Growing Japanese Bonsai Trees for Bonsai GardensWritten by Christopher Chase
As you go through history of Japanese bonsai trees (among others), you will note that this term is used to refer to a Ďplant in a potí. As per information provided on Harvard's Arnold Arboretum site, "the ancient Chinese were first to miniaturize trees for ornamental purposes, around A.D. 200. Later, Japanese, who used it to create beautiful gardens, adopted bonsai technique.
Basically, bonsai are outdoor plants and they flourish in cool and humid conditions, away from bright sunlight for most parts of day. In case you want to keep them indoors, you have to create same cool and humid environment for them; otherwise they tend to wither away.
Podocarpus, Serissa and dwarf Pomegranate are suitable for bonsai along with some common plants, such as Schefflera, jade plant, Ficus benjamina, Bougainvillea, Citrus and Hibiscus. You can also make bonsai out of several woody herb species like bay, rosemary, myrtle and lavender.
How to care for your Japanese Bonsai Trees
All bonsai need a light and well-draining soil, but actual soil can vary from plant to plant. So, soil mixture suitable for growing bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) cannot be considered ideal for cultivating southern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana).
A typical bonsai soil mixture comprises 1/3 part coarse sand to help drainage of excess water; 1/3 part organic matter like ground sphagnum moss or pine or fir bark, which are capable to hold moisture and nutrients and 1/3 part a coarse, fired clay like Turface that also has capacity to hold nutrients and moisture. You can adjust proportions according to needs of your trees.
You can select any suitable place, such as terrace to create your traditional Japanese garden. Planning an outdoor Japanese garden is an intellectual pursuit that also requires artistic visualization and imagination. The key element of its lay out and planning is that you should not let gardenerís personality influence garden. In this way, viewers can visualize garden in their own distinct ways. Another core element is simplicity in terms of design and lay out.
Asthma Friendly Gardens Written by Thomas Leo Ogren
Asthma Friendly Gardens
Tom Ogren Recent studies have shown that babies born to mothers who were exposed to high levels of pollen in their last trimester of pregnancy have a much greater chance of developing asthma. One of main keys with asthma prevention is avoidance. When you have asthma typical garden is not a very friendly place at all. There are mold spores to contend with and worst of all is pollen. Typical gardens have pollen producing male trees and male shrubs and other plants that can provoke asthma attacks. Almost anyone with asthma will tell you that their asthma can be triggered by a good number of things, but pollen is often number one for causing an attack. Garden allergies are common, but they need not be. Allergies from gardening could be largely a thing of pastÖ if weíre willing to make some simple changes. In fall of 1999 in Richmond, Virginia American Lung Association of Virginia (ALAV) built a new Breathe Easy‘ office and headquarters. They had this entire large building constructed with latest innovations in green construction and sustainable design. No construction materials were used that would off gas any harmful or toxic chemicals, no materials were used that would trigger asthma or allergies. Every attempt was made to build something that would be pleasant and healthy to work in. The people who work in this office now will tell you too, that they all notice what a great improvement it is. Their office is a healthy building. The ALA decided it would make perfect sense to landscape their new healthy building (in some states these are now called Health Houses) with an allergy free landscape. OPALS‘ (the plant/allergy 1-10 numerical ranking system) was used to select only those plant materials that were either very low pollen, low allergy, or that were totally pollen free, allergy free. In effect they created first true asthma friendly garden in US. Health Houses in other states are now also adding pollen free landscapes to their green construction, green buildings. A new Health House is about to be built in Pennsylvania, and PA Association of Landscapers and Nurserymen are helping to surround it with an asthma friendly landscape. Schools too are getting into clean air act, and in city of Visalia, California, Tulare County Asthma Coalition recently directed asthma friendly landscaping of a newly built elementary school. Twelve keys to building your own asthma friendly garden: 1.Plant lots of female trees and female shrubs. Not only will these not shed any pollen, they will also trap a good deal of pollen that may stay in from somewhere else. Think of these female plants as natureís air cleaners. 2.Use only low pollen or no pollen lawns. There are types of lawns now that are pretty well pollen free and these are a big improvement over some of older lawn varieties. In southern states, if you have a common Bermuda grass lawn, consider replacing it with a newer, more asthma friendly hybrid Bermuda grass. ĎPrincess 77í is a new Bermuda grass hybrid that can be planted from seed. It is next to pollen free, grows very low and tight, and is especially good looking. 3.With OPALS‘ 1 is best, 10 is worst. Use only plants with rankings of 1-5. The more plants in your gardens that have rankings ranging from 1-3, friendlier your place will be for anyone with allergies or asthma. 4.Remove any trees or shrubs with rankings over OPALS‘ #7. The woody landscape plants with rankings of 8-10 are all sure-fire allergy triggering plants and you can live without them. 5.Replace any removed high pollen, asthma triggering plants with their opposite, female trees or female shrubs. Also good as replacements are perfect flowered plants that are known to be very low pollen producers. These will all have good (low) OPALS‘ rankings. 6.Use only plants that are well adapted to your own area. If you can find natives that have low allergy rankings, consider using them. Look around your own neighborhood, and see for yourself, which kinds of plants seem to be flourishing there already. For almost every kind of plant used in landscaping, there is now a no or low pollen version of it, if you know what to look for. 7.Use a wide variety of plant materials; diversity is good. Biodiversity always makes sense. The more diverse our gardens are fewer problems weíll have with insects and molds. 8.Avoid plants with strong fragrances or odors, as they can cause asthma. Donít plant jasmines or similar vines next to entrances or exits and certainly donít use them underneath bedroom windows. 9.For mulch, use rock or gravel instead of bark to cut down on toxic mold spores in garden. Flat stones or pavers also make good, mold free mulching materials. 10.To further eliminate mold spores, encourage wild birds in your garden. Virtually all wild birds eat insects, and insect damage triggers outbreaks of mold. Even tiny hummingbirds actually eat a large number of insects. Put up a hummingbird feeder! 11.Keep your plants healthy. This too will cut down on both pollen and mold. When it is hot and windy, do some irrigating. Fertilize everything in garden spring and fall. If plants are crowding each other too much, thin them out. If tree branches overhead are putting your whole yard in deep shade, consider having tree thinned to let in more light. Fresh air and light are enemies of molds. 12.If a tree, shrub, vine or any other plant always looks sickly, looks dirty, or always attracts bugs, then shovel prune it. Dig it up and get rid of it. Replace it with something easier to grow. Donít get caught up in having to spray insecticides all time, as they too can easily cause asthma and allergies.