Flowering Now: Freesia

Flowering Now: Freesia


Photo: Douglas E. Welch, A Gardener’s Notebook

We have two types of Freesia that arrive in the garden each Spring. They don’t get quite enough sun and so they are quite “floppy”, but they return every year like clockwork. This year they seem a bit perkier. We removed a pine tree that shaded this bed a bit and that seems to have helped.

“Freesia is a genus of around 16 species of flowering plants in the family Iridaceae, native to the eastern side of southern Africa, from Kenya down to South Africa,[1] most species being found in Cape Province.[citation needed] Species of the former genus Anomatheca are now included in Freesia.[1] The plants commonly known as “freesias”, with fragrant funnel-shaped flowers, are cultivated hybrids of a number of Freesia species. Some other species are also grown as ornamental plants.” — Wikipedia.org

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Previously in Flowering Now:

It’s Tomatomania Time Again! – March 20-22, 2015, Encino, CA

It’s that time of year again…time to get growing — and eventually eating — all that tomato-y goodness from your own garden. This year’s bi-coastal Tomatomania 2015 may be coming to an area near you. Check out all the info on their web site, Tomatomania.com.


Tomatomania is coming soon to your area!


Our own local event, here at Tapia Bros in Encino, CA will be held March 20-22, 2015. I highly recommend going early, as many varieties sell out quickly and you want to make sure you get your favorites!

You can also get your own personal copy of Tomatomania!: A Fresh Approach to Celebrating Tomatoes in the Garden and in the Kitchen Paperback by Scott Daigre and Jenn Garbee to help you grow the best tomatoes ever.

You can find many of my previous posts about Tomatomania using the related links below! Wishing you the best tomato season ever in your garden!

Interesting Plant: Bigberry Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca) via BeWaterWise (@bewaterwiseh2o)

Bigberry Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca) via BeWaterWise.com

A few months ago I was invited down the office of the Metropolitan Water District to meet a number of people involved in their BeWaterWise.com project to help reduce water usage in California. As part of their efforts, they focus on providing plant alternatives to water hungry lawns. Over the next several weeks, I will be highlighting some of their garden alternatives as part of this series. For more information on these plants and other water conservation ideas and programs, vist BeWaterWise.comFollow the MWD on Twitter at BeWaterWiseH2O — Douglas

Arctostaphylos glauca 2.jpg
Arctostaphylos glauca 2” by Stan Shebs. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This native Californian has blue-gray leaves, which offset clusters of pink to white urn-shaped flowers. The flowers bloom in late winter to early spring and are followed by berrylike red or brown fruits that attract birds. Known for its crooked branches of dark purple/brown bark, this variety is a tall shrub that can spread up to 15 feet tall and 20 feet wide. There are many different varieties of manzanita; all are evergreen, take full sun or light shade and require little to moderate water. — BeWaterWise.com

Arctostaphylos glauca is a species of manzanita known by the common name bigberry manzanita. It is native to California and Baja California, where it grows in the chaparral and woodland of coastal and inland hills.

Arctostaphylos glauca is a large shrub varying in size from one to well over six meters in height. Individuals growing in desert regions tend to be shorter than those on the coast. Leaves are light gray-green, somewhat waxy, oval in shape to nearly round, and smooth or toothed along the edges. They are up to five centimeters long and four wide and grow on short petioles about a centimeter long.

The inflorescence holds hanging clusters of narrow urn-shaped white flowers. The edible fruit is a round or egg-shaped drupe 12 to 15 millimeters wide. It is light red in color and has a thick pulp covered in a tough, sticky coat. The fruit contains three to six nutlets fused into a single mass. The shrub reproduces by seed and by layering. Seeds require exposure to fire before they can germinate.

It is a long-lived species, reaching 100 years of age or more, though it does not begin to fruit until it is around 20 years old. The shrub is allelopathic, inhibiting the growth of other plants in its understory when rain leaches toxic arbutin and phenolic acids from its foliage.[1]  – Wikipedia

More information on Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana)  :
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Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Interesting Plant is a series from A Gardener’s Notebook blog and podcast that highlights the most interesting plants I find in my Internet and real-world travels — Douglas

Photo: Gerbera Daily from the garden today via #instagram


Video: Honeybees on Lemon Blossoms from Animalbytes

My friend Keri, over at Animalbytes and The Earth Minute, captured this great video of honeybees on her lemon tree.

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Video: In the garden…February 22, 2015: Birds, planting a new pomegranate tree and more!

A Gardener's Notebook Artwork

An interesting project to map all the trees in Los Angeles, Juncos and Hummingbirds in the garden and Planting our new, free, pomegranate tree to add some more fruit and productivity to the garden.

Links Mentioned in this Podcast:

Check out my collection of gardening essays, “From A Gardener’s Notebook” now available as a Kindle eBook. (You don’t need a Kindle to read it, though. Read it on your PC, Link: http://j.mp/fagnbook

Watch all past episodes of “In the garden…” in this YouTube Playlist

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“In the garden…” is a series for A Gardener’s Notebook highlighting what is happening in my garden, my friend’s gardens and California gardens throughout the seasons. 

Interesting Project: TreeMapLA

I came across this interesting project via a neigh or’s post on NextDoor.com and wanted to share it here. I have signed up and already marked a few trees in my own garden to test it out.


What is TreeMapLA?

TreeMapLA is an ambitious collaboration of nonprofits, local governments, businesses—and you—to map every tree in Greater Los Angeles. By entering every tree’s location, species and current size, and updating its needs, we create a powerful tool to learn about our urban forest and its value, including specific environmental and economic benefits.

This information will help us to manage the well-being of our region’s urban forest and make our city more livable: shadier, cleaner, safer and more beautiful, and better able to meet climate change impacts including heat, flooding and drought. Users of this information include government agencies, arborists, landscape architects, planners, students, civic organizations, and everyday citizens.

With TreeMapLA, concerned citizens and tree enthusiasts throughout Los Angeles can learn, communicate, and take action on behalf of the trees around us.

Garden Alphabet: Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)

Another in what I classify as the “alien” plants that grow here in Southern California. They do look so other-worldly, exotic and fascinating. We see a lot of strelitzia in the landscapes here in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, including a “giant” form that grows to the size of a tree. 

Bird of paradise


Strelitzia /strɛˈlɪtsiə/[1] is a genus of five species of perennial plants, native to South Africa. It belongs to the plant family Strelitziaceae.[2] The genus is named after the duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, birthplace of Queen Charlotte of the United Kingdom. A common name of the genus is bird of paradise flower / plant, because of a resemblance of its flowers to the bird of paradise. In South Africa it is commonly known as a crane flower and is featured on the reverse of the 50 cent coin. It is the Official Flower of the City of Los Angeles and two of the species, Strelitzia nicolaiand Strelitzia reginae are frequently grown as house plants. [3]

The species S. nicolai is the largest in the genus, reaching 10 m tall, with stately white and blue flowers;[4] the other species typically reach 2 to 3.5 m tall, except S. caudata which is a tree of a typically smaller size than S. nicolai. The leaves are large, 30–200 cm long and 10–80 cm broad, similar to a banana leaf in appearance but with a longer petiole, and arranged strictly in two ranks to form a fan-like crown of evergreen foliage. The flowers are produced in a horizontal inflorescence emerging from a stout spathe. They are pollinated by sunbirds, which use the spathe as a perch when visiting the flowers. The weight of the bird when standing on the spathe opens it to release the pollen onto the bird’s feet, which is then deposited on the next flower it visits. – Wikipedia

More information on Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia):

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Previously in Garden Alphabet:

Art: Waiting for Spring and …the wind does blow…

A couple of modified pictures from the garden using the ToonPaint iOS app — one of my favorite tools for putting a new spin on existing photos.

Waiting for spring

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...and the wind does blow\

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