5 Years Ago in the Garden: Wisteria in the Spring

5 Years ago this week, the Wisteria was starting to unfurl new leaves.

Wisteria in the Spring

Garden History: Paris Exposition: gardens, Paris, France, 1900

When I came across this photo, it immediately reminded me of my one and only visit to the city in 2000. With a 2 1/2 year old boy in tow as we made our way from London, to Paris, to Rome and then to visit family in Sicily, parks were a big part of our travels. We walked through the grounds of the Louvre, over to the Museé D’Orsay and then, for a bit of a respite, off to the Tuileries Garden. They were so welcoming on what was a fairly warm day and it was wonderful to order some lunch from a park cafe, put up our feet and take in the gardens.

Like this section of park near the Eiffel Tower, there were dramatically formal sections, but there were sections that felt so comfortable you might never want to leave. To this day, any scenes of this area of Paris transport me immediately back to that day.

I think is something that any garden photo can do. It can transport us to a place in space and time, even if we have never been there before. I love to travel to other people’s gardens through their photos and video and I share my garden for the exact same reason — to invite you inside at least in some small way.

Paris Exposition: gardens, Paris, France, 1900

Paris Exposition: gardens, Paris, France, 1900

Paris Exposition: gardens, Paris, France, 1900. Gardens located near the Eiffel Tower. A section of the Eiffel Tower is visible. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (S03_06_01_015 image 9906).

Previously in Garden History:

Elsewhere: Let Nature Inspire Your Landscape: Ideas for a Woodland Garden from Houzz.com

Garden Vocabulary: Fungus

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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!


A fungus (pron.: /ˈfʌŋɡəs/; plural: fungi[3] or funguses[4]) is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds (British English: moulds), as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria.

Abundant worldwide, most fungi are inconspicuous because of the small size of their structures, and their cryptic lifestyles in soil, on dead matter, and as symbionts of plants, animals, or other fungi. They may become noticeable when fruiting, either as mushrooms or molds. Fungi perform an essential role in the decomposition of organic matter and have fundamental roles in nutrient cycling and exchange.

Read the entire article on Wikipedia, Fungushttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fungus

As it’s own Kingdom, the world of fungus is huge, diverse and largely unknown to most people. Sure, we see mushrooms and toadstools in our gardens when it gets wet, fairy rings around dead or dying trees or perhaps even go looking for the more tasty (and less deadly) varieties. Still, what we see above the soil is often the smallest part of the fungi, although the most visible.

I am not a fan of eating fungi, but I love the way that many of the fungus look. The shell-like structure growing on dead trees often catch my eye when walking through the woods, as do the small mushrooms, like the one below, that sometimes pop up in my garden.

As a gardener, I have heard much about mycorrhizal fungi which is now being used to aid transplants in establishing strong roots. In many gardening shows you can see gardeners scattering it on the roots of a shrub or tree they are planting. From my limited understanding, the mycorrhizal fungi breaks down important nutrients in the soil and makes it available for the roots, which can gather it up more quickly and easily. Gardeners can now purchase the fungi for use in their own gardens.

You could, and many people do, make a life and career out of studying fungus and with such a variety to choose from to study, it only makes sense.

Possible Agaricus campestris(?) in my garden

More information on fungus:


Previously on Garden Vocabulary:

Interesting Plant: Fritillaria imperialis Rubra Maxima

Interesting Plant: Fritillaria imperialis Rubra Maxima

By Poco a poco (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I love this frittillaria. It is so striking in both shape and color. I could imagine one of my triangular beds in the front garden filled with a mass of these, waving in the breeze.

From White Flower Farm web site…

“Burnt orange-red flowers with delicate veining. A guaranteed conversation starter. Heirloom, 1665. 20-24cm bulbs. 1 per sq. ft.

These large bulbs are a delight in practically any setting, and their unusual profile draws the eye like a magnet. Give them full sun and a rich, well-drained soil that stays dry in summer. The bulbs have a faint skunky odor, which has the salutary effect of repelling pests, including voles.”

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More information on Fritillaria imperialis Rubra Maxima:


Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Garden Inventory: Ash Tree (Fraxinus)

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: Ash (Fraxinus)

“Fraxinus (pron.: /ˈfræksɨnəs/)[2] is a genus of flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae. It contains 45-65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The tree’s common English name, ash, goes back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name originated in Latin. Both words also meant “spear” in their respective languages.[3] The leaves are opposite (rarely in whorls of three), and mostly pinnately compound, simple in a few species. The seeds, popularly known as keys or helicopter seeds, are a type of fruit known as a samara. Rowans or Mountain Ashes are unrelated to true ashes and belong to the Genus Sorbus though the leaves and buds are superficially similar.” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraxinus

I never knew there were so many different types of Ash trees, so I have no idea what particular variety this one is. Now that I know it is a Fraxinus, I will have to go through some “keying” and try to figure out its particulars. Ash trees grow all over Europe and most of the United States and Canada, with different varieties being prominent in different areas.

In the photos below, I have highlighted the bark, the general growing habit, trunk shape and size and, due to lucky timing, both the leaves and the flowers of the tree, which is just now coming back into leaf after a short period of deciduous dormancy. Maybe someone more knowledge about trees than myself can help me identify it.

The tree has a few issues. It is multi-trunked, which I don’t think is normal for an Ash. It probably means it was damaged sometime in its youth. When taking photos I noticed that this large crotch is collecting a good amount of rain water and a huge colony of ants. I hope it isn’t causing rot, but I will need to contact my tree experts online and see what I might do to prevent any damage in the future.

I love how I always learn a it about my plants when doing these inventory posts. I had no idea that Ash was related to olives and lilacs. One of the few facts I knew about Ash was that it was the traditional wood for baseball bats here in the US Major Leagues.

 Emerald Ash Borer has been attacking Ash trees throughout the East Coast of the US and will probably spread across the continent eventually. There are a variety of treatments available.  Find out more about Emerald Ash Borer via Wikipedia.

Garden Inventory: Ash Tree - 02

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Photos of Ash (Fraxinus) of unknown variety with closeups of leaves flowers, growing habit, trunk and bark

More information on Ash (Fraxinux):

Previously on Garden Inventory:

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

“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 am out in the Palm Springs area on a project, any my sister took me to see the new Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage,CA. This was formerly the estate of publisher and former ambassador Walter and Leonore Annenberg.

The grounds now feature this new visitor center and beautiful gardens which act as the gateway to the tour of their home, a showpiece of modern architecture and host to American Presidents, foreign dignitaries and celebrities. The Center and Gardens are free to visit, while the tour of the home is $35 and available by appointment only.


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

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Photos: Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Rancho Mirage, CA

I am out in the Palm Springs area on a project, any my sister took me to see the new Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage,CA. This was formerly the estate of publisher and former ambassador Walter and Leonore Annenberg.

The grounds now feature this new visitor center and beautiful gardens which act as the gateway to the tour of their home, a showpiece of modern architecture and host to American Presidents, foreign dignitaries and celebrities. The Center and Gardens are free to visit, while the tour of the home is $35 and available by appointment only.

Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Rancho Mirage, CA - 05

Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Rancho Mirage, CA - 22Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Rancho Mirage, CA - 18Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Rancho Mirage, CA - 17Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Rancho Mirage, CA - 11

See the entire collection of photos from the Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Rancho Mirage, CA

Garden Alphabet: Magnolia x soulangeana (Saucer Magnolia/Tulip Tree)

Magnolia x soulangeana aka Tulip Tree or Saucer Magnolia is very popular here in the San Fernando Valley. I find myself passing these small trees almost everywhere I drive these days. Perhaps I am noticing them more, too, as this is the time of year when they call seem to bloom together. It is a one-a-year show, though, with the trees returning to leafy green for the majority of the year. Still, their dramatic flowering does make quite a statement each spring and makes the small tree very worth it.

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Magnolia × soulangeana (saucer magnolia) is a hybrid plant in the genus Magnolia and family Magnoliaceae. It is a deciduous tree with large, early-blooming flowers in various shades of white, pink, and purple. It is one of the most commonly used magnolias in horticulture, being widely planted in the British Isles, especially in the south of England; and in the United States, especially the east and west coasts.[2]– Wikipedia.org

More information on the Saucer Magnolia:

Books from Amazon.com


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Garden History: Wisteria blooms in Davis Garden (Locust Valley, New York), 1930

Garden History draws on “The Commons” a collection of historical photos from institutions from around the world. According to Flickr:

The Commons was launched on January 16 2008, when Flickr released our pilot project in partnership with The Library of Congress. Both Flickr and the Library were overwhelmed by the positive response to the project! Thank you!

The program has two main objectives:

  1. To increase access to publicly-held photography collections, and
  2. To provide a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge. (Then watch what happens when they do!)

Oh, if only my wisteria would bloom like this lovely specimen from 1930. I love how nicely it is maintained and pruned, too. Mine tends to twist and turn and ramble and flop.

We removed some tress along the south property line of the grade, so my wisteria should get a bit more sun this year. We’ll see what happens in coming years. It has only really bloomed once or twice in the 16 years we have lived here, though. That said, it is looks nice draped over our pergola.

Davis Garden [slide]

Davis Garden [slide]

Creator: Davis, John W., Mrs
       North Country Garden Club

Type: Projected media

Date: 1930

Topic: Spring
     Garden houses
     Walkways, flagstone
     Walls, brick
     Flowering trees

Local number: NY096001

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

Place: Davis Garden (Locust Valley, New York)

Persistent URL:http://siris-archives.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?&profile=all&source=~!siarchives&uri=full=3100001~!183348~!0#focus

Repository:Archives of American Gardens

View more collections from the Smithsonian Institution.

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