In my last post “A Long Forgotten Area Ready for Transformation”, I told you that I would share what plants I was going to have put in this neglected area.


The plants I chose are based on the following:


– I have grown them myself in either my home garden and/or in landscapes I have managed.


– They are relatively low-maintenance.


– Drought-tolerant.


– The plant palette will also ensure year round color, with at least one or more plants being in bloom at a given time.


So are you ready to see what I chose?


Let’s start with the trees…


The area has two large Foothills Palo Verde trees along with a Wolfberry tree, so I chose one other type of tree to add.

 

 

Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) is one of my favorite desert trees.  It is not a true willow, but is named for the fact that its leaves are willow-shaped.
 
Colorful flowers appear throughout the summer that add a vibrant punch of color to the landscape.
 
Hardy to zone 6, Desert Willow requires well-drained soil and full sun or filtered shade.
 
For more information on Desert Willow along with the different varieties available, check out my Houzz article about this lovely tree.
 
Now for the shrubs…
 
 
Valentine Bush (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’) is my favorite shrub of all time.
I will never forget the day when I was first introduced to this red-flowering shrub, by Mountain States Wholesale Nursery.  It was 1999 and I was a horticulturist fresh out of college.
 
I was given 2 Valentine shrubs from Mountain States to plant in the landscape area I managed.  Ever since then, I have been hooked.
 
 
Red flowers appear on this shrub, beginning in January and lasting until April.  If you haven’t noticed it before, there isn’t much blooming in winter, which is one of the reasons I love Valentine.
 
The foliage is evergreen and Valentine are hardy to zone 8.  Better yet, they only need to be pruned once a year – in spring after flowering.
 
Plant in full sun and well-drained soil.
For more information about Valentine, check out my post about this great plant.
 
 
My second choice for shrubs is Baja Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis).  
 
Now, this isn’t its rather invasive cousin Ruellia (Ruellia brittoniana), pictured below…
 
Baja Ruellia is what I like to think of as a smaller version of Texas Sage species (Leucophyllum sp).  It doesn’t get as large and has a longer flowering season then Leucophyllum.

 

 
The flowers of Baja Ruellia are tubular and appear spring through fall, with the heaviest bloom occurring in spring.  
 
The foliage is light green and rarely suffers frost damage in our zone 9b climate.  Hardy to zone 9, Baja Ruellia should be planted in full sun and well-drained soil.
 
 
The third shrub for this area will be Silvery Cassia (Senna phyllodenia).  This Australian native does very well in arid landscapes.
 
The silvery foliage will provide contrast to the darker greens present in the landscape.  Evergreen to 20 degrees, this shrub flourishes in zone 9 landscapes.
 
Yellow flowers appear in late winter and into spring.  Pruning is needed after flowering, to remove seed pods in managed landscapes.
 
Like the other shrubs, Silvery Cassia enjoys full sun and well-drained soil.



The smallest shrub for this area will be Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii).  This plant is hard to zone 7, so remains evergreen during winter here.


Flowers appear fall through spring in the low desert.  The most common colors are red or pink, although there are other colors such as white, lavender and peach. 


I like to use Autumn Sage around trees like Palo Verde, where the filtered shade shelters it from the intense summer sun.  I first saw them planted around a tree at the Desert Botanical Garden and I really liked the way it looked, so I have repeated this design in many of my landscapes.
The Autumn Sage above, was planted by me around a Foothills Palo Verde about 12 years ago and they are still going strong.


I still have perennials and accent plants to show you that I have included in the design and I’ll share them with you next time.


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


Life around our household has been busy lately….


School is back in session (for which I am extremely grateful for 😉


My son Kai, has ditched his wheelchair for a walker and will soon be able to walk without it.


AND


My daughter, will soon come home after leaving 5 months ago for the Navy.  She is graduating from her Equipment Operator School next week and will be an official ‘SeaBee’.  She will be on leave for 2 weeks before she reports for combat training in Mississippi, where she will be stationed for a month.


The BEST news is that her permanent base will be in Port Hueneme, which is where she wanted to be.  What is even better for us, is that it is in Southern California, just 7 hours from home!!!


We are getting ready to celebrate her homecoming, which I will share with all of you 🙂

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

4 replies
  1. Aaron Dalton
    Aaron Dalton says:

    Happy to hear all the good news regarding your family! Congrats to both your son and daughter 🙂

    As for the plants, they all look like great choices for your climate. Unfortunately, I don't think most of them would work in (colder side of) Zone 7 Tennessee.

    Do you have any idea whether Autumn Sage or Desert Willow would work in our high rainfall (40+ inches per year), clay soil and high humidity climate? Or do they need sand and low moisture settings? (I'll check out your Houzz article on the Desert Willow too…)

    Reply

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