Spring Update: Kiwis, Berries, Cherries, and More…



By Southern California gardening standards, we are already half way through Spring, and as usual, the Hanbury edible landscape and ornamental garden continues to evolve.  Every winter and Spring I change out things that under performed or plant new varieties of things I never tried before.  For last couple of months I have kept pretty busy with chores in the garden, the kid’s activities, local plant shopping, two landscape designs for others, and with home improvement projects around the house.  The chickens are laying like crazy now the days are long enough.  Three out of four of them have tried to go broody, but I keep having to tell them “No chicks until July!” Life is too busy for babies right now.  When the above photo was taken, Lacey, the Silver Laced Cochin, was camped out in the nest box trying.

In March, I attended the LBCC Horticulture Department sale with my good friend, K.  Although I didn’t come home with too much unusual stuff this year, K picked a rare fruit tree called a Capulin Cherry.  She has quite the collection of “Cherry” trees at her house across the street, including her eight year old Royal Lee and Minnie Royal cherry trees, Cherry of the Rio Grand, Surinam Cherry, and now the new Capulin Cherry.  Unfortunately, her low chill Minnie Royal and Royal Lee cherries don’t look like they had as good of year this year, in comparison to how they did last Spring.  By the looks of her trees, one is huge and is a standard size. The other, the Minnie Royal is much smaller and may be a dwarf, but I didn’t think they were available yet on semi dwarf or dwarf root stock when she bought these the first year they were introduced to the public. Their bloom period didn’t overlap this season to give them much pollination, even though the Royal Lee was really loaded with blossoms. K has only picked a few handfuls of cherries so far this year, and it looks like she will only pick another couple of dozen cherries in 2013.

southern california best cherry coastal choice variety

2013 flowers on K’s Low chill cherry, Royal Lee. It bloomed great this year, but not in sync with the Minnie Royal. The Minnie Royal started early this year and only had a few flowers by the time the Royal Lee really got full

low chill cherry tree full grown size long term

This is how K’s low chill Royal Lee cherry tree looked when it first started to bloom this year. My dog follows me everywhere and loves going to visit K so he happily agreed to hop in the picture for scale.


I purchased a few natives at LBCC including a pretty orange Mimulus, Sticky Monkey Flower, and a few more surprise colored Bearded Irises, one turned out to be a pretty violet blue. Plant purchases from other places included a Parfianka Pomegranate, Issai Hardy Kiwi, Neptune Hybrid Grape, Sun Sugar Tomato, Super Marzano Tomato, and an heirloom melon.  Most of the rest of the stuff for summer I just recently started from seed.

The yard has been full of color for the last month, and I would say it was probably at its peak blooming beauty last week, eventhough the plums, peaches, and nectarines bloomed more than a month ago, and the kiwis are just now starting to open their blooms.  Last week we started picking the first few Bababerries of the year, however, the bulk of the crop is a ways away, especially on the new primocanes.  The blackberries still have a few flowers, and they already have started to blush a bit of color a few berries.  Most years, we get to pick the first ones around Mother’s Day and they go up through 4th of July.  Rather than go into anymore of the boring details, I’ll post some of the photos from today instead.

raspberry homestead backyard berry bababerry

Some of the last of the blackberry flowers on the Thornless Triple Crown Blackberry

thornless black berry blackberry triple crown chester low chill

Here a few of the blackberries. There are a couple that are starting to color up.


Male Kiwi Flowers Tomuri Matua on an arbor

These are the only Male Flowers on the Kiwi Vine so far this year.  I think my male is a Tomuri that was sold with the Vincent Kiwi 10 years ago. It doesn’t flower heavily at all. However, this is the only male kiwi being sold by Monrovia Nursery with the Vincent female.  I think I need a Male Kiwi named Matua instead, but I haven’t found a reputable nursery with one in stock.

Kiwi male and female flowers with bees pollination

Female Kiwi flowers on the Vincent Kiwi. It is not self fruitful and needs a male near by for pollination. Unfortunately, my male kiwi is lazy and only makes a few flowers each year. I know the lack of flowers isn’t a pruning error on my part because the female had tons of spurs and flowers every year. I wish I could find a Matua Kiwi locally.  The black spots on the flowers are BEES.  It is covered in them right now.


blue purple bearded iris LBCC Horticulture Dept propagated

One of the mystery/ surprise colored Bearded Irises I bought at the LBCC Horticulture sale this year. I love bearded Irises, especially since they can tolerate our dry summers so well and come back beautifully year after year with little care. I have many other colors in the yard that have naturalized and I have shared with other gardeners.

bearded iris

This is a lilac pinkish purple colored bearded Iris I planted about five years ago. I have divided it twice so now I have it in a few other parts of the yard as well.


Hybrid American Grape Candice Canadice red small very early good for coastal cool weather

The Canadice grape is growing well. It still has tiny flowers on some of the clusters, but it has also already set some small berries. They should be ready to harvest at the beginning of July here in Coastal Southern California.  If I recall correctly, it is a 5 year old vine now. It doesn’t mind our June Gloom foggy June and July months

Cucumbers, pickling, marketmore, tendergreen,

Four kinds of cucumbers and some bright lights chard. We go through a lot of cucumbers around here. Tiger Lily, the desert tortoise, and chickens like to eat them as much as my daughter and I do.

Fairy gardening garden mushroom red

One of B’s fairies sits out on the front porch amidst the succulents on a new red mushroom she made out of modeling magic clay.

Jupiter grape garden southern california grape good from cool summer

One of the two Jupiter Grapes. This one doesn’t get as much sun, but it is loaded with tiny clusters of grapes and grape flowers.

climbing vine clematis

Clematis growing on one of the arbors in the front yard

artchokes and goji

Artchokes growing in the backyard that have been invaded by goji berries.



cool summer grape purple seedless coastal southern California

This the Jupiter grape vine out on the veggie garden arbor. This one gets full sun so it is always a little ahead of the other one. Its a good choice for a grape for cooler coastal areas. It is a purple seedless grape that we usually start harvesting in late July here in Southern California

Here is a video update on the Kiwi Vine, plus it shows the difference between the male fuzzy kiwi and female kiwi flowers.

© 2013, .

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