. Their roots are remarkably complaisant with pavement. Prettier sorts are more popular in Southern California. Some have nice pink bloom. Some have pale white trunks, so work like birch trees, but for Colonial Spanish architecture. (European white birch looks a bit odd with Colonial Spanish architecture or Mexican architecture.)

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      2. The problem with going to somewhere like Australia and seeing these things in the wild is that they don’t have labels on them so you usually have no idea what you’re looking at. M. quinquenervia grows in swamps, much like Taxdium distichum, but whether the similar trees growing further away from the water were the same species and it’s able to tolerate a range of conditions, or whether it was something different, I don’t know. So I had formed an association between Melaleuca and water which obviously doesn’t hold true for all of them. The association of plants with an architectural style is an interesting line of thought; the Queenslander house style is an Australian archetype and seems to fit in with the flora, but probably only because I’ve seen it a lot and gotten used to it.

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      3. Some of the popular Australian trees, although not lower profile plants, are native to the Murray Darling Basin, which is a region that floods through much of its rainy season, but then gets very warm and dry for most of the year. Such trees adapt well to swamps that stay damp throughout the year. With more moisture and richer soil, they proliferate aggressively enough to exclude native species. However, with irrigation for at least part of the year, they also perform well in desert regions, such as Palm Springs. They need no irrigation here. They get what they need from the rain. I consider them to be chaparral trees, like the native species, although they could just as easily be classified as desert trees or riparian trees.
        There are so many different types of architecture here, but so few landscape designers who know how to landscape them properly. Queenslander architecture is so very rare here though that there are no standards for its associated landscapes. There happens to be such a home in this neighborhood, among the redwoods! My colleague in Southern California is intent on landscaping homes appropriately, and particularly enjoys the various types of Spanish (influenced) and Mediterranean styles of architecture. However, there are sometimes situations for which features that are common or traditional with a particular style of landscape would be appealing, but do not quite conform. For example, European white birch, which is very appropriate for ranch architecture, is not so appropriate for Spanish architecture. They would look weird. Lemon gum eucalyptus or some types of melaleucas can provide similarly elegant white trunks that are actually appropriate to the Spanish architecture, although none are native to the Mediterranean region.

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      4. Aha!, Lemon gum eucalyptus is Corymbia citriodora and I was just looking up the extraordinary white barked gum we’d seen near Kata Tjuta in central Australia, which is Corymbia aparrerinja, and Corymbia ficifolia, the red flowered gum that gets planted quite a bit as a garden tree in Australia. Too many plants that I could envy you being able to grow. I don’t think of there being any particular association of trees and buildings in the UK but that may be the equivalent of thinking I don’t speak with an accent. Or it could be that in hot climates trees get planted by buildings, or buildings located under trees, for shade, in a way that doesn’t happen here. Does the Himalayan white birch get used? It’s the species mainly used here for a souped up birch look, several clones are widely available with very white trunks.

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      5. More choices are not necessarily better. Besides, I am not certain if we have more choices. I would like to grow more maples both here and in Southern California, but they are unpopular here, and do not perform well farther south. Foliar color during autumn is inhibited by the mild weather. Only a few species develop impressive color, and even when they do, they defoliate shortly afterward because of the minimal humidity. Many cultivars of apple need more chill than they can get here. I am aware of only two cultivars of apple that produce fruit reliably in Beverly Hills, and neither are very good. Eucalyptus (which includes Corymbia) are fun to work with, but they are SO very variable, with such distinct personalities. Lemon gum eucalyptus is a striking tree where such tall and lanky trunks are an asset, but would look silly here. (We will be planting one though. Single trees are even sillier than groups.) Eucalyptus ficifolia has a relatively uninteresting low and round canopy on a simple trunk and branch structure, but the bloom is spectacular! Because of genetic variability among seed grown trees, a group of trees bloom with slightly different colors of red, and perhaps pink and reddish orange. A mature specimen lived in front of Brent’s home, but succumbed to decay shortly after he landscaped the front garden. Unfortunately, eucalyptus has a bad reputation. Blue gum, which was planted as a timber crop a long time ago, naturalized here, and is now difficult to get rid of. It is very combustible, and accelerated the Oakland Hills Fire. The trees are huge and very messy. Consequently, some people dislike all eucalyptus.
        Landscapes here may be more specific to the architecture of their associated building than they are there only because there is likely more of a mix of architectural styles here. I get the impression that homes and other buildings in Europe conform to the style of the Community as well as the climate. For example, Italian villas look like others in their neighborhood, without Swiss chalets mixed in. An Italian villa would look weird in the Swiss Alps, and likely get crushed by the weight of the snow. Here, there is much less consideration for conformity or practicality. Heck, there are a few Eichler houses here in the redwood forests! Their roofs need to be raked regularly.
        European white birch was a fad through the 1970s. They were typically planted in groups of three, in the corner of the garden. Supposedly, that make them look more natural, as if they only grow in groups of three in the wild. Unfortunately, they do not live for long here, so most of those trees are gone now. Himalayan birch became available through the 1990s. It works like the European white birch, but lacks the pendulous form. What I dislike (very much) about them is that so-called ‘gardeners’ add them to groves of European white birches as the European white birches die out. They never fit in with the grove. Clients sometimes ask me what is wrong with them.

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      6. “More choices are not necessarily better” just about covers it all. Why is the appeal of something new or different so hard wired into the human psyche? It rarely does us any good.

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      7. In the case of Camellias it’s the longevity of individual plants that means they last long enough to be old. It leads some people to revere some truly terrible varieties that should have gone on the bonfire the first year they flowered.

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      8. ‘Purity’ is still my favorite Camellia japonica. I know that experts are none too keen on it, but I do not care. Modern cultivars have big and heavy flowers that face downward and disintegrate. I asked my colleague for a single plant when he was ordering stock plants of popular cultivars years ago, and he got ten! He grew some, and they were weirdly popular.

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      9. It’s a beauty, though we seem to have adopted its Japanese name over here, to the extent that anyone grows it. Now you’ve got me thinking what I’d pick as my favourite japonica. I need time to think about that.

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      10. WHY?! There is no need for favorites. I happen to like white, and that can be a problem, since I do not give other colors a chance. I dislike purple and bright colors. Consequently, I must get others to select colors for me. It seems to me that it would be easier without favorites, or if favorites were a bit less favorite.

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      11. Another facet of the modern world is that favourites are a favourite for security questions online, so you end up unwilling to disclose your favourite Camellia because it’s a security question for your online banking. I have no compunction about dropping a favourite for a new favourite. (Damn, now I have the song in my head)

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      12. Gee, what is with spell check? Why is ‘now’ so commonly replaced with ‘not’? It completely changes the meaning, like to make it mean the opposite! What is ‘heat alto’?! Well, I am sorry about that.

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