Thursday, September 3, 2015

Drought Tolerant and Beautiful: Mexican Bush Sage

If you like colorful blooms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, than you'll want to take a close look at this drought tolerant beauty.



Mexican bush sage has lovely gray-green foliage, white stems and velvety spikes of purple.


It thrives in arid climates and provides glorious color spring through fall.

You may be surprised to find that the actual flowers aren't actually purple - they are white.

Learn more about this drought tolerant beauty and why you'll want to add it to your garden in my latest article for Houzz.com.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Small Space Garden: Hummingbird Paradise

Picture a garden filled with colorful flowering plants with hummingbirds hovering about. 

Now imagine that this garden is located in a small space against the backdrop of the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona and you have paradise.



Beds filled with flowering perennials are my favorite element of gardens.  Their appearance changes month to month as blooming transitions from one type of perennial to the other.

So, I was delighted to see that this hummingbird paradise was filled with beds filled with blooms of every color.

What I liked about the first perennial bed that I first saw was its curved edge, brightly colored wall  in the back and the colorful tiles, which highlighted the flower colors.

A single purple-flowering, Chihuahuan sage (Leucophyllum laevigatum) anchored the corner of the bed with its height.  The purple flowers provided great color contrast with the blanket flower, coneflower, salvias and yarrow.

Coral Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii 'Coral)

Some of my favorite hummingbird plants were growing in the garden.  Salvias are quite frankly, hummingbird magnets and grow beautifully in arid climates.

Salvia microphylla 'Lipstick'

While most Salvia species grow well in full sun - if you live in the low-desert, they will do best when planted in filtered shade.

Salvia greggii 'Purple'

When deciding what types of plants to add to your garden that will attract hummingbirds - salvias are a sure thing.


The deck was paved with flagstone and had two separate planting beds.  Even though each planting area wasn't large, the plant palette was not limited since there are many perennials that don't grow overly large, so the homeowners were able to fit in a lot of colorful plants in the confined spaces.

In the second perennial bed, two different colored hummingbird mint (Agastache spp.) plants provide height and anchor each end of the bed.  The sunny colors of blanket flower fill the middle.

Again, a brightly-colored wall adds to the beauty of this area.


The flowers of hummingbird mint (also known as hyssop) are simply irresistible to hummingbirds.


Besides producing pretty flowers and attracting hummingbirds, these perennials are drought tolerant, love hot/dry spaces, can be grown in zones 5-10 and are deer and rabbit resistant.

They bloom summer to fall.


Blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.) come in a multitude of warm colors with shades or red, yellow and orange.

This colorful plant thrives in sunny spaces and attracts butterflies.

You'll find this perennial growing in a wide range of gardens from zones 3 - 10.


The homeowners made the most out of their small garden space by creating a painted 'garden' along a previously blank wall.


Hummingbirds weren't bothered by us and they hovered by the hummingbird mint and salvia flowers enjoying a drink of nectar. 

This special garden is a wonderful example of how a garden limited on space can be used to create a lovely hummingbird paradise.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Drought Tolerant and Beautiful: Sandpaper Verbena

I like to use plants in my garden that add a lot of color and the drought tolerant and beautiful, sandpaper verbena certainly doesn't disappoint.


Its blossoms are a vibrant, deep purple that carpets the ground in a mass of glorious color spring through fall.

The deep green leaves add a visually cooling element to the landscape as well.

Butterflies find the flowers irresistible too.  

See where this colorful ground cover gets its name and why you'll want to include it in your drought tolerant garden where it will add beauty to your outdoor space in my latest plant profile for Houzz.com



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer in Review: Unplugged, Far Away Friends, Outer Space and Hummingbirds

As summer begins to wane, my thoughts start to turn toward fall planting and upcoming holidays.

But, before I put summer "to bed", I thought I'd give you a glimpse of our summer adventures.




The highlight of our summer was spending a week in Williams, AZ.

Every year we head up to this small Route 66 town, which is the known as "The Gateway to the Grand Canyon".

We travel up to this special place along with my mother, siblings and their families.  A collection of small, rustic cabins house us for the week.

This small mound of dirt is called "Danny's Mountain" by the boys (Danny is my little 4-year old nephew to the right).


It's a place where smartphones and video games give way to playing outdoors with cousins finding new places to explore.


My niece Sofie and my daughter, Ruthie.


Teenage girls discover the delights of pushing each other on a tree swing.


Little army men toys replace video games as battle strategies are discussed and put in play.

5-month old Eric having fun with his grandpa.

As a grandparent, it is also a special time for my husband and I to spend with our two grandchildren.

Lily

My granddaughter, Lily, was busy picking flowers for her 'collection'.  She loves flowers and keeps them in her jewelry box.  
Dare I hope that she follows in her grandma's footsteps and becomes a horticulturist?


Of course, what's summer vacation without delicious food!

Before, you ask...no, I didn't eat all these pies myself - I shared with them with 15 other family members ;-)


Fourth of July found us in the pool, waiting for fireworks to begin.

My daughter Rachele, who is in the Navy, was able to come visit with our newest family addition, Eric.  This was his first time swimming and he loved it!

Ruthie, Sofie and Gracie

At the beginning of our summer season, we had a special visitor.

My daughter, Ruthie, was adopted from China when she was 9 years old.  Her cousin, Sofie, came from the same orphanage and so did their friend, Gracie.

These girls spent their early childhood together, creating special, sisterly bonds with each other in the absence of having parents.

Now that they are all adopted and living in the U.S., they have kept in touch.  Gracie flew in to spend a few days with her 'orphanage sisters' and we had so much fun with her.  

Pillow fights, baking sweets, enjoying good Chinese food and playing board games filled much of their time together.

Walking along State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, CA

A quick trip to Southern California was taken in the beginning of June to visit Rachele.  We were able to stay in her townhouse on the Navy base.  

Whenever we visit her, we take time to travel up to picturesque Santa Barbara, CA, which is where my husband and I met almost 30 years ago.


Ruthie learned how squirmy little babies are when you try to get them dressed...


This summer, we went through a truly wonderful experience together.

We traveled to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.  Both adults and kids were looking forward to seeing planets in our solar system.


While I did expect to see some great things through the telescopes, what I didn't expect was the beautiful flowering perennials growing throughout the grounds of the observatory.

My brother, kept teasing me as I kept stopping to take pictures of the flowers.

My son, Kai, looking at Venus

Outdoor telescopes focused on Jupiter and Venus.  

I don't know who was more excited, the kids or the adults.  It was almost incomprehensible that we could view these faraway planets.

My nephew, Dean, loves flowers and kept asking me what the names of them were.

I must admit that I enjoyed the flowers almost as much as I did the planets.

My mother, helping my daughter as she looks at Saturn.

Believe it or not, we were able to see Saturn and its rings!


We had a wonderful time at the observatory and learned so much.  I highly recommend visiting this or any observatory near you.  It was an unforgettable experience!


The last part of our summer fun occurred at the Hummingbird Festival, where I was asked to be a presenter.

I have two separate talks on small space hummingbird gardening and had a great time meeting new people.


One of my favorite parts of the festival was touring many beautiful gardens in Sedona where the festival was held.


I came home from the festival inspired to create a garden space dedicated to plants that attract hummingbirds.  I can hardly wait to get started this fall, which is the best time to add new plants to the garden.

In the meantime, we have increased the amount of hummingbird feeders in our backyard and have seen three hummingbirds at a single feeder :-)

************************

Well, that was our summer fun in a nutshell.  The kids are now in school and my eyes are focused on  the fall including the upcoming Garden Writer's Conference in Pasadena, CA in September.

 **What did your 'summer in review' look like?  Did you travel to any new places, see old friends or have any new experiences?**


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