horticultural invective

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the slightly miniature but not totally small purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you completely up-to-date with the news from our garden. You may remember me from such up-to-date posts as “The Hair Cut”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristically horticultural pose.15110602You can see on the right, there, that the birch has lost almost all its leaves.

lost almost all its leaves

lost almost all its leaves

You can also see that there are some branches which need to be sawed, at least more than they are now, and I understand that this will happen eventually. The birch, by the way, is the native one, Betula fontinalis, and it’s been here for a very long time. It’s a shrub rather than a tree, which I think you can see, too.

The larger trunks don’t live very long and then woodpeckers hop up and down them, and then (again eventually) the dead branches get sawed. The guy I live with says the birch probably wants way more water than it gets here, because normally its lives next to streams and creeks. He says that there are some growing along Bear Creek, which is north of here.

I’ve been pretty busy. I decided that I prefer my stuffed animals unstuffed, and so I’ve been working at that for a while now. I think I’m almost done.15110607

15110608I could tell that the guy I live with didn’t care much for the toys being unstuffed, because of the invective he employed when he found stuffing all over the garden. It was pretty startling to hear, and as you can tell I have pretty good ears for hearing.

Well, then it got worse, when the guy I live with tried to put screen into the bottom of these things.15110604

15110603Maybe you can’t see that there are vertical ribs in the pots, which allows them to be stacked, one on top of the other, but there are, and when the guy I live with tried to put a cut square of screen into the bottom, there was a considerable amount of invective. Horticultural invective, he said, as though that made it better.

You may wonder why he had to get these pots, which are called tree bands, if you wanted to know. It’s all because of something called a perched water table, which is caused by a difference in gravitational potential between the top of the pot and the bottom. All perched water tables are the same height, too, so no matter what the size of the pot, the height of the water table is the same. And that means that a much smaller pot will have less soil-less mix that isn’t saturated with water than these taller ones.

He blames losing some of the iris seedlings this year on a perched water table.

Well, he got the screens in place, after a considerable amount of invective, and here you can see new seedling irises growing in the pots.15110606So that was that.

Oh, and then there was this. It didn’t happen on Halloween, which was too bad, but it still happened.

I had to go out very late one night, before midnight, and I started barking really loudly out at the back fence. The guy I live with went out with a flashlight, saw what I was yelling about, and made me go inside really quickly. He said that just because what I saw was all black-and-white just like me, it didn’t mean that it was a purebred border collie like me.

So then he went back outside to take a picture, just for our blog. If you look closely you can see a single glowing eye. The lights from the apartment complex to the north of us didn’t help much. (The creature had two eyes, but only one was visible. I mean, just to clear that up.)15110401

Can’t see it? How about now?


So then, the guy I live with heard all this loud rustling under the cottonwood out in back, wondered how large the creature was making all that noise, and ran inside yelling “Blair Witch! Blair Witch!” and then we went to bed.

Pretty funny, huh. And scary, too. The guy I live with says that when I see these black-and-white creatures I’m supposed to walk the other way. I don’t see why, but he says I don’t want to find out why. He also said that very small creatures can make a lot of noise when they walk through dry leaves, but for some reason he didn’t think of that at the time.

Well, that’s what’s been going on here. I guess exciting, except for the screen business. I’ll leave you with another picture of me, not worrying about black-and-white creatures rustling in the leaves before midnight.


Until next time, then.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to horticultural invective

  1. Mark Mazer says:

    We use two paper coffee filters in the tree bands here in subtropical North Carolina; lasts 2-3 years, at least. Easy peasy to install. Nerine bowdenii blooming today. Hardy for you, or not enough H2O?

  2. Marcia Blum says:

    Maggie, my wonder dog, met a black and white creature not once but twice. Mani – it is wise to stay away.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; the guy I live with has told me stories of Chess, the purebred border collie who lived here before me, and how he got sprayed while he was on his own patio. Just minding his business, and pthththtttt, sprayed. But the skunk snuck in through a hole in the fence, and that was plugged.

  3. Barb K says:

    Oh, ha ha. I remember our 1/2 border collie and her encounters with the black and whites. She was a vocal kind of gal, so she was always barking, mouth wide open as she got too close. She took the spray (you don’t want to know, Mani) full in the mouth and nose and it seemed she had the aroma on her breath for months. There was no bath to erase it. She did, however, learn to stay well back from the porcupines. Do you have those where you live? What kind of iris? The writing on the tag looks like a foreign alphabet, no offense to TGYLW.

    • paridevita says:

      No, we don’t have porcupines here, though I understand that the do live fairly close, up in the foothills. I suppose they could show up here, but they sound scary. So does being sprayed by a skunk. So far I’m the only one who hasn’t gotten sprayed, but the guy I live with says I’m still young. He hasn’t been sprayed, so maybe he should go first, huh. The guy I live with’s handwriting is pretty funny. The tag says “sp. Kahramanmaras” which is the province in Turkey where the seed was collected. A friend gave him the seed. He was told on Facebook that it’s this: http://www.vanherbaryum.yyu.edu.tr/flora/famgenustur/ir/Ir/sa/pages/Iris%20sari%20SCHOTT%20EX%20BAKER%20%20_jpg.htm

      • Barb K says:

        That’s lovely. I hope we’ll be seeing pictures of those blooming in maybe 3 years. Guard them well, Mani.

      • paridevita says:

        Thanks; maybe they will be flowering sooner rather than later. It’s supposed to get really cold tonight, and, you know what? it was snowing here today. The guy I live with counted about five snowflakes. I can hardly wait until there;s snow on the ground.

  4. Susan ITPH says:

    How does one learn of perched water tables in pots? And who bothers with screens in those band pots? My strategy for dealing with them is to set them down where you expect the thing to grow in them and then don’t move them until there are roots enough to hold the growing medium in place. Still, I don’t like sowing directly in the ones I have. Too big.

    You should be more careful at night with zebras about.

    • paridevita says:

      Well, these pots just sit in flats; you know, regular flats, and so there is automatically a perched water table, like there is in any container. The seeds don’t get sown, if that’s the right word for seeds that have been cut to force germination, into the pots, but rather spend a few days in filter paper (coffee filters, usually) in freezer bags put in a cigar box down in the laundry room. The germinated seeds go into regular pots, and when a leaf appears, then they go into the tree bands. This only takes a few days at most. I guess the whole forced germination thing is part of what the guy I live with calls “voodoo horticulture” and it’s really far out and counterintuitive and all that but it does work, as you can see. What you do, and I’m just relaying information here since I’ve never paid any attention to it, is that you take a razor blade and cut across the seed micropyle and expose the endosperm and embryo (actually cutting across the embryo), which basically short-cuts the seed’s need for cold treatment, and the seeds germinate within days, if not hours. Perched water table stuff here: http://oregonstate.edu/dept/nursery-weeds/feature_articles/physical_properties/physical_properties.html The guy I live with says that skunks “make excellent pets” but that we’re not getting one, so, like, whew, and that I should stay away from them, no matter how tough and fierce I am, because they have an ace up their sleeve, so to speak.

  5. Susan Hunter says:

    I just cut a square of the black filter fabric that’s usually placed under mulch and put it in the bottom of my pots and containers. It’s cheap, sturdy, available in rolls at your local DIY store and can be cut with a pair of scissors. It certainly beats pebbles or old pot shards or sharp edges of hardware mesh. When the pots drain, the soil doesn’t run out of the hole. That’s my gardening tip for today.

  6. gardenhope says:

    Very enjoyable reading today. I love the birch and ponder on it as a suitable landscape tree! Plan to read-up on it some. My aunt and uncle (and now I) call those black and white critters “black and white kitty cats”. Every summer I have some of those black and white kitty cats under my shed. I have given-up trying to eradicate them—and honestly I have some neighbors that actively do relocate them, and who are quite good at it. I keep quiet about the boarders under my shed so as not to incur wrath over the whole thing, harboring neighborhood criminals and all. The dog I did live with was always on a leash after dark due to those black and white kitty cats. She was a lover though, and would never hurt one. We quite often encountered one another at night cruising the neighborhood. I was never sure they would appreciate the fact that my dog was only curious and extremely gentle, though.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. No, I don’t think the black-and-white kitty cats really care if we dogs are super-friendly or not. The birch, so hear, is one of the very few plants in the back yard that have been there since before any purebred border collies showed up here. The lady of the house, being mostly Swedish, loved birches, though the white-barked ones don’t do so well here. And, the birch came from a nursery where there was a purebred border collie who did all the funny things that we do, and the lady of the house fell head over heels with purebred border collies (not difficult at all) and talked the guy I live with into getting one. So there’s a connection there. And also, birch branches are excellent to chew on. The best way is to get one right after the living room carpet has been cleaned, and bring it indoor when no one is looking, chew the daylights out of it, and leave stuff strewn all over.

  7. Dear, dear, Mani, couldn’t read you while I was in Texas because I would have to activate the photo feature of my device, which would be scary almost as much as skunky creatures. What are your posts without photos? Voodoo horticulture I know a lot about. That info site looks suspiciously similar to the one on which I researched aerobic compost tea. Mike Shoup of Antique Rose Emporium is a great advocate, and now I am too. Voodoo hort and feng shui, who knows why they work? I’ve met a highly skeptical Frenchman in Paso Robles who uses voodoo, planting by the light and phase of the moon, etc., and he turns out great wines. Half-angry about it, though. Brought lots of rose cuttings home, so guess I’ll educate myself on perched water table. Wish your guy hort luck with the spectacular iris. The world needs their beauty. Evidently, the world’s canines need eviscerated chew toys too. Our dogs join you, Mani, in the endeavor.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; well, I do think chew toys are best chewn unstuffed. It turns out that there is a lot of voodoo horticulture going around here; some it is “spectacularly unsuccessful”. I agree that pictures are important; they prove the stuff that the guy I live with says happens here. I sometimes don’t pay attention. There’s other stuff to do, you see. (The guy I live with says that saying “you see” is kind of outdated, and basically just odd.) He also thinks that he should be, not a highly skeptical Frenchman, but an Englishman, strolling around the grounds in thorn-proof tweeds, with of course me hopping and leaping here and there, inspecting the snowdrops. That’s all he talks about now, and its kind of boring. But then, a lot of the stuff he talks about is kind of boring. I went to Day Care today, instead of yesterday, so I could be outside, with my friends, mostly new ones because they were Thursday friends, and so I missed all the stuff he said today.

Comments are closed.