Juan V took the photograph posted above (which features a partial view of my urban terrace garden) this past Thursday (July 14th 2011), when he was at my place to help me take down my short-lived Honeysuckle Vine. The lovely vine had produced beautiful flowers which I featured in a few blog entries, including one which you may refer to by clicking here. My Honeysuckle Vine enjoyed climbing up the bamboo trellis (the bamboo trellis sans my Honeysuckle Vine can be seen in the top right hand portio of the photograph) which Juan V had built for me this past May, by using bamboo stakes that I had accumulated from my gardening endeavors in by-gone years. This is a fact, dear reader, which you may recall from a previous post, and that you may refer to by clicking here.
An advantage of container gardens, such as mine, is that while it is sad to lose anything that I grow, things can be pulled out fairly easily, and another advantage of a container garden is that the things that grow in them can be moved around to meet their changing needs (in terms of sunlight as the sun shifts throughout the season). However, the problem of man-made things, such as the neighboring buildings's exhaust fan, always makes the herbs, plants, flowers, vines, shrubs , and trees which grow in an urban garden vulnerable.
Man-made things are not the only hazard in a New York City terrace garden that present a problem. So-called gifts from Mother Nature can be just as hazardous, such as the Ailanthus tree, — a tree which is planted in all the "back yards" of the buildings that surround me, and a tree which is easy to recognize by its leaves which are pictured below.
Sometimes, the Ailanthus tree, is referred to as The Tree of Heaven, for reasons unapparent to yours truly. I am not alone in my aversion for the Ailanthus tree. Ms. Karen Joyce Williams, an on-line editor, wrote about this tree in terms of its relationship to Betty Smith's 1948 young adult novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. In the novel, Smith (as on-line editor Williams points out), romanticizes the Ailanthus tree, making it "a symbol that floats through the novel" and using it as "a talisman in the eyes of the characters." However, Williams points out that, in fact, the Ailanthus tree is a very,"pervasive, strong-rooted interloper to the native landscape, elbowing, rooting, and edging out the hickory, sumac and ash trees" that are native to New York. (If you'd like to read Ms. William's full piece, please click here.)
Additionally — besides the Ailanthus tree's invasive nature — the web-worm pests that lurk on it build unsightly cob-like structures, which give it a sickly — even eerie — quality, as in "Addams Family eerie", a "quality" that I discussed in a previous blog entry which I made in February of 2010, and that you may refer to by clicking here). This webby-appearance in its mild form can be seen in the photographs posted below.
and which can be viewed more closely in the print collection pages of my web-site. where purchase information is available. I confess that I derived this inspiration from the Ailanthus tree, many, many years before I was a gardener, and I did not know about the disgusting, slimy worms that jumped from its pods, resting and nibbling on anything they could find in my beautiful garden, as evidenced in a "gotcha" photograph of one of the little worms on a leaf of my Paeonia suffruiticosa (Tree Peony).