Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Plant of the Day: Tulipa

This is Tulipa 'Sancerre', a single late blooming tulip.
This year with all the temperature fluctuation and weather abnormalities I have definitely made note of a few cultivars that have really held up. Sancerre reaches a strong 24" tall which makes it one of the taller tulips I have ever played with. It is a luscious yellow that some of these pics come close to capturing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pic of the Day: There's No Getting Away...

Above is the oil slick caused by the recent offshore drilling disaster off the coast of Louisiana. This is a NASA MODIS image that used in their latest article:
As the article will inform you the oil slick, now larger than Rhode Island, will inevitably go ashore but maybe not until the end of the week or weekend. Because if it didn't make landfall and we didn't have to physically see first-hand the devastation our stupidity brings then what...? We could act like it didn't happen? Just sweep it under the rug, and be done with it?

It's been a full week of stupid, selfish behavior and it's only Tuesday. Elie Wiesel once said, "Indifference to me, is the epitome of evil." Unfortunately in this day and age I think that is turning out to be entirely too true. More than obesity or cancer I think the greatest disease in this country is laziness. ...but I can't let the environmental rant go on. I have to get dinner on the table, a starving fiancee is on her way.

Actions mean consequences, people, if you want to talk about inevitable! Grrrrrr....

Oh, and the longer Elie Wiesel quotation goes like this:
"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oppose offshore drilling!

I just found out there is a huge offshore drilling disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. While the conservatives and the liberals are both getting really good at their shit slinging from their fancy seats we got real problems going on! And it's all thanks to idiots from both sides of the aisle who think that not only is offshore drilling great, but we should do more of it! What are you rich, narrow-minded fucks thinking??? There are alternatives, it's just that then you would have to have ethics, take on a challenge, you know, actually do some work. Because how fun is it going to be to drive to the beach or go for a boat trip when there isn't anything there worth enjoying?

This is your sentence soundbite:
"The well could be spilling up to 336,000 gallons of crude oil a day, the Coast Guard said, and the rig carried 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel."*

*=for the full MSN article that has made me blow my top check out:

Oppose offshore oil drilling and Liquified Natural Gas facilities. Support alternative energies and a better environment. It's not impossible. We only get one world so we have to slow down how fast we are screwing it up!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Music Must: St. Vincent - Actor

I have older brothers who are musicians. At the age of six, about the year I was born, Gian Carlo decided he wanted to play music. My oldest brother Tim was infatuated with the Beatles and the eight-year younger Gian Carlo couldn't help but follow suit. He wanted to play guitar like the Beatles and like his older brother. By seventh grade Gian would have his first 4-track recorder and the mixes and master tapes began to flow. Today my brothers live in a massive castle of sound in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The jam room has every instrument and obscure noise making device you could imagine. Pieces from all over the world only compliment my siblings awesome musicology and unbelievable creativity by this point. Guitars and sitars and street found keyboards and tweaked drum kits layer to make the sounds deep and intricate, the melodies complicated but catchy. In their one house are more LPs than I have ever seen in one place. Gian's collection has to be over 12,000 and Tim has a few thou of his own, and that's not even including Shellshag's collection on the third floor and the 78s downstairs. A taste of every genre from the folkiest pop to the roughest rhythm and blues there is always a record on the turntable, likely something you have never heard before. So you can imagine how I am spoiled by their developed ear and spot-on recommendations. Christmas comes and my eyes swell with excitement at the site of wrapped 12 1/2" squares concealing the grooved wax we love so much and CDs of their latest mixes and musical experiments. Hence, this post.

In May of last year St. Vincent released an album named "Actor". St. Vincent, who's real name is Annie Clark, has a beautiful, beautiful voice, a great guitar sound, and tons and tons of layers that make this album a major fave. I was realizing this morning I put it on a lot when I am home and projectizing alone so I figured I should mention it in case you have not heard of her. Treat yourself to some new tunes and pick up Actor, pronto. Your ears will thank you. I am going to go check out her first album.

Here is a little taste from the sea of Youtube - I hope St. Vincent doesn't mind. A bit wobbly but the sound is decent.

Friday, April 16, 2010

a quick plug for subway reading

I have always loved National Geographic magazines. Their imagery and portrayal of the world around us never ceases to amaze me, not to mention their influence on me as an anthropologist and artist. This is one of the latest issues, from April, 2010. The whole issue is devoted to the discussion of water and it's role in the world and in our lives. I admit I am not much of a reader but the written pieces and photos were really eye opening, intense and thought provoking. I don't care what side of the political spectrum you are on, whether you drink coffee or tea or whatever. If you think that the human existence isn't drastically changing this world and it's environment in ways we can't even fully understand then I am sorry to say you are a fool. So if you are looking for a new read for the subway or the bus ride, pick up one of these and check it out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today in the Garden

Tulipa 'Spring Green'
Tulipa 'Violet Beauty'
The display of 20,000 tulips in bloom at the Conservatory Garden, Central Park, New York City.
The north allee is already showering people with the falling crabapple blossoms, weeks ahead of schedule because of all this heat, the month about 10 degrees above normal if I heard Mr. G. correctly on CBS radio this morning.
And the south allee of course.
The lilacs (Syringa) are out, so is the Berberis julianae along with the crabapples and the nose and senses are blissfully overwhelmed. Few things are as stunning as the smell of spring in the northeast.
Talk about a crabapple (Malus floribunda), one of the largest and oldest in all of Central Park! This is the anchor of the English Garden within the Conservatory Garden.
And this other crabapple has definitely been through it's fair share of storms but is still so magnificent.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Plant Pic of the Day: Malus

Technically this photo is from three days ago but whatever. The crabapple allees (Malus floribunda) are in bloom at the Conservatory Garden at the north end of Central Park on the east side at 105th and 5th Avenue. For you horticulturists and arborists out there you know this means that they are blooming a good two to three weeks ahead of schedule due to the abnormally warmer temps we have been having. Even the lilacs have started to open, a number of weeks early themselves, like many of the other spring blooming trees and shrubs. So the point? Don't delay people, get out there and see all this amazingness while you can!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Q + A: Peach tree leaf curl

This is a tree question I was recently posed with:
[Friends want] to spray their fruit trees with dormant oil to prevent the leaves from curling especially the peach tree leaves. What are your recommendations? Will this spray help prevent this problem, should they do this, is it organic or toxic? Will it hurt other plants, do the growing beds need to be covered? We are having a meeting of garden reps. on Wednesday and would like to give them some info at that time, thanks, Erica

Thanks for writing. This is a really good question.

The quick answer is no, this is not the right time and that is not necessarily the right treatment, especially for peaches.

Peach leaf curl is a fungal disease. The fungus itself is called Taphrina deformans and as your [friends] know it can cause the leaves to curl, turn red perhaps, and ultimately fall from the tree very prematurely. Peach trees in their determination to survive tend to put out a second of flush of foliage which might look better but under such stress the tree doesn't have the same vigor or have the energy for strong flower and fruit production. The problem with fungal diseases is that you have to know the life cycle of the fungus or at least the right time to treat the plant. To control peach leaf curl the tree has to be treated with a fungicide in winter, and I am sorry to say now is definitely too late. Most guidelines say that the window for treatment is in fall after the tree has lost 90% of it's foliage or BEFORE buds have swollen in spring. With all this abnormal heat and the accelerated spring we have had I am sure the tree is too far along to still treat it - for in my own garden the crabapples are blooming a good 3 weeks early! The other catch is that many of the fungicides that one uses to combat this fungus have to be applied by a registered New York State pesticide applicator. Though we always keep herbicide/fungicide/pesticide use as the last resort it is very helpful to have an applicator in one's contacts, especially for some of these more serious disease issues. Luckily for us lovers of all things organic there is a product called Lime Sulphur which is supposed to be a reliable fungicide to use for peach leaf curl and is considered organic. I have attached a PDF about leaf curl you can pass along with this email and hopefully that will help educate people. We will try and be prepared so we can treat this problem next winter. For now your friends can only nurture the tree as best they can - water during dry spells, remove and garbage any affected leaves that fall, perhaps some light pruning to remove really bad areas or limbs that are too heavy and causing the tree additional, unnecessary stress.

Now a quick word on "dormant" oils. Horticultural oils and other products of the sort, often called dormant oils because of the time of treatment, are used more to treat pest issues and not diseases so it is important to make the distinction of what problem you are treating. The bad analogy is you don't want to waste the money or time going to a dentist when you should really be seeing the eye doctor. A lot of oils sold for gardeners are actually petrolium based, which many of us are not crazy about, but they are not really toxic to the garden. Others like Chrysanthemum oil, Neem oil, etc. are derived primarily from plants oils and are just as effective so you can find more organic or eco-friendly options out there. Obviously you always want to try and understand the ingredients of what you are buying and follow the directions explicitly. Either way the goal of the oil is to coat the insect so that they are suffocated and unable to live and keep doing damage, thus killing them and knocking them off the plant to decompose back into the soil. You can see that this type of product wouldn't be appropriate for most fungal diseases because it would only coat and help sustain unwanted spores and not necessarily help remove them.

With all this said, you mentioned other trees. Now, we all know that there are plenty of insect pests that cause leaf curl on different kinds of trees and shrubs so it is tricky making sure you have matched the right diagnosis to what can be similar symptoms. If some of the other plants are carefully inspected and found to have aphids, mites, etc. then perhaps a horticultural oil could be effective. But certainly you want to make sure it is a pest causing the damage if you can before treating. Most insects do go after the more fragile new growth and can themselves hide in the newly deformed leaves so encourage your friends to break out their hand lenses or magnifying glasses and keen observation skills.

I hope this helps. Keep me posted and we will be in touch.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Today in the Garden: trees in the Rosaceae family

The north allee of Japanese crabapples (Malus floribunda) at the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.
Though one side of the allee buds pink the flowers are actually bright white, even during a morning rain.

In the south allee you can see the other side of the allees better, the true pink crabapples, also botanically known as Malus floribunda. These trees were grown on a farm up the Hudson and brought down on a barge in full flower one spring before being installed here before the garden opened to the public in September of 1937.
And then in the south garden (English Garden) there is also a purple leaf sand cherry (Prunus x cistena) just coming into bloom. This fabulous small tree gets to about 10 feet with a slightly narrower spread and then begins slowing down. The spring flowers are tiny and precious and then the tree maintains it's red leaf color through the season. This time of year everyone who comes through the garden confuses the crabapples and cherries, which is understandable since they are both members of the Rose family.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Plant Pic of the Day: Tulipa

Tulipa humilis 'Persian Pearl'

New York City is basically three weeks ahead of schedule as far as bloom goes. The photos I took today look exactly like the same shots I took last year from the 24th to the 27th of April. Of course I understand everyone is loving the beautiful days but from a horticulturist's standpoint I admit I am hating it. The abnormal temps and soaring heat have accelerated everything at such a rate it is truly unnerving.

Notable Narcissus

As we all know there are a million and one different kinds of Narcissus (daffodils) out there. You have your thirteen divisions of daffodils based on their morphological variation, and then within each of those divisions all the umpteen cultivars with their different colors and characteristics. But just the same I had to post some pics of my favorite Narcissus from the 2010 spring season.
This is Narcissus 'Surfside', a division 6 (cyclamineus daffodil).

Then there is Narcissus 'Carlton', a division 2 (large cup daffodil).

Narcissus 'Peeping Tom' is always an early one in the garden, a division 6 (cyclamineus daffodil).

And last but not least is Narcissus 'Avalon', a division 2 (large cup daffodil).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter Guitar Solo

figured this seemed appropriate today. perhaps one of the better solos ever. The song is "Watermelon in Easter Hay" originally on Joe's Garage, Act III.

RIP Frank Zappa (1940-1993)