Category Archives: California

Mystery Tree

“To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.”                  -Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

PIA21270 Martian Dust Devil via JPL

Martian Dust Devil Action Gale Crater, Sol 1597

Isn’t that a great Gif from NASA? There is wind on Mars. It is wonderful that we have the technology to capture images from another planet.

Speaking of technology, my new App has been working pretty well up until now. I take a photo of the plant/bush/tree that I want to identify and the App sends me several images of different plants/bushes/trees to see if there is a match. If I do not see a match, I can ask The Horticulturist. I then submit 3 photos of the mystery plant and The Horticulturist will get back to me within 24 hours with an answer. This was all going swimmingly until the App couldn’t identify one of my bush/trees.

Mystery Tree

Mystery Tree

I need to trim some of the branches off the bottom of this tree.  I do remember being told in the past it is a Manzanita. I have been researching, and it matches better with a Toyon or Christmas Berry or California Holly. This would make it a native of California, drought tolerant, and good for bees and birds. It gets red berries in winter. The birds and squirrels like to eat the berries. It is quite comical to see the squirrels hanging upside down off the branches munching on the berries.  After researching a lot some more, I think I have found it, Eureka!  It is not a Manzanita, it is not a Toyon or Christmas Berry, it is a Firethorn or Pyracantha.  The App probably had a hard time identifying it because it has not flowered yet, although it has some little buds, and no berries yet. I was so focused on the leaves and buds that I did not notice it does have some thorns on the branches. Some of thorns are hidden behind the leaves and they are very sharp. It was hard to capture a clear image of the thorns but I included a few below. I noticed that it is getting a couple of pretty white flowers up on a higher branch, and there is this cotton-y stuff scattered around some of the branches. It is not a native of California but it is hardy and drought tolerant.

I found out about the cotton-y stuff on a few branches, and it is good it is few and far between because it is a sign of the woolly apple aphid. The aphids usually do not become a major problem thanks to natural predators like some wasps, lady bugs, syrphid flies or hover flies, earwigs, and lace wings. I saw some flying wasp-y looking insects around the tree this morning and hope they are after the aphids. And I have noticed lots of earwigs in our yard. I have to keep watch for aphid mummies, which is what happens when the wasps attack the aphids. Between those spiky thorns and the aphid mummies this is getting a little scary.  But I am liking earwigs more.


One Liner Wednesday is hosted by Linda G Hill. It is a nice way to meet up with other bloggers. Click on the link to check out her site.

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My Near Perfect Urban Trees

Continuing my research on my backyard flora, I have identified two more trees. They are the biggest trees on our property and against a back wall. I used my App again and couldn’t find a match. I did ask The Horticulturist but you have to wait for 24 hours to get the answer. But I was able to find them online. They are common trees in LA, drought tolerant, evergreen, conifers, and don’t cause problems with their roots. They are called Afrocarpus falcatus or Fern Pines. ( I find they are also referred to as Afrocarpus gracilior).  Cal Poly San Luis Obispo says the names are synonymous. They are originally from Africa.  Some other names are African Fern Pine and Yellowwood. Robin Rivet a horticulturist in the San Diego Horticultural Society (Oct. 2012, No. 217, pg. 5) called them “near perfect for urban landscapes.” Very reassuring. Thank you, Robin. Can’t get any better than that. Cal Poly states that my Fern Pines can grow 12-36 in./year, up to 50-65 ft. tall, and live more than 150 years. I can just see these two trees being the last things standing on our property.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is hosted by Linda G Hill. My featured image is of a ‘Ring-necked dove in an African Fern Pine’ in Maui by Forrest and Kim Starr on Flickr. We get doves in our yard and in our Fern Pine Trees. It is hard to get a photo because the minute we go outside they usually fly off. Ours are Mourning Doves.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove via US Fish and Wildlife Service

In My Garden-Volunteers

” I do some of my best thinking while pulling weeds.”- Martha Smith

Volunteer-“In gardening and agronomic terminology, a volunteer is a plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by a farmer or gardener. Volunteers often grow from seeds that float in on the wind, are dropped by birds, or are inadvertently mixed into compost.” (Wikipedia)

I have a couple of plants in my garden that are popping up without any help or encouragement from me. We did plant one of them but it is popping up in other spots. I have identified it as Sedum rubrotinctum aka Jelly Bean or Pork and Beans plants. Here are some photos of mine:

I think there were more that I pulled up when they were babies because I thought they were some kind of weed.  Another plant (tree) that grows like a weed are Palm trees. If you have a Palm tree anywhere nearby you will find little Palm tree seedlings popping up like weeds all over your yard. And you have to be vigilant in pulling them out or pretty soon you will have a tree where you may not want one. We ended up with a huge Palm tree against our wall, from a volunteer like that, and another one in our front yard.

This is what they look like if you catch them early:

Palm Tree Seedlings

As I was surveying the plants in my backyard,  I came across this hiding under some other bushes against one wall:

We will have to dig it up or end up with a much bigger tree in the near future.

In a recent post I mentioned there was clover growing in my garden, which also is a volunteer. I was thinking a neighbor may have some clover in their garden and the seeds spread to mine. Well, while researching the type of “clover” it might be, I discovered it is not clover but something called “Yellow wood sorrel” or Oxalis stricta. It grows wild so it is a volunteer. In small amounts it can be edible and medicinal. It is sour tasting and  a thirst quencher if you chew a bit of it.  The leaves close up in bright sun. I noticed some of the “clover” leaves were doing that too.  I like the look of it but I don’t necessarily want it to take over the backyard, but it is pretty and has a pretty name ‘wood sorrel.’ I am going to have to look for a different ground cover to fill in the bare spots. I took some photos of the sorrel this morning. You can see some of the leaves partially closed. The yellow flowers are closed this morning. We had rain yesterday and the sun is not so bright right now, a little cloudy today.

Some good news is that we planted our Lime tree.

And the Sage plants are doing well and really blooming:


Featured Image of Sedum r. by Frank Vincentz via Wikipedia.  One Liner Wednesday is hosted by Linda G Hill.

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In My Garden-Magical Things

“The universe is full of  magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”                – Eden Phillpotts

I noticed something on the top of one of our cactus plants and on closer inspection I saw these bright pink protuberances:

I think I mentioned before that we did not save the tags for most of our plants and this makes it hard to identify them later.  However I have been doing a bit of research and believe I have identified a couple more of the cacti/succulents. The image above is of Cleistocactus hyalacanthus.

One of the other succulents in the front yard has a large light green flowering stalk growing out of it right now. I identified this plant as Kalanchoe luciae aka Paddle Kalanchoe, Paddle plant, Desert Cabbage, Flapjacks, and Red Pancakes ( named for the shape and color of the leaves):

I have been reading up on the Kalanchoe and I can grow many more plants from the mother plant. Here, in the image below, are some of the baby plants that can be harvested and repotted. Can you see them tucked into the bottom of the leaves?

While researching some images of kolanchoe I found ( an image by Nova on Wikipedia) of one of my backyard succulents is called Kolanchoe tormentosa:

Kalanchoe tormentosa

We have been converting our front and backyards to drought tolerant landscapes. The front yard has a low flow drip sprinkler system. Happy to have something that is low maintenance with our rock ground cover, pavers and drought tolerant plants.


One Liner Wednesday is hosted by Linda G Hill. Featured image Cleistocactus in flower by Leonora Enking on Flickr. I hope my cleistocactus flowers will open up like that. 🙂

 

 

Yawn

 

Resetting your clock can be hazardous to your health

 

“I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind… At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme, I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy, and wise in spite of themselves.” -Robertson Davies

Spotted this online nola.com: “California Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D- San Jose, is proposing Assembly Bill 2496, which calls for the state to observe Standard Pacific Time during the entire year.” [God bless him].

From Bustle.com:

“Daylight time a monstrosity in time keeping.” – Harry S. Truman

I’m with you Harry.  🙂

Time is on my side, as long as it’s Pacific Standard Time. Video via You Tube:

 

Image of Harold Lloyd setting clock via Giphy.com

 

In My Garden Small

“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that ‘she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow’.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett-The Secret Garden

I have been wanting to get back into my small backyard garden and now that the weather is getting nicer I have been going out.  I have been weeding periodically and I am noticing that the succulents I planted are growing and some are blooming. I was excited to see this one with a big stalk shooting up:

And I did not remember the name of the plant. Then I noticed it had a tag:

Gasteria arborescens

Here are a few more of my succulents:

And here’s some of my wooly thyme ground cover. I will probably plant more because it has not covered as much of the space as I hoped it would:

The sage plants are doing well:

Cranberry Sage

I have a dwarf lime tree that I need to plant:

It’s nice to see that these plants are doing well even though I am new at this.  I plan to scale the retaining wall this weekend, ( don’t worry it is not too tall), dig a hole in the terrace, and plant the lime tree. I hope it likes it there.

Today is International Women’s Day # HerVoiceIsMyVoice:


This post is my contribution to One Liner Wednesday hosted by Linda G Hill. Featured image is of  my backyard garden path.  🙂

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