Saturday, July 7, 2018

Palo Verde & Wind & Gophers, oh my!

It's ridiculously hot today, so let's go back a few weekends and look at my palo verde... so i remember when i was (semi-) smart and got that taken care of before this heat wave!

I have two Palo Verde (both cercidium hybrid 'Desert Museum') in my garden. Palo Verde's are not totally uncommon here, although Gerhard's updates on his trees were a big part of why I tracked down 'Desert Museum' in particular.

One of the trees is a major part of the front garden. However, when it was first planted, and even later (the picture below is from last year, about 2 years after it was planted), it always looked unbalanced, with a very skinny trunk, and a huge canopy.

even here (from May 2017) you can see it leaning
 So it wasn't really very surprising to come home from a trip about 2 months ago and find this:
tree fell over!
The thing that was weird was that there was no ground disturbance (like roots coming out) or break in the trunk. Nor did the tree seem to mind that it had fallen over, it went right on blooming. I called my landscaper to see if they could fix it - after a quick inspection, they thought they could pull it up with guide wires.

However, a week later, i came home to:
no tree!

No tree at all! While the wind was the biggest reason it fell over, it turns out that gophers had done a number on the roots. That combined with the skinny trunk/large canopy meant the poor tree really couldn't be stabilized. With the tree removed, the front garden looked "wrong" - there was no vertical interest point left. So, after some back and forth (i wanted to try Mariosousa willardiana, my landscaper preferred to not have to find yet another weird tree for me) there's now a new 'Desert Museum': 
new tree!
It's more of a multi-trunk look, which should help with the wind, and at about 6ft tall, a bit short, but it will grow fast enough. Once it gets taller, and i can see how it grows, i'll probably remove some of the lower branches. It also has no wires or other supports, so hopefully it will grow to better withstand the wind. I can wait to see how it looks this time next year!

And the stupid gophers are dead. I'm sure they'll be back, but c'est la vie...


  1. I'm so thankful to not have to deal with gophers. Your new tree has a lovely form, here's to success! Oh and do you have a place for a Mariosousa willardiana? Should you find one. Such a cool tree.

  2. Best of luck to the new tree!

  3. I'm always impressed when I see 'Desert Museum' so I'm glad you got yourself a replacement. Nasty gophers! Yesterday, my neighbor told me her gophers, a persistent problem, are back but, for whatever reason, they haven't appeared here. I just saw yet another bunny scamper by my home office window, though...

  4. Good strategy on the new and low Desert Museum PV. Here's rooting for that tree!

    Top-heavy trees showed up on my jobs often, but always a rush so they remained with my only stand a pointed letter and final payment. But I had no gopher issues, just wind or owner over-watering!

  5. Oh my disappearing tree! The new Desert Museum is a great replacement.

  6. Sorry to see you lost a tree. Your front garden looks really good! The new tree is maybe a better one than the old in having multi-trunks. The lolly-pop shape doesn't seem fitting for a true desert tree.

    Lots of experience with gophers, unfortunately. Rose roots are their favorite. The trick with gophers is to look around for mounds every morning and put out the trap(s) as soon as you see a mound of dug out soil. Setting out the trap immediately before they have established their tunnel network, makes them easy to catch. "Black Hole" traps work well and are easy to set.


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