Ron Ludekens

Ron Ludekens

Wednesday, 14 March 2012 03:00

Snow Fountains® Flowering Cherry

I was late to work today.  Camera was calling.

As a photographer, light is all important.  When I can get skies with clouds that give it character and soft light (but keep the camera dry) I start looking for something to photograph.  This morning was one of those special mornings.  And the subject was one of my favorite trees busting out in glorious bloom.

We have three Snow Fountains® Weeping Flowering Cherries (Prunus subhirtella x cv. 'Snofozam') in our yard.  The oldest and thus largest one is next to my back yard side fence where anyone walking through the gate can see it.  I have shot many photos of it over the years and did it again this morning.  It really is lovely.  It was a low budded tree so there are weeping branches coming all up the trunk.


Snow Fountains® Flowering Cherry (Budded at the ground)


My newest one is also in the back yard but I planted it right out in the open for everyone to see and enjoy it.  Of course the spring bloom is always spectacular but I also like the shape in the summer and winter.  Seems our new dog also likes to lay under it (and dig holes).


Snow Fountains® Flowering Cherry (Budded at the top)


Probably my favorite form is the 30" tall Snow Fountains®.  It is out front set among boulders and some shrubs.  The size is just right to add elegance to the landscape throughout the four seasons.


30" Snow Fountains® Flowering Cherry


The tree hails from Lake County Nursery in Ohio (one of their many great "ZAM" introductions) so it takes the cold.  What we are finding encouraging are the claims of successful flowering in many of the milder areas of Southern California where there is winter chill of 500 hours and maybe lower.  I won't promise it will flower at the coast, but I think some are being tried there so we hope to find out.

There is more information here: Snow Fountains Blog Article and here: Snow Fountains.

Ron Ludekens 3-14-2012

Tuesday, 13 March 2012 03:00

Albion Strawberries

Huge and Delicious


Albion Strawberries

They say a photo is worth a thousand words.  So I don't need to write much about the humongous size of these Albion Strawberries. But what a photo cannot tell you was how delicious they were.  Did you notice the past tense?  I was lucky to grab a basket to share with my wife and take this photo.  The office staff made short work of the flat of strawberries on Monday.

We are still shipping strawberries and other berries out of cold storage.  They travel inexpensively and easily via UPS.  Availability List is here: Availability List

Ron Ludekens 3-13-2012

Thursday, 26 January 2012 02:00

USDA Cold Hardiness Zones

On 1/25/2012 the USDA in association with OSU announced and unveiled the latest version of the Cold Hardiness Zones Map for the U.S.   Nursery Management magazine has done a nice summary of the changes here in NMPro so I won't repeat it here.  In short, zones have shifted both due to warming trends but also more accurate geographically due to better data and technology.  Some areas are now colder or warmer on the zone chart as technology is able to take into account geographical features like elevation, bodies of water, etc.

I like the new website.  It is very interactive and lets you or your customers enter a zip code to see their cold hardiness zones.  You also can zoom in, select regional maps and download the maps (warning - big files).  I have pulled down the full Illustrator file and converted to a 24"x36" poster sized pdf file.  Just have to find a place to print it.Smile

Here is the link to the new USDA Cold Hardiness Zone charts and website.

This tool is very handy when seeing where cold will damage trees and plants.  It is not so handy when determining whether a tree or plant will thrive in a zone as it does not take into account heat, length of season, humidity, summer rain, etc.  This is why we like the Sunset Climate Zones although that could do with a facelift with more accurate maps using the latest technology.

Ron Ludekens 1-26-2012

Monday, 23 January 2012 02:00


I heard the shout from the front office - "Ron get your camera!"

Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow

We were treated to one of the better rainbows I have seen in many years.  Big black clouds and associated downpour had just passed heading east and the late afternoon sun popped out brightly to create a brilliant rainbow.  Double rainbow in fact.

The Other Half

The Other Half

I think what impressed most was the brightness near the ground.  The left side was just across the street, right in our production field and in front of the walnut orchard.  Did not find a pot of gold so guess we still have to go to work tomorrow.

Pot of Gold

Pot of Gold Should Be There

The right end was bright enough to be seen through the dense branches of another walnut orchard.

Rainbow through orchard

This was a very nice treat to enjoy on a Monday afternoon.

Ron Ludekens 1-23-2012

Friday, 20 January 2012 02:00

Disaster Preparedness Pays Off

We have made various plans in case of disasters and Friday it paid off.  Not that it was a major disaster but the effects were troubling none-the less.

One of the planned scenarios is what happens if we lose utility power during our busiest part of shipping season.  When shipping up to 240 orders a day, we are processing a lot of invoices, packing lists and calling a lot of customers alerting them to their deliveries.  Being without computers, printers, copiers and phones was not something we wanted to have to do.

Friday it happened.  A long haul trucker making a delivery to us came in overnight and parked his rig in our lot.  In the morning he set out to go to the dock and failed to remember the power pole behind his truck. Crunch - he set of some electrical fireworks witnessed by Phillip Cox.  Results were a pole knocked cockeyed, split and wires ripped off our service feed.  Worse yet, the pole jerked wires down on a main line nearly a mile away.  Around 750 utility customers without power at 7:00 in the morning.

Power Pole Damagge

Southern California Edison truck holding up damaged pole.

We have several relatively small UPS Battery systems to service key areas like the phone system, main computer systems and key network switches.  These provide temporary power to override power glitches and provide an orderly shutdown if something more serious happens.  This was more than a minor power glitch and was not going to be fixed quickly.

Service Feed Damage

Service feed had to be replaced.

Generators to the rescue.  We have a number of generators.  The smaller ones run a lot of our strapping machines during harvest season or some field pumps when rains flood the fields.  We also have a large arc welder that can generate significant power when needed.  The problem with generators is they create "dirty" power and not something I would want to connect to sensitive electronics like computers.  This is where the UPS battery systems come into play.  Feed the dirty power to the UPS systems which cleans up the power for computer and printer use.

To make a long story short it worked as planned.  We did not get power back until 4:55 PM.  But we shipped anyway complete with all the paperwork.  Three main computers stayed up all day and so did the phone system (with minor blips off as I switched plugs).  Kept the network backbone up and one laser printer, one desktop and a couple of laptops.  We worked by window light which is why the laptops were used. Even plugged in the old (much smaller) fax in lieu of the one built into the multi-function copier which we could not supply with power.  Patti remembered that the small fax can make copies too.

New Pole Goes Up

New pole going in.

We got the essentials done to keep shipping and serving customers.  Unfortunately not enough window light and computers to keep all the office staff so many had an unplanned day off.  It also means I am another day behind in desk paperwork.

Neighbor Lost Power Too

Even our neighbor across the road had lines replaced

It was an interesting day and I am proud of our staff and how they handled everything.

Ron Ludekens 1/20/2012

Saturday, 07 January 2012 11:55

Lavender Twist Redbud

Lavender Twist® Redbud

Cercis canadensis 'Covey'


GM David Cox showing freshly dug Lavender Twist® Redbud

Cercis canadensis 'Covey' is a tree I like which is still under used in the landscape.  The main feature is the form - weeping which gives it character all season long - especially when dormant in the winter.

covey weeping redbud in bloom-smaller

Spring Bloom - Cercis canadensis 'Covey'

This year's crop is well sized and there are some still available.

Ron Ludekens 12-16-11

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 16:48

Grand Marshal


Bob Ludekens - Grand Marshall

Last night my father, Bob Ludekens, was honored as the Grand Marshal of the Visalia Candy Cane Lane Parade.  This is a major event for our lovely city where 7-10,000 families line Main Street in the cold (and sometimes fog like last night) to kick off the Christmas season.  Parade has been growing for 66 years.

It was a treat for all of us to see Bob honored.  Most of you in the nursery trade know him for his tireless work on behalf of our industry as a tree grower and advocate for the nurseries in various associations and committees.  What most of you may not be aware of is his lifelong involvement in Boy Scouts which is where the City of Visalia chose to give him honor.

Bob was a troup leader by the age of 17 and has been actively invloved in developing young men and leaders ever since including starting troups in tough neighborhoods as Watts and even recently in migrant labor camps.  If he is not starting and leading troups himself, he is active in training the adult leaders and fundraising.  At 81 years of age, Bob still works full days and weekends at the nursery and his evenings with the Scouts.  Dad - we are proud of your work, accomplishments and grateful the City gave you his honor.

Quietly beside him, my mother Carole, has been doing all the behind the scenes work.  Whether it be typing, buying food for the campouts, sweeping out the tents after the trips, she has done it all.  And, typical of mom, she doesn't want any recognition so you did not see her in the parade. But I did ask her to stand for a quick photo.

Carole Ludekens deserve a lot of the credit too!

Mom reluctantly allowed me to include her in the photo.

Dad wanted some other family members to ride along in the horse drawn carriage (which had limited seating) so in the photos you see my sister Susan Cox (David's wife) next to Dad, grandson Phillip Cox (my nephew) and his wife Megan in the front seat.  In the middle seat is Jennifer Ludekens DeSimas (granddaughter - my daughter) and her husband Danny DeSimas and son Tyler (Great grandson - 4th generation).

Family Photo

Four generations in this photo
(well 2nd generation is behind the camera taking picture)


Parade Photo

Our infamous Tule fog is rolling in as the parade starts - but the huge crowd stayed anyway

Parade Photo 2

Parade Photo 3

More photos here: Candy Cane Lane Parade Grand Marshal

Ron Ludekens 11/29/2011

Monday, 21 November 2011 11:24

Seasons are Relative

Some of you are already building snowmen.  In this agricultural rich San Joaquin Valley, we rarely see the white stuff so we have to be creative.


I saw this on Tom's computer monitor several times last week but each time I came to take a photo, body parts were missing.  Tom likes the tasty Fuyu-Jiro Persimmons (so do the rest of us).

It is persimmon season in Central California and the trees are full of orange-red orbs of delectible fruit.  I like the fall colors as well.  Here are some more persimon images from the budwood orchard:



Giant Fuyu (Gosho) Persimmons


Fuyu (Jiro) Persimmon (same as on catalog cover this year)


Fuyu (Jiro) Persimmons fruit heavily - Commercial favorite for taste and production


Fuyu (Imoto) Persimmon


Hachiya Persimmon - My favorite for cookies and persimmon bread


Chocolate Persimmons - Another fresh eating favorite


Tamopan Persimmon - A very large astringent selection with unique "acorn cap" apearance


Tanenashi Persimmon - a smaller astringent variety popular in regions of the country.


Tanenashi Persimmon - I'm always impressed how heavy it fruits


Izu Persimmon and nice fall color.  Month earlier fruit.

This is a wonderful time of year.

Ron Ludekens 11-21-2011



Monday, 14 November 2011 14:58

Muscat Grapes on a Roll

Muscat Grapes, Moscato, Muscatel

Ernie brought an article to me that I found interesting and thought I would share it with you.  Muscat (Alexandria) Grapes have been around a long time but in relatively recent years they have been bolstered with the introduction of Golden Muscat and Summer Muscat (Seedless).  And the sales of all three have been increasing.  I never dreamed it was because of Hip-Hop songs.Wink


Here is the article: Muscat Wines On a Roll



Golden Muscat Grapes

Ron Ludekens 11-14-2011


Thursday, 27 October 2011 10:43

Lessons from Trees

I ran across this piece this morning while reading Cybersalt Digest's daily email of clean fun and thought it worth sharing with those in the tree trade.


"Lessons From Trees"

It's important to have roots.

In today's complex world, it pays to branch out.

If you really believe in something, don't be afraid to go out on a limb.

Be flexible so you don't break when a harsh wind blows.

Sometimes you have to shed your old bark in order to grow.

If you want to maintain accurate records, keep a log.

It's okay to be a late bloomer.

Avoid people who would like to cut you down.

As you approach the autumn of your life, you will show your true colors. You could be Brilliant!

In other words "bloom where you are planted and make the best of what you've got."

Have a great day!

Ron Ludekens 10-27-2011

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