Garden Alphabet: Wisteria

Garden Alphabet: Wistera

The epitome of Spring, the big, burly, grasping, sprawling and blowzy wisteria is a favorite in many gardens. You need a hefty trellis or pergola to host this (potential) monster of a plant. For that, you will be rewarded with an explosion of draping purple or white flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees and are an impressive indicator that Spring has finally arrived. Wisteria can be a bit fussy about blooming. It wants just enough light, water and nutrients. Too little (or too much) can turn it into a mass of green foliage but produce few flowers. Typically you want to prune Wisteria twice a year — once during its dormant period and again mid-season to keep its growth in control. For me, this means pulling its tenacious tendrils off of every surround plant and roof surface and tying it back onto the pergola where it belongs.

Garden Alphabet: Wisteria | A Gardener's Notebook #garden #photography


Wisteria (also spelled Wistaria or Wysteria) is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae, that includes ten species of woody climbing vines native to the Eastern United States and to ChinaKorea, and Japan. Some species are popular ornamental plants, especially in China and Japan. An aquatic flowering plant with the common name wisteria or ‘water wisteria’ is in fact Hygrophila difformis, in the family Acanthaceae.

The botanist Thomas Nuttall said he named the genus Wisteria in memory of Dr. Caspar Wistar (1761–1818).[1][2] Questioned about the spelling later, Nuttall said it was for “euphony,” but his biographer speculated that it may have something to do with Nuttall’s friend Charles Jones Wister, Sr., of Grumblethorpe, the grandson of the merchant John Wister.[3] (Some Philadelphia sources state that the plant is named after Wister.)[4] As the spelling is apparently deliberate, there is no justification for changing the genus name under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.[5] However, some spell the plant’s common name “wistaria”.[6][7]

Genetic analysis shows Callerya and Wisteria to be each other’s closest relatives and quite distinct from other members of the tribe Millettieae. Both have eight chromosomes.[8] – Wikipedia

More information on Wistera:


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Video: La ‘Bee’ In Rose

La bee in rose thumb


Photo posted via Instagram

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Art: Yellow Flowers Watercolor

Yellow flowers watercolor

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Link Focus: Book Review: The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto from The Patient Gardener’s Weblog

Book Review: The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto from The Patient Gardener’s Weblog

The best book reviews give us a clear indication why we should read a book, its pros, its cons, its faults and its triumphs. Even more, it should entice us to read the book on our own, unsatisfied with the small glimpse we have been given in the review. We should want more.  Helen at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog provides this an more. She details how this book addresses not only the garden of Venice themselves but also the history that surrounds them and their creation.

Since we have visited Italy (mainly Sicily) several times in the past, I am naturally attracted to anything Italian. Combine that with my interest and gardening and you have book that was sure to attract my attention. Helen’s review only makes me want to read it all the more. If you have a similar combination of interests, I think you will find it engaging, too.

Gardens venice

From The Patient Gardener’s Weblog

As a bit of an Italophile I was more than happy to receive a review copy of The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto by Jenny Condie. However, I did wonder if this book would have a limited market being about gardens in such a small specific area.

The book, on first glance, is your archetypal coffee table book. Large, relatively heavy and full of sumptuous photographs by Alex Ramsay. Unsurprisingly, given the location of the gardens the images groan with parterres, clipped hedges, citrus plants, statutes and the lovely pale coloured Italian villas. However, and it is a very significant however, the text that accompanies the photographs takes this book away from your average illustrated book of nice garden views.

Previously on Link Focus:

Link Focus is a series that comments on some of the links I share on my social media accounts and here on the web site. To get these links as I find them, subscribe to me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and elsewhere. Also look for the “My Favorite Things” posts that appear regularly in the blog. These include collections of links for each calendar month.

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Interesting Plant: Red Stick Dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’)

Red Stick Dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’)

Who doesn’t love a splash of red in the garden, especially during those long Winter months. Much like the red cardinal on the white show, this dogwood would look dazzling on a sunny, snow-covered day in the garden.

Red stick dogwood

Discovered via Pinterest User, Dave Scholten

Cornus alba (red-barked, white or Siberian dogwood) is a species of flowering plant in the family Cornaceaenative to Siberia, northern China and Korea. It is a large suckering shrub that can be grown as a small tree. As a popular ornamental used in landscaping its notable features include the red stems in fall (autumn) through late winter, the brightest winter bark of any cornus;[1] and the variegated foliage in somecultivars, such as C. alba ‘elegantissima’, in which the discreet flat whitish flower clusters are almost lost in the variegated texture and dappled light. C. alba can grow to 3 m (10 ft) high, but variegated forms are less vigorous. For the brightest winter bark, young shoots are encouraged by cutting to the ground some older stems at the end of the winter, before leaves are open.

The plant is extremely hardy, to USDA Zone 3.

The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit:-

  • ‘Aurea’[2] (yellow leaves)
  • ‘Elegantissima’[3] (deep red stems and small white flowers)
  • ‘Sibirica’[4] (2.5 m (8 ft 2 in), brilliant red stems, cream flowers)
  • ‘Spaethii’[5] (variegated leaves with yellow margins)


More information on Red Stick Dogwood (Cornus alba):

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: Fortnight Lily via #instagram

Fortnight lily

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Photo: Pink Hibiscus via #instagram

Pink hibiscus

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Garden Decor: River Rock Pillar

River Rock Pillar

Rock and stone hardscape in the garden always provides a great counterpoint to the soft and green plantings. This river rock pillar adds a rusted steel cage and a perfect setting for a container on top, too. The innovative use of individual stones instead of concrete gives it huge visual interest. This could act as a focal point in the garden or you could use multiple pillars, linked with rustic fencing to enclose an area of the garden.

River rock pillar

Discovered via Pinterest User Dianne Hollister

More rock and stone ideas from 

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Interesting Plant: Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

Interesting Plant: Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

Growing up in rural Ohio, I was surrounded by maple trees of all shapes and sizes. There were the huge 100+ year old maples that overarched the main streets and also the large “sugar bush” lots where maple sap (and then maple syrup) remerged each Spring. When I moved to Los Angeles 28 years ago, I was somewhat disappointed that maples were few and far between here. The traditional east coast maple trees do not grow well here at all, requiring a period of deep cold to thrive. After several years, though, I discovered a new maple to love, the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum). I have come to love these maples even more than those in my native state. They come in an almost infinite array of shapes, sizes, leaf coloration and shape and, thankfully, grow quite well here in Southern California. If I ever have the chance to start a garden from scratch, I would certainly use Japanese Maple as the focal points.

 Acer palmatum, called Japanese Maple or Smooth Japanese Maple (Japanese: irohamomijiイロハモミジ, or momiji紅葉) is a species of woody plant native to JapanNorth KoreaSouth KoreaChina, easternMongolia, and southeast Russia.[2] Many different cultivars of this maple have been selected and they are grown worldwide for their attractive leaf shapes and colours.

Acer palmatum is a deciduous shrub or small tree reaching heights of 6 to 10 m (20 to 33 ft), rarely 16 metres (52 ft), often growing as an understory plant in shady woodlands. It may have multiple trunks joining close to the ground. In habit, it is often shaped like a hemisphere (especially when younger) or takes on a dome-like form, especially when mature.[3] The leaves are 4–12 cm long and wide, palmately lobed with five, seven, or nine acutely pointed lobes. The flowers are produced in small cymes, the individual flowers with five red or purple sepals and five whitish petals. The fruit is a pair of winged samaras, each samara 2–3 cm long with a 6–8 mm seed. The seeds of Japanese maple and similar species require stratification in order to germinate.[3][4]

Even in nature, Acer palmatum displays considerable genetic variation, with seedlings from the same parent tree typically showing differences in such traits as leaf size, shape, and colour.[3]

Three subspecies are recognised:[3][4]

  • Acer palmatum subsp. palmatum. Leaves small, 4–7 cm wide, with five or seven lobes and double-serrate margins; seed wings 10–15 mm. Lower altitudes throughout central and southern Japan (not Hokkaido).
  • Acer palmatum subsp. amoenum (Carrière) H.Hara. Leaves larger, 6–12 cm wide, with seven or nine lobes and single-serrate margins; seed wings 20–25 mm. Higher altitudes throughout Japan and South Korea.
  • Acer palmatum subsp. matsumurae Koidz. Leaves larger, 6–12 cm wide, with seven (rarely five or nine) lobes and double-serrate margins; seed wings 15–25 mm. Higher altitudes throughout Japan. –
More information on Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum):

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

Video: Lake Balboa Cherry Blossoms 2014 – A Video Montage

As I do each year, I took some time to visit nearby Lake Balboa Park today to see the Japanese Cherry trees that bloom around the lake each year. We are in a drought year, so the bloom is not as vibrant has it has been in the past, but there was still many blossoms to photograph and video. Here are a video montage from this year’s trip. 

Cherry blossoms 2014 


You can view a collection of photos from this trip in this past post — Photos: Cherry Blossoms at Lake Balboa 2014