An Alameda Garden: September 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Touch of Blue

Following the lead of the excellent Path to Freedom blog, I've been saving blue bottles that sparkling water comes in to use in a border in the garden. Instead of just tossing the bottles in the recycling bin I've stashed them in bags in my carport for the last couple months until I had enough to work with. Today I realized I had enough bottles and enough time to put the border in.

tame. I love the look of the hostas and they bloomed aThe target spot was a little corner bed at the foot of a jasmine vine. It's got a few small hostas and a couple wild geraniums growing there now and in the spring blue dutch iris bloom there as well. When the iris are in bloom, it's a nice shot of color (as shown in this photo from mid-May), but when they're not, it's a little too lot this year, but it wasn't enough. This is also the first thing I see from my kitchen window and I thought it would be nice to have something colorful there even in the winter.

So after about an hour of work (including hacking madly at the jasmine, weeding, and spreading new mulch), I had a dug a trench and planted 15 blue bottles to border the bed. I'm really pleased with the result and I'm looking forward to when I have enough bottles to do another border around BH's garden outside my back steps. I have 9 bottles left and the next border will probably require about 30, so I better start drinking more water.

If you're not familiar with the Path to Freedom blog, you should check it out. They have an amazing family homestead and I'm getting lots of ideas from them for maximizing the planting space I have, creative recycling, and producing a garden that is both beautiful and efficient.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fighting Global Warming with Free City Trees

According to the Washington Post, one forward-thinking California city--Sacramento--is taking on the global warming challenge in a smart, simple way: free trees.

"About 375,000 shade trees have been given away to city residents in the past 16 years, and there are plans to plant at least 4 million more. To receive up to 10 free trees, residents simply call the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, a publicly owned power company."

The article discusses the reduction in tree canopies occurring in most major American cities as development has increased. Shade trees can lower summertime temperatures in cities, reduce air conditioning costs, and trap greenhouse gases.

So congratulations to Sacramento. I think we should all be nudging our own cities to follow suit.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Back to School

Like all good children, I've found that summer is done with and it's time to head back to school. To tell the truth, I've been looking forward to it.

My landscape-horticulture classes started about ten days ago. I'd registered for two full-semester classes, knowing that they would probably be more work than I could handle in conjunction with my actual paying work and I would most likely have to drop one class. The first class I went to was Soils Management. I was only about an hour into the class before I concluded that this would be the class I'd have to drop. It was going to involve more chemistry than I am up for at this time. Maybe some other year.

My second class, Arboriculture, started last Monday. Same wonderful instructor that I've had for two previous classes, and many of the same people that were in my last class. The instructor promises that by the end of the semester we will all be primed to become arborists. I'm not sure I want to be an arborist, actually, but it's nice to have options.

What I do hope to get out of the class are three things: First, since we have to pick a tree to do a full tree report on, I think I will do the city-planted tree that is planted at the curb in front of my house. It is the sickest-looking little thing you've ever seen. I'll need to identify the tree and then determine whether it really is sick or suffering from some problem, and if it is, perhaps I can convince the city to replace it with a better tree.

The second goal is to get more information on dwarf fruit trees that I can plant in my back yard. One of our field trips is to a nursery to learn how to pick trees to purchase (and where we'll be able to buy trees wholesale!). Another trip is to the garden of a man who has more than 30 types of fruit trees in his back yard. I hope to get tips on what grows best, how to prune, and how to espalier.

The third goal is to determine what small tree I should plant in my front yard when I re-landscape it. I'll be working on the plant list and plans for that re-landscaping job throughout the winter, and it would be great to know what tree would make the best focal point, so I can plan the rest of the yard around it.

I'm also taking a two-day pruning class in October, which I'm looking forward to. I've just ordered a new pair of Felco #6 hand pruners with a leather holster, so I'll be armed and dangerous very soon.

This semester, it's all about the trees, baby.
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