Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Should it stay or should it go?

 

A bit silly-looking, isn't it?

 

That's a photo of my Jacaranda mimosifolia 'Bonsai Blue' taken yesterday.  I took several photos of it from different angles at different times in the hope that seeing it in a different light would make it look better.  It didn't.

I've always loved Jacaranda trees.  Although native to South America, the bluish-purple flowering trees have become emblems of early summer in Southern California.  I even planted one in my former tiny townhouse garden.  That garden was both too small and too shady for it so it had to come out.  I resisted the allure of the dwarf Jacaranda when it was introduced but eventually brought one home in November  2016.

 

This photo, taken in early May 2017, shows it at its best.  It even had a small cluster of flower buds.

 

It may have flowered lightly one more time but, if so, I have no photographic record of that event.  Last fall I questioned whether I should take it out when I dug up the bed it occupied to remove my rampant native aster.

 

This is what it looked like in late September 2021 after I'd cleared the area surrounding it.  I gave it a light pruning and decided it was looking good enough to give it another year in place.

 

In my climate, Jacarandas drop their old leaves when they flower, producing new foliage soon afterwards.  My dwarf tree has been gradually losing its leaves over the past two months but there's no sign it's going to bloom and it's now looking more spindly than ever, sporting a topknot of fresh foliage on a bare central stem well above the foliage at its base.

 

This photo shows the clump of foliage at the top of one otherwise bare 4-foot stem

 

Full-sized Jacarandas reportedly take eight years to reach maturity and bloom.  Even if mine was two years old when I purchased it, by that measure it may not yet be fully mature but I'm once again on the fence about whether it deserves the space it occupies.  I may allow it to coast through the end of this year to see if its appearance improves.  If no additional foliage develops to balance out its current form, I may cut back that central leader to see if pruning helps it fill out; however, if I come across a better option to fill its current spot, it may go sooner rather than later.

Yesterday afternoon, we had yet another mass shooting in the US, costing at least 19 school children their lives.  Following on the heels of two other very recent attacks by madmen with guns, I'm livid with the failure of the US Congress to enact reasonable gun control.  After each incident, we go through the same meaningless discussions about "hardening" schools and encouraging people to report "signs" of madness.  None of that has worked.  It'll never be enough until we take control of our nation's gun problem.  Perhaps, instead of school uniforms, parents should purchase body armor for their kids?  Instead of investing in sport programs, schools should invest in metal detectors?  Maybe we need armored vehicles to take children to and from school to prevent them from being picked off outside those "hardened" facilities?  We've had over 200 mass shootings in the US already this year.  Schools, churches, supermarkets, concerts, public transportation - is anywhere safe?  What's the magic number of mass killings needed to get Congress over its self-interested fear of the gun lobby?  300?  500?  1000?  I'm beyond disgusted with our elected leaders.  Lily-livered cowards.  Self-important, self-centered creeps.

I apologize for attaching a rant to a garden post.  Trying to compartmentalize my thoughts isn't working for me this morning.

 

All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

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23 comments:

  1. It—like the madness that is our gun obsessed culture—should go.

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    1. That's a definitive statement, Loree! Everything depends on finding inspiration in a replacement option.

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  2. I think I concur with Danger - it's had time and does not seem to be earning its place in your garden real estate - but it's hard. Usually I wander the garden with a lopper looking for things that are out of hand and then act on impulse towards something like this. It all depends on where the meter is on your patience scale. Maybe pretend it represents those folks in power who just can't bring themselves to vote for gun control?

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    1. On principle, I tend to hesitate to remove a tree, even a dwarf one. You probably remember how long I put up with that mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin). If I was to guess, its chances are 70-30 in favor of removal, dependent only on a replacement. My husband would throw a fit if I put a full-sized tree in that spot so I shrub or large succulent is likely to be my focus in considering replacements.

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  3. When Jakaranda trees look good, they are fabulous. But when they aren't... this one is obviously not satisfying your esthetic sense so in the end, it must go. Exciting to see how you revamp this open area.

    As for the other topic: sadly, I don't expect America is ready to give up its guns, no matter how many lives are cut short. It will require a Tsunami of cultural change, and that's not happening any time soon.

    Chavli

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    1. My husband believes the same thing, Chavli. Maybe we need to start a chant: "Be the tsunami."

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  4. I know what you mean--you invested time/money/water/patience into that Jac and it has not performed...have had the same sort of dilemma here with a climbing rose that is robust and healthy but is very stingy with admittedly gorgeous flowers even after 10 years--my resolution was to ask, "Is there something I KNOW is going to be better that I can replace it with? "Yes." so out the rose will come.

    Same thing here, the horror of those little kids slaughtered by someone who just a few years ago was the same age as them. WTF??? I'm so upset--holding tight to the comfort of the garden.

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    1. I just need to find the right something, HB. I've been thinking about another whale's tongue agave but I probably to look father afield than my usual haunts, especially as I don't want to start with a small plant in this case.

      Mental illness is hard to judge and family members often seem reluctant to accept the possibility, much less deal with it so the calls for treatment as a cure for gun violence from certain members of Congress rings hollow for me. Guns are just too damn easy to get.

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    2. I've got a spare Moby 2.0 if you want it as a freebie. It's already pretty large (16"?) but not so large it can't be replanted.

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    3. That might be just the ticket, HB. Independent of the current situation with the Jacaranda, my 2 existing Agave ovatifolia appear to ge getting near bloom size so I'd already been concerned about having another in reserve. May we can arrange a meet-up at RG in June?

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  5. sorry, forgot to say I think it was H&H where I saw the Hakea laurina for sale. you might check with them they have a pretty steady supply of Proteaceae, they might be able to get you one .

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    1. Thanks for the tip! The Hakea is too big for the spot the dwarf Jacaranda is in (my husband would protest!) but I still want to find a place for one somewhere.

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  6. I'm heartbroken for all the survivors in the victims' orbits. I can't even imagine... And then I began to wonder if any of the family members themselves are gun owners, and if this tragedy would change their minds about their reasoning, or if it would make them dig their heels in deeper. It would be really interesting to learn - the human psyche always boggles my mind, and my guesses are usually wrong. Plants are easier to figure out.
    Mind you, I don't know why your dwarf jacaranda is behaving so erratically. My only offering is that sometimes (it seems) new cultivars aren't what they are purported to be. The places churning out new cultivars very rarely give the new plants a good test run, before launching them on the market. Maybe it's just a dud? Usually a decent proof of this is when certain cultivars disappear from the market as quickly as they arrived. Have you seen it around for sale anywhere lately? For as much as I love jacarandas, in this case, I'm afraid I would have to agree with the general consensus. That spot deserves a better, less labor intensive feature.

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    1. A news report suggested that a "lot" of the parents of children attending Robb Elementary work for the Border Patrol (which explains why members of the Border Patrol were among the police units responding to the gunfire). If true, though, they're probably more likely to support gun ownership. Texas Governor Abbott said he asked first responders for their assessment of the cause of the tragedy and he claims they attributed it to mental illness. I think Abbott failed to ask the appropriate follow-up question: would the perpetrator have been able to kill so many people without an AR-15?

      You ask an interesting question about the dwarf Jacaranda's track record, Anna. I didn't buy the plant as early as others but the few reviews I found online (all now years old) were positive. I'll have to look around at my local garden center to see if it's still carried.

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  7. Perhaps you could give the Jacaranda a second chance to perk up by moving it to another (not-so-prominent) spot? (at a better time of year, of course).

    Not sure if it is available in the US, but there is a compact form of Hakea laurina called 'Stockdale Sensation':
    https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/hakea-stockdale-sensation-hakea/
    Might be worth a go if you can source it?

    I'm so sorry about the gun mess over there. Initially, I thought the 200 figure you gave must have been a typo. Then I realised it wasn't. Just horrific.


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    1. Thanks for the tip about a dwarf Hakea, Horticat. That would be much easier to place in my garden if I can find it.

      The US obsession with guns is disturbing and tragic in my view, especially as polls show that in excess of 80% of the US population favors controls. One party in particular has made "protection" of 2nd Amendment rights a rallying cry, always trying to place responsibility elsewhere with recommendations that, at best, fail to make a material difference. I naively thought the Sandy Hook massacre would bring meaningful action back in 2012. Angrier when it didn't, I was one of millions who joined marches in 2018 after the Parkland shooting. My anger toward that political party is so great now that, while registered as an independent voter, I have a hard time even considering a member of that party for any office whatsoever. If there's "madness" behind our gun violence, the major sufferers of that madness are the members of that party.

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  8. My vote is to throw a bunch of compost/mulch and any extra water you can give (I know, DROUGHT, but maybe the water from your beautiful bouquets and showers? unsalted pasta?) at it for the summer. Seeing them flourish in SoCal where I grew up I mostly think lawn, so extra fertilizer and surface water. It's a crappy time for us to establish new plants anyways, and at worst you get one last hurrah.
    Guns. Yeah. It is possible for a nation to allow people to have them without the degree of tragedy that we, frankly, seem to not just tolerate, but encourage. Blech.

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    1. Yes, I've wondered if it could use more water and a fertilizer boost. We reuse our shower water to flush toilets and gray water from our washing machine is fed onto the back slope but all other water we collect in vases, in cooking and the like is dumped into the garden, usually onto container plants, but I could make a point of using it on the Jacaranda. Adding compost as mulch is also a good idea.

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  9. *warning-political content* this is just to say that anyone wondering what they can do about gun violence might want to look at S.736 - Assault Weapons Ban of 2021

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    1. Thanks. Good to mention in any letters anyone wants to send to members of Congress. It's been stalled in the Senate, seemingly forever.

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  10. I think I would remove the tree Kris, even though it’s a hard decision. You seem to have tried everything and have given it a good chance.

    The recent shooting is just so horrendous. Yesterday Ted Cruz was shouting about closing all doors to a school except one, so it can be properly guarded. I’m appalled that that’s his solution to this terrible problem.

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    1. janesmudgeegardenMay 26, 2022 at 10:41 PM

      It was me, Jane, who made the above comment. I didn’t realise I needed to put my name in.

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    2. I can't speak that Senator's name without spitting, Jane. The group indebted to the gun lobby and others who worship guns over human lives are trotting out the same useless "solutions" to America's gun violence they always do, despite polls showing that the vast majority of American's support gun controls. I'm hoping that a groundswell of public opinion will make a difference this time but then I expected that after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 and the Parkland tragedy in 2018, not to speak of each and every event in between and afterwards. In the corporate world I came from, employees as stupid and unproductive as many of our elected Congressional representatives would have been fired long ago.

      I'm sorry about the glitch when posting comments. When Blogger turned on reCAPTCHA (which I'm unable to turn off), it triggered a change in how commentators are identified.

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