Monday, December 24, 2007

The value of trunks.

Usually start to think about next summer's garden at this time of year. Used to be that all my Xmas presents were trees and shrubs, which I planted during the holiday, weather permitting. But I've become fussier about what I want to plant over the years and its difficult for present givers to choose for me. Big job has been sawing down a magnificent specimen of Pinus Stobus. Its been a tough decision, but it was blocking the marvellous views of Cornden and Long Mountain from the sitting room window. It was Mrs D's decision, but in the end it had to go.

I walk around planning what to plant and move in the next few months. And I was struck by how beautiful some of the tree trunks look. We have dozens of birches around the garden, including 10 Betula utilis 'Jacquemontii', the best white barked birch of all. They could be made even more stunning by washing them down. My favorite trunks are the Acer grisiums, which are expensive to buy if you want a well grown specimen - but well worth it. The most colourful shrub (which is not a tree only because Mrs D cuts it right back to the main stem every year) is an orange stemmed willow, that I do not know the name of. These need to be chosen to taste from nurseries.

As you would expect, there is not much colour about at the moment, but the yellow 'Pallida' witch hazels are already showing good colour. If the weather is half decent over the next few days, I have already identified at least one fairly mature variegated rhododendron that needs moving. I know that I would be better leaving this until March/April - but these jobs have to be done when there's time.


Dr. Christopher Wood said...

"Have you been" to Arizona (AZ) and seen the wonderful low maintenance front and back yards? The desert around Phoenix and Tucson is very different from the desert around Las Vegas. I had a couple of interviews for in-house counsel positions in Scottsdale ('burb of Phoenix) and later in Oro Valley ('burb of Tucson), both deserts were amazing.

Peoples front and back gardens are literally slices of the actual desert that was there when the houses were built; so there is no need to do any ‘gardening’, they are part of the desert. I was told that 'old men' (the local words for particularly large cactus) must be left in place or if moved great care must be taken to ensure the cactus is planted with the same side facing the sun or the ‘old man’ will die.

These old men grow to quite a height - I was so amazed I wanted to move to Oro Valley, but I told my prospective employer that "I needed to think about 'it'"; they interpreted that statement to mean I did not want the job – whereas I just had to discuss the desert insect population with mum as I fully expected her to move from Wales where she was having problems carrying shopping and going up stairs to live with me in Oro Valley – these wonderful creatures follow you into your house or apartment, or in my case into my resort suite (I honestly thought the porch light would keep them busy while I nipped inside).

I was wrong, so much so in fact that I spent half the night tracking down the million or so big eyed flying bugs that followed me in. I had no insect spray (didn’t think in a desert I needed one), and boy there were so many of them, then in the morning I spotted a scorpion in the car park (parking lot) – that had me slightly worried, but I asked about that and was told “so long as you keep the ant population down around your apartment they won’t be a problem, but if you are bit the bite would likely not kill you, but could kill your dog … if you had a small dog” – I asked about frail old ladies and was told “them too”.

Incidentally, the genius architect Frank Lloyd Wright built Taliesin ‘West” in Scottsdale (WI winters are pretty brutal), Taliesin = "shining brow" in Welsh. Frank Lloyd Wright’s family emigrated from Wales to Wisconsin where he built Taliesin ‘East’); Frank Lloyd Wright designed one of the best pieces of architecture in the world, Falling Waters in Pennsylvania (PA) south west of Pittsburgh. Well worth a visit – my mum and I spent several hours at Falling Waters and we will probably visit it again. It is sort of funny, there are many Welsh surnames around PA, and our tour guide was an “Evans”.

Btw, there are so many towns in West Virginia (WV) and PA that have Welsh names. Incidentally, Frank Lloyd Wright also designed the ‘mile high building’, never built, but me and mum saw the architectural model in the Contemporary Art Museum in Chicago, just a wee way off the ‘Magnificent Mile”. It was amazing, there was also a model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwaters – once we saw that model we just had to visit the real thing in PA.

Wales has many talented sons/expats, Frank Lloyd Wright is just one of them. Frank Lloyd Wright is not well known in Wales, but on this side of the wee pond he is regarded as one of the world’s greatest architects. He had a genius Welsh mind.

The WAG would do well to track down Wright’s architecture models and exhibit them in the WAG foyer or at one of the museums in Wales. They would make such a fine exhibition and would belay the awful article written by an Evening News journalist some time ago who said Wales never had talented people – Frank Lloyd Wright was a giant among pigmies.

Frank Lloyd Wright never forgot his Welsh roots.

Anonymous said...

We support Virgin aircrew in their efforts to secure a better working environment.

Glyn Davies said...

Christopher - thanks for an interesting comment.

anon - you don't know how irritated I feel by your reminding me of the action that is proposed on Jan 9th - so irritated that it warrents a seperate post - even if it is Xmas Eve!!