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 

Previously in Garden Decor:

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


Photo: Cherry Blossoms in pseudo-watercolor

Painted in Waterlogue

Created using the Waterlogue iOS app

Garden History: Every garden deserves a lovely garden gate – Wellington Stanley Morse House 1917

Every garden deserves a lovely garden gate and this one from 1917 California garden certainly fits the bill. Garden gates, in all their forms, give us a sense of enclosure while also inviting us inside for the beauty that might be found there. I find that in all my Internet travels garden gates and fences always attract my attention. I think it might be their regimented shapes enclosing the relatively wilder garden inside and the contrast sit provides that catches my eye.

[Wellington Stanley Morse house, 450 South San Rafael Avenue, San Rafael Heights, Pasadena, California.  (LOC)

Johnston, Frances Benjamin,, 1864-1952,, photographer.

[Wellington Stanley Morse house, 450 South San Rafael Avenue, San Rafael Heights, Pasadena, California. Garden gate]

[1917 spring]

1 photograph : glass lantern slide, hand-colored ; 3.25 x 4 in.

Site History. House Architecture: Reginald Davis Johnson, built 1919. Landscape: Paul George Thiene, 1919. Associated Name: Cora Dorr (Mrs. Wellington S.) Morse. Today: House extant , garden redesigned.
Title, date, and subject information provided by Sam Watters, 2011.
Forms part of: Garden and historic house lecture series in the Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection (Library of Congress).
Published in Gardens for a Beautiful America / Sam Watters. New York: Acanthus Press, 2012. Plate 120.

Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.

Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA,

Higher resolution image is available (Persistent URL):

Call Number: LC-J717-X110- 40

More information on garden gates:

Books on garden gates:

Previously in Garden History:

Garden History draws on “The Commons” a collection of historical photos from institutions from around the world and shared via Flickr, a photo sharing web site. Explore The Commons yourself!

Garden Decor: Driftwood Succulent Planter

Driftwood Succulent Planter

While I love great uses of recycled materials for the garden, sometimes the old classics just shine out. This driftwood branch, converted into a succulent planter, is absolutely gorgeous. It is both simple and complex at the same time, if that is possible. I am wondering if I could try something like this with any large branch or limb, although the sculptural nature of the driftwood lends its own beauty and complexity to the design.

Driftwood planter

Discovered via Pinterest User Tessa AraSmith-Cosby

More driftwood ideas from 

Previously in Garden Decor:

Interesting Plant: Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

Interesting Plant: Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

A lovely specimen of Kousa Dogwood found on the grounds of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. Oberlin was founded in 1837 and is renowned as the the first US college to admit African-Americans and Women.

Oberlin College Visit - Kousa Dogwood

Oberlin College Visit - Kousa Dogwood

Download your own Free Kousa Dogwood Computer and Smartphone Wallpapers

Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) 

The Kousa dogwood[1] (Cornus kousa or Benthamidia kousa) is a small deciduous tree 8–12 m (26–39 ft) tall, native to eastern Asia. Like most dogwoods, it has opposite, simple leaves, 4–10 cm long. The tree is extremely showy when in bloom, but what appear to be four-petalled white flowers are actually bracts spread open below the cluster of inconspicuous yellow-green flowers. The blossoms appear in late spring, weeks after the tree leafs out. The Kousa dogwood is sometimes also called “Chinese dogwood”,[2][3] Korean Dogwood,[3] orJapanese dogwood.[1] 

The kousa dogwood can be distinguished from the closely related flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) of eastern North America by its more upright habit, flowering about a month later, and having pointed rather than rounded flower bracts.

The fruit is a globose pink to red compound berry 2–3 cm in diameter, though these berries tend to grow larger towards the end of the season and some berry clusters that do not fall from the tree surpass 4 cm. It is edible, a sweet and delicious addition to the tree’s ornamental value. The fruit is sometimes used for making wine.[4]

It is resistant to the dogwood anthracnose disease, caused by the fungus Discula destructiva, unlike C. florida, which is very susceptible and commonly killed by it; for this reason, C. kousa is being widely planted as an ornamental tree in areas affected by the disease. A number of hybrids between C. kousa and C. florida have also been selected for their disease resistance and good flower appearance.

Fall foliage is a showy red color. –

More information on Rudbeckia:

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: In the garden…March 16, 2014: Potatoes and chives and onions and flowers

Agn artwork

Potatoes are going crazy, our 2 weeks of Spring is probably over and chives are flowering

Itg 20140316

Check out what was happening in the garden a year ago: “Container Garden Update 19 – A failed container, worm castings and some new basil”

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:


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

Music: “The One” by the Woodshedders (

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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. 

Garden Alphabet: Nasturtium

Garden Alphabet: Nasturium | A Gardener's Notebook with Douglas E. Welch

Previously in my Instagram Photos…

Garden Alphabet: Butterfly (Lepidoptera)

Garden Alphabet: Butterfly (Lepidoptera)

The garden is made up of more than just plants. The best gardens are filled with insects and wildlife as well as plants and flowers and learning more about these inhabitants can expand your understanding and the joy of keeping a garden. This butterfly photo was taken at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage California. I have also created 2 photo galleries and videos from the photos of my 2 visits. You’ll find a video and links to more below.

Garden Alphabet: Butterfly | A Gardener's Notebook

Butterfly (Lepidoptera)

butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly’s life cycle consists of four parts: egglarvapupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight. Butterflies comprise the true butterflies (superfamily Papilionoidea), the skippers(superfamily Hesperioidea) and the moth-butterflies (superfamily Hedyloidea). All the many other families within the Lepidoptera are referred to as moths. The earliest known butterfly fossils date to the midEocene epoch, 40–50 million years ago.[1]

Butterflies exhibit polymorphism, mimicry and aposematism. Some, like the Monarch, will migrate over long distances. Some butterflies have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with social insects such as ants. Some species are pests because in their larval stages they can damage domestic crops or trees; however, some species are agents of pollination of some plants, and caterpillars of a few butterflies (e.g., Harvesters) eat harmful insects. Culturally, butterflies are a popular motif in the visual and literary arts. – Wikipedia

More information on Butterly (Lepidoptera):

Video: In the garden…Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage, California 
Video: Sunnylands, Up Close – Rancho Mirage, California 

Previously in Garden Alphabet: