Friday, June 21, 2024

About that big bromeliad bowl and the tree crime

There were a couple of things from the "Eight months of Mondays" posts that I wanted to revisit in a little more detail. First up, that big bowl of bromeliads. What's that all about?

Having replanted this chunk of the garden I was now faced with a big flat space where there used to be height; the trio of dish planters that had been in the corner for years, the tall and overgrown Calluna vulgaris, even the height of the airy Lomatia tinctoria, all gone...

Plus there used to be more coverage from above, when the palm fronds hung down, not just reached up towards the sky.

Like on the taller palm in the background.

So one evening I was relaxing after a long day working in the garden, looking at the view, not liking it, and considering putting the dish planters back in place (these, which I loved, but also was done with), and it hit me...

Earlier I'd been playing around with a large "dish" in this part of the garden, but when it came time to plant I decided against it. I wanted the space for plants not a planter.

So why not use that set-up here? The dish is actually a mesh screen cover for a fire pit. Back when I picked up the tabletop I used for the stock tank table planting (free score from a Facebook Buy Nothing group) I also grabbed this screen, which I've been using to cover new plantings of small things like sempervivum, so the squirrels or raccoons don't tear them out. 

I had the metal tube on hand and secured it in place with rebar, then I attached a metal weight to the handle of the screen and dropped it into the tube. Voilà! Then I filled it with bromeliads, tillandsia and a Callisia fragrans.

I like it because it stops the eye and gives that corner height, and because it's temporary. Once the palm fronds grow back and the plants in the ground grow up, I can pull it out.

To my eye it also works with the surrounding garden, the base sort of mirrors the trunks of the three palms, and of course rusty metal and bromeliads are repeated throughout.

Next up, the harsh treatment of the Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate'. I really expected some negative comments when I revealed what we had done; crimes against horticulture, that kind of thing. Here's a shot as we got started, this was February 3rd. A beautiful day for dangerous work.

I honestly couldn't believe that Andrew was up for tackling the project. I'd asked if I should look for a professional, but he said no. Of course once we were into the project he wasn't so sure he'd made the right decision. 

This section of branch fell before either one of us were ready for it to, a good 4" sunk into the lawn. That was terrifying.

Then this section decided to rest on the roof, and the Hibiscus syriacus. It was so heavy Andrew was going to climb up on the roof to push it off, but he finally agreed that damaging the roof was preferable to damaging him. In the end the hibiscus took most of the weight with minimal damage and the roof (and the husband) was spared.

Here's what the tree looked like last week. Lots of healthy new growth.

If the foliage stays clean (no Albizia psyllid infestation, the reason for this drastic cut back—or at least 80% of the reason) then I think we may start to cut this one back every couple of years, before it gets as big as it was. The canopy was reaching from one side of the property to the other and taller than the house (perhaps a little too much of a good thing).

One more, I wanted to share the new growth on the Pseudopanax ferox, odd plant that it is.

After last winter's destruction I cut the rotting trunk back to the point where it felt solid, and waited to see if anything would happen. I am thrilled that it's started two new growing points. Once things really take off I'll probably remove any remaining "leaves" along the main trunk (see above), because they just look silly with so few of them and that big gap before this new growth starts. That's a wrap on this update!

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  1. I think the new dish looks perfect there, so creative! Dang, that tree branch stuck in the ground - it looks deliberate. Like you were trying to build a shelter in the middle of your back garden.

    1. When that branch fell and dug itself into the earth my first response was to laugh, then the terror of what could have happened hit me. I pictured a vampire... struck through the heart.

  2. The bromeliad bowl is a perfect addition. I appreciated that its stand mirrored the structure of your palms. As to the Albizia, I've committed my own crimes against a relative of that tree in an ultimately vain attempt to save it so I can appreciate your approach -and I'm glad Andrew, you, and the house weren't hurt in the process!

    1. I was a little fearful this treatment might spur sprouts to pop up at ground level but so far no. It is producing the best clouds of that small dark foliage though, even better now just a week after those photos were taken.

  3. AnonymousJune 21, 2024

    Another fabulous dish creation... I had to go back to your very last "8-month view" for a better sense of which bed I was looking at (I think I'd be doing it often). With massive growth spurs and lots of new plants in the ground, most signs of January's devastation are disappearing quickly. The view in the first photo is amazing: I bet that off-white wicker chair serves you nicely and often this time of year.

    1. Oh if you were here I could certainly take you on a tour of January's devastation! Funny the chair appears off-white and wicker, it's actually a brown/taupe and woven strips of some composite material. It's perfect for leaving out in the weather (the pair shows up frequently on the patio over the winter months), and it does get frequent use, it's very comfortable! Your mentioning it is the first time I've realized I have three distinct seating areas in the small back garden...

  4. Your bromeliad dish looks fabulous! How often do you have to water it?

    1. That is an impossible question to answer. It depends on the weather, like our current stretch of 90 degree days vs next weeks predicted low 70s and possible drizzle. If it's hot then it probably gets a shower from the hose daily, it's not then it would go several days without water.

  5. Similar reasons for why I am never allowed to cut down certain sized trees ever again, especially on a sweltering holiday weekend, when none of the professionals are around to re-attach the electric meter to the side of the house. Those branches are deceptively heavy and dangerous after plummeting from the sky.


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