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Sunday, 15 May 2016


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Charming snippets of most enlightened prose indeed. Thank you kind Sir.

So I guess I know how you will not be voting.

May your readership be in every home and every garage and that all your readers think as you do.

The weather changes fast in my native Denmark, but when I moved to Edinburgh, highland, for a year in 2000, I was shocked. I walked into a large store, browsed around, and walked out again to find that it had started raining and stopped again while I was in the store. This happened three times in my first week, I felt like I was in a Dali painting (surreal, you know).

Also DK is very flat (the name means Flat Field), so it was also surreal to be walking along the ground level and to cross a small bridge and look down at a completely different "ground level" seventy feet below. One big department store in Edinburgh has one entrance which is two floors higher than the entrance at the other end!

This post is proof that it's worth sloshing through the audio posts to once in a while be rewarded with something as wonderful as this. Fabulous writing, Mike! You even managed to talk about landscape photography without mentioning anything relayed to photography; that's a rare ability, my friend.

I can certify that this blog is worth 2 billion internet points. At least!

I don't know what your alarming fellow is, but if he's twice last year's size, he's one you probably want to prune. When to prune it? Hard to say. After he's leafed out, take a branch cutting to a nursery and they can help you out.

Apples produce most of their fruit on last year's growth, so you want to mostly keep that when you prune. The trouble is that last year's growth tends to grow out of the previous year's growth.

If you want to learn to relate to plants a little better, you might find it interesting to read "Lab Girl" by Hope Jahren. It's a fairly new book, part memoir about the process of putting together a scientific lab, and a career in science with scarce funding. The other part is stories about various aspects of plant growth, communication, and reproductions. (I have no connection to the book, other than buying, reading, and liking it.)

Now I know why neighbouring New England was thusly named. The settlers were reminded of the weather. An entire season can pass by in 24 hours.

You may want to have that discussion with Ctein when he gets home. He has just had first hand experience.

Mike, a weed is supposedly anything you do not want in your garden. I 've heard that in France they like dandelions.

Yes, it passed:


I can recognise four types of tree, oak, sycamore, conker and Christmas

There is no Burgerkingring in Germany.

[I believe the correct spelling is "Nürburgring." --Mike]

That looks like a shrub you might want to get rid of. Of course, I can't tell what it is without seeing the leaves.

Your mystery shrub looks like a Forsythia. They have beautiful yellow flowers early in the Spring and they bloom before there are any leaves. This year mine had few blooms, as did the Cherry blossoms here. They keep growing and growing, so if you plant one, make sure it has plenty of space.

Beware that mysterious fast growing vine/ bush thingy.......
You may indeed have two things growing there ---a well meaning shrub and some sort of nuisance vine, you know, the kind that can wrap around your ankles and pull you to middle earth......
Here is what Cornell has to say about them.....

If the Blog suddenly stops we'll know what happened.....
Seriously the niusance vines green up early, and now is a good time to 'weed them out -so to speak.

Are you getting enough sleep, Mike?

Aaaargh! A 'he' tree. GENDER BIAS!

Have to say, I love plants that produce things I can eat! Being in Austin, I now have 6 citrus trees, Grapefruit, Lime, Orange, and Lemon.

Just also planted two blackberry bushes, plan to add a couple of pomegranates and perhaps 6 to 8 olive trees.

I mean if your going to plants around, why not have them do something useful like make food for you?

I wish I could find Donald Trump (Drumpf) jokes funny. But the joke has gone way too far, and shows no sign of ending. A friend posted a meme photo of Queen Elizabeth with the text 'Make America Great Britain Again' but I responded that we'd just end up with UKIP running things. Sorry to get political.


The alarming fellow looks like a forsythia.

Be careful. The Donald is apt to sue you for stealing his style.

I'm sure your unidentified tree is a Triffid. So I doubt you'll need your 2 billion dollars.

All they need to do, is boldly announce that their car has "undergone rigorous safety testing" - which would be a perfectly true statement (grin).

Who would even think to ask whether that testing was, well... passed?

If it is the tethering of plants by their roots that makes you feel safe, you must not read John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids. You have been warned!

You're a great writer whatever your topic! Always a pleasure to read. Thanks!

Message on the readerboard of local gas station:

Ban pre-shredded cheese
Make America grate again

(1) Be slow to prune, lest the prunee prune thee. -- Anonymous Bosch (World's most famous unknown painter, untimely nipped upon his bud by an seemingly innocuous shrubbery.)

(2) Why I’m Supporting the Demonic Creature That Emerged From the Depths of Hell In This Year’s Presidential Election. By Gavin Speiller

"We need a strong, principled leader who is ready to shake up Washington. That’s why I’ll be voting for The Demonic Creature That Emerged From the Depths of Hell."


( http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/why-im-supporting-the-demonic-creature-that-emerged-from-the-depths-of-hell-in-this-years-presidential-election )

Mike, it's really hard to tell from your photo if that is in fact Oriental Bittersweet - there might be OB growing there on some other shrub - the stems of OB are not straight for more than a few feet before it starts winding around any available stem of some other plant or tree but it doesn't grow into a shrub like that all by itself.

You have to look closely at the leaves, berries and nature of the vines to be sure. If it is, by all means get rid of it. It starts tiny but I've seen stems as thick as 5" or more at the base of and winding all the way up to the top canopy of 100' trees.

As others have suggested, if that shrub by your house develops bright yellow flowers before turning green, it is a Forsythia. Yours just needs to be pruned back into a more round shape. And don't fret if you cut it back too much. They grow very quickly. I know this, as I had to prune/shape my parents 25 yard Forsythia hedge by our barn growing up in Connecticut.

About your weeds... got Lambsquarters? pull wash and eat in soups and salads... wonderful green edible plant. http://www.ediblewildfood.com/lambs-quarters.aspx You may find one or two others at the link that are edible too.

It's cool. You needn't release your tax returns if I needn't release the transcripts of the speeches I got paid zillions for at Goldman Sachs. Let's just keep the little people fighting amongst themselves while ignoring the elephant and jackass in the room.

It is said that it takes 7 years of bad pruning to kill a tree. You may not get any apples but you won't kill it either. So give it a crack (NZ for 'no harm, no foul').
If you want apples, then you will need to figure out which buds are on last year's growth, and to leave this year's new growth for next year's crop. And, get rid of all the older wood and be brutal. Better still, find a nurseryman/woman who can demonstrate on their trees. That's how I learned a bunch of stuff about pruning which I'll never forget. No books, Youtube or 2nd hand advice helped until I saw and discussed the process as it happened.

Not only aren't we interested in seeing your tax returns, but they're none of our business.

[Right, it's not as if I'm running for something. --Mike]

Plants come in three categories: annuals, perennials, and immortals. You seem to have one of the third category in your yard.


Since you now are woth two billion you have to change your hair!


There's an ongoing study of tree root systems in Oregon (I think). Chase it up! They have an underground room with transparent surfaces in the middle of the forest and chart the movements of the roots around it. And they move! Not just grow! They withdraw and go in other directions and generally act like Triffids! The marching trees in the Lord of the Rings movies might have been just speeded up versions of reality!

Guaranteed to feed straight into your darkest fears, I suspect.

Cheers, Geoff

Re. the New England (OK, 'upstate New York') / Old England thing: yes, when I was there last month I did see similarities, especially in the form of the Finger Lakes, and also in some places that I drove through - Minnewaska State Park reminded me very much of some of the more wooded parts of the southern Scottish Highlands, e.g. in Argyll. But it's all much bigger! - I had to revise my travel plans because I had seriously underestimated the time it would take me to get back to Newark from the Finger Lakes region. And there is nothing the size of the Hudson in the UK.

As regards the weather, I think the Pilgrims found it more extreme than in England. It is after all further south than anywhere in (old) England and therefore potentially hotter in summer. Above all, however, being on the eastern seaboard of a massive continent makes for very different weather influences than being on the western seaboard does, as England is, and this would produce much colder winters.

I blogged about my visit to New York, and here's a link to the post I did for the day I met Mike:

My net worth is at least 3 billion dollars, and I will release my tax returns as soon as my financial people give me the okay. I have the bestest financial people ever and the paper my returns are printed on, the paper, if you could see the paper, I don’t want to make you feel inadequate with my documents. If only you could see them. Golly.

A movie for you, Mike. Little Shop of Horrors, 1986.

Oh, there is something about the chlorophyll at this latitude that makes me remark to my family every year that the _sapiens_ eyeball must have evolved in a green, green place. After winter the green of new grass and leaves just feels sooooo good to look at. We are indifferent gardeners, at best, and do nothing with our lawn except pay other people to mow it. But the green of its just being left alone takes my breath away each spring.

Your thoughts about the weather are far from banal, Mike. Your clean, spare, muscular, moving prose reminds me of Hemingway's. It taps into eternal verities . . .unlike Trump's verbal excrescence, which blights everything that is good and true about America.

As I was taking an evening walk, I overheard three old ladies in conversation. The third of them said, rather loudly:

Be lion-mettled, Mike; and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are:
Johnston shall never vanquish'd be until
Great Birnam wood to high TOP's hub
Shall come against him.

Be careful of those strange plants.

[That will never be.
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earthbound root?
Sweet bodements!

" I have no idea at all what he is. All I know is that he's twice as big as he was last year, and he's sending tendrils both into the sky and snaking along the ground at a frantic rate. When I garden nearby the little tendrils do seem to reach and grab for me"

I can't tell for sure, but it might be a wisteria. I love their flowers but have often felt that the tendrils are designed to trap me or any other moving creature causing a fall, death and decomposition to nourish the plant. Just kidding, but sometimes the plant seems malicious.

"Either this Spring is very unusual, or I have inadvertently ... landed in one of the most beautiful places on the planet"

You have! And it's no accident that the green sites on a sensor equal the blue and red combined.

Hard to tell what that plant is from the picture. After it leafs out a bit, could you post another picture? Flowers also. The branches look too snake-like for a forsythia, might be a native honeysuckle.

Hi Mike, Long time no comment. : )
Wow, lots of interest in your mystery shrub. Don't be in too much of a hurry to kill it off yet. It looks to me very much like it was planted intentionally, and didn't just sprout up in that spot by accident. Forsythia is a good guess based on the foliage, but you might also have yourself a buddleia there (butterfly bush). Their tendrils do indeed tend to grasp at you and follow. If a previous owner of your home was into gardening, they are commonly planted as a single specimen plant, popular for attracting many butterflies. Think of the macro opportunities! Forsythias are more often planted in clumps or hedges. But, not always. Be patient and see what blooms. Like developing film. Show us some closeups of the leaves and flowers when it blooms.

Very surprised more readers don't realized just how much benefit they can get from growing food crops in their yard. If we all did this there would be bliss in the food channel. Grow food in your yard and prosper.v

This was amusing and I am amused.

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