Photos: In the neighborhood…March 9, 2015 – Van Nuys, California

A collection of flower photos from my walk in the neighborhood today. Have you taken a walk in your neighborhood today? You might be surprised at what you find.

In the neighborhood…March 9, 2015 - Van Nuys, CA - 07

See all the photos in this set on Flickr using the slideshow and links below

View the complete set on Flickr

Sweet potato harvest complete and bed prepared for this season

A few hours of our Sunday were spent harvesting the remaining sweet potatoes from last year and preparing the bed for this year’s planting. I have a number of new sweet potato slips on the potting bench and am also creating a few more by rooting them in water from yesterday’s harvest.

Here are the last sweet potatoes drying in the sun on our driveway yesterday. I would estimate that we harvested well over 150 lbs of sweet potatoes from this one bed. I have been offering to share sweet potatoes slips with my neighbors so they can grow their own, as they seem to do so well here.

Sweet potatoes drying on driveway

Sweet potatoes drying on driveway

Sweet potatoes drying on driveway closeup

Sweet potatoes drying on driveway closeup


Once all the sweet potatoes were up, it was time to re-fit the bed. Our little Troy-Bilt electric cultivator made a quick job of it and we are all prepared for planting in the next couple of days. The soil in this bed gets better and better with each season . I need to make a little deeper, but the soil is quite friable and light.

While most of this bed will be sweet potatoes again, I also plan on putting our new blueberry bush on the street-side end of this bed to increase our food production. I’ll have some video of this in the next few days.

Sweet potato bed prepared for the season

Sweet potato bed prepared for the season


If you’re looking for new plants for your garden this year, check out the site of our sponsor, Monrovia Plants.

Two more plant ideas from Monrovia – Clivia and Stonerop

Thanks to Monrovia for sponsoring this series of posts. The opinions stated here are my own.

As I was looking for my new plants at the nursery and in the Monrovia online catalog, I came across many plants that attracted my attention in some way. I’ll be highlighting a few of the other plants that might eventually find a place in my garden.

Belgian Hybrid Orange Bush Lily (Clivia miniata ‘Belgian Hybrid Orange’)

clivia | Direct Link

Clivia are a common landscaping plant here in Los Angeles, used especially around the shaded area of corporate courtyards and offices. I have always liked them, but their price — and my bad experiences trying to grow anything in the deep shade of my back, woodland, garden — have kept me from actually planting them. Eventually I suppose I will get over my fears and use some of these to green and brighten what can otherwise be a very brown back garden. I saw some excellent examples while browsing about the garden store and I may just have to go back and pick up a few to move some planting projects along.

Showy, broad, dark green, strap-like leaves are wider and shorter than other varieties. Rounded clusters of up to 60 vivid orange flowers on tall stems make this an absolutely gorgeous accent, border plant or container specimen. Evergreen. – Monrovia

Bronze Carpet Stonecrop (Sedum spurium ‘Bronze Carpet’)

stonecrop | Direct Link

I am immediately taken by the bronze color of this sedum — so unlike anything else I had seen before. I love succulents, but don’t grow nearly enough of them in my garden, even though here in drought-plagues Southern California it would probably be a great idea. This stonecrop will be something I keep in mind for future planting ideas, though.

Beautiful trailing succulent perennial forms lush, ground hugging mats of brilliant bronze red, yet needs little water once established. Stalks of dainty pink flowers occasionally arise above foliage. Useful in borders, rock gardens or containers where it will provide excellent contrast to green or grey-leaved plants. Semi-evergreen in mild-winter areas. — Monrovia

Previously in this sponsored program:

Event: Mushrooms and Fungi of the Santa Monica Mountains, Encino, March 10, 2015

Event: Mushrooms and Fungi of the Santa Monica Mountains with the California Native Plant Society


March 10 · 7:30 – 9:00pm


Presenter: Florence Nishida

What IS a mushroom anyway? Do we have any in Los Angeles? Where can I find some? These are some of the questions that Florence Nishida, mycologist, will answer as she takes you through a tour of some of our interesting mushrooms in and around Los Angeles.

Florence Nishida is a master gardener and research associate at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. She is a mycologist who is working on a guide to southern California mushrooms and fungi. She leads our CNPS Chapter’s Mushroom Forays in the Santa Monica Mountains when we have wet weather.

Sepulveda Garden Center
16633 Magnolia Blvd. Encino


Video: Spring Beauty That Lasts – Sponsored by #Monrovia – My 2 New Plants

Thanks to Monrovia for sponsoring this series of posts. The opinions stated here are my own.



Hello everyone, it’s Douglas E. Welch from A Gardener’s Notebook. You may have noticed on the blog that I’ve had a sponsored opportunity from Monrovia to try out some of their plants in my garden. So, I headed off to my local gardening store here — one that I don’t get to visit that often — and I was intrigued by the variety that was available.

One of the first plants that caught my eye was this California Buckwheat. It’s a California Native and I’ve been wanting to grow buckwheat in my garden for a long time, but I haven’t had much success growing it from seed. So, hopefully, this will be one way of getting it started here.

The second plant was one that I had discovered on a photowalk I took about a year ago. It’s a Dwarf New Zealand Tea Tree or a Leptospermum. I really love the color of the flower on this plant. Now, unfortunately, I don’t have room for a full size version of this which grows into a substantial tree in your garden, so I’m hoping that this dwarf variety works better in my garden and still provides a lot of the color and texture that I found so likable in the full-sized version.

So, these are the 2 new plants I’ve decided to add to my garden. Thanks to Monrovia  for giving me this opportunity to try out some new plants. I can always use new things in my garden, especially those plants that are waterwise and help out in our drought conditions here in Southern California.

For more information, you can visit the Monrovia site directly. You can find links on this video and also on the associated blog post. Thanks for listening. For more information on A Gardener’s Notebook visit

Until next time…keep on digging!

Music: “Carefree” by Kevin MacLeod ( under Creative Commons License

LinkMonrovia Home and Garden Information 

LinkShop Online at

Follow @MonroviaPlants on Twitter


Previously in this sponsored program:

What Monrovia Plants should I try in my garden? California Buckwheat, New Zealand Tea Tree or something completely different?

Thanks to Monrovia for sponsoring this series of posts. The opinions stated here are my own.

Monrovia Nursery discovered A Gardener’s Notebook somehow and they have reached out to me with an offer to try some of their plants and share my experiences with you. While they have provided me a budget to buy the plants, the opinions expressed here are my own, of course. (SMILE) If you would care to check to Monrovia’s selection, either online or in your local garden store, you can use the links throughout the article to find their complete catalog and list of vendors.

Shop monrovia web

Where to start?

The first step is to select what plants I will purchase and plant here in my own Southern California garden. Today, I visited too local garden stores — one large home store and one smaller garden chain — to see what they had available.

For this exercise, I am mainly focusing on water wise plants, much like every other gardener here in the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles and beyond. While The Valley isn’t really a desert — our year’s are quite dry for 9 months or so and then subject to varying levels of rain in the Winter months. RIght now, we are in the depths of a long running drought, as we often are, so paring bak on the amount of water your garden needs is a prime concern. Many people in my neighborhood are taking advantage of programs that pay for the removal of their lawns so that they can be replaced with water wise garden alternatives. I can count at least 20, if not more, homes on my typical neighborhood walk that have done just that. You may have seen me highlighting water wise plants information from our local Metropolitan Water District site – I do this to help get the world out to my fellow gardeners, so it only makes sense that I try to save water in my garden.

After looking around the garden center for 30 minutes or so, I came across 2 possible candidates for my free plants. I’d be interested in hearing what you think about these choices and, perhaps, what other Monrovia plants might be a better choice. There are some limitations, of course. Not all plants grow well in our Mediterranean climate and, unfortunately, the variety of Monrovia plants available at my local garden stores isn’t very extensive. I wish I was able to choose anything from the catalog, but alas we all must face the limitations we are given.

Here are the 2 candidate plants which are of interest to me and available locally. Which do you think are most interesting? What experience due you have with them — good or bad? What other recommendations from the Monrovia catalog would you recommend for my garden? Leave me a comment and let me know.

IMG 2410

California Buckwheat (I don’t find this plant in the online Monrovia catalog. Perhaps it is a regional speciality?)

I love the look of our native California Buckwheat when I am out walking in the hills. The prolific white flowers turn to a rusty brown as they dry while the leaves remain mostly evergreen. I have tried my hand at gathering buckwheat seeds in the wild, but I have never been successful at propagating it myself. Perhaps this would be a good way to get it growing in my garden.

IMG 2411

Dwarf New Zealand Tea Tree (Search for Tea Tree from the main page)

I came across the New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum) on one of my photo walks about a year ago, (See my earlier blog post — Interesting Plant: Australian/New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium)) I was immediately taken with its amazing color and prolific flowers. So much so, that I had to spend a bit of time researching exactly what it was. This example is a dwarf variety, which is more in keeping with my garden size and needs. I loved the full-sized versions, but really don’t have a place to fit them in the limited area that has full sun. I think this dwarf variety, though, will fit in quite nicely in some bare spots in the front garden when the elderly azaleas have suffered from their age, their pruning and the limited water they get.

Let me know what you think in the comments. While plant availability is somewhat limited, I might drive around a bit more to find something particularly special from Monrovia. I plan in purchasing and getting these in the ground sometime this weekend, so get your comments in soon.

Link: Monrovia Home and Garden Information

Link: Shop Online at

Video: In the garden…March 4, 2015: Wisteria cutting takes off from A Gardener’s Notebook

A Gardener's Notebook Artwork

A short look at an experiment I started a few weeks ago. While pruning back the dormant wisteria vines, I took a few cuttings to see if they might root. This one has taken off and I have potted it up into a larger size to grow it on a bit more.

Hopefully, this will entice you to try a few experiments of your own in the garden. Free plants are one great result.


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

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

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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 Decor: Copper Pipe Tiki Torches DIY

Copper Pipe Tiki Torches DIY

I’ve never been a big fan of the bamboo style tiki torches. They seem to cumbersome and even, in some cases, catch fire themselves, if the wind is blowing too hard in the wrong direction. These copper pipe torches are much more my style. I think they look quite elegant and they’ll never have an issue with guttering flames catching the container alight.

This project looks simple enough that I just might try building some myself. I am not a terribly handy DIY-er, but the instructions look clear so it seems fairly attuned to my skill level.


Via Pinterest User Kevin Shoemaker

Direct link to original project on

More information on Tiki Torches:

Previously in Garden Decor:

Free Gerbera Daisy Computer and Smartphone Wallpapers for March 2015

Here is a selection of free wallpapers for your computer desktop or smartphone. Click to load full-sized image, then right-click and select Save Image As… to download them to your own computer. On your smartphone, click the image to see the full-sized image, tap and hold, then select Save to Camera Roll. You can then attach the wallpapers using your phone’s preferences.



iPad | iPhone

Get this wallpaper on a variety of fun products

Gerbera daisy iphoneGerbera daisy cardsGerbera daisy toteGerbera daisy mugGerbera daisy travel

Check out my entire portfolio on RedBubble

Previous wallpapers:

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.” —

More information on Freesia:

Get this photo on smartphone cases, cards mugs and more!

freesia-card-sq freesia-iphone-sq

Previously in Flowering Now: