Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cranberries are an attractive fruit fresh or boiled in sugar water

I'm cooking today because our family delayed Thanksgiving dinner until my Mother was released from Suburban Hospital's Stroke Unit. She feels fine now so we'll just do everything two days late. There are, of course, a ridiculous number of elaborate cranberry confections, and there will be a selection of them at dinner, but I follow the simple recipie on the bag adding only a pinch of ginger or cloves and some orange slices. I either like to see the fruit, which I do, or I'm lazy, which I am. It's good when you get two for one. 

Cranberries are good Native fruits. About a qurter of the  Fern Valley bog is taken up by three Cranberry plants. The yield is never high, but I have hopes for the future.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Eleagnus ebbingii 'Gilt Edge'....cheery plant on a gloomy day

Thanksgiving curmudgeonry....bah humbug

I guess I've given up watching Thanksgiving parades. If I wanted to watch celebrity interviews I'm pretty sure there're other better places to do that. If I wanted to watch infomercials for Pillsbury or Disney....well I don't. And it seems particularly egregious to follow up the Pillsbury infomercial with a two minute commercial break. Since the floats and balloons themselves are subtle advertisements, if we overlay them with infomercials, and follow with actual commercial breaks we have three layers of advertisement.  Ours is a capitalist economy and I'm not a hater. I don't resent the rich. I don't hate business, but, regarding these parades, the pendulum has swung a bit too far towards commercialism for me and I guess I'll take a few years off.

I do remember when the coverage consisted of nothing but long range views of the parades from stationary cameras sited some distance off the parade routes. That wasn't ideal, but now I feel like I'm watching a talk show that occasionally shows a view of a parade. I imagine television executives with their cohorts and advisors decided that just looking at a parade for 3? hours is boring. Maybe that's why there aren't any televised parades between New Year's Day and Thanksgiving, ~330 days!. And some interviews are fine, but if we have to hear 3 minutes of speculation about where the plot line of All My Children will be going for the next few months, why couldn't we be viewing the Parade at the same time? Maybe I'm just in a mood.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes'....there's something very wrong about representing a vertical shoot horizontally but I need maximum magnification

Still raining but the sun broke through Wednesday evening for an hour or so. This is the terminal shoot of 'Tiger Eyes' with the last half dozen leaves recently removed. Nice and hairy and the huge leafscars surrounding the buds are cool. I can't help it I'm a geek.

Euphorbia characias wulfenii: I told you it looked good with water on it

The rain won't stop and the clouds won't go away, but there's always something worth looking at.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Colquhounia coccinea...I almost missed the flowers assuming the first blooms would be terminal

After waiting all summer, I stopped looking closely when the temperatures began to spend most of their time in the 40's and 50's F, figuring this wasn't going to be the year. Noticed these flowers today near the ground which is 5--6-7 feet below the tops of these plants. Wow, first the Hibiscus mutabilis 'Flore Plena', that had 19 flowers open today, well halfway open. It was cloudy and rainy all day. Now this. I have to think that if we chose to site for flowering we could have done better. Maybe against a west facing wall, or behind a dark paved area, someplace that would accumulate warmth. Or maybe when these plants have bigger root systems next year) they'll get a faster start and flower earlier. We'll watch.

Rose 'Fortune's Double Yellow' rained again today

Fortune's Double Yellow, an old China Rose, makes a huge sprawling plant that puts all it's energy into a single explosion of fragrant yellow flowers suffused with orange. Though it doesn't rebloom, I like it a spite of those thorns, thorns that are so much worse than they look. They're "small but fierce" as Robin Williams said of in Death to Smoochie. (a wonderfully quirky comedy with Edward Norton) I think it's that little curve. And they're strong; they don't break off, they rip and tear cloth, flesh, hair, whatever. Interestingly though, and I attribute this to the curve as well, they don't catch leaves at all. Three large shrubs (6-10 feet in diameter) hadn't caught a handful of leaves between them. Adjacent plants, including a couple of roses, looked quite messy, but the 'Fortunes Double Yellows' were clean.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Camellia sinensis 'Unryu' contorted tea Camellia

Today was a miserable day; cold and gray with all speeds of rain ranging from a light drizzle to a steady downpour. I went out to take a look at this plant because I'd never seen a contorted camellia. I would swear that it was not flowering when it came in last week (from Camellia Forest). When I picked it up, there they were, sort of cute and pendulous! Wow, I don't get it. I've had a passing relationship with the species (Camellia sinensis) for 20 years or so (there's been one in my garden for almost that long) and their flowers aren't pendulous. And the filaments aren't that coral color. Anyway it's an interesting plant and I feel a slight twinge  of covetousness looking at the picture.

I do know that a contorted cultivar of the White Mulberry is 'Unryu' so I assumed it made some reference to the twisted curved branches and I guess it does. Googling unryu tells me that the word is Japanese (even I knew that) and can mean cloud dragon paper and, consider my ignorance, refers to a type of paper in which long fibers are added to a base pulp and result in a swirling textural pattern. There: I've convinced myself and will wait for someone with more knowledge to enlighten/correct me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Arisaema ringens: the seed heads have fallen

I'm not certain if this is a confession or a recommendation. Just about Thanksgiving every year I gather a few of the fallen seed heads of Arisaema ringens, a vigorous Asian Jack-in-the -Pulpit, clip off most of their rotting stems, cruelly impale them on freshly cup bamboo skewers, and move them to a more highly visible location adjacent to the front walk. I admit that there's an element of chicanery in this practice, but the seeds are atractive, I like looking at them, and the plants grow in out of the way places. Plus, the stems have turned to mush leaving the seed heads on their sides, I'm going to keep doing it..

Euphorbia characias wulfenii: sunrise through the Euphorbia

This plant has become a favorite of mine in the Adelphi Garden. It seed around but never to the point where it feels unmanageable. I've grown many of the other cultivars and hybrids from this group and they don't have the staying power this one does. Forming tight gray mounds of evergreen foliage, it adds an element of structure to the mixed border in the winter. Frost or dew ornament it particularly attractively and large green flower heads are striking accents in early spring. It hasn't moved far for me in, I think 12-15 years but I do wonder what it might do in a more favorable area? It could be a plant to watch.