Friday, May 29, 2009

Bougainvillea Treasure

This weekend I went Bonsai nursery hunting for a couple of hours, you know, mom and pop nursery shops with hidden treasures among their stock. After visiting a few, I ended up at an Asian nursery in Irving, TX. In their store entrance they had a small Bonsai stand with like fifteen 3-5 yr old Ficus and Junipers. These "Bonsai" were overpriced, had glued rocks in the soil and Home Depot's trademark shape that looks like an 'S'. After I looked at this stand for, I don't know 5 seconds, I re-focused on my mission and went to look at their stock out back.

20 disappointing minutes later (and yet common) I didn't find anything worth taking home and no hidden treasures and as I was heading out; a sign caught my attention..."Do Not Enter". It was their back room, and an employee was coming out of it so I browsed around until the area was clear then I made my move.

Once in the backroom, in a corner, I noticed trees piled together that looked like were dying and BINGO! Pirate found his treasure, I found 3 mother Bougainvillea trees (where they take cuttings to make new plants).They looked dead and were bone dry but had healthy foliage at the tips and green bark. I remembered it had rained recently so I knew they were in good shape. I looked around for any witnesses as if I killed someone and I pulled two of the ‘bodies’ out.

I called on one of the care takers who was Hispanic and maintained the nursery and after acquaintancing myself with him in Spanish, I asked him if he thought the owners would sell them to me. He said he didn’t know but did tell me they used them for cuttings. So he called on the boss lady and she called on the boss man and among themselves I could hear them go, "盆栽栽..Bonsai..盆栽盆"

I didn’t need to know what they were saying to realize they knew why I wanted them for and they would overprice it. Anybody else would have thought “what an ugly stump, get rid of it”. So I tried to fool them and made this expression as if to appear clueless about Bonsai, the same clueless expression I made once when my ex-lady saw a text msg from another girl on my cell phone. However, once again, the ‘look’ was useless and I admitted to them I wanted to train them for Bonsai. So she said “you can take one for $35” and I made my choice.

Once I got home, before it repotted it, I put it in bucket of rain water for a couple of hours while I messed around with other work. When I got to it, the first thing I did was cut a thick root that was growing out the drain hole. Having in mind the ‘vigorous look of the tree’, I didn’t want to mess with the roots much so I got a saw, cut it in half and then I gently felt around for thick roots to cut. I also noticed the legendary mycorrhizae on the root mass which I tried to keep as much as possible. I put it in a ‘grow box’, added some of my compost and topped with lava rock. I cut dead branches and left most of it intact and will ‘grow and trim’ as it back buds until I reach the main trunk by next season I hope, but who knows.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do with this piece but it will be good. I wonder what color the paper bracts are and I know I will be putting my dremel tool to use on this baby. This concludes EPISODE 1. Stayed tuned, coming soon EPISODE 2, in Spring 2011.

Part 2

Well it has been 2 long years (which consisted of 14 excruciating long days) since I last posted and said I would do any training on this treasure. This bougainvillea only had growth in the top when I found it neglected in the ground, took it home and repotted it. As it turns out, it responded very well to repotting so much it bud back all over to the main trunk. I figured it would take months to do so but it only took 14 days.

As you can see I removed more dead branches which I could have removed on the first session but sometimes you just have to wait. You see, you can look at a tree one day and not see anything you can do...YET. But then one day you come out to water it and then IT HITS YOU AND YOU SEE IT. It's like a mathematician trying to solve a very difficult problem but he can't solve it so he just sits there idle but then he figures out a way to answer it and he starts writing on the board like a maniac.

Same with Bonsai when it hits me, I start to prune away like Johny Depp in 'Edward Scissorhands', seen that movie? Anyway, at first it was better to not prune so much for maybe a seemingly useless branch might fit in a design I had not seen yet or someone else might bring to my attention. In the same way, a seemingly useless branch might be just that and end up being pruned anyway but always lean towards less pruning as opposed to over doing it.

I also hollowed out one of the branches which had bud also and was extremely careful to get not even an inch near it. That bud actually survived and still growing. So that concludes this session and now I will wait and continue to clip and grow and ramify. I will have another training session next spring (for real this time).

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Desert Rose

Adenium obesum - Desert rose It is an evergreen succulent shrub in tropical climates and semi-deciduous to deciduous in cloder climates.
You will have to use a xeric watering regime much like watering cacti. Plant in an acid soil mix with plenty of peat moss and coarse sand. Make sure your soil mix drains really well.

Responds to sunshine and fertilization, I like to use time release pellets.Blooms all year long in temperate climates.

Pests: Aphids usually can be eradicated with safe soap, caterpillers can occasionally defolliate a shrub, but not to worry it will grow new leaves back.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Special: Pineapple guava

I have a Feijoa (pineapple guava) which I have cultivated , it has bloomed for me only 4 times in the last 10 yrs. none of the blooms have fruited. However the blooms are spectacular & makes it a special event when it does bloom. My pictures will follow out the article from wikipedia:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pineapple Guava Feijoa sellowiana fruit
Pineapple Guava Feijoa sellowiana fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Feijoa
Species: F. sellowiana
Binomial name
Feijoa sellowiana
O. Berg

Acca sellowiana

The Feijoa (pronounced /feɪˈhoʊ.ə/)[1] (Feijoa sellowiana), also known as Pineapple Guava or Guavasteen, is an evergreen shrub or small tree, 1–7 metres (3.3–23 ft) in height, originating from the highlands of southern Brazil and parts of Colombia, Uruguay and northern Argentina. It has been spotted in Georgia and both flowering and fruiting in Lafayette, Louisiana and in Charleston, South Carolina, and California. It is widely cultivated as a garden plant and fruiting tree in New Zealand, and can be found as a garden plant in Australia.

[edit] Description of fruit and plant

Whole and cut feijoas.

The fruit matures in autumn and is green, ellipsoid-shaped and the size of a chicken egg. It has a sweet, aromatic flavor. The flesh is juicy and is divided into a clear jelly-like seed pulp and a firmer, slightly gritty opaque flesh nearer the skin. The fruit drops when ripe, but can be picked from the tree prior to the drop to prevent bruising. The genus, also called Feijoa, is monotypic. Like the closely-related guava, the fruit pulp has a gritty texture which is utilized in some natural cosmetic products as an exfoliant. Feijoa fruit have a distinctive smell. The ester methyl benzoate smells strongly of feijoas and the aroma of the fruit is caused mostly by this and other closely related esters.

German botanist Otto Karl Berg named Feijoa after João da Silva Feijó, a Brazilian botanist.[citation needed]

[edit] Growing conditions

It is a warm-temperate to subtropical plant that will also grow in the tropics but requires some winter chilling to fruit and is frost tolerant. In the northern hemisphere it has been cultivated as far north as western Scotland but does not fruit every year, as winter temperatures below about −9 °C (16 °F) will kill the flower buds. Large quantities are grown in New Zealand, where the fruit is a popular garden tree and the fruit is commonly available in season.

[edit] Consumption and uses

The fruit is usually eaten by cutting it in half, then scooping out the pulp with a spoon.[2] The fruit have a juicy sweet seed pulp, and slightly gritty flesh nearer the skin. The flavour is aromatic and sweet. If the utensils needed to eat it this way are not available, the feijoa can be torn or bitten in half, and the contents squeezed out and consumed.[citation needed] An alternative is to bite the end off and then tear the fruit in half length ways, exposing a larger surface with less curvature. The teeth can then scrape the pulp out closer to the skin, with less wastage. They can even be eaten whole, with only the junction to the plant cut off. The skin is sour and can be bitter, but provides a nice balance to the sweet pulp. Still, this is a less common method in some countries, but in Latin America, the fruit's homeland, it is often eaten this way.[citation needed] A feijoa can also be used as an interesting addition to a fruit smoothie, and can be used to make feijoa wine or cider and feijoa infused vodka. It is also possible to buy Feijoa yogurt, fruit drinks, jam, ice-cream, etc. in New Zealand. The Feijoa can also be cooked and used in dishes where one would use stewed fruit. It is a popular ingredient in chutney.

Cut over-mature fruit

Fruit maturity is not always apparent from the outside as the fruits remain green until they are over-mature or rotting. Generally the fruit is at its optimum ripeness the day it drops from the tree. While still hanging it may well prove bitter. Once fallen fruit very quickly become over-ripe, so a daily collection of fallen fruit is advisable during the season. When the fruits are immature the seed pulp is white and opaque, becoming clear and jelly-like when ripe. Fruits are at their optimum maturity when the seed pulp has turned into a clear jelly with no hint of browning. Once the seed pulp and surrounding flesh start to brown, the fruit is over mature and shouldn't be eaten. However, these over mature but not rotten fruits can be used to make a delicious juice very popular in places like the Colombian Highlands.[citation needed]

The pink to white flowers petals have a delightful flavor, are crisp, moist, and fleshy,

[edit] Shipping and sale

Ripe fruit is very prone to bruising; maintaining the fruit in good condition for any length of time is not easy. This, along with the short period of optimum ripeness, probably explains why Feijoas, although delicious, are not widely exported, and where grown commercially are often only sold close to the source of the crop. Feijoas can be cool-stored for approximately a month and still have a few days of shelf life at optimum eating maturity. They're also able to be put in the freezer up to one year without a loss in quality. Because of the relatively short shelf life store keepers need to be careful to replace older feijoas regularly to ensure high quality. In some countries, feijoas can also be purchased at roadside stalls, often at a lower price.

[edit] Cultivation

Feijoa flower

Some grafted cultivars are self fertile. Most are not, and require a pollenizer. Seedlings may or may not be of usable quality, and may or may not be self fertile. In New Zealand, the pollinators are medium sized birds such as the Silvereye in the cooler parts of the South Island, the blackbird or the Indian myna further North, which feed on the sweet, fleshy petals of the feijoa flower. In some areas where the species has been introduced, it has been unproductive due to lack of pollinators.
In northern California, robins, mockingbirds, hummingbirds, starlings, scrub jays, towhees and grey squirrels feast on the petals and can be assumed to be assisting with pollination. Honey bees also visit the flowers.

This is my Pineapple guava

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Sunday, May 3, 2009


I was on my way back from running a errand when I spied an old pickup truck with a load of shrubbery so I stopped & asked the owner when did you dig those up?. This morning he replied I was going to plant them in my yard. It was past 4 p.m. Hmm, I thought oh well I could chance it, old boxwoods are pretty tough shrubs!

I asked if he would consider selling some of them? Make me an offer I can't refuse he said. I dug around in my pocket & came up with $18.00-how about selling me three of them? I don't have any more money with me. Look in your wallet,he replied. I don't carry any money in my wallet,$18.00 is all I have. He said ok. I picked the three I thought would have the best chance of surviving.

This what they looked like before pruning the roots and foliage. While I was working on one I stuck the others into rain water so the roots wouldn't dry out.

This is the foliage that was cut off the 3 trees.

The results of the initial pruning of the roots and foliage & potting up .they will remain in these pots for 1 to 2 yrs if they survive. They will continue to receive top pruning after they sprout new growth; and further shaping after 1 yr.
I will post pictures periodically on their there progress.

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