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August 13, 2016

Saturday Gardening Thread: Firepits [KT]

Hi there, gardeners and backyard storytellers. The weather has heated up in our valley again, making it feel a little like a firepit, And the air is kind of smoky from wildfires. I have fire on the brain.


These are the Alien and Predator fire pits welded together by metal artist Burned By Design from old propane tanks . . . They make the perfect fire pits for the person who already has everything. Or the person who doesn't have anything, because hobos have to build fires to stay warm at night.

We can discuss some other fire- and garden-related things if attracting hobos is not your main objective right now.


There are some gorgeous fire pits out there. But remember to check local regulations. Including burn restrictions like the ones where I live. And remember about fire bricks if you build you own.


A storyteller's fire pit

Here are a few more that are more sculptural than convivial. Great Bowls o' Fire.

Landscaping and Preparation for Wildfires

Few things can ruin a garden faster than a wildfire. Last week, cthulhu mentioned seeing dried-out oak trees off the freeway in California, in the hills, below homes. Scary indeed.

From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Firewise landscaping and plant materials for the Great Plains Homeowner. "Landscape maintenance is far more important to fire prevention than the selection of plant materials." Of course. Because it takes more work. The plant list is not too long, and I am sure there are other good choices. The page is in PDF form so you can take it shopping with you. Some of the information came from Reno, so many of the plants should also be suited to mountainous areas. The Silver Buffaloberry produces edible fruit.


The PDF is part of series on Living With Fire in the mountains and prairies. Looks like a pretty good review for those in fire-prone areas, including what to do when a wildfire approaches. Kinda focuses the mind in preparation for a situation where it may be difficult to focus.

For dramatic stories and photos, I liked Wildfire Today. This photo is from two days in the life of a wildfire photographer.


There is also a satisfying story about using air curtains to burn bug-infested trees before the bugs can escape. Also handy for reducing debris after hurricanes and such. The comments at the bottom of the page are interesting if you are into big machines.

If you are worried about friends or relatives in California, here are the official current fire incidents in California. You can also plug any state into the search box at Wildfire Today for current stories about fires in a particular state. The fires in Yellowstone National Park remind me of "the big one" several years ago.

Wildfires are not just a threat in the West. Though a recent Rolling Stone article about was a possible giant wildfire in New Jersey was characterized as exaggerated by some. How could that be?

Botanical Gardens and Fire

Can someone 'splain to me the difference between a "botanical garden" and a "botanic garden"?

These gardens are another great source of information on landscaping for fire prevention. Even in Idaho. The San Diego Botanic Garden has a nice web page on landscaping for fire safety.

The San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden has big plans for the future including a 150 acre Mediterranean garden, 50 miles of trails and an amphitheater. The site looks very dry. They are currently working on a Fire Safe Garden. There is a list of suitable Mediterranean plants, heavy on succulents:

The Fire Safe Garden interpretive area at the base of the hill along the walkway will be an integrated, fire-safe structure. This central structure will demonstrate the importance of fire-wise building construction methods and also shows the relationship between a building and the surrounding landscaping. The four firescaping zones are arranged in a series of concentric rings, with the structure at the center.


The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden suffered extensive fire damage in 2009. Things are better now. It is in a stunning location. Take a look around their site. They are holding a Tails 'n Trails event today for dogs and their owners.

I love this story about a new private botanical garden under development in South Carolina. Just seems American. One woman's dream. There is a bog garden near the Fire Tower.

Local Garden and Produce Reports

We have ripe Pluots. I am currently picking Flavor Queen. Extremely sweet. Dapple Dandy ripens by its own inscrutable schedule. It is billed as ripening in late July, but I usually leave mine on the tree longer. A lot longer some years.

They are selling this cultivar, or a look-alike, in the markets now. There are some look-alike cultivars out there with inferior flavor. There is also one that sounds pretty good, Dapple Jack. I think it is still commercial-only. A breeder in Lemoore has produced some fantastic fruits. I don't think trees are on the market yet. Sometimes you can find the fruits at the Hanford Farmers Market.

Anything new going on in your garden? Any fall planting? Have you found anything interesting at a Farmer's Market or Home and Garden Show?

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