Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Different Kind of Green ...

Today's post represents a bit of a departure from the usual fare served up here at Urban Oasis: some sky and trees in the waning early evening light. Actually it's a big departure for me in terms of subjects because I don't think I've ever deliberately shot trees before ... I tried some clouds and sky shots with the old camera, but was never satisfied with what I got. But now, with the zoom and all the features the S700 offers, I've decided to start experimenting, and these are the preliminary results.

So, while having said beer mentioned in the previous post, I just laid back in my chair and started looking up and around the yard using the Landscape mode of the S700 (really, Fuji should start paying me a stipend for the plugs, lol). We have two old, pretty large trees in our backyard, one of
which is an aged Silver Maple (whose spawn we are constantly cursing as we try to eradicate them from the gardens) and the other is about a sixty foot high Blue Spruce. Both trees definitely have their disadvantages between the Maple's spring onslaught of what children often call "helicopters," (I prefer to call them damned invasive seed delivery devices) and the needles and cones dropped by the Spruce.

And the Maple is also home to some of the wretched Tree Rats that taunt the dogs and dig up things and bury walnuts in the yard, thus propagating an even more difficult tree that we have to extract every spring. Though on the other hand, an Owl has been known to hang out there on quiet nights letting us know it's there, and we definitely like that because it's comforting to have an Owl close by, and hope it develops an appetite for some of the Cursed Tree Rats ... and the Spruce does house a pair of cardinals (and some nasty blackbirds). Having two lovely Cardinals so close and visible really does temper my opinion of the Spruce, however, no matter how much we've tried various plants underneath it, everything but the most tenacious weeds has given up the ghost at this point. At least it's NOT a walnut, for as big as it is! That literally would be a poisonous situation, because as most gardeners know, black walnuts excrete a substance that deters all but the most tolerant of the usual perennials. (That's the case with our neighbor across the street who has four of them ... the source from whence the Ignoble Tree Rats bring the nuts over to our yard!)

In any case, these trees are here and will probably remain, unless one should happen to keel over and die. If/when that happens, what I really would love to see replace them is my favorite tree from childhood, the exotic and unusual Catalpa. Yeah, those are messy too when they flower, and one is often pelted by the falling "bean pods" in the fall, but they don't seem to spread like Maples and actually have dramatic blooms that are quite fragrant (if a bit messy when they fall). But that dream is just that right now ... but it would be my ideal candidate to replace the maple eventually. Of course, I'd probably be dead before it bloomed (unless it's a really big one planted) since they're not the fastest growers in the tree kingdom, but they're surely one of the most beautiful as far as I am concerned.


FARfetched said...

Tree rats are easy to harass. Sit outside and make "kissy" noises — their territorial bark sounds very similar, and they can get really riled if you make that noise back at them. If that fails, a well-aimed BB gun will make a permanent end to them, one at a time. They're good with gravy. (The Boy used to nail them quite regularly, a skill he inherited from his mom & her side of the family.)

There's a walnut tree down by the in-laws' pond; I wouldn't mind having a few more on the property. A large walnut tree can fetch quite a bit of $$$ for the wood, or you can simply gather up a few buckets of nuts for eating. (Walnuts are a much lower-cost substitute for pine nuts in pesto, and have many other cooking uses, of course.)

But for flowering trees… I don't guess magnolias would do well up that way, would they? Blossoms the size of dinner plates. What about tulip trees? I know they grow around Nashville; would they survive in Iowa? How about flowering cherry trees?

K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shady Gardener said...

We have a lot, and variety, of oaks. I really like them. If you do your research, you would only have to rake 1/2 the leaves in the Fall and 1/2 in the Spring! ;-) They do exude "drippy stuff" in late Spring/early Summer that tends to clog gutters, if you're not prepared.

Nice photos with your new camera! It must be fairly user-friendly. I'd like to take a step up from what I'm currently using... not a priority at the moment, but by Fall/Winter, probably.

Pepa's very alert looking. Our Sid is a little absent minded when it comes to remaining outside the flower beds... ;-)

Thanks for the link to the Register. I don't seem to sit in front of a tv often.

boran2 said...

Those are nice shots. The bottom one has something of a dreamy effect to it. With two trees that size you must have a large yard.

With many large old oaks in our area, we are inundated with squirrels. They can be fun to watch but can be a bother.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there FAR,
Don't think we're about to eat tree rat with gravy, I'll leave that to you Sutherners. :-)

Are you talking about English walnuts down there? These are Black Walnuts, with incredibly hard shells and a very strong flavor that I don't particularly like. Now if these were English Walnuts I would be gathering them, but the black ones are just nasty.

We've got magnolias and tulip trees up here too, but the magnolias are really sensitive to cold snaps in the spring when they bud ... if it gets too cold, there are no blooms.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady! I saw at your place earlier that you're off tending the grandkids this weekend and it sounds like you'll enjoy that. :-)

I would much rather have an oak in the yard than the maple ... I've always liked oaks and they seem to be much less likely to lose branches than those soft wood maples (such as ours).

When you're looking at cameras, definitely check out the Fuji S700 (what I have). It's a very affordable and feature packed camera for the price (uner $200). I'm still learning to use some of the features and it's going to keep me very busy, but it is a very user friendly camera. My first cam was a Fuji 2650 which served me admirably for five years until I Had the itch to "graduate."

Sounds like you've been so busy lately that you haven't had time to plant all those beds yet. Are all your plants in yet? We've still got some to go, but have been getting a lot in lately since it quit raining. The pulmonarias and ligularia are now getting used to their new spaces as of yesterday! :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Thanks, B2 ... it was very relaxing just looking up into the tree and listening to the ambient noises of the birds (and tree rats). Actually our yard is not that big ... only 50 feet wide by about 30 feet, larger than some neighbors but not "ginormous."

FARfetched said...

Yeah, black walnuts. Are there any other kind? :-)

Hey, come by the Manor. I have the latest allium shot up!

Knucklehead said...

Put the walnuts in the fire for a while then chop them up to put in the gravy. Tree rat with Walnut gravy.

Annie in Austin said...

I love your looking up through the leaves photo, IVG - and know what you mean about helicopters - my parents' house had silver maples. In Texas our tree rat palaces are a couple of pecan trees in the back yard, with 2 live oaks and two Arizona Ashes in front. That's just the big trees, not counting the redbuds and crepe myrtles. It's 1/4 acre, so there's considerable shade.

I have fond memories of catalpas with their huge leaves and the beautifully marked flowers that look as if they came from a Japanese painting. Why not start a seedling now, and keep moving it into larger and larger containers as it grows? (I guess you'd have to sink the pot partway in the ground and mulch it over winter.)It can be waiting in the wings when the star retires and it's time for the understudy to show off her stuff.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Shady Gardener said...

IVG, Actually, I really did get all my plants in! (Well, I neglected one little fellow that I'm hoping my neighbor planted for me. I called her after I left for Omaha... isn't that pitiful?) But she's a wonderful neighbor-friend!!! :-)

I admit to being somewhat stressed and frustrated lately. I only want two full days to myself in my yard... and I haven't had that for Quite Some Time! Oh, well.

Thanks for the input on the camera! Even the price is impressive.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Annie ... no escaping the tree rats is there? Now, pecans I could really get into, but do you ever get any with them pillaging the place?

I like your idea about the Catalpa! We've been wondering though, with the quantity of seed pods they drop, why aren't they as pervasive as maples? I'm wondering if they're sterile due to hybridization or if they just have a very poor rate of germination. We do know of one tree not far from us that we should watch in the fall and at least snag a few pods to give it a try! I think I need to do a lot more research on them first!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Shady, good for you getting all your plants in!!! I know what you mean about the stress/frustration, as I've had plenty lately myself. I took a week of vacation at the end of May and had 2, count 'em TWO decent days where I could work on the garden! Every other day, it rained! (And we all know what the last 3-4 weeks have been.)

You maybe need to slow the pace down a bit and give yourself some therapy days in the garden ... it does wonders for the soul, as you know. :-)

You can take a look at the S700 on Amazon (I ordered mine through them). They have a good summary of the features and the customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive. That'll at least give you a good sense of what it's like. We are sure loving ours and we're far from mastering it!

olivia said...

Wow ... those are wonderful. :)

And love the thought of you lying there w/ your cold brew, enjoying your garden ... looking up at those beautiful trees.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Olivia! How are things over there in Gif-sur-Yvette? Is it a nice hotel?

Great to see you stopping by again now that you've had a chance to get internetted again. There's been a whole lot going on in the garden, as you can see. :-)

I decided I needed to start trying out some of those settings to see how they work, so for first attempts, I was happy with how they turned out (using the landscape mode). And I could do it all from my chair, lol. How's that for slacker photograpby?

Annie in Austin said...

IVG the soggy summer of 2007 was a year when many people with pecan trees actually got to crack and eat some of them. We had enough for some pecan pies and nutbread.

The commercial pecan groves are planted east of Austin where the soil is deep and there's usually more rain. It's more chancy in town - if the late summer and autumn are dry the tree rats pull down the unripe husks and eat them for immediate moisture and nourishment, but then there's no crop.

A pecan tree might survive in Iowa but would probably not have time to bloom and bear.


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Thanks for the info on pecans, Annie! I hadn't realized that TX produced much, I associate them more with GA, but that's more the neck of the woods I lived in (FL) for some time.

I hear you about the challenges of city gardeners, but your place looks pretty darn cool. Here we're smack in the middle of an older, pretty diverse neighborhood very close to downtown, but fortunately far enough that we're up higher in flood times. Whew.