Plant Notes

A few more details about the plants.

[Nagami kumquat]

Jujube trees produce Chinese dates. They are edible, oblong red fruit much like palm tree dates although the tree is not a palm.  It has been part of Chinese culture for a long time; it was among the fruits excavated from a tomb of the second century BC. There are an estimated four hundred different kinds. The one in my garden is called the Dragons-claw Chinese Date because of the contorted shapes of its branches. In the winter after the leaves have fallen, I like to see these angular branches silhouetted against the sky.  Click on an image to see its expanded version.


Berries of the heavenly bamboo.

Heavenly bamboo is not a bamboo. It looks similar to bamboo from a distance, but is a woody shrub, not a grass. The heavenly part of its name arose from the ancient practice of using it to decorate altars. In winter, it forms bright red berries appropriate for any holiday of the season.


Bananas by the door

Bananas were often planted near doors and windows in China. Inside the house, the deep jop jop jop sound of water striking their broad leaves provides a pleasant change from the rushing noise of summer showers. There are no summer showers in California, but I planted bananas near doors and windows just because I like to look at them. Their broad leaves add tropical lushness to the garden.

The weeping snow fountain cherry tree by the pond presents an exclamation point to the foliage changes wrought by the seasons.  With no edible fruit, it is dramatic by just standing still.

Over thirty varieties of plants grace my garden. Almost all of them have botanical origins in Asia, although they obviously are readily available in California. I list below my garden plants with their common and scientific names. Most of them can be found in gardens in China.

Garden Plants
Common Name Scientific Name
Aralia, Japanese Fatsia japonica
Bamboo Phyllostachys bissetii
Bamboo Pseudosasa usawai
Bamboo, chocolate Borinda fungosa
Bamboo, heavenly Nandina domestica ‘Moyers Red’
Banana Musa basjoo
Cherry, Weeping Snow Fountain flowering tree Prunus x subhirtella ‘Pendula’
Cymbidium Cymbidium spp., mixed forms
Fern, asparagus Sprengeri asparagus densiflorus
Gardenia Gardenia augusta ‘Mystery’
Ginger, white Hedychium coronarium
Ginkgo Ginkgo biloba ‘Autumn gold’
Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica ‘Halliona’
Jasmine, star Trachelospermum jasminoides
Jasmine, true Jasminum sambac ‘Mysore Mulli’
Jujube tree Zizyphus jujube ‘Contorta’
Kumquat, Nagami Fortunella margarita
Lemon, Improved Meyer Citrus x meyeri
Maple, Japanese red Acer sp.
Olive, sweet Osmanthus fragrans
Olive, sweet Osmanthus fragrans ‘Aurantiacus’
Peony, tree Paeonia suffruticosa(Luo Yang Hong – rose form)
Peony, tree Paeonia suffruticosa(Tong Yun – chrysanthemum form)
Pine, Japanese black Pinus thunbergii
Pittosporum Pittosporum tobira
Plum, elephant heart Prunus salicina
Plumeria Plumeria rubra
waterlily Nymphea ‘virginalis’
waterlily Nymphea ‘pink passion’
Wisteria, Chinese Wisteria sinensis ‘Alba’


  1. Which is the one that smells of orange blossoms with an edge?

    P.S. just finished reading “Inside Out.” Relly enjoyed it.



    1. The plant that smells like orange blossoms with an edge is the Pittosporum. It can grow to 15 feet so makes a good barrier plant. Its wood is soft so can be easily pruned to size and shape.

      I’m glad you liked “Inside Out.” The research project in it was a real one. A friend of mine worked on it as a post-doc.



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