Tag Archives: olive trees

Sweet and messy every time.

 

 

Eight years ago I introduced my blog with a photo of sweet peas from my garden. I’m growing those aromatic favorites again this year. I took the photo below right after I had cut almost all of the flowers I could reach for a bouquet. At this point the only other things in the vegetable beds are a few  basil plants, but pole beans are going in, any minute now.

Back in 2009, I didn’t own an olive tree. Now I have two, and they are blooming right now.

I also didn’t have a feijoa (which Jo reminded me is another name for pineapple guava) until my recent re-landscaping. My big bush is blooming much more than during its first spring here. I think it only had one flower last year.

If the fruit tastes as fancy as those blooms look, we are in for a treat!

I hear a voice, and have an adventure.

gl IMG_0929My husband didn’t speak to me from the grave, but I did get a pertinent message from him — and from myself, too — and it was delightful. You know how below each individual post on my blog there are three links to “related” posts from the past? At the bottom of yesterday’s was one titled “Walking in 2012.” As I was finishing my breakfast this morning and ready to leave for the gym I clicked on it to see what I had written about back then. (I have published almost 1000 posts and have forgotten many of them by now.)

It was about a brief conversation I had with my dear husband at the very beginning of the gl IMG_0923new year of 2012, and about a neighborhood walk I took as a result. Reading what he said, and what I said…I could hear us all over again and laugh at how we were. What I recounted of that walk and all that I learned, well, it was just what the doctor ordered. I thanked God and Mr. Glad, and I changed my plan and set off for a walk in the outdoors instead of driving to the gym.

Rain had fallen last night and early this morning, but the clouds had all blown away to the edges of the sky, and the sun was shining. I walked along the creek, and the sweet earthy smells emanating from all the plants and the ground were so delicious. I started thinking about the time my husband and I were walking in the rain forest. That was a pleasant and vivid memory.

I hadn’t brought anything but my cell phone, and I was glad to have it because very soon I began taking pictures of trees. So many of them seemed to look extra handsome with some dark gray clouds in the background.gl IMG_0928

One of the first I noticed was an olive tree (above) that seemed to fit very nicely in a front yard, and had been pruned so as to keep it looking the way an olive should. Some neighbors on my block have four or five olives in front of their house and they prune them like lollipops twice a year. I wanted to plant an olive in my new landscape but many people discouraged me, partly because they get so big. So I will keep two of mine that are in pots, and get them matching pots, and study the best way to prune them according to their natural bent.

This redwood tree I saw this morning must be the healthiest and best formed specimen in town. I could hardly believe it was a redwood, it is so thick and green, and standing all by itself, too! Coast redwoods much prefer to be in groups, where they can preserve moisture and coolness against dry weather. Most of them along the avenues here are not planted that way, and they have suffered terribly in the last few years.IMG_0933

One yard on my way had both a giant fig tree and a very tall persimmon tree. I was admiring them when the neighbor came out of his house and we said, “Good morning.” I remarked about the beauty of the persimmon tree and he said,

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“I guess… I get the trimmers out here all the time and try to keep it away from my gutters.” You can see how it is indeed very one-sided after that kind of pruning, but it looks as though it would still give the owners plenty of fruit, on top of what they get from the fig tree.

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I noticed then that even though the sun was shining warmly on me, tiny drops of rain were starting to fall, too. Oops — I wasn’t prepared for that, and only had a pocket of my flannel shirt in which to put my phone. But first, I had to snap another olive tree, this one an example of what you do not want your olive to look like. Those are lots of suckers growing at the base of the tree.

Hmmm…the rain was heavier, and I looked for a tree that might be close to the sidewalk and with a dry area underneath. I found it in this palm tree; here is my view from under its thick canopy, with the added interest of a fig tree growing out of its tidy trunk.gl IMG_0944

I stayed under that roof for a minute or two, but not knowing how long the shower might last, I was soon braving the wet again, after having wrapped my phone with two handkerchiefs I’d found in the other shirt pocket.

With it under cover, I had to pass by several more lovely tree specimens without taking note of them with the camera. I came upon a big redwood with lots of dry ground under it, so I paused again and took a picture of its underside, but I will spare you. That’s the first time I’ve preferred a palm to a redwood. Soon I was on my way, after picking up a big leaf. When I got it home I put my Waterlogue phone app to painting it. That tool is addictive, but I find that most of the pictures I take don’t convert very well.

That was my adventure, much more fun, I’m sure, than I’d have had at the gym. I didn’t even get very wet, though I had the joy of walking in the rain. I made new tree friends, and renewed the lessons I’d been taught almost four years ago, with the help of my late husband. I told you he wasn’t very far away.

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Sisters +1 Jelly

GL P1020238What is proper footwear for a mountain cabin? My sisters and niece showed me how to dress properly, and even provided the gear.

I had a very full long weekend. Unfortunately it necessitated me driving two exhausting days for the sake of enjoying two layover days with family, at my sister Cairenn’s cabin that I was experiencing for the first time.

 

Good thing I had little I needed to do on my recovery day but look at photographs and write sentences to go with them. While I’m still in a grouchy mood I’ll get the bad parts of the excursion off my mind first. That way I can have pleasant pictures at the end and maybe go to bed feeling more elevated. But, okay, before we get to the bad parts, a beautiful jay. And a close-up of his blueness:

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Drought. Here in the lower elevations of the more southern Sierra Nevada, the lack of adequate snow and rainfall for several years in a row is evidenced by the sight of many dead trees. And on my way up the hill I saw Lake Success, which is at about 4% of its capacity.GL P1020490 Lake Success crpGL P1020397

Camp Nelson is a small community at a much lower elevation than our family cabin that is also in the Sierras. This town stays open all year, and the roads get plowed every day when it snows. The last many miles going in are so curvy, I got carsick even though I was driving. Of course that made the drive seem even longer.

I haven’t beenGL P1020435orig in the High(er) Sierra since July. Maybe the trees there are also yellowing and dying by now, but I suspect that these at the lower elevations and farther south are suffering more. At least one big tree on Cairenn’s lot needs to be removed safely before it comes down dangerously. It’s the one on the left in this photo with the peak of her cabin below.

In many cases it’s not the lack of water that kills the trees, but the bark beetle that does it. A USDA article explains: “Under normal conditions, trees produce enough resinous pitch to drown and ‘pitch out’ the beetles that attempt to enter. When trees are stressed they are unable to produce sufficient amounts of defensive pitch and the beetles are able to bore deep into the trunks of trees, eventually killing the tree.”

GL P1020394 Chamaebatia foliolosa mountain miseryOne plant that was a new discovery for me has always been disagreeable to my sister Nancy. When she first pointed it out to me on one of our several walks together around the village, I leaned up close and she cried, “Don’t touch it!”

She didn’t want me to be contaminated by its notoriously clinging odor. This wildflower in the rose family, called Bear Clover or Mountain Misery, is also not appreciated by most animals because of its smell. In the forest’s ecosystem it plays a complex role, as I read about in this article. It’s very drought-tolerant and recovers quickly from fire, too.GL P1020377

What else is super drought-tolerant? Our beloved manzanita. I took almost as many pictures of manzanita last weekend as of Steller’s jays. The ones in Camp Nelson get so tall! They all looked particularly healthy; I think they have the added protection of not being the sort of material the bark beetle prefers.

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In this picture on the right we have just discovered a manzanita seedling growing in the bank, and it is about to be transplanted by group effort to Cairenn’s lot.

We looked at trees a lot during our Sisters +1 Retreat. Those huge pine trees, Ponderosas and Jeffreys, are both found in this area. I have written about them before on my blog, but as often happens, the more you know the more you realize you don’t know…

 

 

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They resemble each other in so many ways. I hadn’t even heard before that the bark of one smells like vanilla; ah, but which one is it…? Both, as I read when I got home. The ones we sniffed did have that yummy scent.

I could tell by the way I was frequently lagging behind on these walks, that we didn’t have enough of a group mindset to do an intensive tree study, and anyway I’m not encouraged to spend a lot of time on the questions myself when I read that even experts have had to correct their identification errors.

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On our walks we saw donkeys and mules and deer. One evening we saw seventeen deer on the “meadow” that is a sort of town green.

And a bear track! I circled it in green below, looking something like a thumbless human handprint.

 

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As we relaxed at the cabin, eating, playing games, eating, reading and chatting, eating, the Steller’s jays and squirrels entertained us and kept me busy with my camera.

 

 

 

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After I took about a hundred pictures of the jays I got down to business and did some sewing. I sewed a button on to my fleece jacket, which I then hung on a hook and left at the cabin – ugh! GL P1020415

I worked on one of my patchwork potholders, and started to take apart a pillow that was made for Pippin by her grandmother 30 years ago. I hope to spiff it up and re-stuff it.

 

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I even did some coloring with my sister and my niece Jelly. The picture I chose to color was one of the simplest in the book, and it reminds me a little of the elderberry bushes that I have admired so often up in the mountains. I didn’t see any in this area, though.

 

 

 

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What I did see were mountain sunflowers and their seed heads.

 

Two days with dear people went by so fast… Next thing I knew, I was driving back GL P1020461down that curvy road, early enough in the morning to get some more nice pictures. I had been taking vitamin B6 for two days, and maybe that was why I didn’t get queasy on the descent.

Just a little lower down there were fewer conifers and more desert-y plants to be seen, and wildly painted rock cliffs to highlight their drama.

Below is another plant I didn’t take the time to research today. It looks like some kind of berry bush, growing out of a rock cleft.

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…and I have to admit that yes, its leaves do somewhat resemble those of manzanita. I guess I have a fondness for leathery gray-green Survivors.

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As I wound my way down, off to the south the morning light came over the ridges and fell on forests of manzanita bushes that spread in rough bands across the slopes.

GL P1020469The last mountain scene I captured was of more rock, with late penstemon blooming out of it. I was amazed, and honored.

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When I arrived on the flats of the southern Central Valley, I kept taking pictures, because of the olive trees. More gray-green and hardy specimens! Tall ones dwarfing the orange groves…P1020495 Pville olives crp

…and just a few blocks from my old high school, old gnarly and knobby ones like this:

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I was grateful for the chance to walk around in this grove, and the brief encounter was very satisfying. Just hanging around the trees must have given me the strength to soldier my way up the Interstate for the remaining hours that were required to get me home. I like being home.

Good night.

 

Garden tour with figs.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Mrs. J lately. She has been involved in my life in so many ways for over 30 years now, from the time when we became neighbors in the neighborhood where neither of us lives any longer. I hadn’t seen her since my husband’s funeral, and was glad when she phoned today.GLP1010502crp

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oaks and olives

Mrs. J has always loved plants, and soon after we met she was taking horticulture classes and learning the botanical names for everything. When we planted a rock garden at our old house she helped us choose the plants, including at least two that I want to plant in my new back yard garden, a Mugo Pine and a Pineapple Guava. Many plants that I love remind me of this friend.

Mrs. J became a realtor and helped us sell that old house and buy this one. She advised us to plant the Sweet Olive bush that has been a joy to me and which I am now nursing back to health from drought. She was the first person I knew to use manzanita bushes in a residential landscape, planting sixteen of them in her front yard across the street.

Usually we see each other once a year for the triple-birthday celebration we have with another friend; the three of us lived on the same street for a couple of years, back when our babies were coming along regularly. We all love gardening and we discovered that we all were born within a four-day period in the same year. We started taking turns preparing birthday lunches for each other, and have celebrated 30 of them so far.

Today is Labor Day, a special day that we never have celebrated together. Mrs. J was surprised to find herself without pressing obligations on this holiday, so she phoned me. I also was without pressing obligations, and as we began to talk about my back yard project we came up with the idea that I might travel the half hour to her place to get a garden tour. I soon was off on a country drive.

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The sort of grouping we both like.

That route made me very nostalgic and weepy. Our family has been driving these roads for 42 years now, and much of our history took place at one end or the other of this winding hilly road through oaks and golden hills, which Mr. Glad also drove back and forth to work for 20+ years.

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fig with zinnias

The pictures above are of the stretch of road a mile or two from our old house, where our family would take walks or bike rides. Back then there was no yellow line down the middle; that line seems to me to pretend that the road is always wide enough for two cars.

Over the years Mrs. J has designed landscapes and houses in several places. Currently she lives by a creek and has space and resources to use many of the ideas she’s been collecting her life long.  When we went out her front door we soon found ourselves by her beautiful fig tree that had several fruits ready to eat right then. We ate and they were sweet and juicy. Did I tell you I am going to have a fig tree in my garden?

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dogwood

 

Dogwoods are a species I don’t plan to have, but Mrs. J loves them and has varieties from all over. They get enough shade from the tall oaks by the creek. This might be the Korean one.

 

 

She went up north to Corning, CA and bought an olive tree that is 100 years old. It had been pruned a few months earlier to prepare it for transplanting; now it has been given a spot where it can leaf out and enjoy its new and more temperate home.

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Olive trees don’t need as much water as you might think. Mrs. J had to remove some ornamentals from under another olive tree because the irrigation of them was too much for the tree. In another place, where an emitter is leaking, she cleverly made use of the extra water to plant a clump of horsetail grass.

 

The creek has never been so low, she said; I was surprised that it still had any water at all. In a few months this stream could turn into a torrent. That is our hope and prayer.

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