WILDFIRE and EMERGENCY Tips for Californians

Calif Wildfire Landscaping  Book LOW.jpg

In 1994 when I wrote California Wildfire Landscaping, we knew the fire season of 2007 was coming, we just didn’t know when. In those days I gathered up all known information on how to create defensible space homesites and compiled it into an easy to use book for homeowners and their families. Click this link to buy California Wildfire Landscaping by Maureen Gilmer and endorsed by CDF Over the years I’ve written many articles for magazines and newspapers related to fire danger in California, wildland vegetation management and evacuation procedures. Basic Components of a Family Disaster Plan http://www.moplants.com/archives/family_disaster_plan.php Tips on Preparing for Wildfires This Year http://www.moplants.com/archives/fire_preparation.php Good Fire – Bad Fire Controversy http://www.moplants.com/archives/good-fire_bad-fire.php More wildfire related stores at http://www.moplants.com/archives/index.php

Succulent Plant Safety Tips

cholla fruit.JPG

Everybody in garden design is talking agaves. Retro modern folks are digging golden barrel cactus. We’re even seeing fire stick euphorbia in pots of mixed perennials. While these new ventures into old succulents are revitalizing the aesthetic of our gardens, there are some key concerns for safety among these often prickly plants.   Succulents have the market cornered on thorns and spines. Agaves produce large rosettes of leaves, each blade tipped with a wickedly sharp thorn. Smaller agaves are leg scratchers extraordinaire that will easily mar your summer tanned thigh with scratches. Larger agaves are most dangerous because their tips sit at arm or head level.   Rather than say good bye to your agaves, you can give them a trim to render the spines far less brutal without spoiling their look. Use very sharp shears or clippers to carefully nip the sharp off the end of each leaf. Cut only the fingernail-hard part, not the softer succulent flesh. Once done these will not grow back, but you may have to trim again when new leaves mature.   If you’re planning to get into cacti this year, be advised that all are not created equal.  The ever popular golden barrel with its bright yellow spines is among the most painful.  They seem to cause more irritation to the skin than other barrel species.  Avoid  placing golden barrels near active outdoor living spaces, or where kids and pets play. The prickly pear, or what most folks call paddle cactus is among the largest and most common types of cultivated cactus.  They root virtually anywhere and withstand the most brutal heat and drought.  These cacti bear large sharp spines that are readily visible.  But around the base of the big spines are near microscopic hair-like glochids.  These look like benign soft fuzz but are by far the most devastating.  Once they enter the skin these are nearly impossible to remove. Some cacti experts ban prickly pear from gardens because merely brushing against one can cause pain and dermatitis.  Even gloves are not immune.  Gloves can become infested with glochids, inadvertently introducing them into pockets and shoes.  Particularly beware of the Mickey Mouse or Teddy bear types because their quaint looks mask a brutal nature.  The bright red and very sweet prickly pear fruit can be attractive to dogs, leaving them with a mouth full of glochids as well.Firesticks, the darlings of florists and high end nurseries are red tinted varieties of the pencil tree euphorbia.  The euphorbia plant contains a caustic white latex sap, and pencil tree is one of the most toxic species.  Merely brush against it and the milk starts to flow.  Recently a friend’s husband pruned a large pencil tree and was careful to wash hands and face after the job.  But he didn’t change his tee shirt which was covered with latex splatter.  That night he took his shirt off, it rubbed it against his face and the toxic sap entered his eye.  That fellow spent the evening in the
Read More …

Rose Hip Jam and Holiday Decor Via Free eBook


Celebrate a natural holiday season with decorations from your garden and the wild places near home.  Cook up a fresh batch of rose hip jam as the fruit ripens this fall.           Gather twigs to create rustic wreaths to decorate.                 Cut long runners of run-away vines to tie into garlands.             Harvest your herbs before frost to hang and dry for holiday gifts.                      It’s all in the MoPlants free eBook: Holiday Decorating Ideas from the Crafter’s Garden Download your free copy at http://www.moplants.com/eBooks.php  

Garden Ivy Beware

ivy holdfasts.jpg

English ivy suffers a most profound duality.  While at once refusing to grow where we want it to, escapees can naturalize to engulf whole landscapes.  This is just one aspect of an insidious spreader that has wrecked havoc unparalleled in the annals of horticulture. Though it is commonly known as English ivy, Hedera helix is actually native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa.  It is an evergreen that takes on various forms and behaviors depending on conditions.  On flat land it becomes a groundcover, rooting as it travels to produce dense stands of foliage. This rooting also makes it a first class erosion control plant creating seas of deep green leaves. What makes English ivy so dicey, though, is the fact that it climbs aggressively. This quality led to its long time use of cloaking ugly fences and walls with greenery.  Tendrils grow semiwoody and lined with dense modified roots that cling to any surface they contact.  The roots exude a kind of natural plant glue to help them stick tenaciously.  This substance can invade deep into porous materials such as mortar.  Once attached the runners grow ever larger in diameter.  Very old specimens produce main branches up to one foot in diameter.  Problems with this plant manifest in a variety of ways.  The clinging roots become so anchored in brick or mortar than when removed they take a good deal of the masonry with them.  This can be devastating to older structures when the plants are stripped off for restoration, painting or repair.  Residual bases of the roots can remain attached , leaving an unattractive pattern wherever they grew.  When ivy adheres to wood structures the results can be even more destructive.  The runners can invade gaps between siding boards or stretch into rafters and under roofing materials.  As these eighth inch tendrils grow woody and expand in diameter, they can literally break the structure apart. When ivy climbs into shade trees there can be devastating results.  In gardens or landscapes poorly cared for, ivy grows rampant.  It will root its way up a mature tree seeking light, wrapping its tendrils around the entire trunk.  As it spreads out onto lateral branches, the tree leaves become overwhelmed.  They eventually die out for lack of sun.  Inch by inch ivy denies the tree’s ability to carry on photosynthesis.  When enough of the foliage is compromised, the tree can no longer support itself and dies.  The weight of a severe ivy infestation can make a dead or dying tree so top heavy it becomes a severe weather hazard. Finally there is the environmental damage to consider.  Because all English ivy is imported from the Old World, those plants that have naturalized are dangerous exotics.  It will cloak a forest floor shading out grasses and wildflowers that support wildlife.  Because ivy rarely flowers it offers now direct food value.  Invasiveness has proven most significant along both coasts and selected states in between where the climate and conditions are ideal.  Ivy is a
Read More …

Free Botanical Holiday Cards for Crafters at MoPlants


Got a computer and a color printer?  Unleash your creativity at MoPlants.com where our resources will help you make your own gifts, decorations and cards for the holidays.              Now that summer’s over, get a head start on the season with some great money saving ideas for using Internet databases of stunning vintage images.  If you love that old fashioned look, if you’re a fan of Victoriana or find the timeless beauty of botanical illustration irresistible, make http://www.moplants.com/ your favorite holiday resource.  Check out our Gallery of botanical illustrations carefully selected for your Christmas cards.  You’ll save time browsing databases by using our top choices.  Download them from our site at:   http://www.moplants.com/gallery2/v/Christmas+Cards/ Simple to create card isomg a free online fir tree botanical illustration, red card stock, rubber stamp letters and gold ink.  Be sure to browse the rest of our Free Graphics Gallery for other cards, pictures, decoupage, scrapbooking, altered art and gift ideas.    Download A Free Fully Illustrated eBook To inspire and instruct you on where to find online image databases and how to save their images for your own home made crafts, download your own free copy of Online Botanical Illustrations: A Treasure Trove of Free Images for Digital Crafts.  Our beautifully illustrated eBook shows you all you need to know to get started browsing the net for beautiful pictures: http://www.moplants.com/eBooks.php MoPlants eBook:  Online Botanical Illustrations  Digital Crafts Central   Explore our links in Digital Crafts Central at MoPlants.com for our Master Links to Botanical Art Archives  http://www.moplants.com/digital_crafts/index.php