Garden Budget: Plants and Supplies for March 2013

I have decided to start spending a certain budget each month on improving the garden (~$100) and then blogging about it here on A Gardener’s Notebook. March starts the first month in the series and I am beginning by trying to “re-green” the back garden, which has suffered with over planting and too much shade since we first moved in 16 years ago. I didn’t get pictures of everything this time, but I’ll make sure to do better in future installments, including labels and such.

Garden budget 2013023a

It is a little hard to tell from the receipt (and I think the checker might have missed some items), but here is what I picked up this month.

  • False Aralia: 5 gallon
  • Schefflera: 5 gallon
  • Aucuba: 1 gallon (2)
  • Worm Castings (2)
  • Watering Can
  • Basil (2)
  • Nasturtium Seeds

Here are some photos of the plants installed in the garden. Click for larger images.


You can see installing these plants in the video below:

Garden Alphabet: Freesia


Garden Alphabet: Freesia

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

“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 the Freesia:

Previously in Garden Alphabet:


Video: In the garden…March 21, 2013 – Planting new shade plants and discovering a “pond” in the garden

“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 2 Aucuba, a Schefflera and an aralia to start the “re-greening” of the back garden, but I also find a small “pond” in the area I wanted to plant. Looks like a broken irrigation line has been leaking. Oh oh!


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

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Garden History: Your victory garden counts more than ever!

It isn’t just during times of war that your Victory Garden counts. I wish that they had never gone out of style. Once food rationing finished and food was freely available again, most returned to there previous ways of life. Pity. Gardening brings so much more than just food. It can bring health, heart and happiness to anyone who engages in it. Imagine if the concept of a Victory Garden never went away. We wouldn’t have to be trying to resurrect urban gardening as we are today. It would have never gone away. In today’s Victory Garden, the “victory” isn’t in the war, but rather the victory of reacquiring something that should have never been lost in the first place.

Your victory garden counts more than ever!

Your victory garden counts more than ever!

File name: 07_01_000035

Title: Your victory garden counts more than ever!

Creator/Contributor: Morley, Hubert (artist); United States. War Food Administration (sponsor)

Created/Published: U. S. Government Printing Office

Date issued: 1945

Physical description: 1 print (poster) : color

Summary: Vegetables in foreground, man plowing, woman kneeling in garden in background.

Genre: War posters

Subjects: Victory gardens; Agriculture; Food supply

Notes: U.S. Government Printing Office : 1945–O-629743

Location: Boston Public Library, Print Department

Previously in Garden History:

5 Years Ago: Photos: Lake Balboa Cherry Trees 2008

I try to get out to to shoot pictures of the Japanese Cherry Trees at Lake Balboa, but didn’t make it out this year, unfortunately. Still, Timehop is great at reminding me of past events and these photos from 2008 popped up in my feed. It looks like it was a really nice bloom that year. Click the photo to link to the entire series. I have also included a slide show in this post to show you all the photos.

Cherry Tree Blossoms - Lake Balboa 2008

Garden Decor: Potting bench from old door

Potting bench from old door

I am always on the look out for a door like this — complete with the windows. I have one older door in the garden that could probably be re-purposed, but it is solid and very narrow — coming from the original, pre-ADA code part of our 1943 house. Still, maybe I can put it to use by doing something like this. Thinking, thinking, thinking…(SMILE)

Decor old door

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Previously in Garden Decor:

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Garden Vocabulary: Stoma

Garden Vocabulary Logo

This Garden Vocabulary series seeks to introduce and explain to you — and in many cases, myself — words and terms associated with gardening. Please let me know if  there are any terms you would like me to explore. You can leave your ideas in the comments section and we can learn together!


“In botany, a stoma (plural stomata) (from Greek στόμα, “mouth”[1]) is a pore, found in the epidermis of leaves, stems and other organs that is used to control gas exchange. The pore is bordered by a pair of specialized [parenchyma] cells known as guard cells that are responsible for regulating the size of the opening. ” — 

Sometimes, because they don’t move from place to place, we don’t think of plants and trees as truly living things. They just seem to exist in place. Even though they might grow new limbs and new leaves, these happen on such a slow timescale that humans have a hard time understanding how much physical action is happening every moment. If it isn’t the time scale of events that fool us, it is the size of the event. Plants are living — and more importantly for this vocabulary word — breathing organisms who must regulate their physical processes from moment to moment. Trees can’t pick up and move when the sun becomes to hot or  more water is needed. Most plants use the stoma in their leaves — which is typically the largest surface area of a plant — to control the movement of gases such as carbon dioxide and oxygen and water between the atmosphere and themselves. They can close to retain water during the hottest day of the year and open them wide at others to bring in more carbon dioxide for aid photosynthesis.

The next time you look at a leaf, try to imagine all these little portal opening and closing as needs dictate and allowing the plant to breathe deep of the world. Here is a microscopic photograph of what stoma might look like if you get get unclose and personal with them.

Stoma wikipedia


More information on stoma:


Previously on Garden Vocabulary:

Video: Container Garden Update 19: A failed container, worm castings and some new basil

This time I talk about a failed container, add more basil to the pots, along with some worm castings for added nutrients.

What’s happening in your garden? I’d love to know! Leave your questions and comments here or on any of the web and social media sites linked below!

Can’t see the video above? Watch “Container Vegetable Garden Update 19” on YouTube 

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

Interesting Plant: Primula ‘Victoriana Silver Laced Black’

Interesting Plant: Primula ‘Victoriana Silver Laced Black’

Primula victoriana silver laced

Interesting Plant: Primula ‘Victoriana Silver Laced Black’

Silver and Gold-laced Primroses have been grown in gardens for centuries. This strain produces blooms of deep black-brown with a scalloped silver-white edge and a golden eye. Blooms are fragrant with stems just long enough for cutting, appearing in spring. It’s best to plant these where they will be seen, perhaps beside a woodland path. Primroses prefers a moist site with protection from afternoon sun and will not cope well with dry shade conditions. Consider planting alongside a stream or pond, or under the downspout. Slugs are sometimes a problem. Clumps should be divided every 3 to 4 years, immediately after blooming. —

Wow! I love high color contrast plants and this one really caught my eye when I saw it on Pinterest. The deep red-brown of the petals provide the perfect background for the golden center. Looking at its growing habits and sun requirements, it looks like this might find a place in my garden someday. I can foresee several places in the back garden where it might fit in.

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More information on Primula ‘Victoriana Silver Laced Black’:

Previously in the Interesting Plant series: