Garden Alphabet: Water Lily (Nymphaeaceae)

Water Lily (Nymphaeaceae)

Garden Alphabet: Water Lily (Nymphaeaceae)

We don’t see water lilies much here in arid LA, except in lovely little pond developed specifically for that purpose. This photo was taken at a water lily nursery near Fillmore, California, to our north. The lighting and setting was very nice, so I ended up shooting a lot of photos that day.

“Nymphaeaceae /ˌnɪmfiːˈeɪsiː/ is a family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called water lilies and live in freshwater areas in temperate and tropical climates around the world. The family contains eight genera. There are about 70 species of water lilies around the world.[1] The genus Nymphaea contains about 35 species across the Northern Hemisphere.[1] The genus Victoria contains two species of giant water lilies and can be found in South America.[1] Water lilies are rooted in soil in bodies of water, with leaves and flowers floating on the water surface. The leaves are round, with a radial notch in Nymphaea and Nuphar, but fully circular in Victoria.

Water lilies are divided into two main categories: hardy and tropical. Hardy water lilies bloom only during the day, but tropical water lilies can bloom either during the day or at night, and are the only group to contain blue-flowered plants.” —

More information on the Water Lily (Nymphaeaceae):

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Garden History: “Villa Sciarra,” George Wurts house, via Calandrelli, Rome, Italy. (LOC)

What is there so special about overarching trees, even relatively young one’s like these. There is a sense of protection, enclosure and peacefulness. It is almost like the trees are keeping the dangerous outside world…outside. Of course, the wolves can always get through the woods, if they wish, bit as humans we still feel enclosure and safety.

In my hometown of New London, Ohio, all four main streets were overarched with huge 50-60 year old maple trees and it always lent a special air to the town, Even when one would toppled in the occasional thunderstorm or near-tornado or felt the brunt of an automobile that had gone out of control, they remained stately and comforting.

This photo holds a newer meaning for me, too. Since we have visited Sicily 3 times now, I find that any picture of Italy touches me in some way. There is a familiarity in what I have seen there. While this is near Rome, it could, just as easily, be the road leading to the 19th Century cabin on the flanks of Etna owned by some in-laws. We visited there on our last trip and I want to return again. The road to that house looked a lot like this, if a just a bit wilder.

["Villa Sciarra," George Wurts house, via Calandrelli, Rome, Italy.  (LOC)

“Villa Sciarra,” George Wurts house, via Calandrelli, Rome, Italy. (LOC)

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

“Villa Sciarra,” George Wurts house, via Calandrelli, Rome, Italy. Alley

[1925 summer]

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

Site History. Landscape: HeniettaTower (Mrs. George) Wurts and her husband restored the garden, adding sculpture, a botanical garden and aviary. Today: Public botanic garden.
On slide (printed): “Edward Van Altena” and “29 West 38th St., N.Y.C.” (Slide manufacturer)
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).

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- 67

More info on Villa Sciarra…

Previously in Garden History:

Video: In the garden…March 14, 2013 – Sweet Potatoes rising, an unknown squash and more

“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.

Sweet Potatoes rising, an unknown squash and more.

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Garden Vocabulary: Parasite/Parasitism

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!


“Parasitism is a non-mutual relationship between organisms of different species where one organism, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host. Traditionally parasite referred to organisms with lifestages that needed more than one host (e.g. Taenia solium). These are now called macroparasites (typically protozoa and helminths). Parasite now also refers to microparasites, which are typically smaller, such as viruses and bacteria, and can be directly transmitted between hosts of the same species.[1] Examples of parasites include the plants mistletoe and cuscuta, and organisms such as hookworms..” — 

It is a rare garden that doesn’t host parasites. From the smallest aphid to the largest Japanese Beetle, gardeners can be caught between this bug and that, this parasitic plant and that (such as mistletoe or dodder often spotted here in the Souther California chaparral lands). The most important definition of a parasite or parasitism for me is the term “non-mutual.” Some insects, like bees do no harm to the plants, assist in pollination and gain nectar and pollen as their reward. Aphids, on the other hand, will literally suck the life out of your plants given enough time and population. The plant gains nothing and often loses as part of the aphids “relationship” with it.

In some cases, parasites can work in our favor. Various forms of parasitic wasps prey on aphids, catepillars and beetles and use them from the own ends. Just a reminder than not all parasites are bad to everyone in the same way.

With organic gardening and farming on the rise, the natural control of parasites is of on-going concern. Often this involves using a parasitic insect, like the wasps mentioned above, to control a more damaging plant parasite like aphids, tomato hornworm and others. With the proper application of the proper parasite at the proper time, farmers and gardeners can reduce crop damage without resorting the use of strong chemical controls.


Aphid Photo by Flickr User Antti J (Antti Jämsä)

More information on xeriscaping:


Previously on Garden Vocabulary:

Photo: Front Garden Panorama this morning

Up early for school drop off this morning, so I grabbed this panorama in the early morning light.

Front Garden Panorama This Morning 20130312

Click for full size image

Video: What Douglas Dug…Show 009 – March 11, 2013 – Photoshopped flowers, carrots, rosemary topiaries and more!

Our ninth episode of What Douglas Dug…, our regular review show of neat gardening items I have found in my Internet travels. In this episode, A Cheap cold frame, garden sculpture and more!

What Douglas Dug Episode 9

Can’t see the video above? Watch “What Douglas Dug… Show 009” on YouTube 

Watch all the past episodes on the “What Douglas Dug…” YouTube playlist

Theme Music: “The One” by The Woodshedders

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Interesting Plant: Oxalis versicolor

Interesting Plant: Oxalis versicolor


Source: via Douglas on Pinterest

Oxalis versicolor

Candy cane colored flowers! This beauty has mounds of clover-like leaves. Gorgeous red and white spiral shaped flowers. Fine for gardens or baskets. Grows up to 12″ tall. Prefers full to partial sun. Blooms in summer. Hardy in zones 7-9. — from Direct Gardening

Amazingly colorful oxalis I have never seen before. Could be an interesting clumping plant to try.

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More information on Limnanthes douglasii :

Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Video: Container Garden Update 018 – Seedlings, kale and a hanging pot

I check on seedlings in a recycled container, check on the kale and lettuce in the main pots and talk about my hanging pot that needs to be turned on occasion.


Can’t see the video above? Watch “Container Vegetable Garden Update 018” on YouTube

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More info on growing in containers:


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

Elsewhere: How Low Can Hedges Go? Discover Unusual Garden Borders from

Garden Inventory: Lemon

Garden Inventory is a series where I begin an inventory of all the plants and trees in my garden. Along with some of my own pictures, I will link to various sources of information about each plant and tree so we can learn a little more together.

I would also like to highlight your special plants and tress. Pass along your favorite plants in the comments and I will use them for future Garden Inventory posts. — Douglas

Garden Inventory: Lemon

“The lemon (Citrus × limon) is a small evergreen tree native to Asia, and the tree’s ellipsoidal yellow fruit. The fruit is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world, primarily for its juice, though the pulp and rind (zest) are also used in cooking and baking. The juice of the lemon is about 5% to 6% citric acid, which gives lemons a sour taste. The distinctive sour taste of lemon juice makes it a key ingredient in drinks and foods such as lemonade. —

This sad, little, lemon tree has been in the garden since our ownership began 16 years ago. It was planted in a bad location and heavily shaded and crowded by other trees. We recently removed one of the main trees shading this spot, so I am interested in seeing if the tree gets a little more robust. I am seeing many more flowers than previously, as you can see in some of the pictures below.

Here in Southern California, citrus trees are in almost every yard, but it is relatively few people who use even a portion of the fruit they produce. Lemons are probably the worst offender tree, as recipes use so little lemon juice of lemon rind that it can be difficult to put all your fruit to use. For me, I use about 15 lemons in my yearly batch of limoncello (see video on making your own limoncello here) and a few pitchers of lemonade, but a heavily producing tree, even a dwarf one, which I believe this is, can produce a grocery bag full of lemons very quickly.

 Garden Inventory: Lemon - 07

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Photos of Lemon tree with closeups of leaves, flowers,  growing habit, trunk and bark

More information on Lemon:

Previously on Garden Inventory: