An Alameda Garden: Back to School

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.


  1. Anonymous1:15 AM

    That sounds like a great class/experience. I would pay just to find someone in my own area growing 30 fruit trees. What a great contact to make. Same Same for the wholesale nursery. Nurseries tend to have the crappiest trees. Very large, root bound, sure to die in two years with no hope of a replacement. I have planted about 75 trees on my property over the last 4 years. The one's that are now the nicest, healthiest trees were the one gallon or smaller size trees that I planted. All the trees that were fifteen gallon, are terrible.

  2. According to my instructor, studies have been done showing that when trees and shrubs of different sizes (1-gal, 5-gal, and on up) are planted, five years later they are usually all the same size anyway. So it makes more sense to go for the 1-gallon size. They're cheaper and less likely to have girdled roots.


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