Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Two More Majestic Japanese Maples

Japanese Maple - After
This Japanese Maple, this girl (I ignore PC pronouns when writing. The words don't seem to mind. She is a she.) was a mess and she will never be the big girl on the property, nor was she meant to be. 

She is a among a variety of well-placed and orchestrated plants, plant beds and vignettes on a new customer's rather vast property aligned along a pond.

She receives the needed light in a shaded area. Her placement was so apropos.

The owner revealed to me, knowingly, as beautiful as the property is, it needs some changes and restoration. We, together, will address such, even if it goes whimsical. This could get fun. Thank you, Elaine.

Japanese Maple - Before

There is the beauty of so many gorgeous plants for which we choose to adorn our properties. We are selfish, but we do need to care for them.

All trees and shrubs, beyond their health and well-being, can benefit from pruning which takes advantage of their branch structure and growth habit.

The Japanese Maple is one of those plants, gorgeous as can be, having inconspicuous flowers which produce a samara - two (typically) fruit-seeds  encased in a thin paper-like tissue shaped like a wing so that it can travel further and propagate.

Japanese Maple - Before
This wonderful mess is on a different beautiful property, but her interesting branch structure was not being enjoyed. 

Beyond being tasked with pruning this japanese maple, I was also charged with trimming and shaping (gum drop) about 13 japanese hollies and pruning several japanese yews (shown) down to almost nothing. Put simply; the other tasks were not as interesting as working on this girl.

Soon the reduced japanese yews will put out new shoots and foliage, becoming small under-story plants for the japanese maple.

Japanese Maple - After

For more articles on japanese maples, please go to This includes a few Customer Plant Selection Reviews which contain japanese maples and many other plants as well, but you may find them helpful, nonetheless.

Can japanese maple leaves make for a delicious appetizer or hors d'oeuvre?

Some say, "Yes." And, I wouldn't mind trying one.

See the video below.
Japanese Maple - After

Bon appetit!


Monday, August 23, 2021

Plant Care Myths - The Most Mythical - Epsom Salt

The following is a preface, perhaps a caveat for this series on Plant Care Myths.

This series is brought to you to help you avoid wasted time, false hopes and perhaps understand some of the myths about plant care and all that which may have been wrongfully handed down to you or marketed by those who will tell you anything to sell their products.

So many things I hear about plants and their care, not that which I research and study, are mostly anecdotal. In other words, someone experienced some result by doing such and the results were positive, most likely nominal or non-existent - no true cause-and-effect with measured results, in mostly isolate situations. Simply hopeful and wishful thinking.

A more profound example: A friend who has a physical ailment tells you that ailment has improved because they took a pain reliever; yet, the ailment or cause of the ailment still exists.

As I constantly study or read from some of the best sources, I must recognize them. 

In this case (and will be in many instances for this series), it is Robert Pavlis, author of Garden Myths, Book 1 and 2.

I will use my experiences, studies and writings intertwined with his much more vast experiences, studies and writings. He is notably recognized and given credit. I will use quotations where I use his written work.

Epsom Salt is a Good Fertilizer

"Just to be clear, the NPK number for Epsom salt is 0-0-0. It is not a general-use fertilizer."

Epsom salt consists of magnesium (a micro nutrient) and sulfate, both available in most soils.

"On social media, Epsom salt is the most recommended cure-all for every kind of plant problem.  It is claimed to be the perfect fertilizer, increase the flower count, cure diseases and eliminate pests. Sadly, none of these are true."

There are so many other minor and sound concerns one could address in their garden or plant bed.

Epsom Salt is a Good Fertilizer for Roses

"Linda Chalker-Scott, in Miracle, Myth or Marketing: Epsom Salts, reported that she could find no scientific evidence that roses need more magnesium than other plants. The American Rose Society does not recommend Epsom salt for the casual rose grower, but does recommend it if you are a rose specialist. Why would the depth of your interest in roses affect the choice of fertilizer? That makes no sense."

Exactly. Does the plant know the difference? Roses need no more or less of the nutrients they gain from the soil than other plants. Some proper pruning may be beneficial, but as beautiful as roses are; they still live in the same world and function as all the other plants do. Those who market such related products will tell you otherwise.

Epsom Salt Controls Pests

"Epsom salt seems to be the darling of home remedies. Current research has found no evidence that it controls pests. It does not kill insects or grubs, nor does it repel slugs or rabbits. It is completely useless for pest control."

Enough said.

Epsom Salt Controls Disease


..."There is no clear scientific evidence that Epsom salt controls any disease."

Who knows how all this got passed down to so many.

Another who I follow, a distant mentor so-to-speak, once wrote:

"The best use for Epsom salt in regard to gardening is to use it in a bath after a long day of doing so."

Spoiler: Although bathing in Epsom salt, it feeling good to the touch and against the skin, this provides no remedy for any ailment and is of little benefit to one's skin.

FYI (Perhaps anecdotal - I understand the difference): If you desire something for the skin, my 92 year-old mother uses extra virgin oil on her face each day and her skin is that of a 70 year-old, perhaps younger.

There you have it. I said it works for my mother. This may not work for everyone. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Congratulations! Kobi is a Dad!


Kobi, my new job site fan, is now the father of a brand new happy bouncing baby boy, BB. He came in at a healthy .7 ounces.

You may notice they are inseparable.

It's amazing how BB is so excited and already taking everything in.

Congrats, Kobi!

Monday, July 26, 2021

A Tale of Two Camellias

Camellia One - After
There was and is a property I have passed by, viewing, for many years, for which I had always shown praise for the wonderfully mixed variety of plants, their orchestrated placement and the maintenance of same. 

Then, one day, I received a call from the owner after she saw a presentation I had done over Zoom for the Richland County Master Gardeners. I would have preferred to have done so in person. Nonetheless, I was excited she contacted me.

In disbelief (I never know until I give a closer look.), she had at least two plants which needed to be addressed, two Camellias.

Camellia One - Before

Camellia Two - Before

They both had become unruly shrubs because of their unknown need to sprout suckers from their roots - not so common with Camellias or their brethren, Sasanquas. 

Some odd things happen in the plant world, even in the best conditions. One need only recognize such and respond accordingly.

It may take a few more months before these wonderful trees appear to be what they were meant to be, but they will. They are now on their way.

This was one of my most challenging and best-result pruning projects in the last several months and I wish to thank Karen and her husband for the opportunity. 

This is why I continue to do what I do. If I could only find these most-rewarding situations, year-round. I love pruning. It's where I live.

In the meantime. I will continue to address what needs addressing. Our scope goes well beyond the obvious. 

Coming Soon: Gardening and Plant Myths - There are Plenty

Camellia Two - After

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Those Wonderful and Majestic, Yet Somewhat Dreadful Japanese Maples

Yes, those wonderful Japanese Maples; those I love to spend time with, observing what they are, where they are going and what they can be.

These wonderful and majestic trees and shrubs are somewhat bewildering to even the most learned and artful pruner.

These are the plants on which I cut my teeth before I began studying arboriculture and horticulture.

I was told I had a knack for working with them before I had a clue what I was doing. But, even then, I loved doing so and a few customers said so, as well.

The one you see in the photo above I named Mother because she is the matriarch of a property which contains about 15 other Japanese Maples, all, I have cared for. Mother is about 20 feet tall and I can't take credit for her early development, yet I have worked with and pruned her for the last six years. She is gorgeous, rare and expensive. She's probably worth over $15,000.00 ($25.00 when planted about 25 year ago) even if one were able to successfully remove and transplant her.

Most of my acquaintances, friends and customers shy away from whatever they should do with Japanese Maples and these wonderful things that can become nature's most gorgeous messes, if ignored.

Several weeks ago I began to document many of the Japanese Maples I have worked with. I did not take the time to adjust the photos for light or contrast. The changes may be slight or extreme. My pruning can deal with current health, aesthetics, future growth or simply to make space within a plant bed or landscape. 

I have named a few of my favorites along the way.

Crazy Girl got my attention from the beginning several years ago when I realized she was special and then I started doing what I call a jagged cut (prune) - it showed off her desire to produce so many new shoots of varying lemon and lime colors on her lateral branches. Now she's grown up and I gave her a more formal pruning (with some liberty) to show off her legs.

Japanese Maples are so fun to watch grow and if need be to help them along the way or to maintain them once they have established themselves.

No photo can illustrate the beauty of a Japanese Maple compared to walking around one in person or experiencing it throughout the shadows and light of the day, or its changes throughout the year.

Crazy Girl - Before

Crazy Girl - After

Stretch- Before
This is one of my favorites because of her branch structure. I had to rehab her after the lawn service decided to cover her bed with rocks.

Stretch - After



I often do what I call gap layering to show off some of the branch structure on some interesting dwarf Japanese Maples to reveal their branch structures.

The Dwarf Trio





Satellite - Before

Satellite - After

Tressa - After

Tressa - Before

MJM - Before

MJM - After

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

I am Surrounded by Wonderful People

I am surrounded by wonderful people. Not being naive, as I have lived a long life and dealt with most every sort.

I have dealt with confrontation and a little bit of conflict in the U.S. Navy, in varying roles. 

Even then, I was surrounded by a wonderful bunch of people, even the hardcore warriors. Still, the love and comradery was there.

Not always so simple, it's somewhat difficult to quantify the trust and appreciation one has for others...should we need to do so? I hope not. It's felt, experienced, lived.

I don't choose those wonderful people around me as much as they choose me, or otherwise, if they do. It's not worth analyzing. It simply and truthfully happens and I am so damn thankful. 

Whether it be family, acquaintances, friends or loved ones, they all come to one another openly, based on personality, some merit, good sense and love for life. 

We all have the opportunity to choose our friends (at least, we once did - I still do) and there should be no shame placed upon one even if some political party or group-think class wants to pronounce otherwise.

I have been blessed with some of the most wonderful people - friends and family, and yes, my customers.

If able, I will fight for and defend most of them, if need be.

This wonderful country is only as strong as its families, communities and relationships.

Oh, if you are unhappy with the United States, there are many countries with open borders (similar to our illegal and unconstitutional policies) which will gladly accept you. But, I doubt you will find such to be places where you wish to live. I've been to many of them.

You may want to hang around for a while and meet all the wonderful people I know. They live and thrive here in the United States of America.

They are not so far away.

Thumbs up! Life is what you make it.


Would You Like Another Mimosa? Sure! Why Not?

Mimosa - After
For many people, when a mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissinis) is mentioned, "love" or "hate" comes up in the reply.

With plants like these I'm usually sitting on the fence waiting to hear or see more, particularly in regard to placement and location. Many plants simply don't work in certain places.

Typically, when discussing mimosa trees with customers, the request is usually something to the effect of, "Remove the damn thing." And, I usually agree.

The seed pods, which come out over winter and can be quite hideous, produce hundreds of seeds which have a very successful germination rate. Soon your property may (most likely) be inundated with a plethora of seedlings - a mimosa farm - not an endless of supply of champagne and citrus cocktails.

Mimosa - Before
Well, this mimosa tree is located across a field on the business property of one of our customers. What a wonderful location - not climbing up and drooping over a fence, splitting the concrete on a walkway or taking over a deck. 

However; they wanted to enjoy it. It was somewhat (almost entirely) hidden by some unwanted trees, shrubs and a ton (almost, literally) of vines which were also having their way with the gorgeous branch structure. 

This required much digging, cutting and a fair amount of climbing. We only lost a few healthy branches necessary to remove some of the vines, so the loss was negligible. 

I then did some removal of dead branches and a little pruning of living branches for various reasons. She now dances in the breeze.

We then laid some pine straw to somewhat finish and highlight the area as the tree is visible from the building. 

Mimosa - After
The ground area will need to be maintained periodically to retard future growth along with some monitoring to keep out nearby encroaching shrub and tree branches.

So, yes! In this case, I will definitely have another mimosa.

I thank Tom and Pete for their awareness and tenacity in completing this project.