Monday, October 21, 2013

It doesn't just happen in the forest

I'd heard about it and seen its effects on western road trips, but I assumed it was a problem that was found on Weyerhaeuser land, or at Georgia Pacific, or another one of the big Northwest lumber companies. It never occurred to me that the pines in my my own modest residential garden might fall victim to the destructive mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae. But it seems this beetle is just as happy in an urban setting as it is out in our national forests.
On a tour of our garden this past summer, a visitor pointed out to me the hardened deposits of sap that had oozed from the trunks of our Shore pines, Pinus contorta, (also known as Lodgepole pine.) He explained that this was the sign of a pine beetle infestation.

The Mulch Man had been concerned for some time that despite supplemental summer water and careful pruning, the sap flow and excessive yellowing of the needles indicated the three pines weren't in optimum health. He was particularly concerned about the tree that sat on the east side of the Northwest Territory and had always been less robust than its brethren in the north bed.
It doesn't look too bad in the image above, but when you look closer, you can see quite a bit of yellowing in the needles throughout the tree.

The mountain pine beetle attacks Ponderosa pines and Lodgepole pines. There isn't a lot you can do to fight these beetles once they are established. It may take a while to happen, but eventually the tree will die. Since our pine had declined markedly since summer, we reluctantly decided it needed to come out.
After years of carefully nurturing our green privacy screen to the east, we now can't avoid our neighbor's back door and kitchen window. .

So what to put there for fastest coverage? It came to me: move the established Rhododendron 'Anah Krushke' out from under the cedar and locate her five feet to the north. So today I spent a few hours wrestling the poor thing out and back into her new home.

That left a space too, but it's a different space. The expectation is the cedar will expand northward while the rhody expands southward (and upward.) We can add some ferns now, and in a few years the space should be more private again.

Meanwhile, we are monitoring the two north pines very carefully. Although they show definite signs of the mountain pine beetle infestation, the trees aren't looking too bad yet. That could change quickly, like the first tree, or we could get lucky and have a few years for succession planning.
But it's sad to contemplate that future: we'll lose two more trees we really like - and quite a bit of privacy - all at the same time. With good planning I hope we can replace those pines with a minimal amount of exposure. Since this is the Northwest Territory and his garden domain, you can be sure the Mulch Man will be on it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, October 2013

It's happened again. All the plants blooming in my garden this month are plants that were blooming for last month's Bloom Day. And many of them were blooming in mid-August, as well. But because I use my Bloom Day posts as a record of the garden, I'll ask your indulgence as we revisit the garden today. Just scroll quickly past the ones you really have seen all you need of this year...

Punica granatum 'Nana'. Its leaves are golden and many have fallen already but it's still pumping out blossoms.

Now that it's not blooming quite so profusely, I'm enjoying this Abutilon 'Tangerine' a lot more.

It just wouldn't be Bloom Day at Longview Ranch without an appearance by Agastache 'Acapulco Orange'. After being laid low by the battering rains we had in late September, this trouper came back and high-fived the garden one more time.

Rudbeckia triloba is made for Indian summer weather. I read on Jason and Judy's blog, Garden in a City, that he leaves his seed heads on for goldfinches. We sometimes get them, so I'll do the same this year in hopes of luring them into the front garden.

I thought Salvia 'Black and Blue' was finished last month, but it's come back after the rains with more bloom. I moved it forward in the border this past spring, and I think it appreciates the increased sun.
Delosperma 'Oberg'

Sidalcea oregana, for the third month (with a few jarringly orange dogwood leaves in there to wake you up!)

We have a few out-of-season Salal flowers (Gaultheria shallon) adding a bright pink and white note to their green foliage.
The Beach Daisy (Erigeron glaucas) resented summer's exposure and wilted every hot, sunny day. Now it's a cooler, happier camper.

Last, but by no means least, Rosa 'Perle d' Or'. This sweet little rose is a heritage plant from the Mulch Man's Great Aunt Jennie, and makes a beautiful container plant. I can start slips for anyone who's interested!
Bloom Day is hosted by Carol, at May Dreams Gardens. Check out what else is in bloom there - and Happy Bloom Day!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fall color shift

It's been weeks since I last posted, and while I took time off, the weather here in Portland took a decided turn to the cooler and wetter. But the sun returned today for one of those glorious fall days and it was a fine opportunity to take a closer look at the garden.

Though not a lot has changed in the broad sense yet, you can see the small changes in the shifting color of foliage.

Yellow-greens are being bleached out to pale golds and wheat colors.

Some take on a hint of pink or violet.

Some greens are turning an unabashed golden orange, like Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon'.

Other greens are edged in red, or a softer shade of yellow.

Cooler nights are encouraging stronger colors in many of the succulents.

These leaves were bright green two weeks ago.

I'm intrigued by the color changes in Crocosmia seedheads.

Maybe it's that special autumn light, but Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue' almost seems to glow.

Crabapple fruits shine in the late afternoon sun.

And yet, really, not much has changed in the bigger picture.

It's a wistful time of year for me as I reluctantly bid goodby to summer and prepare for winter. It helps that my garden is doing it in such beautiful small steps.