Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tree Bondage?

Yukitsuri at Kenrokuen Garden, Japan

Photo credit Kanazawa City

Snow that falls in the winter in Kanazawa is heavy in weight because the snow contains a large quantity of moisture. In order to prevent the branches of the trees in Kenrokuen Garden from breaking, yukitsuri is performed. Yukitsuri, which literary means "snow hanging", is a method of protecting the branches with ropes attached in a conical array to the trees.

Photo credit Kanazawa City

Skillful gardeners use more than 800 ropes to give yukitsuri to the Karasaki pine in Kenrokuen Garden, which is famous for the great shape of its branches. Yukitsuri is a true symbol that tells the coming of winter to Kanazawa. The first snow of the season falls in Kanazawa between late in November and early in December. Kanazawa becomes a snow-covered town from January to February.

The oldest surviving record of yukitsuri dates from late in the Edo Period (1603-1867). It instructs Kenrokuen gardeners to "tie trees to prevent snow damage," but makes no mention of specific techniques. The type which is pictured in the photograph is called ringotsuri (apple suspension). It is believed to have been developed some time after apple saplings were first brought to Japan in the 1870s, as a way to support the weight of the fruit.

Photo Credit: Flickr account TANAKA Juuyoh

Erecting a ringotsuri is a delicate operation that requires a whole team of workers. At Kenrokuen, one man climbs the pole and tosses down coils of rope that have been fixed at one end to the top of the pole. Ten other workers stay below to catch the coils, then climb ladders and tie the ropes at strategic points to support the branches and create a visually balanced composition. An experienced team can put up one ringotsuri over an average tree in about two hours. But a very large tree, like the massive Karasaki pine trees in Kenrokuen, can require up to five ringotsuri structures and a full day of work for an entire team.

Taken from an article by Alice Gordenker for The Japan Times. For full article visit

For information on the Kenrokuen garden in Kanazawa visit

Monday, January 17, 2011

Storing Fruits and Vegetables

To prevent rot and diseases from spreading, check fruit and veggies in storage regularly and discard any affected. Fungi and bacteria both cause rot in plant tissues. Most enter via a wound, but some spread by contact; handle produce carefully and keep fruits apart from each other.

Brown rot attacks apples and pears on trees and in storage, spreading easily by contact. Brown patches develop rings of pale spots, or fruit can turn entirely black.

Grey mould affects fruit, carrots and squashes, especially in overcrowded, badly ventilated stores. The fungus forms a fluffy grey mould, releasing clouds of spores.

Bacterial soft rot is common on root crops and onions. Soil-dwelling bacteria enter via wounds, initially causing foul-smelling lesions, and can rot the insides entirely, leaving only skin.

Onion neck rot is a fungus that develops after 10 weeks of storage. Outer scales soften and the neck browns. It does not spread in storage but may have infected many bulbs going into storage.

Potato dry rot causes dark brown lesions and discolored, mouldy flesh. Spores of this fungus are carried on adhering soil and enter wounded tubers in too-warm storage.

Article from The Garden Journal, RHS, Dec 2010

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ancient Asteraceae

A rare fossil flower from the Asteraceae family, found in Argentina, proves that daises existed 47.5 million years ago during the mid-Eocene epoch, when modern mammals and birds were becoming widespread.

The fossil, reported in the journal Science, is unusual in showing large flowerheads several centimeters across - unlike fossils of pollen grains, those of flowers are rare.

To view abstract or full text visit

Article from The Garden, RHS December 2010

Monday, January 10, 2011

Plant Picks

'Glauca' Japanese white pine
Pinus parviflora 'Glauca'

Zone: 6 to 9
Size: 20 feet tall and wide

This tree is a living garden sculpture. It will thrive under just about any garden condition; full sun to full shade, moist to dry soil. It will tolerate some degree of salt exposure; and can be pruned to fit into tight, restricted spaces without losing its character. With its blue-green needles; attractive cones; and twisted, branching structure, 'Glauca' Japanese white pine is a perfect focal point. A trait that is often overlooked is its bark, which is purple-brown and deeply grooved.

Article by Ed Gregan for Fine Gardening, Nov/Dec 2010

Monday, January 3, 2011

Recycle Your Christmas Tree

What to do with your Christmas tree...

Evergreen branch mulch at Wave Hill

Come January, the thrill of having a fresh-cut tree to decorate has faded. You are now faced with the issue of properly discarding the tree. One very earth-friendly way recycle your tree is to cut it up into evergreen boughs which can be used in the garden as a gorgeous mulch.

Most shrubs, as well as perennials and bulbs, welcome the warmth and protection the boughs bring. Simply trim the branches from your Christmas tree and place them upside down under your shrubs and on top of perennials and tender bulbs. The air pockets they create add a buffer against the winter cold and wind, and enough space for early spring shoots to emerge.

Photo from

You can also have your Christmas tree recycled into mulch, which can then be used to protect and nourish your street trees.

Thank you very mulch!
For more information on how to recycle your Christmas trees, check out these websites: