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But seriously. One political, one gardening, equally passionate about both.

#1: WHY JOHN MCCAIN SHOULD NOT BE OUR PRESIDENT. John McCain financially and morally supported one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted (a list that includes Osama, btw.) What am I talking about? Warren Jeffs, of course. McCain routinely got funds from the plygs of Short Creek (so the gov't would leave them alone.) McCain also VISITED them every so often (to pick up his check) and knew of this group of thousands that flaunted law-breaking and swindling taxpayers for millions. Also, McCain asboth congressman and senator made sure Warren Jeffs had a FEDERALLY FUNDED AIRPORT that no one but Jeffs was allowed to use (and FBI agents believe was being used as a drug smuggling hub. And it's still there, running. Uh...) So, like Mitt Romney, McCain isn't fit to be our President.

(Note that none of the charges against the misappropriation of federal fund have not moved forward since 2006. And they've got Jeffs. Here's info on that airport as of yesterday - sitting there, not being used, taking up federal resources. Trying to keep a clean doorstep? Yeah.)

#2: STOP THE CREPE MURDER. One of the most beautiful trees starts getting killed all over the south about this time of year. Don't be one of the killers! *tears out hair, but only figuratively, because I really like my hair* note to newbies: I'm a Texas Master Gardener, and it's my unpaid JOB to help the public not ruin their landscape/enjoy gardening/understand what the hell to do.

In case you didn't know, topping a tree is bad. It kills the tree. What's tree topping? When you take a saw/blade/great white shark and you whack off the limbs. Here, let me show you:



(this one isn't easy to see, but when it was first pruned, it looked like a Saguaro cactus. Um, that is not a pretty mulberry tree, home owner! A is a massive chainsaw cut and B is the weetiny, thin, weak branches circling in a bird's nest formation around the fat cut. NOT HEALTHY.) And something that made me drop my dog's leash and gasp, covering my mouth, and I am not exaggerating:



ACK!! Double Ack!! Stop it! Why do people do this? Well, I'll tell you. One, if it's a landscaping company, it's because they have nothing else to do right now. No, really. If it's a homeowner, it's because they've been taught wrong. Here's what the poor dears think: these beautiful trees flower on new wood. So, cut off the wood and make it grow new branches, which equals more blooms.

WRONG.

Here's what it really does. When you make a pruning cut (on any plant) a hormone is released that sends the plant into panic. "I've been wounded! I must make new branches, so I can have more leaves, so I can photosynthesize, so I don't DIE." Except they don't say anything, because that would get annoying. So you, have this:




(notice at A. that they clearly don't want the branches hitting the gutter, but they made a cut under the gutter which will lead to MORE BRANCHES IN THE GUTTER, and B. is just an ugly cut they made) which becomes this:





so you cut off those limbs, and then every year, you get lovely (read: hideous) knees on your branches like this:





And then over time, you get this:





Way to go, murderer. You could have had a beautiful flowering tree (that feeds many kinds of birds, looks beautiful, and smells lovely) that looked like this:





Here's a little tip: ALL flowering plants bloom on new growth. And guess where new growth is? ON THE OUTSIDE WHERE YOUR PEEPERS CAN SEE THEM. There's no need to hack at your trees to get them to flower. They'll do that all on their own, because Mother Nature is smart.

Now, there are things to prune on these trees to give them such a lovely look. Only prune the following: suckers growing up from the bottom (see picture) or when a branch is rubbing against another branch - that can lead to open wounds, which leads to disease. But when you cut, cut ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM of the sucker/offending branch. That way, you don't get EIGHT new thin suckers at the point of cutting. See? Very easy.





Poor, poor trees. They live for well over 75 years and get as tall in feet. They're beautiful. The multi-stem bases are architecturally interesting in the landscape. Again: birds love the berries at the tips. Birds eat pests. Stop ruining this cycle! When you continually hack these trees, you'll get MAYBE 10 years out of them. <-- actual study done by aggie-hort at A&M.

Nature has winter for a reason: to rest. Why would you go out there and work in the nasty cold when you don't need to? And note to anyone in the south with ornamental grasses: stop cutting them to the ground in February, as well. If you leave them alone, they'll green up and the dead blades will fall off, like daylilies. People, I'm trying to save you chores. If you don't have to prune, isn't that easier?

Finally, because I want my neighbors humiliation complete (hahaha, these are all from my block, or by my dad's house. For shame, landscapers!) Notice that often times people plant trees without looking up. Here's a tip: don't plant a ginormous oak/maple/etc under POWER LINES. Slide that baby over ten/fifteen feet and go crazy nuts. Otherwise, you've just given yourself a major yearly headache.



*cries* I can't imagine why my dad's neighborhood loses power in big storms all the time. Can't be from limbs landing on power lines, could it?

I'm trying to find a picture I took last year of someone that planted Arborvitae on either side of their door, not realizing that is a 75 ft. tree. They cut a hole into the bush to get in and out of their house. That's a fun weekend project just to be able to use your front door! Ack. (For those of you that envision hobbit like dwellings, those plants were covered EVERY SUMMER by bag worms, spider webs, etc. Just what you want three feet from your entryway, right?


In conclusion, I want to be gardening today. Hurry up, Spring! (And I might print this and stick it in my neighbor's mail boxes...)

Comments

( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
brunettepet
Feb. 15th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the heads up about the crepe myrtles. Several neighbors' lawn companies come in every winter and do a number on their trees. Do you mind if I forward this bit to them?
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
Don't mind at all! The more people I can help with this, the better, imo. POOR TREES! (Not to mention the home owner's pocket books!)
julia_here
Feb. 15th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
I am actually heading outside today to do the winter pruning on the Ispahan damask, which doesn't like post-bloom pruning any better than I like working in the heat, luckily. I need to get that done before it's time to do the legit spring pruning started, since that rightly includes fertilizer and other things inappropriate to February above the 47th parallel.

Have you read Cass Turnbull's books, or been to the Plant Amnesty site? Your photos remind me very much of hers, although you don't have the sad, sad poodle-balled forsythias.

Learning to prune correctly is like mastering a really demanding meditation technique, I think, there are a whole set of variables you have to keep in mind at all times, but the overwhelming discipline is will the result of this cut be beautiful? for values of "beautiful" which include healthy, vigorous, and shaped to the need of the plant.

My worst doorside planting ever was... Aucuba? I think? "Spotted Laurel" anyway, on either side of the kitchen door at the house I rented when I first got married. It's a fast-growing evergreen broadleaf, and holds water like you wouldn't believe. Walking out the door in the morning was always a bit of an adventure, since the combination of a growth spurt and a heavy dew could leave you soaked to the skin. And of course it was the landlord's late wife's favorite plant, so cutting it down was out of the question.

And doesn't John McCain look tired?

Julia, viral campaining suggested by the Ninth Doctor.
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
I love plant amnesty! I swear, if I had eaten breakfast before starting this post, there would have been a good twenty more pictures up here.

The thing that kills me about crepe murder (the official term from TAMU, ha!) is that they are so beautiful when left alone! Why work when you don't have to? Bah.

(Oooh, he does. Just worn out. Obama, on the other hand, looks vibrant. *g*)
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tabaqui
Feb. 15th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
McCain makes me ill. I mean - seriously ill. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.
*flails*

WHY WHY WHY is this stuff not being talked about in the public arena? Why?
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
I DON'T KNOW! I keep trying to foist this topic on everyone... :D

I get tears when I see Obama. (I've met him - he's WONDERFUL.) Let's keep reminding people about McCain sucking, shall we? *g*
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xochitl42
Feb. 15th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
Did not know scary Jeffs stuff about McCain. My head hurts like it's been hit by an aneurysm.

Also, I love your gardening posts.
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah - something MOST people don't know about McCain! Ack.

Oh, thank you! I am getting itchy to be outside in warm sunshine, little blooms and buds popping up everywhere...
madam_rptr
Feb. 15th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
1) I am very grateful to you for enlightening me on part of McCain's backstory. I know very little to nothing about this man (and, admittedly, haven't bothered to learn more as I knew I wouldn't be voting for him).

2) I need someone like you to come live in SoCal if and when I buy my own home then, someday, I can learn to be a California Master Gardener!!!! (As of now, I only know how to grow chemical tasting orange and red bell peppers and two very, very tenuous hydrangea).
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
1) it is my pleasure! Which sounds mean, but you know what I mean. :)

2) That's a great (and challenging!) program - you should go for it! It sounds like you need to sweeten up the soil. The "sweeter" the soil, the better tasting the fruit. Mulch with compost around your plants and spray them weekly with fish emulsion (not Miracle Gro, or something like that) and they'll grow healthier and tastier. (And the same goes for the hydrangea. Afternoon shade and acidy soil is what they love. Dump your coffee grounds a few inches from the base of your plant and it'll thank you. *g*)
copykween
Feb. 15th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
Re: the second pic.....What the HELL?? I mean...seriously.

I do have a question though. Several years ago, a bad storm tore off a very large branch of my Cottonless Cottonwood. Now, where the stump of a branch meets the tree, there is a soury smelling wetness seeping out of the tree (it'll dry up when it gets hot, but starts seeping again after every rain). Er...I guess I'm asking: Why is this finally happening several years AFTER the branch tore off, and is it BAD?
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
I KNOW! *cries over poor tree* They have FOUR that they've done this to!

Hmmm, it sounds like the whole tree isn't doing well. Has there been any construction around the tree? Other wounds? Do you notice any dieback from the other branches? (As in, it's not leafing out all the way to the tips like it used to.)

A good start would be to treat your lawn with compost. No weed and feed, ever! It kills ALL broadleafs, and trees/shrubs are broadleafed plants. Keep me posted when it starts to leaf out - that will tell us a lot of the health of the tree.

(I'm sorry. I looooooove Cottonwoods.)
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drusplace
Feb. 15th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Oh those trees are so pretty. Why would anyone hack them up? MURDERERS!

I can't wait to get into my garden, although I have to wait until the end of May in case of frost. I planted bulbs last year and I'm anxious to see if they come up!
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
I don't know!! Talk about wasting time and energy...

I don't know how y'all can stand such a short gardening period! (I know, I know, you don't have 100+ degrees for two months, there's the pay off) but I'm having a hard time waiting until March 15th, our final winter frost date!
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mere_ubu
Feb. 15th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, poor myrtle babies! I have the Black Thumb of Death, but even I know that's wrong. Our next-door neighbor (whose yard we have to view from our dining table every day--hello Shirtless Septuagenarian!) staged a giant myrtle massacre as soon as they bought the house. One day I sat and watched as S.S. cut all of the beauties that had overhung our driveway WITH A HANDHELD CIRCULAR SAW!! Once he'd gotten as far as he could with that, he started whacking at head-level with an axe. I finally got up and grabbed the portable phone so that I could dial 911 if he screwed up and buried the thing in his skull. *sigh* I miss the former occupant, who was an ancient maiden schoolteacher who let her myrtles go and gave us Goo-Goo Clusters every time she was out in her yard.

stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
See, clearly he was just dealing with frustration over his manboobs, or something. My neighbor (the one that has ACK on the picture) does the SAME THING. I think he's justifying his chainsaw purchase. I mean, why have it if you don't use it? *cries for Argentina crepe myrtles everywhere*
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shipperx
Feb. 15th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
Someone in my subdivision comes along and murders the crepes at our subdivision entrance every year!
shipperx
Feb. 15th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
And, don't know if you know, how does one go about pruning overgrown antique tea roses (actual china tea roses on their own root systems, not hybrid tea roses). I have one that's spread to about 8 ft wide and another that's about 6ft high and I have no idea what to do about them. Any advice?
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
Why, I happen to have written a post about that very thing last year! *g*
Let me know if I can help you further.
mobile_alh
Feb. 15th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
Gardening rants are my favorites! And the explanatory pics are a great boon, thanks!
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
It's my pleasure! (They're my favorite rants to write! Heh.)
(Deleted comment)
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
Isn't that awful? And I'm not a fan of that plant - our neighbors growing up had one and it was just this big, ugly green thing that towered over our houses. No defined shape, and we had to bang through it to get to our side yard. Ugh.

It's misty and foggy and chilly here, but two days ago, it was 70! So I cleared out all of the dead foliage and got things orderly enough to sow seeds in a few weeks. Um, most people here aren't gardening yet. I'm just... special. :D (I'm sorry about the snow, though! This is about when you start really wishing it to be done.)
a2zmom
Feb. 15th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
I did not know that about McCain. Very interesting.

My tree guy hates tree toppers. Drives him crazy.

I've got some sort or oranmental non-friuting tree in the front which suckers like a mother. I can't stand it.
stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah - I think most people don't know that, which makes me sad.

I like your tree man, and ME TOO.

Send me a picture, and I'll see if I can't help you figure it out. (Do you have any older pics with leaves?) You can split open the shoots and drop a little vinegar down into them to get them to die...
lumenara
Feb. 15th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, they totally did that to the crepe myrtles outside my office a little while ago. I can't remember, but I think something similar used to happen to the one in the back yard at home, too. :-/

If you like, I can send you pics of the ones by the office if I remember to bring in my camera on Monday.

stoney321
Feb. 15th, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)
I don't think I can take any more pictures of brutality! *cries* It's exasperating, because my neighborhood is on the edge of the Crepe Myrtle Trail for the US, and STILL people hack their trees. (The keepers of the trail do not ruin them, it should be noted.)
ely_jan
Feb. 15th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, heart the trees! You make me want to garden and I have two black thumbs!
zyrya
Feb. 15th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)
I flinched and winced at the pics of tree torture. People are no damn good!
luvs_phoenix
Feb. 16th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
I have so "memoried" this post for later. We're actually creating a lot of gardens this year and any posts you can give us on what to do/not to do will be further memoried.

Yes, I invented a word. :P
stoney321
Feb. 16th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
*adds Wordsmith to your resume*

Hey there! Oh, I love hearing about new gardens being created. YAY GARDENING! (I have several posts about How To do various things, just hit the tag on this post, if you're interested.)
nwhepcat
Feb. 16th, 2008 03:15 am (UTC)
I just adore telling people they should write an op ed or article for their local paper (because it's so much easier to say that than to write one!) but seriously, I think both these topics would be good local articles. And you've done most of the work already.
stoney321
Feb. 16th, 2008 07:30 pm (UTC)
Hahaha!

And you know, it's frustrating re: gardening op-ed, because this gets printed here several times each spring. I think we can't get the damn public to READ it! (I'm a Master Gardener, and we work with the public through volunteerism and education.)

As for the first topic, that's going straight into a book I'm writing on Mormonism, actually!
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noguchigirl
Feb. 26th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
Hi! I found your journal through some sort of random gardening-related Google and, in looking through the garden-tagged posts, saw that you are a Texas master gardener! Awesome!

I live in North Texas and was wondering if you'd mind me asking you a couple of questions... like, when you got the bermuda grass out of your beds, how did you get it to *stay* out? I've yanked it, and vinegared it, tilled it, and it keeps coming back. ARGH. Loved the pics of your shade bed, btw. I dream of something that looks that good.
stoney321
Feb. 26th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
Hello there! Well, I'm glad you came over. Feel free to comment any time, by the way.

The problem with Bermuda (aside from it existing, har de har har) is that its roots grow to a foot, and in well established cases, 18 inches down. If you're just pulling at the top and getting that little clumps main root system, it's a sure bet there's a bigger mother root (rhizome) further down. You have to really dig down and get the whoooooole thing. A pain in the neck, I tell you.

But! I'm virtually Bermuda-in-my-bed free. I edge my beds by digging straight down on the grass side, then angling up to the bed in a tilted V formation. (Does that make sense?) That helps stem the flow of grass on the creepers that grow close to the surface.

Side note: the Bermuda sod farms cut the sod so there's a half-inch of soil on the roots. The field is then a big swath of dirt. They run a tiller over it to chop up the roots left behind, and voila. New grass. It's tough stuff. I recommend replacing it with Buffalo, if you can swing it.

(If this doesn't help, don't be shy - I don't mind answering questions.)
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( 53 comments — Leave a comment )

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Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

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