Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

UC Blogs

A Lesson About Getting Carried Away

This past summer, I had to stress my hydrangeas terribly by moving them to replace the entry deck. In the meantime, I tried to keep them, and several other plants, alive despite their roots having been cut and moving them "out of the way" while the work was being done.

Next part of the story ---
One day my daughter texted me from work because one of her regular customers asked for some corks that could not be sold for whatever reason. She said he was going to put them in his garden to help with water retention. She was curious about why. (My daughter works in the part of the wine industry that we appreciate briefly and then get to the good stuff -- the company puts the logo on the corks for many of the wineries that we enjoy in the Napa area.) Anyway, I was intrigued because it was so hot and my hydrangeas had been suffering before I moved them. Water retention is a good thing, and I was spending a good deal of time on watering. And, I had a bunch of corks sitting in a bucket doing nothing, but I couldn't get myself to throw them away.

So, I couldn't see how said corks were going to retain water in their intact state. Really. After all, what is their purpose if not to keep the wet stuff inside the bottle? Plus my daughter explained the process in the production is to put silicone on the corks after they are printed with the winery logo so the cork can be put in the bottle and create a seal. I got on the Internet and pretty much everything I found led me to Pintrest. (Should have been a clue, but I missed it.). What I did learn is that as a newbie to Pintrest, a person can get seriously carried away there. I found that many sites were recommending using cut or ground corks as mulch and saying that cork is better than regular mulch because it doesn't suck nutrients away from the plants as regular mulch does. WHAT????? I looked at several articles from the University of Just About Everywhere with an Ag. Dept. that told what kind of nutrients different kinds of mulch delivered to the garden over what period of time. (Missed another clue there.) Still, I think I was sucked in by all the pretty pictures.
So, I wrote up a blog chronicling my project with the corks and hydrangea. Jennifer (MG Coordinator) asked for actual science about how the corks retain water in the soil. Back to the drawing board and Internet to research corks. Finally, after quite a while, I find that corks, like all barks, are "hydrophobic". So much for retaining water in the soil! 

Conclusion to the story ---
I really didn't do anything to harm my hydrangea. It needed to be repotted because had the roots not gone through the bottom of the pot, it would have suffered, but oh well... My "DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST" mantra has been reinforced.

Cut up corks, but not nearly enough to really keep moisture in. Plus, I think the birds have taken some out because there are a lot less there now than there were when I took this picture.

This is how the plant looked when I took it out of the pot. The soil was pretty compacted and old and mostly root. So far, this plant has survived and is happily back where it came from.

photos by Jenni
photos by Jenni

Posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 4:42 PM

When Bruce Hammock's Cockroaches Achieved Stardom

A Madagascar hissing cockroach from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. This is similar to what Bruce Hammock was rearing for a research project. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

If you're meandering around the UC Riverside campus and see a cockroach, it might have a connection to UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce...

A Madagascar hissing cockroach from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. This is similar to what Bruce Hammock was rearing for a research project. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Madagascar hissing cockroach from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. This is similar to what Bruce Hammock was rearing for a research project. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Madagascar hissing cockroach from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. This is similar to what Bruce Hammock was rearing for a research project. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of a Madagascar hissing cockroach, aka
Close-up of a Madagascar hissing cockroach, aka "hisser," from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of a Madagascar hissing cockroach, aka "hisser," from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock in his Briggs Hall office. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock in his Briggs Hall office. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock in his Briggs Hall office. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 4:38 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Innovation

Through the Garden Gate: Narcissus, Herald of Spring

Narcissus are the herald of spring, with their trumpet-shaped and brightly colored blooms, they are a sight for sore eyes, announcing the warmer days are coming. These early spring-blooming bulbs now come in shades of white, yellow, orange, pink, and green, many with combinations of colors. They have a variety of common names as well, including Narcissus, Daffodil, Jonquil, Paperwhites, Pheasants Eye, and Poet's Daffodil.  Although many of these names originated with a specific variety or are from a specific geographical area, the names are all used and taken by travelers everywhere, so you could hear any names used with any variety.

As a common flowering bulb, they grow all over our county and now around the world.  They are easy to grow and tolerate in almost all soils. They will spread and eventually become “fields of daffodils” given appropriate growing conditions. They bloom early and will wither and make room for summer blooms to come.

They are associated with much folklore and myths. One of the earliest mentions in the western world is in Greek mythology. A hunter and son of a river god, Narcissus, who was very vain and self-obsessed fell in love with his reflection in a stream where he stopped to drink in a stream. He was punished for his vanity by the gods and could not leave his reflection. He died in place, and where he had been, a narcissus flower bloomed, a reminder of the danger of vanity and self-obsession.

Although most mythological references are positive, it also carries a negative connotation with some. For example, although it was adopted as a positive symbol by the American Cancer Association, symbolizing hope for a cure, some think it symbolizes death which can come from cancer.

Daffodil is the March birth flower and the 10th wedding anniversary bloom, where they symbolize new beginnings. In Chinese culture, it is often used in weddings where it signifies the blossoming of the marriage bond. Also, in Chinese culture, it is believed to bring good luck when the flower blooms during the Chinese New Year. 

Some believe the flower will provide protection to warding off evil spirits and breaking negative spells. Others think narcissus are a good luck charm and aphrodisiac, and some wear them as an amulet.

Regardless of any associated myths, they will brighten up your garden and your spirit when they bloom.

photos by David Bellamy
photos by David Bellamy

Daffodil yello with droplets
Daffodil yello with droplets

Posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 3:33 PM

Flowering Maple

The abutilon belongs to the Mallow family-like hibiscus and Rose of Sharon-you can see the similarities.  Other names for abutilon are Chinese Lantern, Chinese Bellflower, and the Flowering Maple but do not belong to the Maple family. They got their common names because of the shape of their leaves.

I have 5 of these abutilons in my yard. Two of them are pink and are planted in the corner of my yard where the fences come together are the tree-like form. They grow well above my 6-foot fence.  These abutilons continue to grow and bloom most of the year, even with our frosty mornings.

I had a white one that was about 5 feet tall, but that was damaged last year by our high winds-so much it bent over with the top leaves laying on the soil and the root ball pulled out.  I decided to cut it down and replant the root ball to see if it would survive. I did not think it would work but thought oh well it is worth a try. Boy, am I glad I did replant it, this year it is really blossoming with white bell-shaped flowers.  This one is a shrub type.

My other abutilons are red, and I have a variegated one, that loves part shade. The way the flowers hang down like little bells, the hummingbirds love them.

photos 1, 2, 3 by Betty Victor
photos 1, 2, 3 by Betty Victor

Variegated abutilon
Variegated abutilon

20140505 171207-abultion #3
20140505 171207-abultion #3

Apricot photo by Jennifer Baumbach
Apricot photo by Jennifer Baumbach

David's Red photo by Jennifer Baumbach
David's Red photo by Jennifer Baumbach

Talini's Pink photo by Jennifer Baumbach
Talini's Pink photo by Jennifer Baumbach

Posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 3:19 PM

Prescribed Firelighter and Wildland Firefighter Training

FireWorkhsopImage

Learn the fundamentals of prescribed firelighting and wildland firefighting during this hands-on, one-day field training (choose 1 of the 3...

Posted on Sunday, February 21, 2021 at 2:28 PM

Read more

 
E-mail
 
Webmaster Email: kmchurchill@ucanr.edu