Horticultural TherapyWritten by Thomas Leo Ogren
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The Fen Shui Garden. The more people you talk to about Fen Shui and gardening, more opinions on it you get. Ms. Robin Wood, a very talented landscape architect once told me, ďFen Shui gardening is really just good landscape design.Ē And to a point, I would agree with her. In many ways ancient Chinese philosophy of Fen Shui, also called Feng Shui, is all about creating harmony. In a true Fen Shui garden focus is on atmosphere. A garden is created that encourages meditation, relaxation, close connections to Nature. A good Fen Shui garden does not ignore any of our senses. There are fragrant flowers to smell, wind chimes, sounds of water, and songs of birds to please our ears, shade from hot sun, protection from wind, places just to sit and think, contrasting surfaces to feel, beauty to please our eye, and perhaps even some fruit or vegetable for our tongue to taste. A true Fen Shui garden is not strictly formal, overly clipped, too tidy and sanitary, all drawn with squares and rectangles. Shrubs donít need to be square nor do all trees need to resemble each other. A quiet restrained informality is encouraged. Love, peace, understanding, and wisdom reign in a true Fen Shui garden. In many ways during all my years at Youth Authority, although I didnít know it at time, I was instinctively trying to develop a Fen Shui garden. Surrounded by guards, gangs, and concertina razor wire, I aspired to create an inner sanctum, a natural place for me and my students to remove ourselves from all bad vibes so very close by. I am not a Fen Shui expert by any means and certainly do not claim to be, but I have read a great deal about it, listened to numerous talks given by so-called experts, and I have long been interested and involved in garden design. I think that Fen Shui does indeed have much to offer and that it is well worth exploring. However, I often notice a certain snobbishness surrounding subject. One expert writes that none of others know what theyíre talking about, especially Western writers and speakers. Iíve met some Fen Shui designers and writers who were cold, impersonal and rude, none of which jives with true Fen Shui in my mind. I sometimes encounter a similar snobbishness with people who refuse to grow any plants not native to their own little local area. My feeling about all these snobby attitudes in gardening is this: Elitism doesnít belong in garden. Plants arenít critical, letís not be that way ourselves. Many people, far wiser than I, have long known that more we learn about something, more we realize how little we know. Harold Young, wonderful senior editor of Pacific Coast Nurseryman Magazine once wrote me in an email, ďI used to think I knew a lot of plants.Ē I know just what he means.
Tom Ogren loves fishing, hiking, boxing, baseball, gardening, his family and friends. He is author of 5 published books and hundreds of articles. His website is www.allergyfree-gardening.com
Starting Your Own Fruit Trees Written by Thomas Leo Ogren
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Budding Just a little here on budding. In zones 3-8 most budding is done in May,. June or early July. The easiest method is shield budding. A T cut is made on rootstock stem, cutting through outer bark and cambium, down to hardwood.. Next you cut a thin, shield-shaped slice of wood (from scion wood of cultivar you wish to bud), containing one dormant bud. This shield will be about 3/4th of an inch long. This bud is then inserted in T cut under bark of seedling rootstock. I use thin, clear plastic tie tape to wrap bud up tightly. I will sometimes cut a tiny slice in middle of tape and wrap tape over tip of bud itself, which should just peak out of sliced portion of tape. The tape serves to keep bud in close contact with rootstock and also to keep bud graft from drying out. Keep an eye on budded stem for several weeks and by then if bud and shield are still plump and green, consider it a take. Cut off rest of stem half an inch above new bud graft, and this will force new bud. Budding is not quite as easy to do as grafting, at least not at first. It has several advantages though. You can bud when weather is nice and if bud doesnít take, you can try it all over again in a different spot. Budding is easiest on thicker rootstocks. I find that for me I have best luck budding roses, apples, pears and apricots. Plums can be a little trickier. Cherries, by way, are considerably more difficult to graft and bud than are other stone fruits. If you are lucky enough to know an old gardener who knows how to graft, ask him or her to show you how to cut your scions. A little practice always helps as does a sharp knife. There are many books with drawings of cleft grafts and these too can be used as guides. It may sound a tad snobby, but once you can graft your own fruit trees, you join a rather select group. Almost all gardeners know what grafting is, but not that many actually know how to do it right. One last thought: cleft grafting is also easy to do on existing dormant fruit trees. There is no reason you canít graft some different varieties on each of your trees. I have an apple tree with about a dozen kinds of apples on it and a pear tree that has five kinds of pear, plus quince and apple growing on it. I also have almonds growing on one branch of a plum tree, four kinds of plums on another tree, and both plum and nectarine on apricot tree in my front yard. I have five kinds of roses budded on climbing rose that grows on my front porch. I guess my plants are all mixed up, but then, what can you expect from an old guava thief?
Tom Ogren is author of Allergy-Free Gardening, and, Safe Sex in Garden, both by Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California.
Tom Ogren's newest book, 2004, is, What the Experts May NOT Tell You About: Growing the Perfect Lawn, from Time Warner Books.