Tag Archives: Japanese Gardens

Your own Japanese Garden, part two

In my previous article I wrote about considerations and decisions to be taken when you are going to build your own Japanese garden. In this article I’ll elaborate on that.

As the Japanese garden evolved over 15 centuries it is difficult to label or “put in a box”. As there are many garden types in Japan, to typify it as (just) “a Japanese garden” is not enough. It is not workable nor does it do justice. The differences between e.g. a Tea-garden and Karesansui-garden are just too big to talk about in general terms when working on a design.

It is important to know what type of Japanese garden you are “planning” so you can name it and focus on the relevant characteristics. There are of course commonalities between all Japanese garden types but these are often not the subject of discussion. It is required to typify it one degree more precise to be able to successfully realize a Japanese garden, either of a single type or a composition of divers elements and compartments.

One of the first thoughts should be: “what type of Japanese garden do I want to realize ?” Then when decided upon, this typification can become the basis for further study, investigation, discussion, architecture design and elaboration.

Use of Archetypes of gardens according to the Tokyo Agricultural University has proved to be a good approach. Then you can talk about your Japanese “Tea garden” or “Zen garden” or perhaps a combination of elements from different garden (arche)types. The Tokyo Agricultural University recognizes eight archetypes. To make this workable and pragmatic we often see this brought back to 4 or 5 archetypes or main garden types, e.g based on themes or application.

Heian Aristocrats gardens for worship and leisure, Palace gardens, Temple gardens and Nobles-men’s gardens, including Tea gardens and dry rock gardens.
Or:
Strolling and pond garden, Natural (Paradise) garden, flat garden, sand and stone or dry rock garden, tea garden.

Nowadays the Japanese typically categorize their gardens into three broad types.

  • Tsukiyama gardens typically feature artificial hills combined with a pond and a stream, plants, shrubs, and trees.
  • Karesansui or dry landscape garden.
  • Chaniwa or tea-garden, attached to the tea-ceremony.

Following the complete list of eight garden archetypes according to Tokyo Agricultural University (in time from 6th Century until modern day):

  • Ceremony Worship ceremonies, including routes for worshiping.
  • Leisure The ancient capital 1300 years ago: Today a legacy from the past.
  • Paradise Representation of Paradise on Earth. Joruri-ji Temple, in the hills near Nara, is the only existing Heian-era Amida Hall with nine images of Amida representing the nine levels of enlightenment.
  • Zen Ryoan-ji is regarded the archetype Zen or karesansui (dry rock) garden.
  • Buke(-zukuri) A style of residential architecture in use among the bushi or warrior class.
  • Tea Garden and house dedicated to the Tea Ceremony, Cha-no-yu. Highly influenced by Buddhism in particular Zen.
  • Theme
    Katsura Imperial Villa is a circuit style garden with small and large islands connected by bridges.
    Kenroku-en is “a strolling-style landscape garden”. “Kenroku-en” literally means “garden that combines six characteristics”. Grouped in their traditional complementary pairs, they are spaciousness & seclusion, artifice & antiquity, water-courses & panoramas.
    Both gardens take full advantage of seasonal change.
  • Modern Gardens from the last century and a half.
    A “new type of karesansui garden” or “modern karesansui garden” by Shigemori Mirei.
    This type is not (yet) included in the list but gets more and more recognition as a distinct type, perhaps not so much as a new archetype.

An other style-element regards complexity or the degree of elaboration of a garden(compartment). The book Tsukiyama teizoden names three:

  • Shin, very elaborate and formal.
  • Gyo, intermediate and semi-formal.
  • So, the simplest informal.

Is then “So”, the simplest of all, the Zen version ? Not so.
The complexity here relates to the number of elements and objects like: scenes, hills, rocks, stone, tree’s, bushes and other objects and level of detail in a garden. Some Zen gardens have lots of them and hence are not So.

The symbolism, not to mention superstitious beliefs, as such mean little to many (most ?) of us. However symbolism sometimes has a direct impact on the aesthetics of a garden that can not be neglected. Hence you need to take symbolism into account and bring it into the garden if it in your eyes, enhances the appearance and appreciation.
The same is true for the geomancy, nowadays popularised as Feng Shui, (fusui in Japanese) Yin Yang and the Japanese equivalents and interpretations like Yi and the Five Phases as described in the garden book Sakuteiki and older text like Huainanzi which precedes the Five Phase Encyclopedia by about 600 years.
The essence regarding aesthetics from the opening words in the Sakuteiki can be leading for designers:


” In making the garden, you should first understand the overall principles.”

  1. According to the lay of the land, and depending upon the aspects of the water landscape, you should design each part of the garden tastefully, recalling your memories of how nature presented itself for each feature.
  2. Study the examples of work left by the past masters, and considering the desires of the owner of the garden, you should create a work of your own by exercising your tasteful sense.
  3. Think over the famous places of scenic beauty throughout the land, and by making it your own that which appeals to you most, design your garden with the mood of harmony, modelling after the general air of such places.

In the modern translation of the Sakuteiki the authors see three aspects of Buddhism reflected in the garden. The third relating to the aspect of Buddhism by which the religion is seen as a protector of the individual. Inserting specific Buddhist elements in the garden was done for reasons similar to those for introducing elements that had geomantic influence. Both the Buddhist elements and the geomantic elements were perceived as protecting the household. If you are not a follower of Feng Shui, then you only have to take into account these aspects for the impact on the aesthetics of the garden and under the assumption that it will not enhance the appearance and appreciation when seen or experienced by a spectator without a thorough background of the rules and taboosimi or kinki. If you are a follower of Feng Shui then this is a whole different story.
Whatever the case the garden you create must give you the right “feel”, or better “fuzei”.

The picture: Kanji for fuzei in the Japanese flag. Fuzei: “Aesthetic sense” in Sakuteiki the 11th century treatise on Garden Making, the oldest and most revered Japanese text on garden design.

Piet Patings, Tsubo-en Zen-garden, www.zen-garden.org

Zen and three friends of winter

In Japan, rock gardens were created by Zen Buddhist priests to offer a place for quiet reflection near Japanese temples. Several features are essential to these gardens; a typical garden will contain a water element, boulders, a gravel sand area reminiscent of the seashore, and plantings – often a combination of bamboo, plums and pine, called the “three friends of winter.”

Pine (shou) showing brilliant green in the bleakest of winter. Pine have been as a symbol of long life in China since ancient times.

Pine (shou) showing brilliant green in the bleakest of winter. Pine have been as a symbol of long life in China since ancient times.

Bamboo (chiku) another plant that stays mostly green throughout the winter. The stalk of the bamboo is hollow, that symbolizes tolerance and open-mindedness.

Plum (bai) show a beautiful elegance during the bleakness of a hostile winter. The character of the plum tree serves as a metaphor for inner beauty and humble display under these extreme conditions.

If you don’t have space for a full-sized Japanese garden, you can create one in miniature: bonsai ponds can be made to fit a very small space. A water garden following Zen design principles is a simple do-it-yourself project, as any watertight containers can be made into bonsai ponds. Start with one container large enough to house all the elements of your project and a smaller container for the pond. You will also need a small aquarium pump to aerate the water. Ready-grown “three friends of winter” bonsai and the supplies and instructions to maintain them are available online. You can buy rocks, sand, and gravel at your local aquarium or home improvement store.

Arrange your garden according to the following Zen aesthetic principles: kanso, or simplicity; fukinsei, or asymmetry; shibui, or minimalism; shizen, natural materials; yugen, surprise or revelation; datsuzoku, or a sense of wonder; and seijaku, or tranquility. Fill your small container with water and place it on one side of the garden container; this will be your pond. To prevent the water from stagnating, conceal the aquarium pump in the garden to aerate the water – you can even arrange the pump outlet to create a waterfall over your rocks, if you like. To satisfy the principle of shizen, make sure any artificial elements are well hidden, for example you can use natural stone and gravel both to hide the edges of the water container and to create a shoreline around the water’s edge. Opposite the pond, arrange the “three friends of winter” bonsai with the larger rocks, surrounded by more gravel and sand: this balance between the pond and plantings will create asymmetry, or fukinsei. Make sure to place a few rocks in such a way that they may be hidden or may hide other elements that to offer surprises, or yugen.

No matter the size, a Japanese Zen garden will offer a peaceful haven from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Your own Japanese garden


This is an architecture design map or outline garden plan of Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto. It is called choukanzuhou, "a bird's-eye view" or fukanzuhou, "view from abovHow to go about when you are caught by the beauty of a Japanese garden and you have decided that this is what you want?

Japanese gardens are a living work of art in which the plants and trees are ever changing with the seasons. As they grow and mature they are constantly sculpted to maintain and enhance the overall experience. Hence a Japanese garden is never the same and never really finished. While the underlying structure is determined by the architecture, that is the framework of enduring elements, such as buildings, veranda’s and terraces, paths, tsukiyama (artificial hills) and stone compositions, over time it is only as good as the careful maintenance that it receives by those skilled in the art of training and pruning.

If a major reason for having a Japanese garden is the quick and easy construction or the little maintenance that it needs then you have been fooled and probably read the wrong advice, perhaps on one of the many poor quality websites. It is beyond imagination to see how much discussable information is written on the Web on the subject of Japanese gardens and gardening. And that is perhaps the best prove that constructing your own Japanese garden is not as straightforward as some authors want you to believe. There are dozens of brilliant and good books on the subject. There are also plenty of poor books on the subject. I have however never seen a book that comes even distantly close and is as bad as some publications on the Web. There are also a few quality sites but you need a candle-light to find them.

Often the terms Japanese garden and Zen garden are used as synonyms and interchangeable. Well they are not. The designs of medieval gardens in Japan was ultimately derived from Chinese landscape art. The influence of Zen-Buddhism on garden design was (probably) first described as such in 1935 by Kuck (Kuck, Loraine (1968, 1984) in ‘The World of the Japanese Garden – From Chinese Origins to Modern Landscape Art’ (John Weatherhill, Inc. of New York and Tokyo. ISBN 0-8348-0029-2.) in the early 20th century and disputed by Kuitert (Kuitert, Wybe (1988). ‘Scenes and Taste in the History of Japanese Garden Art’ ( J.C.Gieben, Publisher, Amsterdam. ISBN 0-5063-021-9) by the end of that century. It took until the nineteen fifties that the concepts of a garden as an expression of Zen was first described in the Japanese language by Shinichi Hisamatsu in ‘seven characteristics’. And for sure these latter are very useful for us Westerners to better understand and realize a Japanese garden of any type. Mind you this is not to say that Japanese gardens are not influenced by Buddhism or Zen-Buddhism but that nowadays we see just too much esoteric explanations and interpretations brought into the Japanese garden mainly by Westerners.

The subject is a complex one and perhaps that is the reason for over-simplification by many writers. Building a Japanese, and actually any, garden does not start with selecting “Japanese” plants and trowing them on a plot together with a pile of ‘Oriental (looking) ornaments’ either made out of stone or plastic. This sounds a bit disrespectful. But then, is it not also disrespectful to call such a composition a Japanese or Zen garden ? If you like oriental ornaments and flowering sub-tropical plants you can design and build a very nice garden based on that theme. Just then do not call it a Japanese garden or confuse that with what you have. Instead call it an Oriental garden. Nothing wrong with that and no confusion caused.

The point is that although a garden can be Japanese, there is no definition of such a thing as the Japanese garden, because there are a number of very different Japanese garden types and styles. The term ‘Japanese garden’ is a common classification that applies to all Japanese garden types, regardless of style, located in Japan originally. The character of a garden is determined by its type and style. In addition many, of not most gardens in Japan, combine multiple types and styles. This is done by compartmentalization of a garden. Looking at a Zen-Buddhist temple-complex this is mostly composed of different garden types. It is important to observe that these different types are often combined but not mixed or amalgamated. Each garden compartment as such is kept pure and in accordance with its utilization and hence garden-type.

For you, assuming that we talk about a home-garden, it all starts with the question what is it that I like about it and what is a Japanese garden anyway ? If you want it to be a Japanese garden, and perhaps more specifically a Zen garden or Tea garden than stick to this concept. If you want a pond in your garden, with or without Koi-carp than you need yet a different type or combination.

Take as a model the creations left to us by the famous men of old and, considering the suggestions of the owner of the house (where the garden is to be made), one must create, exercising one’s own aesthetic senses.

From Sakuteiki, a Japanese garden book with rules and notes on garden making that dates back to the late seventeenth century. Its oldest title is Senzai Hishõ, “Secret Extracts on Gardens”, and was written nearly 1000 years ago. The oldest treatise known that addresses gardening as an aesthetic art.

To answer the former questions you should follow the above centuries old advice.
Look at and study genuine Japanese gardens. Although there are some great Japanese gardens outside Japan these are relatively scarce and one should be reluctant and selective to use these as a point of reference, at least initially. For this purpose it is best to first stick with gardens located in Japan. Until ten years back one had to either travel to Japan or get a few good books. Nowadays there is an abundance of good photo’s available on the Web and many authentic gardens located in Japan even have their own Website some of them even offer you a virtual interactive tour.

Then decide what you like most, be it a garden type, ornaments or objects and elements and scenes from different gardens, and what you would like to have as your own Japanese garden. This will become the source of inspiration to design your own garden, not to copy it. Then the next step has everything to do with feasibility. Many questions should be asked and answered to satisfaction. Obviously this has to do everything with the available budget or at least what you are willing to spend on your garden, now or perhaps in stages. Perhaps the next factor is location and surroundings. What garden architecture does best fit and take advantage of the surrounding while satisfying your needs ? And do not forget the practical side of your garden, the different purposes for which you want to use it. And so on. Your own Japanese garden should start as lines and text on paper, no more but definitely no less. Planning it over one weekend ? You must be joking.

Description of image above:

This is an architecture design map or outline garden plan of Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto. It is called choukanzuhou, “a bird’s-eye view” or fukanzuhou, “view from above”.


Piet Patings, Tsubo-en Zen-garden, www.zen-garden.org


Growing Palms

sagopalmbonsaiEverybody recognises palm trees, they are the universal symbol for the tropics but many are hardy enough for our temperate climate gardens. Until recently New Zealand gardeners have had only a very limited range of palms to choose from. In the last five years the range has grown enormously as nurseries have been encouraged by gardeners eager to experiment.
Nevertheless, palms are, on the whole, slightly tender plants. Those that will tolerate regular frosts of -6°C. or more are few in number. If your minimum temperature does not drop below -2°C or if you are in a frost free area the range of suitable plants increases considerably.

There are two main styles of palms; the fan and the feather. The names refer to the layout of the fronds. Fan palms have the leaflets of the frond arranged just like a hand operated fan. The most widely grown fan palm is Trachycarpus fortunei, the Chinese Fan Palm. Feather palms have the leaflets of their fronds arranged along a rigid midrib like a bird’s feather. The most commonly grown feather palm is Phoenix canariensis, the Canary Island Date Palm.
Palms are extremely important plants to the world’s economy. The true date palm or commerce, Phoenix dactylifera, is rarely seen in New Zealand but is the most common commercially grown palm. The coconut, Cocos nucifera, is not far behind. Possibly more significant than fruit crops is the use of palms for shelter. Virtually every tropical third world village relies on palms as a roofing material.

Siting
Although palms are associated with sun and sand most species appreciate light shade when young. Shelter from wind is important if the fronds are to look their best but as the plants eventually become quite large they will eventually have to tolerate exposure to sun and wind.
When siting a palm remember to take into account the spread of the crown. This is not so significant with a mature plant as the crown is usually well above most obstructions. The problem is adolescent plants, which tend to have much the same spread as adults without the height. They take up a considerable area until the trunk begins to develop.

Soil conditions
Palms generally do best in a rich, moist well-drained soil. They have fairly strong roots that anchor them firmly. The roots of many palms can withstand a considerable amount of abuse, which enables the trees to be safely transplanted at almost any size.

Climate adaptability
Many palms are frost tender but there are quite a few that tolerate reasonably tough frosts. The best known are Phoenix canariensis and Trachycarpus fortunei but you should also consider Jubaea chilensis, Chamaerops humilis, Butia capitata, Washingtonia robusta and Brahea armata.
Palms often grow well in coastal conditions but benefit from occasional wash downs to remove any salt spray deposits.

Container growing
Palms often make superb container plants, both indoors and outdoors. Many are undemanding and tolerant of neglect. In cold areas it’s often best to keep young palms in containers until well established. That way they can be moved under cover for winter. Once they have a spread of over 1.5 m or so they should be hardy enough to plant out but if it’s not inconvenient it’s better to wait as long as possible.

Propagation
Palms are nearly always propagated by seed. They usually have only one growing point so vegetative propagation is not practical. Occasionally suckers form at the base of established plants and may be carefully removed for growing on but this is not a reliable method of propagation.
Palm seed varies greatly in its ease of germination. The most common problem is very hard seed coats. No amount of scarification or soaking will soften the toughest of them. Sometimes acid treatment is resorted to but patience is the usual method. Some, such as Butia capitata, may take upwards of a year in the soil before germination but eventually with the right combination of moisture, temperature and time they sprout.

Pests and diseases
Palms are not prone to any unusual pests or diseases. Frost damage is far more likely to the biggest problem.

Palm selection
Do not expect to find all of the species at your local garden centre; many of these palms are only available as seed. Unless otherwise stated all of these palms have panicles of small yellow flowers.

Archontophoenix
The King Palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae) is a prominent feature in many tropical and sub-tropical areas but it is too tender for all but the very far north. Archontophoenix cunninghamiana is a better bet but it still requires a near frost free climate with warm summers. It is a feather palm with long arching frond. It can reach 20 m high but rarely exceeds 7 m in New Zealand gardens. The flowers are followed by masses of small red berry-like fruit. Archontophoenix cunninghamiana may be grown indoors but it needs high light and humidity levels. The seeds germinate easily.

Arecastrum-see Syagrus
Arenga
Two species of this genera are suitable for growing outdoors in mild areas. Both are feather palms with broad leaves that have silvery undersides. Arenga pinnata requires near frost free conditions but Arenga engleri from Taiwan will tolerate infrequent light frosts. Both species have interesting flowering habits and fruit. Arenga pinnata is monocarpic; it dies after flowering although it takes at least ten years to reach maturity. Arenga engleri survives to flower again but the leaf stem beside the flower stalk dies. Both species have fruit with extremely caustic pulp. Both species are unlikely to exceed 3.5 m high under New Zealand conditions but Arenga pinnata may reach 18 m high in its native South East Asian region. Arenga pinnata seed germinates quickly and easily but Arenga engleri is erratic and may take several months to sprout. Not usually grown indoors.

Blue Palm-see Brahea
Brahea
These fan palms are becoming more common in New Zealand gardens. Both of the common species Mexican Blue Palm (Brahea armata) and Guadeloupe Palm (Brahea edulis), are reasonably hardy and adaptable plants. B. armata has beautiful, finely divided glaucous fronds. It is the hardier of the two and will withstand -8°C once established. It has a stocky trunk for many years but may eventually reach 12 m high. Brahea edulis is tender when young but withstands -6°C once the trunk is over 10-15 cm diameter. It grows slowly to about 15 m high. Both species are tolerant of drought and low humidity. Brahea armata has 12 mm diameter brown fruit, while Brahea edulis has edible 18 mm diameter blackish fruit. Grow in full sun. The germination of Brahea armata seed is very erratic and may take up to year. Brahea edulis is less tricky but still not very reliable. High light requirements make Brahea unsuitable for indoor cultivation.

Butia
The Yatay, Pindo Palm or Jelly Palm (Butia capitata) from Brazil is a hardy feather palm with long drooping olive to bluish green fronds. It will withstand -10°C once established and deserves to be more extensively grown. It grows to about 7 m high. The flowers are followed by yellow to red 25 mm diameter pulpy fruit. Grow in full sun. Seed germination is highly variable, it is unlikely to take less than two months and may be a year or more. High light requirements mean this palm is not very suitable for growing indoors. California palm-see Washingtonia

Canary Island date palm-see Phoenix

Caryota
The Fishtail Palm (Caryota mitis) is often grown as a house plant and is unlikely to grow well outdoors except in the very far north. Caryota urens has slightly lower heat requirements but will not tolerate any frost. It has very dark green, slightly arching fronds. All Caryota palms have intricately cut bipinnate feather fronds. Most species grow to large sizes (over 18 m high) in the tropics but are unlikely to exceed 8 m high under New Zealand conditions. They have fruit with caustic pulp that should not be handled with bare hands. The seed germinates easily. Caryota palms grow well indoors but prefer warmth and high humidity.

Chamaerops
The Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis) is a bushy fan palm that is usually multi-trunked and will not exceed 6 m high. The trunks take many years to form and are seldom seen in gardens. Most plants grow to about 1.5 m high x 5 m wide. The fronds are tipped with sharp spines. It is a very hardy palm that tolerates -15°C. Tolerant of low humidity and drought. Grow in full sun. The seed germinate well and takes about six weeks to sprout. High light requirements and sharp spines make it unsuitable for indoor use.

Chilean wine palm-see Jubaea
Chinese fan palm-see Trachycarpus
Cocos
The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) is one the most important commercial crops. It is essentially a tropical palm but will grow outdoors in frost free areas of the far north. It is a large feather palm that often develops a leaning trunk. It may grow to 30 m high in the tropics but rarely exceeds 8 m in gardens. The fruit seldom will not develop to its normal size in our climate but becomes large enough to be a conversation piece. Coconuts germinate well but take at least three months to sprout. They need consistent warmth and the whole nut must be planted, do not strip away the husk. May be grown indoors but resents cold draughts.

Date palm-see Phoenix
Euterpe
Although primarily a tropical plant the Assai Palm (Euterpe edulis) will grow outdoors in frost free areas with warm summers. It is a feather palm with arching fronds and graceful drooping leaflets. The trunk is improbably slim fro the size of the foliage head and may grow to 25 m high although it is unlikely to exceed 10 m high under New Zealand conditions. The fruit is black and about 12 mm diameter. The seeds germinate easily. May be grown indoors when young.

Fishtail palm-see Caryota
Howea
Very popular indoors but capable of growing outdoors in frost free areas, these palms were formerly classified as Kentia and are still widely known by that name. Two species, Howea belmoreana and Howea forsterana, are grown. Both are natives of Lord Howe Island. They are feather palms with deep green gracefully arching fronds and narrow trunks. Howea belmoreana grows to about 7 m high and Howea forsterana about 15 m high but both are unlikely to reach these sizes in New Zealand gardens. They have brown olive sized fruit that takes two years to ripen. Only very fresh seed will germinate and even then it is erratic. Both species need shade when young, which is why they perform well indoors.

Jubaea
The Chilean Wine Palm (Jubaea chilensis) is a hardy (-8°C) feather palm that should be more widely grown. It has deep green arching fronds and a very distinctive trunk. The trunk becomes greatly enlarged, rather like a baobab tree, so that when mature it may be up 2 m diameter. Within the trunk is a large reserve of sap, which may be tapped and fermented into an alcoholic drink, hence the name Wine Palm. This palm can grow to 20 m high or more but it takes many years to get above 10 m high. The 40 mm diameter fruit is yellow and the seed it contains germinates easily but takes about four months to sprout. May be grown indoors but has high light requirements.

Kentia-see Howea
Lady palm-see Rhapis
Livistona
These fan palms are native to South East Asia and Australia. Two species, Livistona australis and Livistona chinensis, are suitable for growing outdoors in mild areas. They are very similar to one another. Both have deep green spiny fronds with leaflets that droop and fray at the tips. They have quite solidly built trunks that grow to about 12-15 m high. Under New Zealand conditions it takes many years for them to reach 10 m high. Both species are hardy to about -5°C when well-established. Livistona australis has 18 mm diameter reddish fruit and Livistona chinensis has 25 mm diameter green fruit. The seed of both species germinates easily and quickly. May be grown as house plants but they have high light requirements.

Nikau-see Rhopalostylis
Palmetto-see Sabal
Phoenix
The Canary Island Date Palm is by far the most common feather palm grown in New Zealand gardens. It has deep green arching fronds and a trunk studded with bases of old fronds. When young, the trunk tends to be quite bulbous but as it gains height it becomes more tree-like. A mature tree may be up to 18 m high and have a very solid trunk. The fruit is about 40 mm diameter and yellowish orange. Phoenix dactylifera is the true ‘Date Palm’ of commerce that is such a well-known symbol of North Africa and the Middle East. It has shorter fronds in a less dense head than Phoenix canariensis. It is much taller when mature, up to 25 m high. Both Phoenix canariensis and Phoenix dactylifera will withstand -8°C when established but should not be exposed to hard frosts until the have a short trunk. Phoenix dactylifera needs hot summers to grow well and is unlikely to produce edible dates in a cool summer climate.
A third species, the Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelinii) is considerably less hardy but it can be grown outdoors in frost free areas. It is frequently used as a container plant as it only grows to about 3 m high. There are several other species that would be suitable for growing in New Zealand gardens but they are rarely seen . Among those most likely to do well are Phoenix loureiri, Phoenix rupicola and Phoenix sylvestris. All Phoenix palm seeds germinates quickly and easily. All species make excellent house plants when young.

Queen palm-see Syagrus.
Rhapidophyllum
The Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) is native to the south eastern United States. It is a hardy fan palm that remains low growing and bushy. The olive green fronds have sharp spines on the petioles and the tips of the leaflets are also sharp. It grows into a multi-trunked clump about 1.5 m high x 4 m wide. Makes a vicious, nearly impenetrable hedge. It is hardy to about -12°C but requires constant warm summer temperatures to grow well. Has 18 mm long green oval fruit, the seeds from which germinate erratically. Grow in full sun. Its spines make it unsuitable as a house plant.

Rhapis
The Lady palms are multi-trunked fan palms that are hardy to about -3°C when established but require warm summers to grow well. Two very similar species are grown, Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) and Slender Lady Palm (Rhapis humilis). They have small fronds on fibre covered bamboo-like canes. They form dense bushy clumps to about 4 m high with foliage to ground level. Rhapis excelsa has 12 mm diameter green fruit and grows quickly and easily from seed. Rhapis humilis does not produce seed and may not be a true species. It is grown from basal suckers. Both species are excellent house plants that tolerate low light levels and neglect.

Rhopalostylis
This genus is most commonly represented in gardens by our only native palm, the Nikau (Rhopalostylis sapida), but also includes Rhopalostylis baueri, which is a similar species from Norfolk Island. Sometimes known as Shaving Brush palms because of the prominent bulge beneath the foliage head both species are elegant feather palms that grow to about 8 m high under garden conditions although Rhopalostylis baueri can reach 15 m high or more in the wild. Both species tolerate only light frosts. Rhopalostylis sapida grows well in cool climates provided they are nearly frost free but Rhopalostylis baueri needs steady summer warmth. Both species have 18 mm diameter red fruit. Seed germinates reliably but may take over three months to sprout. Seedlings are slow growing and need shade. Good house plants when young.

Sabal
The Palmetto palms are native to the southeastern United States and Mexico. They are fan palms and often have large fronds. Two species are readily available. Sabal minor and Sabal palmetto. They are among the smaller species: Sabal minor is a bushy, often multi-trunked and grows to about 3.5 m high while Sabal palmetto is more tree-like but rarely exceeds 7 m high. S. minor has glaucous fronds. Both species are hardy to about -6°C once established and both have 12 mm diameter black fruit. The seed germinates quickly and easily. There are several other species worthy of trying but they are seldom available. Of these Sabal domingensis is the most distinctive as it can grow to 25 m high. Sabal mexicana and Sabal uresana are also tree sized. S. uresana has silver grey fronds and is very drought tolerant. These palms have high light requirements and are unlikely to be good house plants except for conservatories.

the_saw_palmSeranoa
The Saw Palmetto (Seranoa repens) is bushy fan palm native to Florida. It grows into a clump about 2.5 m high x 4 m wide, often multi-trunked. The fronds are silvery grey to glaucous with sharp tipped leaflets. Hardy to about -4°C. Grow in full sun. The fruit is oval, about 18 mm long and black. The seed germinates well but may take a few months to sprout. Can also be grown from suckers. High light requirements would probably limit this species as a house plant.

Syagrus
The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana [syn. Arecastrum romanzoffiana]), is frequently seen as a street tree in tropical and sub-tropical cities. This Brazilian native has very long finely divided arching plumose fronds that move in the slightest breeze. It has a slender trunk that can reach 18 m high but is unlikely to exceed 10 m under New Zealand conditions. Hardy to -5°C when mature but needs protection from frosts until about 1.5 m high with a good crown. Also needs warm summers to grow well. Has yellow fruit about 25 mm in diameter and 18 mm long seeds that germinate quickly and easily. It makes a good house plant when young but needs bright light and humidity.

Trachycarpus
The Chinese Fan Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) is probably the hardiest of the tree-like palms. It will tolerate -12°C from a young age. The fronds are deep green and quite luxuriant on young plants grown in the shade but they rapidly deteriorate in full sun and strong wind. The trunk is covered in fibre and the bases of old fronds and may be up to 12 m high. The small 12 mm diameter grape-like fruit is bluish with a grey bloom. The seed germinates quickly and easily. As this palm prefers shade when young it makes a good house plant when young. There are other species worth growing, such as the very dwarf Trachycarpus nanus, but they are seldom available.

Washingtonia
These palms are synonymous with Southern California. They are fan palms with very straight trunks. Two species are grown, one Californian (Washingtonia filifera) and the other Mexican (Washingtonia robusta). Washingtonia filifera can grow to 20 m high and is quite stocky. Washingtonia robusta, which is sometimes called Sky Duster, has a very narrow trunk and may reach 30 m high or more. Under New Zealand conditions they are slow growing and unlikely to reach such impressive dimensions. The fronds have long petioles for fan palms. Both species will survive -6°C once established but need summer heat to grow well. Both have 18 mm diameter fruit that is reddish green when ripe. Both species appreciate light shade when young. The seed germinates quickly and easily. May be grown as house plants until too large to remain inside.

Edo, Japanese Garden Transformation

The strategically situated castle town of Edo, destined to become modern day Tokyo, was the seat of power for the Tokugawa Shogunate from 1603 to 1868.  Following nearly a century and a half of war known as the Sengoku period, the Edo period welcomed a much needed period of social harmony.

This change in mental attitude also signified change in the purpose of the many castles that dotted the Japanese landscape.  Rather than having a primary purpose of defence, these elaborately built structures became luxurious homes for the daimyo, or feudal lords and more attention could be paid to aesthetics. Elaborate Japanese gardens became a must have for residents of these lavishly furnished homes that became symbols of power and wealth.

Gardens constructed in the Edo period often centered around the Japanese tea ceremony which became an important part of local culture during this era.  Known as Chianwa gardens, they usually consisted of a water feature, either a stream or pond, crossed by small bridges or stepping stones that would lead to a simply constructed tea house.  Stone basins would be provided for guests to purify themselves before participating in the ceremony.  Gardens would also be constructed in the waterless Karesausui style, of Zen Buddhist origins and the Tsukiyami garden style which creates, with great accuracy, depictions of actual landscapes found throughout Japan and China.

zen © marilyn barbone

One of the surviving Tokyo gardens from this period is the Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, created in 1629 by Yorifusa Mita, the Daimyo of the Mito Tokugawa family of that time period.  Meticulously tended and expanded over the years, the current garden consists of wandering pathways through gates, across stone and wooded bridges and around a central pond studded with islands.  The Cultural Properties Protection Law of Japan has listed the garden as a Special Historic Site.

Though the capital of Edo was the center of this societal evolution, the influence of the Edo period expanded beyond its borders. The city of Kyoto is home to Manshu-in, a Tendai temple in the north eastern sector of the city.  The temple’s main hall dates from the early Edo period and features a Waterfall Room decorated with slides by Kano Tanyu (1602-1674).   The same artist also created a Mont Fuji Room, a Snowy Scenes Room, a tea room and a Twilight Room, complete with royal throne.  All are decorated with an assortment of screens, prints and paintings. The garden is done in the Karesausui, or waterless style and features an island bound 400 year old Japanese white pine.

Another Kyoto treasure is the Shisen-do Buddhist temple.  The temple was established in 1641 by Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672) and is also registered as a historic site of Japan. The main temple has a room displaying portraits of thirty six Chinese poets, painted by Kano Tanyu. This room is part of the original structure.

The gardens reflect the Tsukiyami style.  It makes use of an ingenious water feature known as a sozu, designed to scare off wild animals.  Using a simple bamboo tube, the device gradually fills with water and then tips when the liquid reaches a preset level.  The water is discharged and the tube pivots upright to strike a strategically placed rock that makes a loud clapping noise.  Such creativity is a reflection of the Japan’s cultural growth that has its beginnings in the post war, relatively peaceful Edo period of this country’s rich and varied history.

Maples for Autumn Colour

s the weather cools in late summer and the days shorten noticeably so the deciduous trees and shrubs begin to withdraw chlorophyll from their leaves in preparation for the winter shutdown. With less of that vital green pigment to mask them, the other colours within the leaves begin to show through.
While the best of the autumn color may be over for this year, the coming winter months are the time to consider how best to prepare for next years autumn glory.
When it comes to the most vibrant tones, the genus Acer, the maples, includes many sterling contributors. Most of the 150-odd species of maples are deciduous trees, though some are shrubby and a few are evergreen. Acer is primarily a temperate northern hemisphere genus, ranging from around 59°N southwards to the mountains of the subtropics. With the exception of a few Eurasian species, principally the Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) and the Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), most of our garden maples are derived from Asian and North American species.
Maples do flower, but apart from a few with showy tassel-like blooms, most are grown solely as foliage plants, And while the thrust of this article is about autumn colour, many of the best autumn maples are also excellent spring and summer foliage plants.
Of course, getting good autumn colours depends greatly on the climate and the shades vary from year to year even in districts known for their autumn foliage. Generally the best colours develop during a prolonged autumn with warm, still days and cool but not freezing nights. Soon after the first frosts strike the last leaves fall.
Although most maples colour to some extent in autumn, the following species and their cultivars are readily available and among the brightest and most reliable.
Acer buergerianum
Trident Maple
This 10-12 m tall, round-headed tree eastern China and Japan gets its common name from the leaves, which usually have three lobes. The leaves are small and primarily red in autumn, with tints of orange and yellow.
Acer cappadocicum
Caucasian Maple
Found from the Caucasus to northern India, broad-crowned, 15-20m tall tree is best known for its bright golden yellow autumn foliage. Cultivars include ‘Aureum’, with yellow foliage in spring and autumn, and ‘Rubrum’, which has bright red young stems and spring leaves.
Acer davidii
Snakebark Maple
Best known for its white-striped and flecked green to purple bark, this 15 m tall Chinese species has 3-lobed or unlobed leaves that often colour brilliantly in red, gold and orange tones before falling. ‘George Forrest’ is a large-leaved cultivar.
Acer griseum
Paperbark Maple
Again, best known for its bark, which is warm brown and peeling, the foliage of this 5-10 m tall Chinese tree turns bright red in autumn. Because of the red-brown bark, the foliage colour can seem muted and is perhaps best seen at a distance where the colour of the whole tree can be appreciated.
Acer japonicum
Full-moon Maple
This slow-growing Japanese native is a small tree with tiered branches and 7-11-lobed leaves that can be almost round in some forms. The autumn colour is a combination of bright red and yellow on a green background. The Fernleaf Full-moon Maple, ‘Aconitifolium’, has very finely divided foliage reminiscent of aconite leaves.
The Golden Full-moon Maple (Acer japonicum var. aureum) has rounded lime green spring leaves that become yellow as they mature then turn golden and red in autumn. It is now more properly known as Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’.
Acer palmatum
Japanese Maple
Everyone knows the beautiful Japanese maple with its seemingly endless range of cultivars in every imaginable leaf shape and colour. Originally found in Japan and Korea, it has been highly refined and developed by both Japanese and Western gardeners.
Regardless of its preference for cool, humid conditions and a tendency to develop die-back, the Japanese maple is nearly everyone’s favourite small tree. The autumn foliage colour of the purple- or red-leaved forms is usually just a more intense shade of the summer colour, while those with green to pale gold leaves develop shades of red, orange, gold and yellow.
For autumn colour consider: ‘Bloodgood’, deep red; ‘Aureum’, deep gold; ‘Beni Kagami’, bright red; ‘Hessei’, red; ‘Dissectum’, bright orange; ‘Dissectum Atropurpureum’, red; ‘Linearilobum Atropurpureum’, bronze; and ‘Linearilobum Rubrum’ bright red.
Acer platanoides
Norway Maple
Found from northern Europe to the Caucasus, the Norway maple is a strong-trunked, round-headed tree to 30 m tall, with 5-lobed leaves up to 18 cm wide. While the species has deep green leaves that rarely develop much colour before turning brown and falling, some of the cultivars offer brighter hues. ‘Schwedleri’, in particular, is a purple-green form that often reddens intensely in autumn. ‘Goldsworth Purple’ can develop similar tones.
Acer rubrum
Red, Scarlet or Swamp Maple
Native to the eastern United States, this fast-growing 20 m tall tree has 3-5-lobed leaves up to 10 cm wide that colour well in the autumn, developing intense red and gold tones. This species is occasionally tapped for its syrup. ‘Columnare’ is a broadly columnar cultivar, not to be confused with A. platanoides ‘Columnare’. ‘Red Sunset’ has particularly good autumn foliage.
Acer saccharinum
Silver Maple
Often confused with the sugar maple because of their similar botanical names, the Silver Maple is found over much of eastern North America, grows quickly to around 40m tall and has an open crown. Its large leaves have silvery undersides and are red, orange or gold in autumn.
Acer saccharum
Sugar Maple
This species, widespread in North America, is both a timber tree and the source of maple syrup, which makes it the most commercially important maple. As it was the pattern for the maple leaf on the Canadian flag you might think it would have red autumn leaves. Well, sometimes it does, but it is very variable; sometimes red, other years orange, gold or combinations of colours.
Acer tataricum
Tatarian Maple
Found over much of the temperate northern hemisphere outside Europe, this 10m tall tree has rounded, toothed leaves that turn vivid shades of yellow, orange and red in autumn. The Amur Maple (Acer tataricum ssp. ginnala), from Siberia, northern China and northern Japan, is shrubby, extremely tolerant of wind and cold and has red autumn foliage. It used to be classified as Acer ginnala, and is often still sold under that name.
Cultivation tips
Except for a few species, maples are generally very hardy. They prefer a deep, well-drained, fertile soil with plenty of humus. For the best autumn tones plant in a sunny position but try to provide good wind protection, at least for young plants and Japanese maples, or the foliage may burn or fall before it has a chance to colour well.
Maples respond well to light winter pruning when young and are best shaped to a fairly round crown on a sturdy trunk. Some, such as Acer palmatum, tend to be fairly shrubby with low forking and these are best left to develop naturally.
Even though the exact autumn shades are difficult to predict and will vary from year to year, you won’t go far wrong with maples. They’re beautiful enough in any season to forgive them their vagaries.
Did you know?
It takes around 43 litres of Acer saccharum sap to produce 1 litre of maple syrup. A good sized sugar maple yields around 50 litres of sap and during the processing into syrup the sugar concentration rises from 2% to 66%. No wonder it’s so sweet, but what a flavour!
I am a garden book author and horticultural photographer based in Christchurch, New Zealand. I run a stock photo library called Country, Farm and Garden ([http://www.cfgphoto.com]). This article may be re-published provided this information is published with it and is clearly visible.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Geoff_Bryant

Acer-japonicumAs the weather cools in late summer and the days shorten noticeably so the deciduous trees and shrubs begin to withdraw chlorophyll from their leaves in preparation for the winter shutdown. With less of that vital green pigment to mask them, the other colours within the leaves begin to show through.

While the best of the autumn color may be over for this year, the coming winter months are the time to consider how best to prepare for next years autumn glory.

When it comes to the most vibrant tones, the genus Acer, the maples, includes many sterling contributors. Most of the 150-odd species of maples are deciduous trees, though some are shrubby and a few are evergreen. Acer is primarily a temperate northern hemisphere genus, ranging from around 59°N southwards to the mountains of the subtropics. With the exception of a few Eurasian species, principally the Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) and the Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), most of our garden maples are derived from Asian and North American species.

Maples do flower, but apart from a few with showy tassel-like blooms, most are grown solely as foliage plants, And while the thrust of this article is about autumn colour, many of the best autumn maples are also excellent spring and summer foliage plants.

Of course, getting good autumn colours depends greatly on the climate and the shades vary from year to year even in districts known for their autumn foliage. Generally the best colours develop during a prolonged autumn with warm, still days and cool but not freezing nights. Soon after the first frosts strike the last leaves fall.

Although most maples colour to some extent in autumn, the following species and their cultivars are readily available and among the brightest and most reliable.

Acer buergerianum  (Trident Maple)

This 10-12 m tall, round-headed tree eastern China and Japan gets its common name from the leaves, which usually have three lobes. The leaves are small and primarily red in autumn, with tints of orange and yellow.

Acer cappadocicum (Caucasian Maple)

Found from the Caucasus to northern India, broad-crowned, 15-20m tall tree is best known for its bright golden yellow autumn foliage. Cultivars include ‘Aureum’, with yellow foliage in spring and autumn, and ‘Rubrum’, which has bright red young stems and spring leaves.

Acer davidii (Snakebark Maple) acer buergerianum

Best known for its white-striped and flecked green to purple bark, this 15 m tall Chinese species has 3-lobed or unlobed leaves that often colour brilliantly in red, gold and orange tones before falling. ‘George Forrest’ is a large-leaved cultivar.

Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple)

Again, best known for its bark, which is warm brown and peeling, the foliage of this 5-10 m tall Chinese tree turns bright red in autumn. Because of the red-brown bark, the foliage colour can seem muted and is perhaps best seen at a distance where the colour of the whole tree can be appreciated.

Acer japonicum (Full-moon Maple)

This slow-growing Japanese native is a small tree with tiered branches and 7-11-lobed leaves that can be almost round in some forms. The autumn colour is a combination of bright red and yellow on a green background. The Fernleaf Full-moon Maple, ‘Aconitifolium’, has very finely divided foliage reminiscent of aconite leaves.

The Golden Full-moon Maple (Acer japonicum var. aureum) has rounded lime green spring leaves that become yellow as they mature then turn golden and red in autumn. It is now more properly known as Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’.

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)

Everyone knows the beautiful Japanese maple with its seemingly endless range of cultivars in every imaginable leaf shape and colour. Originally found in Japan and Korea, it has been highly refined and developed by both Japanese and Western gardeners. Regardless of its preference for cool, humid conditions and a tendency to develop die-back, the Japanese maple is nearly everyone’s favourite small tree. The autumn foliage colour of the purple- or red-leaved forms is usually just a more intense shade of the summer colour, while those with green to pale gold leaves develop shades of red, orange, gold and yellow.

For autumn colour consider: ‘Bloodgood’, deep red; ‘Aureum’, deep gold; ‘Beni Kagami’, bright red; ‘Hessei’, red; ‘Dissectum’, bright orange; ‘Dissectum Atropurpureum’, red; ‘Linearilobum Atropurpureum’, bronze; and ‘Linearilobum Rubrum’ bright red.

Acer platanoides (Norway Maple)

Found from northern Europe to the Caucasus, the Norway maple is a strong-trunked, round-headed tree to 30 m tall, with 5-lobed leaves up to 18 cm wide. While the species has deep green leaves that rarely develop much colour before turning brown and falling, some of the cultivars offer brighter hues. ‘Schwedleri’, in particular, is a purple-green form that often reddens intensely in autumn. ‘Goldsworth Purple’ can develop similar tones.

Acer rubrum (Red, Scarlet or Swamp Maple)

Native to the eastern United States, this fast-growing 20 m tall tree has 3-5-lobed leaves up to 10 cm wide that colour well in the autumn, developing intense red and gold tones. This species is occasionally tapped for its syrup. ‘Columnare’ is a broadly columnar cultivar, not to be confused with A. platanoides ‘Columnare’. ‘Red Sunset’ has particularly good autumn foliage.

Acer saccharinum (Silver Maple)

Often confused with the sugar maple because of their similar botanical names, the Silver Maple is found over much of eastern North America, grows quickly to around 40m tall and has an open crown. Its large leaves have silvery undersides and are red, orange or gold in autumn.

Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple)

This species, widespread in North America, is both a timber tree and the source of maple syrup, which makes it the most commercially important maple. As it was the pattern for the maple leaf on the Canadian flag you might think it would have red autumn leaves. Well, sometimes it does, but it is very variable; sometimes red, other years orange, gold or combinations of colours.

Acer tataricum (Tatarian Maple)

Found over much of the temperate northern hemisphere outside Europe, this 10m tall tree has rounded, toothed leaves that turn vivid shades of yellow, orange and red in autumn. The Amur Maple (Acer tataricum ssp. ginnala), from Siberia, northern China and northern Japan, is shrubby, extremely tolerant of wind and cold and has red autumn foliage. It used to be classified as Acer ginnala, and is often still sold under that name.

Cultivation tips:

Except for a few species, maples are generally very hardy. They prefer a deep, well-drained, fertile soil with plenty of humus. For the best autumn tones plant in a sunny position but try to provide good wind protection, at least for young plants and Japanese maples, or the foliage may burn or fall before it has a chance to colour well. Maples respond well to light winter pruning when young and are best shaped to a fairly round crown on a sturdy trunk. Some, such as Acer palmatum, tend to be fairly shrubby with low forking and these are best left to develop naturally.

Even though the exact autumn shades are difficult to predict and will vary from year to year, you won’t go far wrong with maples. They’re beautiful enough in any season to forgive them their vagaries.

Did you know?

It takes around 43 litres of Acer saccharum sap to produce 1 litre of maple syrup. A good sized sugar maple yields around 50 litres of sap and during the processing into syrup the sugar concentration rises from 2% to 66%. No wonder it’s so sweet, but what a flavour!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Geoff_Bryant


The Japanese Gardens of Canada

When one hears the word “Canada” the mind usually moves towards thoughts of red-coated Mounties on sleek horses, or the snow kissed peaks of the Canadian Rockies, or even the cobblestone streets and 400 year old buildings in Old Quebec. But Canada is also a nation of immigrants, among them the Japanese. It is not surprising that these enterprising individuals from the Far East brought their gardening traditions along with them.

One of the most extensive Japanese gardens in all of Canada is at the Montreal Botanical Gardens in Quebec. Opening on June 28, 1988 the 2.5 hectare property features a variety of Japanese gardening styles. Designed by Ken Nakajima, the traditional Tsukiyama garden greets visitors with pathways leading past azaleas, peonies, a mini forest of crab-apple trees, carp filled ponds, stone lanterns and cascading waterfalls.

The pathway leads to a Pavilion housing a tea room and, along one of the outside walls, the Bonsai Garden. Thirty tiny trees, including Japanese maples, the Maidenhair tree, azaleas and junipers are on display, some almost 350 years old. On the other side of the Pavilion, a Zen garden, done in the abstract Karesansui style, features eleven stones of blue-green peridotite carefully placed in a sea of white sand

Moving west, we travel to Lethbridge, Alberta to the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden. The gardens were founded in 1967, the year of the Canadian centennial. The name Nikka is actually taken from the Japanese words for Japan (Nihon) and Canada (Kanada). Designed by Tadashi Kubo, of the Prefecture University in Osaka, the garden uses Japanese methods and local materials to create a miniature model of the Alberta landscape. Kubo took time to travel throughout the province before putting his design to paper.

Rocks, some of them weighing more than a ton, were taken from the Canadian Rockies to line the tranquil ponds and create tumbling waterfalls. One boulder that had the shape of a turtle was placed in the middle of the largest pond. This mini island is a Japanese symbol for long life. Other rocks were used in creating a Karesansui dry garden next to the teahouse.

The cypress wood teahouse, bridges, gates and azumaya shelter were all crafted in Kyoto and shipped to Canada. Hand carved stone lanterns and a bell tower equipped with a bronze Friendship bell were also crafted in Kyoto and imported. Open from May until October, the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens are especially lovely in early spring when the azaleas blossom and again in autumn when the maples turn into fiery visions of red and gold.

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To visit these gardens, see above map.

Water Orchids

Orchids have moved to rapidly become beloved amongst houseplants due to their gorgeous blooms and their array in kind, colors and sizes. Like any other type of plant, orchids call for the proper growing environment in order to flourish.

Giving your orchid the precise quantity of water is only the initial part of offering your orchid the correct growing environment. While the amount of water essential for your orchid can differ amid dissimilar species of orchids, it is imperative to do research for your particular plant. However, it is useful to comprehend orchids in general and from where the come.

You’ll find orchid plants typically in tropical areas around the earth. Vast amounts of rain fall in the areas where many orchid plants are found. Also, it can be incredibly humid in their local habitats. As a matter of fact, the ultimate humidity level for most orchids is right around 80%. Taking into consideration that a room that is kept at 80% humidity would be exceedingly uncomfortable and unbearable for most human beings, one needs to find other strategies to maintain orchid’s health and happiness. One trouble-free way to humidify your orchids is to give them with a stable supply of rain water. Orchid owners should buy a orchid pot, deep saucer and a few bags of pebbles. You should dispense the stones into the saucer. Now, position your orchid pot on top of the pebbles that are within the saucer and then you can water the pebbles. You should make certain that the water doesn’t ever touch the actual orchid pot. By doing all of this you’re able to set up a synthetic high-humidity environment around the orchids.

It seems that one of the prevalent missteps people make when taking care of their orchids is over-watering. By and large it is understood by a few owners that when the potting soil looks dry as a bone the plant requires to be watered. This is so not true, especially when dealing with orchids. Even though the potting bark may seem to appear dry, the bark itself holds humidity. The general rule of thumb for watering your orchid plant once every seven days or every other week, scarcely. When one is growing an orchid plant in their home, be sure to let the potting bark dry out entirely prior to watering them. Some species of orchids have been known to grow on the trunks and branches of trees. In their local habitats it’s completely ordinary for their roots to dry out before being given any water again. You’ll find that orchid plants need to be fertilized but in moderation as well. You can purchase orchid fertilizer at most garden shops within your local area. By creating a good schedule for fertilizing and watering your orchid is an outstanding way to warranty that you’ll be able to take pleasure in these exotic flowers for an extensive time.

You will find that orchids will prosper in your home atmosphere if they are given the right care together with the right total of potting bark, just the right quantity of water, and the correct amount of sunlight and if they are fertilized sporadically. Even though they are quite stunning, they can also be unpredictable. However, by understanding how to care for them appropriately, orchids are not that complex and you can grow these exotic and striking plants.

Travis Waack is a gardening enthusiast and flower lover. His website offers simple, yet effective easy to follow directions for raising beautiful, healthy orchids. Travis’ Free E-course “Orchid Tips & Secrets” is packed with tips and techniques for the orchid enthusiasts. Subscribe for FREE by visiting us at http://www.orchidinformationsecrets.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Travis_Waack

Aucuba Japonica 'Gold Dust'

All gardens have problem spots – those areas where it seems that nothing will grow. Often, this tends to be in the shade – either under a large tree or the eves of a house. This week we are featuring an evergreen that will solve the problem of bare, shaded areas and will add eye catching color and interest to your garden – Aucuba japonica ‘Gold Dust.’

Unlike most garden plants that only tolerate shade, Aucubas prefer shade and will thrive in the shadiest of spots, even under trees where no grass grows.

Native to Japan, Aucubas are a small group of evergreen shrubs that belong to the same family as dogwoods, but look nothing like them. ‘Gold Dust’ is one of the most popular of the Aucubas, named for its speckled leaves that look as if someone had sprinkled gold dust on them. These handsome leaves are the reason why most folks add this shrub to their garden. ‘Gold Dust’ will flower in late March and produce red berries in October, but neither is very noticeable next to the striking foliage.

Planting and Care
‘Gold Dust’ will mature as a rounded shrub six feet to eight feet tall by six feet wide. It can be kept severely pruned to a compact three foot by three foot shrub. ‘Gold Dust’ grows almost one foot per year. It is ideal as a dense screen; also in difficult spots in foundation plantings. Very pollution tolerant; excellent for urban sites.

  • Very easy to grow.
  • Plant in a shady location. Will tolerate morning sun. In Zones 6 and 7, avoid exposure to cold winter winds.
  • Prefers well-drained soil. Once established ‘Gold Dust’ is extremely drought tolerant.
  • If needed, prune in the spring before new growth begins.
  • Hardy in Zones 7-10 (6 with protection). ‘Gold Dust’ is one of the hardiest of the Aucubas.
  • Fertilize in spring with Plant-Tone or Cottonseed Meal.
  • Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alan_Summers

    San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden

    San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is home to world class museums, a pair of Dutch style windmills, its own herd of bison and the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States.

    shutterstock_20516219

    Originally built as part of the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the exhibit was transformed into an intricately designed garden by a Japanese immigrant, Makoto Hagiwara.  He imported native plants, including one thousand flowering cherry trees, birds and goldfish from his native Japan and personally oversaw the creation of this San Francisco treasure.

    Much of the original garden remains, including the intricately carved Hagiwara Gate which once framed the entrance to Makoto Hagiwara’s in park residence.  The house was demolished in 1942 and has been replaced with the Sunken Garden designed to create the illusion of a landscape as seen from far away.  A brilliant red Buddhist Pagoda sits where a Shinto Shrine was also dismantled that same year.

    The Tea House pavilion is also part of the 1894 original garden design.  It is said that Mr. Hagiwara is credited to have served the first fortune cookies in America at this tea garden sometime in the 1890s or early 1900s. The cookies were made by Benkyodo, a San Francisco bakery.

    The tea house is also the site of one of the garden’s oldest trees, a rare Japanese umbrella pine. A smaller version grows close to the great bronze Buddha (circa 1790) in the Circle Lawn.  Sharing space with the umbrella pine in the Circle Lawn is an ancient black pine.  The roughened bark, thick trunk and relatively low height is reminiscent of a roughly manicured bonsai, but this tree has been naturally shaped by time and the elements.

    The meandering pathways lead you past another tribute to Mr. Hagiwara, the landscaped Mt. Fuji hedge, dedicated in 1979.   Along side sits the elegantly trimmed Dragon Hedge, its curved back fronting a curtain of bamboo.  The Drum or Moon Bridge, another remnant of the original garden, is not only scenic, but rather a challenge to cross. Thin steps have been added to make the climb easier (think ladder) but though the view and the bragging rights are excellent, some folks do decide to go around.

    More than anything this is a garden of peace. There can be no greater symbol of this than the Lantern of Peace donated by the Japanese government in 1953.  Given as a gesture of reconciliation after the horrors of World War II, it is the ultimate olive branch extended by a people who value serenity above all else.