The Shawnee News-Star Weekender April 6th 2019 Becky Emerson Carlberg People stand in awe of my garden, once I point out to them where each plant is.  As with my interest in native plants, my garden assumes a natural approach.  Simple.  Sustainable.  Rugged. I am very proud of my radish.  Yes, I have one radish.  […]

The Shawnee News-Star Weekender April 6th 2019

Yoshino Cherry Trees at the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C.

Becky Emerson Carlberg

People stand in awe of my garden, once I point out to themwhere each plant is.  As with my interestin native plants, my garden assumes a natural approach.  Simple. Sustainable.  Rugged.

I am very proud of my radish.  Yes, I have one radish.  It started sprouting in the veggie drawer.  All those lovely green leaves told me how much this little radish wanted to live.  I moved it to the base of my one living orchid. The radish basked in the water at the base of the orchid until it didn't.  One by one the little leaves shriveled and went away.  Soon, only the little radish bulb remained, but when I pulled it out, the determined radish had once again begun growing new tiny roots.  The weather forecast was mild, so I gently removed the radish and carried it outside where it was planted in its own modest pot.  Why deal with rows of radishes when you can focus on one radish and watch it live and grow.

Weeping Yoshino Cherry touring the Shawnee Japanese Peace Garden

The two Earth Boxes, self-watering planters dedicated totomatoes, turned into Evening Primrose factories last spring and summer.  Enormous primroses benefitted from the organictomato fertilizers and bone meal.  Bysummer's end several towered over 15 feet tall. You had to get a pair of binoculars to see the beautiful yellow bloomsat the tips.  The tomatoes?  They produced lots of vines and leaves andfew tomatoes.  Probably too embarrassedand overwhelmed by the Evening Primroses.

Three mini-dwarf acorn squash were harvested from my GrowBox.  While both planters are the samesize, 12' wide x 12' tall x 36' long, the Grow Box has an opening in the front ofthe reservoir; the Earth Box has a pipe in one corner. Two years I grewheirloom corn.  It was an act oflove.  So much attention and water, suchlittle ears of corn.

One last tidbit straight out of the April/May 2019 issue of'Mother Earth' magazine.  For sure-firegreens, plant fresh beet roots from the store. They will sprout very edible leaves and stems that can be eaten raw orprepared like swiss chard, spinach, or bok choy.  On their own they form an instant garden fullof nutrition.  My kind of garden!

April Fool's Day, no foolin', was the peak bloom day for cherry trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C.  Peak bloom: seventy per cent of the Yoshino cherry blossoms are open. The bloom period will last from 7 to 10 days, perhaps two weeks weather permitting. The history of the cherry trees is fascinating.

Cedar of Lebanon at OBU

In 1887, Eliza Scidmore campaigned to have cherry treesplanted along the new re-formed Potomac River basin.  Eliza's actions were ignored, but thisaccomplished woman did become the first female board member of the NationalGeographic Society.  During a cherryblossom party hosted by Eliza, botanist David Fairchild was so impressed, heordered 1,000 cherry trees to be sent to his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  He planted cherry trees  and donated cherry trees to every school inthe D.C. area for students to plant on Arbor Day.  Eliza attended the Arbor Day speech and wasmotivated to raise money for cherry trees. She contacted First Lady Helen Taft.

By coincidence, J. Takamine, the Japanese chemist whodiscovered adrenaline, heard about the cherry tree plan.  He and Japanese Consul Mr. Midzuno asked theFirst Lady if she would accept 2,000 cherry trees as gifts from Tokyo,Japan.  She did.  The trees arrived in 1910 but the Departmentof Agriculture inspection revealed nematodes and insect problems.  These trees were supposedly destroyed byburning, but the legend is some trees were spirited away and plantedelsewhere.  One old grove still reputedlyexists.  Despite the 1910 setback, aclean shipment of 3,020 cherry trees (12 cultivars) were shipped February 12th,1912 on the Japanese Ocean Liner Awa Maru from Yokohama to Seattle.  They then boarded insulated freight cars androde on trains across the country to arrive at Washington, D.C. March 26th1912.

First Lady Helen Taft and Japanese Viscountess Chinda, wifeof the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees at the TidalBasin.  These trees are still alivetoday.  In 1965, First Lady Lady BirdJohnson accepted as gifts an additional 3,800 Yoshino cherry trees grown forJapan in the US.

Weeping cherries and other species are mixed with the Yoshinocherries, which comprise about 70% of the trees.  Twelve percent are Kwanzan cherry trees.  Yoshino trees produce clouds of single whiteblossoms, but Kwanzan trees bloom two weeks later than the Yoshinos andre-energize the area with pink double blossoms. Arborists and horticulturistshave meticulously cared for the old trees that usually live only 60 years.  Many began to die.  Botanists in the 1980's began taking cuttingsfrom the living trees.  They nurtured thelittle saplings in greenhouses for years as a way to continue the geneticline.  In 1997, 500 new trees from theancestors replaced their forebearers. More descendants are growing that will continue to be a source for newtrees.  The original 1912 trees seem tobe gifts that keep on giving.

I found weeping Yoshino cherry trees being sold at one Shawnee store.  The tree needs good sun, adequate drainage, tops out at 20 feet, hardy to -10 degrees F and blooms early to late spring.  Can hardly wait to see how the little tree fares.

Another tree became famous on April 2nd.  Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) celebratedtheir Arbor Day by planting a Cedar of Lebanon. Two years in a row OBU has been recognized as 'Tree Campus USA' and hasthe only accredited Arboretum in Oklahoma. School, state and city dignitaries,students, master gardeners, groundskeepers, and tree lovers were all inattendance.  Chairs and sound system wereprovided for the short dedication that took place in front of the tree.  Master of Ceremony was Lisa Hair,groundskeeper II/gardener at OBU. 

Cedrus libani is the botanical name for this evergreenconifer.  The true cedar is native to themountainous regions of Lebanon, Turkey and Cyprus.  It can become quite enormous, reaching over120 feet up and expanding out 80 feet.  Notto worry for this tree is a slow grower. The cones go up from the branches, reaching to the sky.  The aromatic tough wood, used to buildpalaces and temples 3,000 years ago, was highly praised in the Hebrew Bible(Old Testament).  

OBU Gardeners planting the Cedar with Lisa Hair at the helm.

A fitting tree for Oklahoma Baptist University.  After the ceremony, a few stakes andtie-downs, a little more soil, perhaps some mulch and this tree is set to havea great future.

Think the peach, apricot and plum blooms escaped the last cold spell by the skin of their fruit?  We'll see!