We would have acres of orange trees and olive trees and maybe some papaya trees, with pineapples growing underneath, if Mr. O had his way. (In Oregon. Right.)
It might be okay if we had the Crystal Palace out back. Then there would be room for lots of trees to be kept inside. (Mr. O has an old clock with this picture of it on the glass door…) The 1851 building was over 1800 feet long and 125 feet tall, more than adequate for a huge orangery.
But London’s Crystal Palace is gone now, burned away in 1936, probably by someone trying to ignite a Dictamnus plant.
In spite of it all, our citrus crop is coming along. Image above is a tangerine tree we planted out this spring, up against the south side of our house. “Planted out” is polite for “kicked out of the greenhouse” — (We had to get an attorney to write up the eviction paperwork but it was worth it.)
Growing a tree in a little greenhouse can go on for a couple of years, but then even something like this tangerine, of the “Dancy” variety and I believe grafted to stay short, just keeps getting wider and taller too till the greenhouse is like a jungle and you can’t find the bench or the pots or the way out.
Then last winter this tree became what you would call “totaled” if it were a car wreck. It had scale, a massively creepy condition that is actually little sucky animals that in this case looked sort of like tiny shelled sea creatures on all the stems. And it had a serious aphid problem, and so then it had that sticky black stuff growing on all the leaves, but the leaves were mostly yellow anyway. It was a mess and bad for the neighborhood.
Now it’s better…
Since we planted it in the earth the aphids and sucky scale have departed. I really thought all the yellow leaves were doomed and would drop, but slowly, after treats of chelated iron about every two weeks since May, it is going green again.
Now, I realize that this is the Happy Time for a heat lover like this. But winter looms. I recently sought counsel from a cousin who grows citrus trees in the vicinity of Sacramento. She said to put a string of little Christmas lights on it in the winter, and put a clear cover over it when the freezes are threatening, and it will be fine. Fine? It will be adorable! Around Halloween I should be able to buy a string of tangerine colored lights… (Did you know I like lights in the garden?)
We were so happy with our healthier looking tangerine that we went berserk and mindlessly bought a dwarf Meyer Lemon.
These lemons have grown a lot since we got the plant. They will get very dark yellow/orange and be wonderful to cook with, or to slice for my glass of Hefeweizen. (The Plant Goddess grows so many Meyer Lemons on her indoor plant that she has to turn them into juice to freeze.)
I’m thinking if the plastic suit works out for the tangerine we’ll boot the lemon out next summer…
It’s a Spanish variety called Arbequina. For some unknown reason it ended up in the rhubarb department on the edge of the vegetable garden. It can survive to 10 degrees F. so there’s hope if we’re careful. I’m actually worried about it producing olives because I have no idea what to do with them.
Here is one of the baby almond trees, called Prima. We got the olive and the almonds from an Oregon nursery called One Green World. It has an online catalog but we are close enough to drive to the nursery to shop.
We like to keep things native and local for the most part, but in this case a few hardy weird trees from Russia or someplace keeps Mr. O happy and adds Peculiarity and Astonishment, both so essential for gardens these days. (Not in the landscaping books? Really?)
The almond is a pretty little tree, and will grow to 15 feet or so if we don’t kill it. It has sort of a peach-leaved-bellflower leaf.
(Because I didn’t want to just say “peach-leaved,” that’s why.)
They can survive -20 F so we are okay there unless the weather is even more broken than we think, which remains to be seen. In the spring the almond had lovely fruit-tree type blooms, but that was before I started photographing everything every minute for this blog so I can’t show you.
Time to paint. Porch is done, so it’s back to the scaffold for the upstairs part. (I’ll be wearing my shoes with the big springs on the bottom, just to be safe.)