gardening

Fibonacci in the Garden—Take 2

Just a couple of Fibonacci thoughts after a weekend in the garden…

Siberian Iris | Image by Joseph D'Agnese

Mystery of the Sixes

Many times I’m asked, “Why do so many flowers have six petals? Six isn’t a Fibonacci number.” Well, it’s true that six isn’t a Fibonacci number, but three is, and many times the flower you’re examining isn’t truly a six-petal flower at all. It is, instead, a three-on-three petal flower. Here’s one of my favorites—the Siberian iris. At first glance, it is a six-petal flower. But then, notice: the three center petals are different from the three outer petals. The dark outer set unfurled first, and set the stage for the lighter-colored inner set of petals. Let that be a lesson to us all. That which appears to be un-Fibonacci sometimes proves to be Fibonacci times two!


Columbine Flowers and Saint Francis Statue | Image by Joseph D'Agnese

Columbine Flowers

These pretty yellow columbine flowers just popped in my garden. (I like to pretend that the little statue is of Fibonacci himself!) Looking closely, I discovered an inner set of five petals and an outer set of five petals. Fibonacci numbers circling Fibonacci numbers...


Flame Azaleas | image by Joseph D'Agnese

Azaleas Yes, Fibonacci No.

These gorgeous flame azaleas used to pop every spring in front of our first house in North Carolina. The old, brittle shrub wasn’t planted in the ideal spot for azaleas, and always struggled in the heat of the summer. But we loved seeing its riotous color every spring.

Azalea flowers typically have 5 petals, which is indeed a Fibonacci number. (This bottom pic of pink ones shows this clearly.) But another source tells me 5 to 7 is the the normal range. This used to make me nuts. Five to seven? Why, oh why, couldn’t it be five to eight, since eight is a Fibonacci number? The answer is, nature does whatever it wants. Statistically speaking, seven is close enough to fall into the Fibonacci range. But you’d have to count a million azalea flowers to chart the results and prove it for yourself...

Pink Azaleas | Image by Joseph D'Agnese

Yes, I am trying to post here more often. Thank you for noticing. If you want to sign up for my newsletter and claim your free ebook, go here. Thanks!

Fibonacci in the Garden

Bunching onion photo by Joseph D'Agnese

This is such a wonderful time of year because there are so many great discoveries to be made in the garden. I spotted these two fun items this past weekend. 

At the bottom is galium aparine, an edible weed that I recognize from my time in Italy, where it’s called “attaccamano,” or “attach-[to]-hand” or “attack-[the]-hand.” In English it’s better known as cleaver, stickywilly, or stickyweed because its leaves cling like Velcro to human skin. (It’s sometimes called Velcro plant.) At my old house I used to find them with whorls of five leaves—a Fibonacci number—but Dr. Internet says six to eight leaves are typical. If you know my children’s book about Leonardo Fibonacci, you know only five and eight are Fibonacci numbers.

At the top is a bunching onion. We planted a bunch of these last spring and forgot to pull all of them up at the end of the season. The onions were dormant all winter and started putting up spiral-shaped seed heads in spring. The onions are still quite delicious, by the way. I’d love to see how far the spirals go, but I am too tempted to pull them because I need space in the garden bed…and because they are so tasty.

Galium acarine photo by Joseph D'Agnese

Yes, I am trying to post here more often. Thank you for noticing. If you want to sign up for my newsletter and claim your free ebook, go here. Thanks — Joseph D’Agnese

Fibonacci Phlox

Phlox image by Joseph D'Agnese

Chillier here today after a massive thunderstorm last night. But these little guys hung in there. They are Emerald Pholox (“phlox subulata”) which display Fibonacci 5 in their petals.

I have not spotted any flowers that show six or four, so I think the number is pretty consistent across the board for the cultivar.

If I had to pick a flower to plant now to share later with kids, I’d pick this little guy. Fun selection for a Fibonacci garden...


Yes, I am trying to post here more often. Thank you for noticing. If you want to sign up for my newsletter and claim your collection of free ebooks, go here. Thanks!

Fibonacci Vinca

Vinca vine image by Joseph D'Agnese

Vinca vine flowers display a Fibonacci 5 configuration, one of the most prevalent numbers in the plant and animal kingdom. (Think starfish, apple seeds, etc.)

These pale blue flowers are blooming now in our area. I like the asymmetrical cast of the petals, which give them a slight sense of movement. They look a little like a child’s pinwheel, designed to catch the wind.


Yes, I am trying to post here more often. Thank you for noticing. If you want to sign up for my newsletter and claim your collection of free ebooks, go here. Thanks!