Friday, February 15, 2019

A Cloudy Valentine's Day at the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanic Garden

My favorite time to photograph is between rainstorms, the more severe, the better. The roiling clouds, the muted, yet vibrant colors, and the drama all combine to make for some interesting images. 
Bauer Fountain looking west. 

Bauer Lawn and Fountain looking North. 

The Baldwin Lagoon, looking west from the eastern shore. 

Magnolia artwork. 

What does it mean? Is it possible aliens could have left it?

Meadowbrook section looking northwest. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Class Notes and Links for Plant Information February 2019 Class

Hummingbird, possibly an immature Rufus

"Saratoga" Ginkgo biloba

Flowering aloes

Aloe arborescens in flower. 

Narcissus blooming in the Meadowbrook section. 

The lily pond on top of Tallac knoll. 

Farewell carrots, we will not forget our roots!

Volvopluteus gloiocephalus, a mushroom common here on wood chip compost. 

Madagascar native Kalanchoe marnieriana blooming in the Madagascar spiny forest exhibit. 

Madagascar native Kalanchoe marnieriana blooming in the Madagascar spiny forest exhibit.

The "Undersea Garden" portion of the Cactus and Succulent garden. 

Trametes versicolor, the "Turkey tail fungus". 

Unidentified mushroom growing underneath a live oak in our live oak collection. 

Oak root fungus (Armillaria mellea) fruiting body, commonly called 'Honey Mushrooms'. They are edible and taste good sauteed in butter (but what doesn't?). 

Chlorophyllum rhacodes, commonly known as the 'Shaggy parasol". This mushroom is too close in relation and appearance to the projectile vomit and diarrhea producing Chlorophyllum molybdites to be considered a good edible. 

Maybe an edible Agaricus but too long in the tooth for me to care. 

The leaves on this fall colored Ginkgo biloba have hung on way longer than usual. 

The American white pelican, a bird of freshwater, not saltwater. 

American white pelican

American white pelican



Aloes blooming in the South African section. 

Jack O' Lantern mushroom; not only poisonous, but rotting out the oak that its growing on. 

Aloe marlothii

Aloes blooming in the South African section. 

ID this hummingbird. 

Camellia show camellia blooms in display

Camellia show camellia blooms in display

Camellia show camellia blooms in display

Camellia show camellia blooms in display
Hummer imbibing its favorite drink. 


Magnolia "Galaxy"

White flowered Magnolia

Meyberg falls. 

Mostly destroyed in the 2011 windstorm, this Ficus microcarpa is regenerating.  

Pink flowering apricot. 

White flowering apricot.

Closeup of Pink flowering apricot blooms. 

Class Notes
1)      Roses
a)      Types
i)       Ground Cover Roses
ii)      David Austin and ‘Victorian’ Roses
iii)     Floribunda
iv)     Hybrid Tea
v)      Grandiflora
vi)     Climbing
vii)   Tree
(1)    Weeping Tree
2)      Grapes
3)      Wisteria
a)      Japanese
i)       Usually sold as a ‘Tree’ grafted to a Chinese wisteria ‘trunk’
b)      Chinese
4)      Other Perennials
a)      White Flower Farms
i)       Just about everything here is an experiment in our climate.
5)      Flowering Fruit Trees
a)      Flowering Pear
i)       Evergreen
ii)      Bradford
b)      Flowering Cherry
i)       Kwanzan
ii)      Need special consideration
c)      Flowering Apricot
i)       White and pink. Slow growing to 15 feet.
d)      Flowering ‘Alma Stulz’ Nectaring
e)      Flowering Peach
i)       Red Barron
6)      Stone Fruits
a)      Purchase only early varieties (ripen May-June).
b)      Peaches
i)       Chilling hours important
ii)      Do not have a long life here.
iii)     Copper and dormant sprays can help extend life.
iv)     Prune for 50% of last year’s new wood
c)      Nectarines
i)       Same as Peaches
d)      Apricots
i)       Mostly same as peaches, can last longer.
ii)      Can fruit on last year’s new wood or fruiting spurs.
e)      PlumcotsPluotsApriumNectaplumbs etc.
i)       Choose low chill varieties.
ii)      Life span=? Should be longer because they are hardier, but who knows?
7)      Cherries
a)      Minnie Royal and Royal Lee are the only two traditional cherries for this area that do exceptionally well due to their low chilling requirements.
8)      Apples
a)      Low chill here too:
i)       Gordon
ii)      Fuji
iii)     Garden Annie
iv)     Golden Dorsett
v)      Pink Lady
9)      Fertilization
a)      None for flowering items except for an initial feed in the early spring of the second year.
b)      Stone fruit
i)       When fruit are nickel size.  Use fruit tree food according to label.
10)   Pests
a)      Dormant oil in the winter (or Copper Oil)
b)      Spinosad and traps for Coddler moth.
c)      Keep an eye out for peach tree borer.
d)      Peach leaf curl, shothole fungus.
11)   Pruning
a)      Have a copy of R.S. Martin’s “How to Prune Fruit Trees”
b)      Let young trees establish for at least 2 years before you head them back.
c)      Leave branch collar when pruning branches.
12)   Field Trip (outside 150 yards away)


UCDavis Fruits and Nuts

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Magnolia Misery

Two years ago, we removed most of the turf from our front yard only to watch our adolescent magnolia drop 70% of its foliage within a few months. We inferred it was for lack of water that previously irrigated the lawn. We installed a grey water system and watched it occasionally produce new flower buds, esp. after fertilization, but hardly any new leaves. It got scorched in the bad heat wave this past summer, and now looks terrible. Most branches are dry and break easily. Is it beyond saving? I probably need someone with the right knowledge to look at it, but this is the closest I can get (I think).


Hi Tommy, 

The root system for Magnolias is fairly shallow. In nature its own leaves provide a fantastic mulch the helps prevent the soil underneath the canopy from drying out too quickly and causing stress on the tree. Before its demise your lawn was serving more or less the same  function. 

If you want to save the tree I would allow its own leaves to build up underneath the canopy, but before doing that give it a little boost by applying a 4"-6" layer of small to medium conifer bark to the soil underneath the historic canopy. This gives the tree a head start to having a luxurious mulch of its own leaves underneath it.  Also, you want at least 2/3 of the area underneath the canopy free and clear of anything but the tree's own leaves (and you initial bark mulch application).  You should also water your tree at least twice a week for 25 minutes until it revives.  And finally,  use absolutely no fertilizer -fertilizer of any kind (including grey water) softens the trees leaves so that the tree evaporates out more water than it should, causing stress on the tree.  It also acts like jet fuel to pests and diseases. 

Looking at the big picture, Southern magnolias like yours are natives to the southeastern part of the United States where they receive copious amounts of rain during the summer months. They are in no way drought tolerant plants. The have done well here up until now due to the availability of unfettered and low priced irrigation water. That situation has changed and the option of removing the tree and replacing it should seriously be considered. 

Below are a picture of a healthy Magnolia that has a 6"-12" layer of its own leaves providing the perfect mulch for the tree, and a picture of a suffering street-magnolia that has less than 1/4 of the area underneath it permeable to water.   -Frank

Magnolia at the Arboretum looking good; notice the thick layer of its own leaves underneath the canopy of the tree.