Pinterest, Hormonal Trees and “Botany in a Day” Thomas Expel

Facebook for the Visual

So… you say you like to look at “OPG’s (Other People’s Gardens)” in those beautiful, glossy coffee table books?  If you haven’t already done it, sign up for the social photo sharing website. It’s easy and free and some of the most beautiful garden photographs you’ll ever see are available by the thousands! The photos are “pinned” on members’ “boards” and shared. You can “repin” and make your own boards or just enjoy everyone elses. Passions run high in gardening. Members of Pinterest share photos of their favorite gardening passions. They share everything from photos of rare plants and sweeping landscapes to videos of DIY projects. Pinterest has been around for about several years and new photos are added daily. What a wonderful way to relax, plan and pretend that it isn’t cold and rainy. Easy and free! What could be better? 

Hormonal Trees

Watersprouts…after braving the February South Sound monsoons to prune back flowering and fruiting trees, it’s pretty disheartening to see 10 foot sprouts shooting straight up into the sky in early spring. The truth is…there isn’t much you can do about it if you do your heavy tree pruning in the winter. The culprit is a hormone that stimulates growth. To slow down the 10 foot buzz-cut look try pruning back only 1/3 of your tree each year until the sprouts are under control. This helps especially with younger trees. Older fruit and flowering trees respond better with summer pruning. If you have an old, barren apple tree, summer pruning is the way to go. The following summer you might even end up with apples.

“Botany in a Day” by Thomas Elpel

“Impossible,” you say…”how can I learn it in a day?”  Thomas Elpel, outdoorsman and nature teacher extraordinaire, has self-published a book that puts an easy spin on a complicated subject.  I guess you could call “Botany in a Day: “The Pattern Method of Learning Plant Identification”, the Rosetta Stone way of identifying plants. Once you get past the book’s short tutorial that teaches the basics, you’ll learn there are only seven key patterns that identify more than 45,000 plants worldwide.

So, instead of trying to id individual plants, you start with an overall view of their families. This more than simplifies the tedious job of “keying in” to id  plants. If you hike, backpack or just like to know what you’re looking at when you’re taking a walk, this herbal primer makes it easier and more fun to “name that plant!”  Master the seven families and then use the book as a reference guide. Elpel has several tutorials to go with the book. Google him too. If botany doesn’t appeal to you, he has tutorials to build a masonry fireplace…quite the Renaissance man.  200 p., Hops Press, $30