Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Badass Trees of Cinema - The Sleepy Hollow Cherry Tree

It's been a while since I saw Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow." I remember looking forward to it because I was hoping a coherent story would be in Tim's grasp, since it's based on a coherent story by Washington Irving. Alas, Burton, true to form, gets it all muddled as usual. Nice set design and costumes, as always.

Here's a fine example of a badass tree of cinema: the cherry tree where Christopher Walken's headless horsemen comes bursting forth like a headless bat out of hell. The tree is a true Tim Burton creation, shaped in the curly-que that he tends to favor. And if I remember correctly, it swallows souls of the headless horseman's victims, so it's got some gruesome shots that I won't spoil here. It's all pretty badass, for a tree.

Johnny Depp basically acts scared through the entire film, but looks good doing it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm a land owner

I recently discovered that we own and are responsible for a long patch of hardened, weed-infested roadside dirt along our flagship drive, which passes two other houses off our cul-de-sac. After I got over the shock of being a land owner of useless land, I realized that all these months of ruefully watching a Grimms fairy-tale thicket of wild blackberry vines taking over the entire street was actually NOT my neighbor's problem. It was mine. Being pragmatic, I look upon this as an ongoing project and will probably keep you posted here, just for my own sense of accomplishment.

Here' some "before" photos, shot in near-dark and pretty dreadful, unless you want to look at them as "arty," or as reflecting my state of mind when I first admitted to myself that I am a land owner.

Here's the road. My property is the road itself (even though my next-door neighbor uses it every day to get in and out of her house), all along the left, and along the right, but the neighbors with the adjacent lawn just spray the right side with weed killer every year. Note the dead border along their lawn. Nice. I'm not responsiblef for the Tim Burton-esque falling-down fences along the road. Thank god.

Here's a tangle of blackberry vines with seasonally dead leaves. I waited until they all frosted over, died and fell from the vines. Then I got on my work gloves and set to snipping. I snipped every vine and loaded up two large bins for recycling day. Now I have to either dig up the roots (impossible), spray with Round-up (not a good plan, ecologically speaking), or plan C: trim the cut-down vines to the ground, cover with layers of newspaper and/or cardboard (weighted down with a rock), then layer over that a thick mulch made from chopped up leaves from my back yard. A multi-step and physically taxing plan, but I'm giving it a go. Good exercise!
Here's your daily tree. It was a bush that I've been trimming into more of a tree shape. I have no idea what kind of plant this is. Long, thorny shoots, large, red cherry-like fruit that's hard as rocks--pretty ugly and useless. But I'll keep it for a while because it's nice to have a roadside tree, however weird.
Close-up of fruit. It arrives in Fall and lingers and never seems to ripen. My tree identification Web sites aren't helping on this one. Whatever it is, I'm sure it's some kind of invasive thing that a bird dropped from its nether regions, like all the blackberry vines.

I can't blame the birds for the gigantic, half-dead Scotch Brooms I cut back a few months ago. Scotch Broom is considered an invasive plant in the Northwest, and sure enough, I'm constantly pulling out tough little mini brooms that spawned from the two big ones I've chopped down (one was so dead, I could just tear it apart with my hands--fun). They bloom a lovely yellow for a short time per year, but keep them out of your yard. They spread and have no predators so they quickly take over, choking back native and nonnative plants alike.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Darkness arrives early

It's starting to get pretty dark between 4:30 and 5 p.m. now. And as of yesterday, it's chilly around here. Better than last year--that was months of, brrrrr. I don't think this winter will be as freezing and snowy. I'm pretty wussy about winter still. I'm from Northern California so give me a break.

Having lived in San Francisco for 20 years, I can handle damp, cold weather with hardly any complaining. Snow last year was icing on the cake. But I must wear a hat. And a heavy jacket. None of that t-shirt in 38-degree weather stuff for me. To those who can go out and pick up the newspaper and get the mail in such attire, I salute you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Sky

Tonight I was walking about when the sky did this. I took so many photos that I had a hard time picking one or two out of the bunch. So I took the first two. The first two are usually the best. I don't know why. Maybe because after that, you start thinking about it too much. My forehand in tennis is like that too.

One more. Because it reminds me of watercolors.

Badass Trees of Cinema - The Whomping Willow

From "Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets." Harry, Ron, do not mess with the Whomping Willow!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Let Science be your Guide

Ever thought to yourself, saaaay, what causes the leaves to change color in the Fall, anyway? If so, The Oregonian answers the question for you in their Home & Garden section. Look no further than Kym Pokorny's article, Inside the Leaf: The Science of Autumn's color display for a simple explanation that even I can understand. Hint: it's NOT due to the drop in temperature in the weather!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Parking Lot Trees

Mostly they're ignored, but think how bleak the shopping experience would be without them. Planted in orderly rows, surrounded by asphalt and automobile exhaust, the parking lot trees are our best defense against blight, glaring sun, and architectural depression.

Friday, November 14, 2008

After the storm

We had a big storm yesterday. It was really windy all night then it rained all the next day. By 4:30 in the afternoon it was almost completely dark outside. It made me want to go to bed by 6 p.m. But look at today!

Many of the big-leaf maples lost ALL their leaves overnight, but these managed to hang on. I noticed that when the trees lose their leaves, it's sunnier around here, at least at ground level.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Last Call for Blooming Plants

This is not a tree, but it may be the last bloom around here for a while. A lone Nico Blue Hydrangea. (There were trees all around it, I swear.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Heritage Tree of Portland

This London Planetree (Platanus x acerifolia) is on the corner of SW Main & Park. As noted in the Portland Parks & Recreation guide, it has a trunk containing large, warty bumps. Planted in 1880.

I just noticed it on my way to the car after visiting the Portland Art Museum. If you're in town, visit the Museum for its current "Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge, 1867-1957" exhibit. Wonderful, large-scale photos from the original large negatives. Photographer Carleton Watkins is the highlight. He invented his own large-scale camera to obtain negatives large enough to capture the vastness of his subject. His entire camera outfit weighed more than 2,000 pounds, which he hauled around in a boat, setting up a darkroom tent on the beach as he worked his way up and down the gorge. You can see the gorge from many viewpoints, as unspoiled wilderness, or as a sight for commerce, industry and tourism. It's all there in black & white (and occasional color).

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Trees of Portland State U.

"Tree-lined" campus is putting it mildly. Right near downtown, there's a forest among a cluster of buildings, with birds, squirrels and students, scurrying about their busy days.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Sneaky Colors

You're walking along when BOOM, they pop out right at ya. The sneaky Autumn colors.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

White House Gains New Tenants

What a fine gift to America. Congratulations President Elect Obama and family. Enjoy your new digs.

source: VisitingDC.com

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Portland Japanese Garden

I haven't traveled to all parts of the world but I've been in some very beautiful places and right up there in the upper pantheon of beautiful places is the Portland Japanese Garden. I usually insist on taking my house guests there at least once a visit. We haven't been there for Fall foliage this year but here's some photos from last when it was seriously colorful for quite a while.

The Oregonian reports that the Portland Japanese Garden is looking to expand. It's so popular now that at times it's hard to find the quiet meditative quality that the garden strives for. So hopefully after some fundraising efforts (good luck!), the garden will move its gift-shops to its lower level and provide a good tea-sipping spot as well.

I didn't know classes are taught there on maple-tree pruning and how to make a bamboo fence. I'd love to make a bamboo fence--sign me up (if the class is not already full).

More beautiful photos from the Japanese Garden Web site.