Stupid plant tricks

Blog reader Ray sent these photos of his weeping peach, weeping crabapple, and a Hydrangea paniculata, along with this comment:


“When a tomato grower extrapolates his applied knowledge to his landscape, before learning otherwise.”

(Translation for those tomato avoiders like me:  they are all planted too deeply, which tomatoes like.  Trees and shrubs, not so much.)

If It’s In The Wall Street Joural Opinions Section Then We Need to Rethink Everything.

I’m no global warming apologist.  I do think it’s happening.  I think the new USDA map supports that it’s happening.  I also think that humans probably have something to do with it since we cut trees and burn fossil fuels which release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into our atmosphere.  That said, I’m not convinced that the carbon dioxide produced by people is as big a player in global warming as we’re being led to believe, or that the world is about to become a living hell because of it.  Still, I don’t know if I’m on board with this article published in the Wall Street Journal last week.  Sixteen scientists with diverse backgrounds basically encouraging us to ignore carbon dioxide emissions for awhile. 

Look, even if global warming is a red herring, carbon dioxide isn’t the wonderful universal fertilizer claimed by this article.  Increased carbon dioxide does encourage the growth of some plants, others don’t benefit as much, meaning that some weeds will become more competitive with crops as carbon dioxide levels increase.  These crops include such things as rice and corn.  Furthermore, increased carbon dioxide means that more nutrients will need to be pulled from the soil by plants which are trying to grow faster — kinda like how you need more gas (nutrients) for a faster car (faster growing plant).  So that’ll mean more fertilizer used for crops, which will be used at about 30% efficiency (about 70% of what we apply to crops never gets to them) and the rest will go into the air or into the water as pollutants. 

To me, the carbon dioxide issue isn’t, and never was, about global warming — because we can’t prove how much it does to climate change.  The issue is crops and ocean acidification (which I haven’t gone into here) because we have very good data in these areas as they relate to the negative effects of increased carbon dioxide levels.  We need to rethink our fossil fuel use.

Stop planting things so close together, Holly!

I love Linda’s idea and there are some great comments – but y’all need to send her photo evidence of these gardening adventures/casualties to post! Would make me feel better. It doesn’t take much to get me going on dubious stuff I have done, gardening or otherwise.

Was just up to Northern Virginia to help with  Fairfax Master Gardener training (at the fabulous Merrifield Garden Center).  My talk was on "site analysis and plant selection." As I looked through my digital photos to illustrate the points made, I came across several "ahem" moments, that lead to the "do what I say, not what I do" caveat (but usually gets a few giggles and snorts). 

Here’s a classic:

East side of  our "yarden." The only preexisting material was the pair of white birch in the background and the purple-leaf plum.  Please direct your attention to the left side of the border.

We built the bed in spring of 2008. 

Inserted a very happy redbud, (7 gallon), Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Ogon’ (my pride and joy) ($$$ for a 15 gallon specimen),  Salix x ‘Hakuru Nishiki’ standard (7 gallon lollipop), underplanted with some sun/part shade perennials and one little Tetrapanax root dug from a friend’s garden. There was also a Calycanthus raulstonii ‘Hartledge Wine’ tucked between the redbud and dawn redwood but you can’t see it from this angle.

The sun perennials took off, and it looked AWESOME. 

Coming up on this border’s 4th anniversary, things are a bit…crowded. Only a few Echinacea remain to fight for the morning sun. The Tetrapanex just loves the light sandy loam and has gone ape-doo. The Phyllis Diller-esque Salix standard, despite my pruning it back each year, is about to get the chain saw.  ‘Hartledge Wine’ got relocated this fall.

I think this is a common gardener’s dilemma. Maybe I just can’t picture my pet dawn redwood reaching 50′ tall, like it probably said on the tag I ignored.  The upside is…"lush."  And there needs to be a new bed  built to relocate the sunny stuff (yay!).   I’m actually a pretty patient gardener; and I even distinctly recall with this particular bed I was all "Look how far apart I’m placing these! Suuuper genius!"  Feel free to giggle or snort.