Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Great Southwestern Plant: Baja Fairy Duster


Do you like red-flowering plants?

I do.


Many of the landscape plants in the southwestern landscape tend to be found in shades of purple and yellow.  As a result, I tend to include plants with red flowers whenever I create a design to help balance the purple and yellows in the plant palette.

Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica) is one of my favorites because it has such unusual flowers.  

They do look like 'fairy-dusters', don't they?  The unique shape of the flowers is due to the fact that the showy part of each flower is actually a bunch of stamens grouped together - you don't see the petals.

You can learn more about this beautiful, drought-tolerant, low-maintenance shrub including what zones it will grow in, in my latest plant profile for Houzz...

Which red-flowering plants is your favorite?





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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chihuly Art in the Desert Garden

Have you seen the Chihuly art display at the Desert Botanical Garden?  



What did you think?

Do you love seeing his beautiful artwork displayed in the garden?

Or, are you of the opinion that it detracts from the plants and their more subtle beauty?

For those of you not familiar with Dale Chihuly, he is a famous, glass artist whose work is displayed throughout museum and botanical gardens throughout the world.

Chihuly glass displayed on the ceiling of the lobby at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.


I have many friends who are huge fans of seeing Chihuly's art displayed throughout the garden.






There are others though, who feel that the art overshadows the surrounding plants.

My three youngest kids and granddaughter.  Note the flowering Aloe Vera and the orange Chihuly art in the background.
Last month, my husband and I took our kids & granddaughter to the Desert Botanical Garden.


While they thought that the glass artwork was 'cool', the kids were more excited about visiting the Butterfly Pavilion and in my granddaughter's case - smelling all the flowers.




I am a strong proponent for including color in the garden, usually by adding plants with variegated foliage and/or flowering plants.

Of course, a brightly-colored wall or container is also a great way to introduce color to the garden.


My personal opinion is that art in the garden should be complementary and not overshadow the plants.  In most areas, I feel that the Desert Botanical Garden got the right balance, but there were a couple of areas where I felt the art overwhelmed their surroundings.


While walking through the garden, I did enjoy seeing unexpected sightings of the glass, artfully displayed alongside some of the plants.


For many visitors, the Chihuly exhibit is the highlight of their visit to the garden.


I must admit that while I did admire the art, the horticulturist in me tends to focus more on the plants.


But, that didn't stop me from having my picture taken next to some of the beautiful art :-)

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Chihuly exhibit at the Desert Botanic Garden (or any other garden).

**If you want to see the Chihuly Exhibit, you'd better hurry - the last day is May 18th.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

DIY in the Garden: Floral Ice Cubes

Did you know that certain flowers are edible?

It's true.

Last week, I mentioned on my Facebook page that I was "channeling my inner Martha Stewart", preparing for a future diy blog post.

Here are the ingredients I used...



Distilled water, ice-cube trays and edible flowers such as violas.  

Here is what I ended up with...


Wouldn't these look great on your Easter table?

It was very easy to do, but there are some tricks to doing it just right.

*Not all flowers are edible and you must be sure to use flowers that have not been treated with chemicals or pesticides.

I wrote about how to make your own floral ice cubes along with a list of edible flowers, in my latest blog post for Birds & Blooms, which you can access here.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pink Blooms In the Desert Garden


Springtime in the desert southwest is a glorious time.  

We say "goodbye" to cold, winter temperatures and delight in the landscape around us and it bursts into bloom.

I enjoy spending time outdoors this time of year, realizing that soon I will go into what I like to call 'summer hibernation' as the temperatures reach triple digits.

Today, I thought that I would share with you some beautiful, pink flowering plants that are in bloom right now...

Pink Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)

Pink fairy duster shows off its pink flowers once a year in spring.  The rest of the year, it quietly recedes into the background until spring arrives again.

Beavertail Prickly Pear (Opuntia basilaris)

My favorite prickly pear has vibrant, pink flowers throughout spring.  One of the reasons that I like beavertail prickly pear is that it stays rather small and does not become overgrown like other species can.

Parry's Penstemon (Penstemon parryi)

I'm a sucker for plants that produce flowering spikes, like Parry's penstemon.  It has such a delicate, pink color and hummingbirds find it irresistible.

Pink California Poppy

Did you know that the traditional, orange California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) comes in other colors?  I think I'm in love with the pink variety.

'Raspberry Ice' Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea makes an excellent container plant. All you have to do is water them deeply and then allow them to dry out before watering again.  Although I have a deep, magenta bougainvillea in my own garden - I must admit that I really like the variety 'Raspberry Ice' which has cream-colored brachts with pink tips.

Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri 'Siskiyou Pink'

Although traditionally a summer-bloomer, this pink gaura was already blooming in March.  I have white gaura growing underneath my front windows and I love it.

Mexican Evening Primrose (Oenothera berlandieri)

Pink, cup-shaped blooms cover Mexican evening primrose in spring.  This groundcover looks great in natural desert landscapes, but can be invasive, so be careful where you use it.

Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii)

The one beauty of this spiny cactus are its magenta flowers that appear in spring.

In my own garden, I have two pink flowering plants in bloom...

Hollyhock

Every year, hollyhocks come up from seed next to one of my vegetable gardens.  They tower over our house and are at least 15 feet tall. 

I first planted hollyhock seeds 4 years ago and that was it.  Every year, they self-seed and I thin them out so that 5 remain.  I'm never sure what color variety will come up.  Sometimes they are white, pale pink or red.



This year, they are deep pink.  Aren't they pretty?

Pink Wood Sorrel 

I received a small division of pink wood sorrel from a fellow blogger who lives in Oregon.  I wasn't sure if I could grow it in our desert climate.  So, I gave it a home in my vegetable garden.

Since then, it has done so well.  So well in fact, that I have divided it and planted it in all three of my vegetable gardens.  

It dies back to the ground in summer, but comes back in fall.

Do you have any favorite pink-blooming plants?  Are any in your garden?  
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