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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cold weather, frost damage, and the 10-Minute Gardener Introduction

by Douglas E. Welch, agn@welchwrite.com
Reader/Listener Line - 206-338-5832

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Theme Music: The One by The Woodshedders, aka the Hot Club of West Virginia, courtesy of the PodSafe Music Network

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Elsewhere Online: Reviewing Flower Confidential

Ok, Susan at Garden Rant caught my interest with this review of Flower Confidential. Making my request from the library right now.

Read her entire review using the link below.
Reviewing Flower Confidential


Read the entire review at Garden Rant

(Via Garden Rant.)
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Gardening Togs - PaD 1/27/07

Douglas in his morning gardening togs
Gardening Togs - PaD 1/27/07
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
Out in the garden this morning, trying to get some tasks done before the rains arrive. Hopefully, we will get some actual rain and not the sprinkles we have received in the past. We could really use it.

Almost finished the rose pruning. I have one more bed of about 5 roses along the north property line, but there is a huge Armenian wedding celebration taking place at our neighbors and I figured they didn't need to see me in my grubby morning gardening clothes. (SMILE)

Sounds of the djembe and oud echo from the front to the back of the house as guests are welcomed and the groom departs. I always enjoy the "United Nations" feel of our neighborhood and it is always wonderful to see and hear happy people. Too often in today's world all we ever see is doom, gloom and tragedy.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Frost damage on Bouganvilea

Frost damage on Bouganvilea
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
Who says it never gets cold in Southern California? I found these frost damaged Bouganvilea as we walked up to the local coffee shop this afternoon.

I am seeing more and more damage almost everywhere I look now. Sitting out on the back patio I finally noticed that the tops of some of the large ficus trees had a bit of damage, too. It seems that almost every tropical plant suffered some damage. Since we don't usually get temperatures this low, the majority of the tropicals are in the ground, rather than in pots, so there is no easy way to protect them, except by tarping or wrapping them in place. On a previous trip to Phoenix, Arizona I saw a lot of this, especially at the large golf resorts which are heavily planted with tropicals, even though they are in an even less tropical area than we are.

The actual damage from frost comes from ice that forms inside each cell of the plant. As water freezes, it increases in volume, swelling the cell until it bursts. This moisture then evaporates away leaving a limp, dessicated leaf or flower behind. In some cases, frost damage can even resemble rot.

I hope I don't need to worry much about frosts in the future, but now I certainly know I need to pay more attention the next time it arrives.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rose pruning underway...

A little bit of a late start this year, but I pruned the first 5 (of about 30) roses this afternoon. I had to use a bit of my "10-Minute Gardener" attitude to do it, as I had a late afternoon computer emergency call that interrupted my schedule.

These Bewitched roses that line the driveway are starting to look a bit old and tired. They have been in place probably almost 20 years now and I am starting to see more dead canes and suckers each year. I remember that I looked a few years ago and the hybrid is still being sold. Maybe it is time to consider re-planting a few?

Wednesday's are always a good day for garden work around here, as the trash, recycle and garden waste pickups happen Thursday morning. This gives me a little push to fill the garden bin, if I haven't already accomplished it.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Elsewhere Online: Native Plants Beat the Freeze

Ribes indecorum photoMy good friend, and native plant gardener, Keri Dearborn posts about frost damage in her garden and how well the native plants "weathered the storm."

Native Plants Beat the Freeze

Cold weather has destroyed citrus and other agricultural crops across California. Frost damaged plants can be seen in most residential yards. But if you look past the destruction, there is something important to note: the native plants are fine.


(Via AnimalBytes)

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Yahoo! Answers "hibiscus frost damage"

I came across this discussion via a Google search. Consensus seems to be to leave it alone until Spring arrives. Do you folks have any additional advice?

Yahoo! Answers - what can you do after hibiscus plant has frost damage?

(Via Yahoo Answers - India.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Oh, the Hibiscus!

Remember how I was saying I wasn't seeing much frost damage in the garden.

Forget it!

I don't know why I hadn't looked at the hibiscus this week, but today I finally saw them. There is not one leave left unscathed on any of the 3 hibiscus shrubs along the south side of the garden. Ouch! They look poor and pitiful and I wonder if they will come back. I would assume the 2, older and larger plants will, but the new, smaller one might be doomed.

I am so used to the hibiscus being trouble free (except for whitefly) that I didn't even give them a second thought, although they are probably the most tropical of all plants in our garden.

Hmmm, (hard) lesson learned, I guess.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Frost Damage

Frost damage
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
I spotted some minor frost damage on this potted Schefflera which resides on the shady back garden. I really haven't spotted anything else, as most are fairly hardy perennials. We have been flirting with freezing temperatures every night this week so I will keep an eye on things and maybe move some stuff around.

the Flickr picture has annotations showing the areas of damage. You may need to view the photo larger to see it.

The 10-Minute Gardener: Removing Friction

by Douglas E. Welch, agn@welchwrite.com
Reader/Listener Line - 206-338-5832


One of the essentials to reconnecting with your garden is making movement from other activities to gardening activities frictionless. You should be able to move from one to the other without more thought than it takes to get out of bed in the morning. If there are any impediments between what you are doing now and what you want to do, you will be stopped in your tracks. Inertia, the physical law that states that "objects at rest tend to remain at rest, unless acted on by an outside force" can be seen as a mental law as well. If you are engaged in one activity, your natural inclination will be to remain there. This is why it can be so hard sometimes to get out of your easy chair and into the garden. If you want to do something else, you have to act -- to move -- to initiate that activity. This is where most of us find ourselves bogged down each day. One part of our mind wants to work in the garden, while another is simply happy to remain where we are. We can't seem to overcome the inertia. We need to remove the friction that can make it so hard to move.


So, one of your first 10-minute tasks in your garden is to remove some impediments. Make your first 10-minute task to gather all your gardening tools -- hoes, rakes, glove, pruners, etc. -- into one central location. This should be located as close as possible to where you will use them. It could be in a gardening toolbox, like the one's I created with my son a few year's ago, in a 5-gallon bucket or perhaps into some grand contraption which you purchased, but have never used. In some cases, especially when your available storage is far away from the garden, you might even consider building a stand-alone tool shed, right in the garden itself. Not only is it functional, it can double as a decorative element for your garden.

If you are missing some basic tools, spend a few, enjoyable, minutes shopping for replacements. You don't want or need to spend an inordinate amount of time on this, but having the right tools is certainly part of the joy of gardening. Don't go for whiz-bang special gizmos, though. Choose simple, hardworking, tools that you actually will use such as a hoe, hand pruner, lopper, garden rake, leaf rake, shovel and gloves.

Now that you have your tools, new and old, and a place to keep them, you have reduced a tremendous amount of friction to entering your garden. You won't have to search for this and that and get too frustrated to work. You can go straight to your toolkit, grab your pruners and gloves and go at it. In ten minutes you will find that not only have you done the job you planned on, but probably several others, as well. Then, you can return your tools to their new storage spot and you are ready for the next 10-minute project, whenever the mood strikes you.


Of course, another element that creates friction is clothing. You won't want to go out to turn the compost in your office clothes or tromp across a muddy garden in your Ferragamo pumps. Instead, buy a nice set of "Wellies" or garden clogs that you can quickly slop on as you step out the door. Keep some gardening clothes on a coat rack, either inside the house or stored with your gardening tools. Great athletes will often tell you that it is the act of "putting on the uniform" that begins their practice. You can use the same type of rituals. Putting on your garden shoes puts you in the right frame of mind to take the next step. I purchased a couple of waterproof aprons, with large pockets, a few years ago to wear when I was painting watercolors. These work just as well for gardening though. They cover my clothes enough that I can step out to do a quick job without worrying about ruining my shirt or pants. An old sweatshirt or pair of sweatpants work well, too.

Take 10 minutes today and take a big step forward in your gardening life. Tear down the walls that friction creates and make it as easy as possible to step into your garden at a moment's notice.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Celebrate Dr. King by sharing this DVD with your children, Our Friend Martin, written by our friend, Dawn Comer Jefferson and Chris Simmons, writer for Static Shock, the animated series.

We have also found this show on tape at our local video rental store.

From Amazon. com:

This animated time-travel adventure features a stellar cast and is a delight for kids and adults alike. When Matt, a black teenager, has to go on a class field trip to the museum of Martin Luther King Jr., he thinks that he'd rather play baseball. But the trip turns into an exciting adventure when he and his best friend, Randy, who's white, are sent back in time to meet Dr. King.

The story is also remarkably moving, as Matt and Randy learn what Dr. King did for humanity, and come to see him as a real person, not a historical figure. Matt and Randy experience segregation firsthand when they aren't allowed to eat on a train together. Together, they witness the bus boycott, the Birmingham riots, and the "I Have a Dream" speech. They discuss the theme of "non-violent resistance" with their new friend Martin and the work of Ghandi in India. As King tells Matt, "We must meet hate with love. It will take time, but somebody's got to start." Authentic historical footage blended with animation make this an excellent choice for teaching kids about the legacy of Dr. King. --Elisabeth Keating

Stars the voices of Whoopi Goldberg, John Travolta, Ed Asner, Angela Bassett and more.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Today's 10 Minutes in the Garden

Fallen - Photo-A-Day for Nov, 4, 2006Ok, in an effort to support my 10-Minute Gardener idea, I will fill you in whenever I put it to use.

Sure enough, today, after a trip out to a kid's event with the family and a few catch-up minutes at the computer I headed outside to get some air. Sure enough, there was a 10 minute job right outside the door.

At this time of year, I could rake leaves for hours everyday and still not catch up with them. Usually I put my electric leaf blower on the task, but there are so many leaves that it can't really move the piles around. So, I quickly grabbed my rake (yes, they still make those (SMILE)) and worked my way from the backdoor to about the middle of the garden, along the main path. 10-15 minutes later, I had filled the compost bin and a majority of the city garden bin and the path looked better.

Best of all, it was a perfect day to be outside. We are having an unusual cold snap at the moment so even at 1 PM the temperature was only about 50 degrees. My sweater was just right and I could work without sweat through my clothes, like most other times of the years. The beautiful weather, combined with the small accomplishment made it almost perfect. No stress, no pressure and no heat. Who could ask for anything more. This is what gardening is all about.

More about The 10-Minute Gardener coming soon.

Subscribe today! It's FREE and you'll receive each new blog post and podcast automatically.

Previously in The 10-Minute Gardener:

The 10-minute Gardener: Introduction

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Friday, January 12, 2007

The 10-minute Gardener: Introduction

by Douglas E. Welch, agn@welchwrite.com
Reader/Listener Line - 206-338-5832


Originally uploaded by dewelch.

Welcome to the first installment of the 10-Minute Gardener. Born out of hours spent looking out into my garden while stuck here in front of my computer, the 10-Minute Gardener is my attempt to find a way to stop thinking about gardening and actually get my hands on shovel, rake and trowel again.

The 10-minute gardener is not some quick fix method of gardening where a few minutes of labor each day yield bushels of tomatoes and acres of peas. Instead, it is a way to reconnect to the joy of gardening that can sometimes get lost among the constant pressures of life. Books, magazine and newspapers constantly publish articles lauding the relaxation and peace to be found in our gardens, but sometimes our gardens turn into burdens to be faced instead of activities to be enjoyed. Sometimes, if I am any example, they taunt us out the window, wondering if we are ever coming back.

How do I know this? It is simple. I live it every single day. As the years pass and my business grows, along with other responsibilities, I find myself becoming more and more frustrated with the "feast and famine" nature of my gardening. Leaves pile up, along with other garden tasks left undone until I am forced to spend hours and even complete days catching up. Where there should be peace and enjoyment, I find sore muscles and a sense of futility. Is it any wonder that most of my neighbors give up completely and turn over the care of their property to "mow and blow" operations?

Over the last year, I have found myself thinking about how I can re-engage with my garden -- an extensive collection of perennials and trees inherited from the previous owners 10 years ago. How can I get on the other side of my office window and still find time for the other important parts of my life? It happened slowly. One day, I found that there was some small task in the garden that I could complete in about 10 minutes -- leaves could be raked, compost turned, birdfeeders filled, weeds pulled or hoe'd, something. I didn't have to dedicate hours on the weekend, if I could find some way of doing one small task every single day.

This requires a dramatic change of mind for myself and, I would guess, most other gardeners. We see everything left undone and want to complete the task at hand. We push ourselves to complete this pruning or that transplant. Unfortunately, though, this is where we go wrong. We try to do too much at one time and end up frustrated once again.

The 10-Minute Gardener isn't meant as some "wonder drug" to solve all your gardening ills. It isn't even something I would recommend you do forever. Rather, it is a tactic to help you reconnect with your joy of gardening whenever life threatens to push it aside. There will be days where you spend hours in your garden, puttering here and there, planting this, pruning that, but these days will be spent on your terms, not seen as an obligation or a requirement to keep your garden from turning into a jungle.

This is where the main difference lies. We should be spending time in our gardens because we want to spend time there, not because we feel it is required. Gardening isn't an obligation. It is a avocation. It is a way to find a different part of ourselves among nature that we might not get to see every day.

Over the next several months, I will be writing short segments here on A Gardener's Notebook that, I hope, will eventually turn into a print edition -- The 10-Minute Gardener. Please join me in this endeavor and offer up your comments, additions, and even your own stories of how you manage your own garden. Send me your questions. Ask for clarifications. Suggest additional ideas. All are welcome and greatly appreciated!

Until next time, keep digging! -- Douglas

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Don't see this very often...

Brrrrrrrrrrr! In LA, freezing is cold, children. (SMILE) Good thing I don't have many tender plants in the garden. Still, we could see some damage on the perennials. I'll let you know what happens.

558 PM PST WED JAN 10 2007



Sunday, January 07, 2007

What I'm Reading...

Travel books - Photo-A-Day for October 24, 2006Time for another round up of the books on my desk, most from the LA Public Library. It is a pretty eclectic grouping this time around.

A Country Year by Sue Hubbell
Two Gardener's: A Friendship in Letters
The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader's Day by John Maxwell
Vital Friends by Tom Rath
Guerrilla P.R. WIRED by Michael Levine
The Box: How the shipping container made the world smaller and the world economy bigger by Marc Levinson
The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America by Walter R. Borneman
Furnishing the Old-Fashioned Garden by May Brawley Hill
Little Black Book of Connections by Jeffery Gitomer
The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

You can find these books, and more, featured in the WelchWrite Bookstore in association with Amazon.com

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Pruning Wisteria - Before

Pruning Wisteria - Before
Originally uploaded by dewelch
Click for additional photos at Flickr.
(Updated: (1/7/07): Completed the other 2 wisteria vines today. Finally something to mark off my ToDo list. (SMILE) -- Douglas)

I finally got some initiative on this wonderfully sunny day to attack the wisteria. There wasn't a lot to prune, but I took my time and really thought about to try and keep it on the right track.

I probably left more "whippy" growth than I should have, but I didn't want to cut too much back from the top, as I am working on filling in the whole pergola.

I have 2 more, smaller vines at the other corners that still need attention, but this one was the most robust and the most in need of pruning.

For more on wisteria pruning, visit this Google Search on "wisteria pruning".

Do you have advice on wisteria pruning? Use the comments link below and set me straight. (SMILE)

Elsewhere in LA: Recycle Your Xmas Tree This Weekend!

Great information from Blogging.la on recycling your tree. Of course, this would help to prevent my yearly rant about Christmas trees littering every curb from here to San Diego. Is it really that hard to find a recycling place or chop it up and put it in your garden bin. Isn't that the final task of the holiday season.

Every year I find myself wishing I had a chipper/shredder, so I could make use of all the free mulch I could use. Of course, I don't have my pickup anymore, so transporting the trees wouldn't be as easy as before.

Oh, well, if you live in LA, do yourself, and your neighbors, a favor and get thee to a recycling yard.

Recycle Your Xmas Tree This Weekend!

Jillian: If you had the kind of Christmas tree that doesn't get replanted after the holiday, here's your chance to repair your karma! Green LA Girl has linked to a post about how to recycle your Christmas tree in the LA area. And when you bring in your old tree, you get a new one, FREE! (New one is a seedling, which, in a few years, will become a lovely pointy-style Christmas tree)

Dropoff locations are accepting trees today, tomorrow, and next weekend. Also, please remember: it is illegal to leave your tree at your curb, due to fire hazard (this means you, across the street neighbors!!)

(Via Blogging.LA.)

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Friday, January 05, 2007

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Another view of the split tree

Split Tree 2
Originally uploaded by dewelch.

DId you hear something????

Split tree 1
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
I missed the fall of this large tree just 2 houses away this morning, but I can imagine it made quite a sound. As you can see from this photo and the next one, one entire 50+ trunk peeled away and blocked our street for a few hours. If you click for the large version of the picture it looks like water had infiltrated into the crotch of the 2 trunks (and had been doing so for a while).

We had a major wind storm last week and additional high winds today. That, combined with the damage must have finally twisted the trunks enough that they came apart. I haven't seen anyone come out yet, besides the city crew that cleared the street, but the reminder of this trunk needs to be brought down as soon as possible or it is likely to take out a large section of this home.

In my 20+ years of living in Los Angeles, I have never seen so much wind damage. Last week, there were trees completely toppled nearly everywhere you locked. Hundreds, if not thousands of branches were scattered everywhere, not counting the mounds of palm fronds that typical get shed whenever big winds come along.

Through it all, though, you can usually see the evidence of neglect or inattention on the damaged trees -- waterlogged soil that gives no purchase to the tree roots, badly pruned trees which are lop-sided and likely to tumble, huge elm trees which have no center left in their trunks, just open gaping sections of rot.

The pity is, we don't often think about our trees until one decides to finally move from its pre-assigned spot in the garden.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Austin is blooming...

While the garden is looking a bit glum and grey here in California, in Austin, Texas, Pamela Penick of Digging: Diary of an Austin Gardener has flowers "busting out all over."

This iris is only one of several photos you can find on Digging. If you need a bit of a mid-winter boost, take a look..and dream of Spring! (SMILE)

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