• Blue Spruce and Western Hemlock

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    Aden Country Park's new arboretum had quite a few trees that caught my attention.
    The ones above are Blue Spruce - a gorgeous glue-grey that almost seemed to sparkle in the low winter sun. I am tempted to search one out and see if it will grow in Tipperty. However, having said that, we are starting to run out of spaces for trees especially now we have a 6 tree orchard, a Betula "silver birch" grove and the willows have really taken off. There are also the two Christmas trees in the front, a Nordmann fir doing great and a Korean Fir just gone in... and a couple of Strawberry trees on the way... it's going to be a real shrubbery by the time everything starts shooting up... a fruity shrubbery.
    Maybe it is time to hack down the willows and set them up as pollard trees to give posts (same as we have for the tree in the main part of the garden. Definitely something to consider when I am home in two weeks.

    Picea Pungens Hoopsi http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_spruce

    The other tree that caught my eye was Tsuga heterophylla


    Now why would this very unspectacular tree caught my eye? Firstly because it was almost dead - which relates to my previous post from two back - even professionals get planting wrong sometimes.
    Secondly - I actually recognised the tree from its latin name. I read Tsuga heterophylla and knew that it was Western Hemlock.... impressed myself with that (and no one else).
    Possibly I recognised it because the week before we were in Vancouver and saw at least two mentions of it in the woods of Canada (in the forest walk at Capilano Suspension Bridge). Perhaps that reminded me or perhaps I'm just super smart who only has to read a latin name once for it to stick to the inside of my skull.
    Yeah -0 it's the former not the latter.

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  • Aden Country Monkey Puzzle Tree

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    A tree that I often see for sale in nurseries and other plkant places is Araucaria araucana. You can see what it look likes after a couple of years above in the new arboretum in Aden country park. You probably don't need me to tell you that it is aka as the monkey Puzzle Tree or the Chilean Pine.
    Below you can see what it looks like after 150 years of growth - a 130ft or spikey goodness and not the most attractive of trees. 
    You often see them around Victorian middle class estates. Thius is the downside of "planting for the next generation" or, in this case for your great great great granchildren - the 5th generation. You get a massive massive tree in a small or medium garden - totally in appropriate. And yet people still buy them. And the big box stores still sell them. I guess most of them never last more than ten or twenty years before they get too big and are cut down. That's a great shame but perfectly understandable.

    So what am I trying to say? DOn't plant trees? No - don't buy inappropriate trees - trees that are going to grow so big they will look out of place. instead grow something of the right size that will respond to pruning - an apple, a sorbus, or a hawthorn or something that will give something else. These are not cheap trees around £35 for a tree a foot / 30cm high so if you want to plant something for the next generation, plant something that grow to its full potential.

    Okay - this is just my opinion but I don't like seeing  such a great tree in a cramped urban setting.

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  • Aden Country Park Arboretum - a little frissom of fail thrills.

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    Yesterday's post was about the new arboretum that they are developing in Aden. The photo above gave me a cheap reminder of the cheap thrill I got when wee looked at the trees in January 2015.

    Profession planters - people who get paid to plant trees and select trees and so on - the sort of job I ought to be doing (and would if it paid near as well as the oil industry) - professionals and still several of the trees are dead - as a doornail - as the liveCchristmas tree we used Xmas 2013 and never recovered to become yet another expensive twig. Yep professionals often get it wrong too (if the display in Aden is to be believed.
    Of the ten trees that are close to the path above (you can't see a couple of them on the right) three are deader than Deady McDead on the Deadwood stage.

    "But surely!" says you, "These are merely trees that are dormant for the winter."
    "Ah," says I in my best pirate voice for some unknown reason, "These be conifers - quite clearly from ye olde shape."

    "But surely," you retorts, "Youg sir, these mayst be like the larch - a conifer and yet, concurrently deciduous."
    "Ah me hearties," I bluseters, "Like as be good squire but just ye clap your eyes on yon pair of fine photies below."

    AAden country park 016AAden country park 043

    You see these are both labelled Sequoiadendron giganteum - that is they are both giant redwoods - both - clearly labelled - both were destined to grow 300 foot high both were within fifty feet or so of each other and yet one is green and lush and the other iis destined to be daisy food in the very near future.  Just think a few of these trees could grom to be ,500 years old (as some in Califormia are). They could still be around in the year 5500. Some one looking at that tree then would be as close to us in time as we are to the Pharoah Tutmose - who live a hundred years before Tutankamen - we'd be closer in age to Tutankamen than someone looking at that tree is to us. And I've seen the tree that that hyptothetical person in 5500 AD is looking at.

    Now that truely is planting for the future.

    "A society grows great when old men plant trees 
    whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
    -- Greek Proverb

    "A man does not plant a tree for himself, he plants it for posterity."
    -- Alexander Smith

    "He that plants trees loves others beside himself." -- Thomas Fuller

    "The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit."

    -- Nelson Henderson


    "If I thought I was going to die tomorrow, 
    I should nevertheless plant a tree today." 
    -- Stephan Girard

    So why a thrill- well it kind of gladden me to know that even professional get it wrong. overall I reckon that about 1/4 of the trees I have planted in Tipperty have disappeared with out trace - either into the stomachs of rabbits or into the flames of a bonfire after they have dies. If we looked at perennial plants as a whole I reckon that at least half - probably closer to 3/4 - have  shuffled off this mortal coil earlier than they should have - so, I was just thrilled to know that perhaps my performance isn't so bad - even professional growers lose some substantial, well cared for, well chosen trees.
    I always hate losing trees - they are expensive but it isn't that - it's a philosophical thing. When a tree dies because you didn't root it right, or because the rabbits got to the bark or just because... you feel like you have killed something majestic and stately - something that would have outlived you and should have outlived you - it just doesn't feel right even if I now know that it happens to even the best of them
    Ho hum - this post has gone smirky smirk to bloody miserable in a couple of words. 
    Oh well - tomorrow is another day - or potentially the first of another 1.28 million days for one of these giant redwoods.... 1,280,000 days potentially - that's 2* as many days as the average person has hours in his life. 1.28 millions days stretching out ahead of you. Now that is something to look forward to.

  • Aden Country Park Arboretum

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    Aden country park in Mintlaw is one of the places we frequently take the dog - average maybe once a month. There is plenty to explore in its 230 acres including a ruined mansion (form the 1930s) a farm croft museum (also from the 30s) a NE Farming life museum, sensory garden, ponds, a nice cafe, some craft shops and then woods and opens fields for CJ to run around in. there is even a dog training areas with bars to jump over and the like.

    It used to have a big Arboretum - trees, trees and more trees - originally set up in the Victorian era. There is a remnant of this arboretum - maybe a couple of dozen specimen trees out in the back, within the park but at the back of the Old Deer village and church... and we'd never spotted it before - despite the 10 years plus of visiting the park.
    "An important feature within the landscape of Aden Country Park is the stunning Victorian arboretum (botanical garden of trees) dating from the 1850?s when plant collecting was at its height. The Victorian arboretum stretches from the area known as the Lower Garden, within a loop of the River Ugie"
    This is it below - a lovely little area that we never knew about.
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    Aden Country Park is now planting a new arboretum to complement the old one.
    "New Arboretum
    Work on phase two of the arboretum regeneration project has already begun on the three-hectare site adjacent to the mansion house. Conifer trees have been felled; tree roots removed, ground cultivated, and grass seed sown.

    In preparation for tree planting, a system of footpaths, picnic and seating areas has also been formed. It is then planned that a collection of broadleaf trees from around the world will then be planted later this year.

    Work on the new arboretum is planned to be completed by 2012."


    Here ais an overview photo of the new arboretum at the moment - I don't remember seeing the trees until the end of 2014 (these are from early 2015) so maybe they are behind schedule. It is a great project and I heartily applaud it (although there was a little sneaky snigger to myself which I'd mention tomorrow).

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  • Canada- has to be trees - bazillions of trees - bazillions of conifers

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    It wouldn't be right to visit Canada and not look at some conifers (or at some Canadian geese)- lots of conifers - bazillions of conifers.

    We saw then in the mountains, we saw them in the plains, we saw them in the sunshine, we saw them in the rain, we saw them from above we saw them from below, we saw them in on a building we saw them in the snow.

    We saw conifers - lots and lots of conifers. Here's just a selection of some of the trees we saw at the Capilano Suspension bridge, at Grouse mountain and at other assorted places.
    Not much to say about them really - more on trees in the next two posts.

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  • Offer for a climbing rose

    Bakker offer

    Maybe it's me, maybe I just don't see things clearly or maybe this company (who shall remain nameless) have started hiring pixies for their publicity shots.

    Somehow this doesn't look like a 60 cm high frame. nor 10cms across - 10 cms is only 4 inches!! Now I could just about believe that the top pyramid is 60cms high and that they are being very creative (that is that only the top cone is part of the offer) but there is no way that even this little bit is 10cms across.

    I wonder how many disappointed customers they will catch with this.

    i am tempted to order just so that I can see what it actually looks like.

  • Penjing - Chinese minatures

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    In Vancouver's China town we visited the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden - and the adjoined public park.


    The park is planted in a chinese style with local sourced plants and mexican pumice rocks while the garden itself has all been imported totally from China - rocks, buildings plantrs etc - or so we were told. You have to pay for the garden but not for the park.
    Above is the entrance to the park - with two of the locals were just about stretching. It was a really quiet day - really still - so much so that the central pond was a perfect reflector. Check the photo above - is it the right way up, or it reflection to top - you decide.

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    This was my first direct exposure to Penjing. This is the ancient Chinese art.

    • Tree Penjing (shumu penjing): A tree penjing focuses on the depiction of one or more trees and optionally other plants in a container, with the composition's dominant elements shaped by the creator through trimming, pruning, and wiring.


    Minature trees - I'm trying not to say that it is the Chinese version of Bonsai because it isn't - they are both different cultures versions of the same thing - It was interesting to see a  slightly different take on minature trees bringing nature into the home.

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  • Blodel Conservatory, Vancouver in Jan

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    In Vancouver in Jan, our first visit of botanical note was to the Bloedel Conservatory. This is a huge geodesic dome at the centre of the metropolitan district on the higher part of the city. It was a dull, damp day so it was good to get inside into somewhere warm (even though Vancouver wasn't as cold as expectred).
    Inside thedome was a pretty standard collection of tropical plants, parrots, pigeons and poinsettia. Sorry Bloedel but it wasn't the most exciting of tropical greenhouses I've been in - nice but not too exciting. Maybe that was the reason that it almost closed in 2009/2010.  Anyhow there were a few notable plants about - some large aroids (swamp Taro), a euphorbia tree, a sago palm and loads and loads of poinsettias.
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    I have posted about poinsettias before - Euphorbia pulcherrima - about their interesting history of mass production and how they came to be associated with christmass so I won't go into that again.


    The red and cream varieties did form an interesting mix with the black elephant ears (Colocasia) but I can't say they were a good compliment to the peachy orchids. Neither flower stood out agfainst the other and it became a bit of a mush.
    However, as I said, on a dull damp afternoon in Vancouver the flash of colour was at least a little cheery if not the most inspiring sight in the city.

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     The other main plant of interest to me was another Euphorbia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphorbia_tirucalli  
     Euphorbia tirucalli (also known as AvelozFirestick PlantsIndian Tree SpurgeNaked LadyPencil Tree,Pencil CactusSticks on Fire or Milk Bush) - I've never seen a eurphorbia tree (that I remember) and certainly haven''t seen a naked lady in any of the glasshouses we've visited - though I am always on the look out for them. Perhaps it is the association with the oil industry which attracted my attention.

    "E. tirucalli is a hydrocarbon plant that produces a poisonous latex which can, with little effort, be converted to the equivalent of gasoline. This led chemist Melvin Calvin to propose the exploitation of E. tirucalli for producing oil. This usage is particularly appealing because of the ability of E. tirucalli to grow on land that is not suitable for most other crops. Calvin estimated that 10 to 50 barrels of oil per acre was achievable. It has also been used in the production of rubber, but this was not very successful."
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  • Vancouver - a lot warmer than expected.

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    So we are back from Vancouver - the city of seaplanes, mountains and trees - big trees everywhere - even on the top of apartment buildings.
    Surprise of surprises - much warmer than we expected.  I mean we had thermals and all sorts ready for the artic chill but it turned out to be more like West Coast Scotland than West coast Greenland. it was also drier - except for the final day - when the liquid sunshine came down for hours and hours.

    It was so warm that there were plenty of palms around at the seaside and even globe artichoke plants up and green - in january!!! in Aberdeen they have been hiding under ground for moinths now and won't be up until march or April earliest.
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    There were also blooming rosemary plants, lushious lavendar and these travellers palms shown above. In terms of latitude Vancouver is around the same as Jersey, Normandy and Paris at 49degrees  - 1100km/680miles due south of Aberdeen - no wonder the climate is milder. Also Vancouver city is sheltered by several offshore islands, most noticeably Vancouver Island which is roughly the same size as Taiwan and rises over 7000ft - more than twice as high as Ben Nevis in the UK. This gives a lot of shelter from any offshore winds.
    Still... it's Canada... we expected much colder and were very pleasantly suprised not to get it.
    However it was mid January so not many flowers around for me to lust over. I am sure that this will the first of many trips there so lots to look forward to.

  • First Daffodil of 2015

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    First daffodil of the year on 15th Jan (my wife's birthday). This was grown indoor in the vestibule so protected from most of the frost and all of the wind which was lucky as this is a very windy year. The leaves are very long and very floppy so probably means that it is etiolated from the low light levels. Still... it is a posh daffodil out on Jan 15th - never seen one so early before.

    Here are some details:

    n.j. var henriquesii 13Y-Y (E)10/30cm AGM Species Per pack of 5

    It is a division 13 Yellow Yellow bought from R.A.Scamp Quality Daffodils at 90p a bulb!!! (run by Ron, Maureen, Adrian and Sharon)
    That's nearly a whole pound for one wee bulb. If nmy wife finds out I'll tell it it was so that I could give her one on her birthday... a flower, a daffodil.. so I could give her a daffodil on her birthday.


    "Division 13
    Daffodils Distinguished Solely by Botanical Namedaffodil 004 from seed."

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