Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Columbia London Plane Tree Planted in Temple City

 I was rolling north on Rosemead boulevard and I had to stop the car and take a picture. Why? Because I thought a tree that I really like was being used in a street planting there in Temple City -the Mexican sycamore.  A real good choice by city landscape architects in my opinion; turns out however it was Platanus x acerifolia (Air.) Willd. 'Columbia' planted along side Rosemead blvd. Still a good choice, these hearty trees are more upright, less prone to leaf  problems, and don't drop as many leaves as their native California cousins. It's really nice to see such choice of tree being used on city streets. I can't wait till these  beauties reach their 50 foot maximum height. (Note: I had originally identified the tree as a Mexican sycamore -but found out that it was Platanus 'Columbia' when the city returned my call).

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Meet the Bay Suckers

Bay sucker is one of the common names for a psyllid (Trioza alacaris ) that attacks the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis). I just recently had a sample brought to me from a laurel that was infested with these pests. The signs of infestation include distorted foliage and discoloration of the leaves around the distorted areas. This pest is a problem in many parts of the world including Great Brittain. Here the treatment is to prune back the affected foliage and clean up any leaf litter around the base of the tree. It is also a good idea to look at the trees feeding and watering regime. Psyllids and insects like them are fond of soft, nitrogen rich foliage. Laurels growing in shaded areas, receiving to frequent irrigation and especially those that exposed to excess nitrogen (through fertilization and breakdown of too rich compost) are more susceptible to this pest. Once established laurels should not need to be fertilized. It's also a good idea to plant varieties like 'Saratoga' that are resistant to the psyllid. 

Laurus nobilis shoots showing damage from the Bay succker (Trioza alarcis). 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tour of the Storrier-Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena

This month's Plant Information Class was a tour of the Storrier-Stearns Japanese garden; one of the largest private Japanese gardens in the United States. Besides being a gorgeous garden in its own right it is one of the best examples of Japanese garden design in the United States. When you walk through this garden you begin to notice that every 30-50 feet completely new vistas open up, providing an experience where you can feel like you're looking at a different garden wherever you walk. Owner Jim Haddad showed us the garden's 10,000 gallon rainwater recycling system and explained steps the garden was taking to become more sustainable. One of the most interesting things I found out about the garden was Jim's use of Dymondia margaritae, an extremely water saving South African ground cover, as an lawn substitute. We spent almost two hours touring the garden, and could have spent more.
Tea house. 

Terrifying guard-cat. 

Path to the tea house. 

Jim Haddad explains the tea house's finely detailed wooden cut-outs. 

Jim Haddad  talking about the tea house's craftsmanship. 

One of the many fine views; this one from the top of the small hill created when the pond was excavated. 

View looking east; notice the lawn-like area consisting of Dymondia margaretae.

View of the tea house from the north. 

Stone lantern overlooks a peaceful view. 

Class members listen to Jim explaining the construction of  the tea house. 
Interior view of tea house.
Squash growing on compost bin. 

The man-hole covers cap a 10,000 gallon rainwater recycling tank.