Monthly Archives

June 2015

Pyracantha (Firethorn)

By | Arborist Insights, Education, Landscaping, Security | No Comments

2015summer-052Recently¬† I was asked to plant thirty nine Pyracanthas in New Westminster so it’s a good time to examine this evergreen shrub belonging to the Rosaceae family.

It’s related to Cotoneaster but its leaves have serrated margins and it has thorns.

White flowers come out in early summer and later berries. Pyracantha is a good alternative to artificial walls and fences. It’s also good for wildlife because birds can nest in it, the summer flowers are good for bees and the berries provide food.

Pyracantha is easy to grow and requires little maintenance. Pruning for shape can be done three times a year.

Here is the key feature: the dense thorny structure makes Pyracantha valued in situations where an impenetrable barrier is required. This is why I found myself in New Westminster with thirty nine prickly specimens. The planting happened along the outer parkade walls because of several recent break-ins. Watch out bad people!

Something new from Western Japan

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On my recent visit to Western Japan I ran into three interesting plants, showing that plant identification work can be done even while travelling.
What plants have YOU discovered?


Bletilla striata (urn orchid)

This plant is very popular in Niigata city.

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Callistemon speciosus

This is a shrub in the Myrtaceae family, endemic to Australia. It flowers in spring or early summer. The flowers look like bottlebrushes;
the obvious parts of the flower are stamens with pollen at the tip of the filaments.

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Dahlia imperialis

8-10m tall, tuberous, herbaceous perennial; rapidly growing from the base after a dormant winter period, developing brittle, cane-like, four-angled stems with swollen nodes and large tri-pinnate leaves, those near the ground soon being shed
Flowers in autumn before the first frost.

Japanese style body maintenance for green industry professionals

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When I found myself recently on the West Coast of Japan, I took advantage of the downtime for some much-needed body maintenance. You can easily take similar steps where you live or wherever your travels take you. How do YOU handle body maintenance?

Step one, look good. Haircut, shave and massage for roughly $15 and only minutes away by bike from my in-laws’ home.


Step two, exercise. Of course! Niigata city is protected from the Japan Sea by a pine forest or matsubayashi. The trails inside are perfect for running. I had a great time running here and stopping to check the local plant life. I never travel without my Salomon Speedcross trail runners.


Step three, massage. $30 per hour was a great deal and I got my back and shoulders done over several sessions. The clinic was clean and comfortable, the girl was cute and my Japanese language skills were good enough to negotiate everything.


Step four, hot springs. This is a must for every visitor to Japan. The hot water baths feel awesome and when the heat starts to get to you, sneak outside to the open air bath or rotemburo pictured below. For obvious reasons the female bath is discreetly walled off.


Step five, eat well. Japanese food rocks, from sushi and sashimi to a quick bowl of ramen. A $7 bowl of ramen always hits the spot and ramen shops are everywhere. Trying different versions of ramen is great fun.


Nicely recharged, I am now back at work! Don’t forget about your body maintenance.

Learn about soils online for free!

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blog-classThere is still time to join a free online soils course called Soils: Introducing the world beneath our feet, starting July 6, 2015, and taught by Dr. Carly Stevens from Lancaster University. It’s an online course with videos, articles, audio, discussions and assignments. Students will take part in activities that explore the soils where they live. No prerequisites or experience required, the course is open to all.

To register follow this link:

2015 also happens to be International Year of Soils! Visit to learn more about this precious resource.

See you in class!