Sunday, September 23, 2012
Riparian Riches - Part the First
According to the big leaf maples, it was already fall when Duncan the Dog and I took a leisurely stroll down the small creekside road near our home a few days back. I wanted to see what was available for propagation, in some areas where I have the property owners' permission to gather seeds and other materials (this is the CYA statement!). Duncan has gotten very good at pausing while I take photos or gather small amounts of seeds (at most 10% of what's there) or other material for propagation.
Along the creek are tall redwoods...
and above the creek in places, coast live oaks...
And also all along the creek are willows and big leaf maples and madrones and hazels and dogwood and - etc wonderful etc. So many wonderful trees and shrubs. I need to give them more attention.
When people think about California natives, they sometimes limit themselves to the chaparral and other drought-tolerant natives used for xeriscaping, thus saving money on the water bill. But in a fireprone area like we are in, it's good to irrigate the first thirty feet around your home, so on the shady side of the house, some riparian plants would be very appropriate. They are gardenworthy in other settings too. Some homes are in the woods or have recreated a woodland in a shady spot. So it's worth considering these riparian lovelies for your garden.
I was totally thrilled to find some western azalea, Rhododendron occidentale close to the road. Not in bloom right now of course.
The only area I had seen it before was down a steep bank full of poison oak and across the creek. I have a photo - from a respectful distance - of the lovely large white blooms last June:
No seeds to be found, but it's a good time to grow from cuttings. So, seizing the moment, and my clippers, I snipped just a couple small branches here and there, pruning the shrubs for good form - not hacking. Ingrowing, downturning, crossing branches, taken cleanly at a good node or side branch. I put them in a plastic bag I had brought along with a wet paper towel in the bottom.
When I got home, I prepared the cuttings right away, and put them in the mini greenhouse with the ceanothus and manzanita cuttings.
(For more on the mix I used - and those other cuttings - see this post.) I wonder if the heat from the heating mat is maintaining the mini greenhouse at a hot enough temperature (it's set to 72 F ) to keep fungus at bay - I was interested to find out (in a greenhouse management class last year) that fungus grows when it's cool and damp - which is why you should not water your greenhouse at night.
Oh, please keep your fingers and toes crossed for these cuttings! I'll do my part and keep them moist.
I'll post again later this week about other some wonderful finds in this riparian zone - and propagation challenges the likes of which I have never attempted before...