Monday, February 15, 2010

The Japanese maple you should rely on.

Often I am asked to plant a Japanese maple ,Acer palmatum,by a client. Seldom do they think of the care this special tree needs. Just because we live in Washington doesn't mean it will grow. We live in Eastern Washington, the ever brown side of the state and sometimes plants don't look the same as they do on the Puget Sound side of the state.

I have seen many maples burn during the summer. I have seen them burnt after the winter. I have watched as the buds swell and leaves start to emerge only to see them wither up and have to leaf out again.

Here are a few tips.

Water your Japanese maple later into the fall. I recommend this with all trees really. We are a drought area, high desert, and winter is even dryer with freezing winds. Remember- If the ground isn't frozen them maybe you need to water it.

What one needs to remember about maples and spring. Maples tend to start drawing up moisture in late February and early March. If the moisture is not there then its not going to be good. (And please remember how much you paid for that little tree!) The other spring thing to be aware of is that maple leaves are tender and can freeze in the frost. It's a fact, and one has to deal with it and take that chance.
The other thing I highly recommend here is that you do not plant your Japanese maple out in the open. I would protect it from a couple of things. Direct burning summer sun and drying winds. So plant it somewhere in the easterly side, north or south, but not on the hot west side of your house where it will get twice the heat because it is being reflected off of your house.
ow I do have a secret tree I like to use. This was the point of this blog wasn't it?
Yes, I like Acer p. 'Shaina', and have recommended Acer p. 'Twombly's Red Sentinel'. The tree you should look at for many reasons is Acer palmatum 'Emperor I'.

Now here is why- It has excellent color. Everyone loves those burgundy leave! and the second is a strange reason, but it leafs out 2-3 weeks later than most varieties? I don't know why, but it does. This offers a few more weeks of protection because it is not leafing out during the frosty times. I am not saying that it can't get bit by the frost, it just has an advantage because it it a few weeks later then all cousins.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Quercus robur 'Concordia'

Quercus robur 'Concordia' is such a lovely, golden thing. Bright acid-like, sulphur colored leaves shine all season. I have not seen any burning on the leaves as of yet. We get hot summer sun here and the heat to go with it as well. It might be regular watering that helps maintain the leaves. The leaves will green up just a shade or two in mid-summer. But the overall look is one of golden magnificence.

It was introduced during the 19th century it was originally raised in Van Geert's nursery at Ghent, Belgium in 1843. A moderate grower though I have have ready that some folks this its extremely fast, it will reach 30-35 feet in 15-20 years. (Annual growth rate is 12-18 inches.) I have seen a second flush of leaves come on later in the season.

Being this in and 'English' oak it should tolerate highly alkaline soils and hardy to zone 4! Folks leaving in Eastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle should be happy about this one!

so mighty the oak...tickled with a feather

Quercus dentata 'Pinnatifida' also know as the Cutleaf Daimyo Oak or Japanese Emperor Oak, is an unusual specimen tree that would grace any home landscape. The deeply incised leaves are eye catching and seem to generate questions from the casual passerby. They almost look like feathers!

Slow to get started(roots are essential to trees,)but a moderate grower in my zone 5, this will be a tree enjoyed for generations.

It has been related to me that this tree will get 40-60 feet high and 30-40 feet wide but I cannot find out if that is actually a 15, 20, or 50 year growth? I would figure the lack of photosynthetic surface really is a factor in how a tree may actually grow and what shape it may achieve.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Xanthocerus sorbifolia

What did I say? Xantho what? Isn't that an ingredient in processed foods?

Xanthocerus sorbifilia is an uncommon bush. The common name that I have found for this shrub is Chinese Yellow Horn. This is the hardy member of a somewhat tropical family. Zone 5 hardy, maybe a zone 4b with protection.
I stumbled across this plant a few years ago in Portland and luckily I saw it when it was in bloom! Little orchid-like white blossoms, marked with yellow and red toward the center, cover the this shrub in summer. It likes long periods of summer heat and though it may die back somewhat it winter it does come forth year after year with the blossom. And looking at the last part of the name, sorbifolia, it is going to have sorbus-like foliage.
In my reading, and you cannot hold me to this, the pea like pods when dry contain 'nuts' or pea size seeds that are sweet and good to eat. I have been instructed that the nuts are usually roasted and taste like a macadamias? I find this interesting. I have also read that the flowers and leaves are edible.
They make great Hedgerow, are great for honey production.

If you know more, please feel free to let me know.

Monday, February 8, 2010

She aint heavy, she's my sister

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
My friend Linda has called this hardy girl a 'THUG.' She is temperamental, tells you know when she is thirsty, likes some sun, but not too much-or that could be me not watering her enough. Her heads are about a foot across if you fertilize her enough (kept wanting to write 'fertilizer enough.'
On size I have been told many things. I have been told she is only 4 feet high and others tell me 8-10 feet. Guess it all depends on the gropwing conditions.
I was informed for years this is the only variety of H. aborescens you could find in any garden center and was sur la facture at most specialty nurseries. Now you can find 'White Dome','Hayes Starburst', 'Incrediball', and the lovely new introduction 'Ivinciball Spirit'.

I might as well start with the Invinciball Spirit. Here it is at last, a pink H. arborscens. This sweety will continually bloom during the season I am told. The flower buds are produced on new wood, not like Hydrangea macrophylla, so you are going to get bloom even if this pink darling gets winter damaged down to the ground.
So, again, summer it will start blooming all the way till frost!
I will try posting a picture up on the website once that is up and going.

Incrediball was the first dwarf introduction. So for those who would like something mid boarder or closer to the front, or this plant can work nicely as a foundation planting without getting out of hand.

'Hayes Starbust' I am attracted to because of the texture it gives the flower head. Now this a completely sterile form or flower head and the blossom petals are pointed instead of the typical round. It is also a double flower blossom, so it has this puffy, shaggy, just other texture that I find irresistible.

I tend to push Hydrangea paniculata forms for most gardeners around here, but if you must have a mop head style hydrangea I would say your best money is on Hydrangea arborescens.

To those of you who are struggling to grow blue hydrangeas in alkaline soil. Just surrender your frustration. We have a high PH here, in the 7 to 8 range, and they need acidic soil that is more like PH 3 to 4 to achieve that nice blue shading. Don't keep pouring chemicals into the ground. Let's talk.