My Favorite Garden Things for May 2013 – Douglas E. Welch

My Favorite Things

As always, let me know what types of interesting items you would like to see and I will keep an eye out for them especially. — Douglas

Links to all of these items, and more, are on my Pinterest Feed.

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Looking Back – Videos from Douglas E. Welch – May 2013

Here is a playlist of all the videos I produced in May 2013.

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Garden Alphabet: Datura from Santa Cruz Island

Garden Alphabet: Datura from Santa Cruz Island

Granted, Datura (Jimson Weed) isn’t something that everyone would want or have in their garden, but I have always found its flowers to be quite beautiful. Datura is a California native and this one was growing on Santa Cruz Island, one of the Channel Islands, which we visited yesterday, June 1, 2013. I highlighted a related plant, Brugmansia, in an early segment of Garden Alphabet.

Datura from Santa Cruz Island


Datura is a genus of 9 species of vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. They are known as angel’s trumpets, sometimes sharing that name with the closely related genus Brugmansia, and commonly as daturas. They are also sometimes called moonflowers, one of several plant species to be so. Its precise and natural distribution is uncertain, owing to its extensive cultivation and naturalization throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the globe. Its distribution within the Americas, however, is most likely restricted to the United States and Mexico, where the highest species diversity occurs.

Some South American plants formerly thought of as Datura are now treated as belonging to the distinct genus Brugmansia[1] (Brugmansia differs from Datura in that it is woody, making shrubs or small trees, and it has pendulous flowers, rather than erect ones). Other related genera include Hyoscyamus and Atropa.” . —

More information on Datura:

Previously in Garden Alphabet:


Video: In the garden (short)…Hydrangeas

Your hydrangeas don’t have to be blue to be pretty. Here are some beautiful ones from a friend’s garden.



 Watch all the past “In the garden…” videos in this YouTube playlist 

“Hydrangea (/haɪˈdreɪndʒⁱə/;[1] common names hydrangea or hortensia) is a genus of 70-75 species of flowering plants native to southern and eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas, and Indonesia) and the Americas, primarily in Jardel country. By far the greatest species diversity is in eastern Asia, notably China, Japan, and Korea. Most are shrubs 1 to 3 meters tall, but some are small trees, and others lianas reaching up to 30 m (98 ft) by climbing up trees. They can be either deciduous or evergreen, though the widely cultivated temperate species are all deciduous.” —

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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.

Video: In the garden…crow in the birdbath – May 31, 2013

The crows were having quite the party in the birdbath this morning. They are often in the neighborhood, but I usually don’t see them in the garden itself.


Watch all the past “In the garden…” videos in this YouTube playlist 

“Crows /kroʊ/ form the genus Corvus in the family Corvidae. Ranging in size from the relatively small pigeon-size jackdaws (Eurasian and Daurian) to the Common Raven of the Holarctic region and Thick-billed Raven of the highlands of Ethiopia, the 40 or so members of this genus occur on all temperate continents except for South America, and several islands. In Europe the word “crow” is used to refer to the Carrion Crow or the Hooded Crow, while in North America it is used for the American Crow or the Northwestern Crow.

The crow genus makes up a third of the species in the Corvidae family. Crows appear to have evolved in Asia from the corvid stock, which had evolved in Australia. The collective name for a group of crows is a flock or a murder.[1]

Recent research has found some crow species capable of not only tool use but also tool construction[2] and meta-tool use. Crows are now considered to be among the world’s most intelligent animals[3] with an encephalization quotient approaching that of some apes. The Jackdaw and the European Magpie have been found to have a nidopallium approximately the same relative size as the functionally equivalent neocortex in chimpanzees and humans, and significantly larger than is found in the gibbon.[4]” —

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Your likes and subscriptions directly reflect how many other viewers are suggested this video.

“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.

Garden History: Sunnie-Holme, Home of Annie Burr Jennings

Gardens are ephemeral things. Left to their own devices, they can quickly be subsumed by nature once again with natives and weeds running wild through the once-carefully managed beds. In this case, though, Sunnie-Holme was actually destroyed by its owner, who declared the that house and grounds should be removed when she died. Very little remains today to mark where this garden and home once stood. You can see some current photos in this article, Economic Disaster: Have’s and Have-Not’s – Fairfield, CT Patch. 

In it’s prime in the photo below, the garden looks to be a wonderful combination of exuberant (and somewhat wild-looking) beds contrasted with manicured lawns and the sharp edge of the pond which lacks any sort of plants at all. I think the addition of some water lies or cattails might have added an interesting note there. Still, this photo does show how contrasting elements can bring a certain excitement and interest to a garden. As with writing, contrast, comparison and conflict are which bring energy to the story and I think the same items can be brought to a garden, too.

[Sunnie-Holme] [slide]


From the Smithsonian Institution…

Miss Annie Burr Jennings, daughter of a founder of Standard Oil Company, built Sunnie-Holme in 1909-1910. For thirty years, the house was the social center of the town during the summer months. It is unclear who designed the original parterre gardens; Miss Jennings later re-designed the gardens with herbaceous perennials, roses, and flowering shrubs. Her gardens were designed to be at their peak during the summer, when she resided in the house. Over thirty gardeners kept the extensive plantings maintained. Each of the three parallel paths leading from the main house south toward the sound were bordered with perennials in various color schemes or a vine-covered arbor. The designs were influenced by the writings of Gertrude Jekyll, whom whe met a Munstead wood in 1926, and from whom she commissioned the design for a garden at the Old Glebe House in Woodbury, Connecticut.

Located in the center of the garden was a formal rose garden, designed by Herbert Kellaway and rosarian, Mrs. Harriet Risley Foote, which had as its focal point an Italianate pool anchored by surrounding pergolas. Other garden “rooms” included “Irish,” evergreen, white, and an herb garden. A wild garden with Indian totem poles and a rustic lodge, was situated at the end of the property. In her will, Miss Jennings forbade that the gardens become a town park. Although she encouraged her heirs to continue the gardens, the property was sold. Sunnie-Holme was dismantled on the eve of World War II.

Persons associated with the property and garden include: Annie Burr jennings (former owner, 1909-1939); Herbert Kellaway (rose garden designer); and Harriett Risley Foote (rosarian). —!243975!0

Further Information on Sunnie-Holme:

Photographer: Scott, John Duer

Type: Projected media

Date: 1930

Topic: Ponds

Local number: CT004001

Physical description: 1 slide: glass lantern, col.; 3 x 5 in

Notes: See also Glebe House Museum, Woodbury, CT. The house was dismantled in 1940

Place: Connecticut
     Sunnie-Holme (Fairfield, Connecticut)

Persistent URL: ce=~!siarchives&uri=full=3100001~!181529~!0#focus

Repository:Archives of American Gardens

View more collections from the Smithsonian Institution.

Previously in Garden History:

Video: In the garden…May 29, 2013: Planting a pack of plants

“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.

I plant a pack of plants I bought at the local warehouse store. I know, I know, some might consider that cheating, but the price made it a good thing to check out, show to you and see how it work. I also plant some hand-me-down Gerbera Daisies from a friend. The greening of the garden continues!

Watch all the past “In the garden…” videos in this YouTube playlist 

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In the neighborhood…Persimmons, pomegranates, figs and grapes

In the neighborhood…Persimmons, pomegranates, figs and grapes

Spring has spring here in the neighborhood and in one 1.5 mile walk around the neighborhood we saw persimmons, pomegranates, figs and grapes setting fruit. We also saw apples and apricots, but that is for another post. (SMILE) Most people seem to envision citrus trees when thinking of Southern California, but there are a lot of other fruits that grow well here, even in the home garden. Here are some photos from our walk. I am thinking of starting to do little video shorts for In the neighborhood, too, to let you see the fruit and flowers in all their glory.



Persimmons are the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros. Diospyros is in the family Ebenaceae, and certain species of Diospyros are the sources of most kinds of ebony wood, and not all species bear edible fruit. In color the ripe fruit of the cultivated strains range from light yellow-orange to dark red-orange depending on the species and variety. They similarly vary in size from 1.5 to 9 cm (0.5 to 4 in) in diameter, and in shape the varieties may be spherical, acorn-, or pumpkin-shaped.[1] The calyx generally remains attached to the fruit after harvesting, but becomes easy to remove once the fruit is ripe. The ripe fruit has a high glucose content. The protein content is low, but it has a balanced protein profile. Persimmon fruits have been put to various medicinal and chemical uses.

Like the tomato, persimmons are not popularly considered to be berries, but in terms of botanical morphology the fruit is in fact a berry.” — Wikipedia



“The pomegranate /ˈpɒmɨɡrænɨt/, scientific name Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between 5–8 metres (16–26 ft) tall.

The pomegranate is widely considered to have originated in the vicinity of Iran and has been cultivated since ancient times.[1][2][3] Today, it is widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, the Middle East and Caucasus region, northern Africa and tropical Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the drier parts of southeast Asia.[4] Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is also cultivated in parts of California and Arizona.[5]
In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to February.[6] In the Southern Hemisphere, the pomegranate is in season from March to May.

The pomegranate has been mentioned in many ancient texts, notably in Babylonian texts, the Book of Exodus, the Homeric Hymns and the Quran.[7] In recent years, it has become more common in the commercial markets of North America and the Western Hemisphere.[4][5]

Pomegranates are used in cooking, baking, juices, smoothies and alcoholic beverages, such as martinis and wine.[8]” — Wikipedia

Fig Grape Cluster

PomegranatePomegranate flowers and fruitPomegranate FlowersPomegranatePomegranate Flowers

FigsFigPersimmonPersimmonGrape Cluster

Do you have persimmons, pomegranates, figs and grapes in your yard or garden? Share your pictures and thoughts in the comments!

More information on Persimmons, pomegranates, figs and grapes:

Interesting Plant: Streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue’

Interesting Plant: Streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue’

Streptocarpus h blue

Interesting Plant: Streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue’

There are some plants that just look “alien” or painted or Photoshopped, but I have been assured — via many mentions in the coverage of the Chelsea Garden Show — that Streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue’ is indeed a real plant. It is quite amazing to see bloom with such a clear definition between their two colors and the dramatic shape of the flower only helps to point out its special nature. I hadn’t heard much about streptpocarpus in the past, but after seeing ‘Harlequin Blue’ I will certainly be paying more attention to them in the future.

Do you have suggestions for the Interesting Plant series? Share your favorites with me!

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More information on Streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue’

Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Video: Container Garden Update 29: At the potting bench with palm and locust

Agn artwork

I spend some time at the potting bench today, checking on those things we planted previously and adding a few more, including a palm seed found in the neighborhood and a locust seedling from my own garden.
Container Garden Update 29

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Video shot with Canon VIXIA HF R400 HD

Music: “Whiskey on the Mississippi” Kevin MacLeod (  – Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0