A few days ago, I received an unexpected gift.  This gift was a morning where I had no appointments, I didn’t have to babysit my granddaughter, the kids were in school and I was caught up with all of my garden writing.

So, what should I do with this gift of time?

I spent it in my garden, taking pictures of the plants that make me happy right now.

I’d love to share my favorites with you if you have a few minutes of time…

Pink Trumpet Vine (Podranea ricasoliana)

One of my favorite plants growing in my gardens is Pink Trumpet Vine.  It stands at the corner of one of my vegetable gardens.  It is in full bloom right now as you can see.  Gorgeous pink flowers appear in spring and fall.

It can grow as a vine, with support, or as an open, sprawling shrub, which is how I like to grow it.

Pink Trumpet Vine does suffer frost damage and has even been killed to the ground in winter, but quickly grows back.  It is hardy to zone 7.

Cascalote (Caesalpinia cacalaco)

Bright-yellow flower spikes cover my Cascalote tree in fall.  I love this small tree for so many reasons.

It is slow-growing, so there is not a lot of pruning required.  I love the round leaves that stay on the tree all year unless we get a cold spell of temps in the low 20’s.

Best of all, are the yellow flowers that appear in fall when most plants are beginning to slow down.

*Cascalote are very thorny and I personally think that the thorns are very cool-looking as long as you don’t get pricked.  There is a new variety called ‘Smoothie’ that is thornless.

Queen’s Wreath Vine (Antigonon leptopus)



Despite my best attempts, my Queen’s Wreath Vine insists on growing up the trunk of my Cascalote tree instead of up on the nearby garden wall.


But, I love this vine no matter where it chooses to grow.  It has heart-shaped leaves and stunning pink flowers that appear in summer and fall.


This is a tough vine that can handle reflected heat and does not need support to grow upward.  In winter, it will die back to the ground, but grows back in spring.  Hardy to 20 degrees F, or zone 9 gardens.

Gold Lantana



I know that Lantana can seem like a rather boring plant to some – but I wouldn’t write it off, if I where you.


Lantana is not fussy and it’s hard to find a plant that will bloom more throughout the warm months of the year.  I have it growing up along my front entry and I really like how it looks.


Maintenance is simple – prune back to 6 inches once the danger of frost is over (early March in my garden), removing all frost damage.  Lightly prune back by 1/2 in August and that is all you need.


Lantana are frost-tender and hardy to 10 degrees (zone 7).



My side garden is filled with another vegetable garden, apple and peach trees, blackberry shrubs and herbs.


Because I do not like looking out at bare walls, I have Pink Trumpet Vine, Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans), ‘Summertime Blue’ (Eremophila x ‘Summertime Blue’) and Pink Emu Bush (Eremophila laanii) planted along the wall.


These large shrubs are pruned once a year and that is all they need because I have given them enough room to stretch out.  


While these flowering shrubs make my bare wall disappear, they also benefit my edible garden in the side yard.  First, they help absorb the heat that the walls re-radiate out, keeping temperatures down.  Secondly, they also attract pollinators which pollinate my vegetables, fruit trees and blackberries.


Hummingbirds and other feathered visitors like to take shelter in their branches and I get to watch from my kitchen window.



In this garden, the vegetables are still rather small. But there is a collection of broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, carrots and Swiss chard.



An newly-planted artichoke is growing nicely next to some young carrot seedlings.  This vegetable doesn’t just produce delicious artichokes – they are also quite ornamental.



Just one month after sowing radish seeds, I am harvesting radishes already.  



In the corner of my vegetable garden is a Mexican Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) that I grew from seed.



They are irresistible to butterflies and bees like them too 🙂



I have a rusty watering can that I just love.  Every fall I fill it with flowering annuals that will last through spring.


I poked drainage holes in the bottom of the can and put a drip emitter next to the flowers.  Once temperatures heat up into the 90’s, it gets too hot for the roots to survive in the pot, so it sits empty during the summer.  But even empty, it adds a touch of whimsy to my garden.



In front of my vegetable garden sits my herb container garden.  Chives, parsley, sage and thyme are growing nicely.  I like to throw in some petunias for additional color.



This young peach tree was planted back in January and is doing very well.  


That little plant next to it is a volunteer basil plant.   It will die once our first frost appears, so I will harvest it soon.



In front of my other edible gardens sit three brightly-colored pots filled with an assortment of flowers and edible plants.


This one is filled with a jalapeño pepper plant, garlic, ornamental kale and cabbage, bacopa, petunias, violas and red nasturtiums. 



Along the back is a small trellis that has sugar snap  peas growing on it.  They are just beginning to flower.



This is my daughter, Ruthie’s, vegetable garden.  She has leaf lettuce, strawberries, carrots and garlic growing in her garden.



This is my youngest daughter, Gracie’s, garden which has celery, broccoli, sugar snap peas, carrots, malabar spinach and radishes growing in it.


*One of my fondest childhood memories was of my dad giving me a raised garden in the backyard of our Southern California home.  I was allowed to grow whatever I wanted, which was usually vegetables, violas and cosmos.



Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day, allowing me to share my favorites in my fall garden.


What is growing in your garden right now?

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:

    Well, we've already had a couple of frosts here in Tennessee, so what's been going on in my garden is a lot of clean up!

    It's neat to see your vegetables and flowers are still in full swing!

    Hm, in terms of plants that are still putting on a flowering show, I saw one bloom on a Malva sylvestris Zebrina and there are some French Marigolds hanging on. Oh plus the Pineapple Sage vainly trying to attract hummingbirds that have surely migrated elsewhere by now.

    The Pink Trumpet Vine looks amazing, but most sources I've seen online only show it being hardy to zone 9, with a few zone-pushers giving it a shot in zone 8. Do you really think it's hardy to zone 7?!

    Reply
  2. Jeanine Odom
    Jeanine Odom says:

    Hi, Noelle,
    In Chandler, AZ, I got my "winter garden" started on Sept. 15th. I used several seed recommendations from Caleb Warnock new winter gardening book.

    This year I basically used an all organic seed approach with only broccoli put in as plants (aside from an Early Girl tomato plant.) Three of my summer plants either made it through and re-grew or gave me some baby volunteers-Black Cherry(yummiest!), Patio, and Bush Goliath. All are putting on lots of green tomatoes and the Early Girl has given us some nice salad tomatoes already.

    I had to fence my 4'x8' raised bed — protection from #1 daughter's doggy. I utilized the fencing to concoct a pseudo-greenhouse with heavy plastic furniture covering from the fabric store. MY GOODNESS–It has worked like magic! We have been eating Hail Stone and red radishes for several weeks now, and the winter lettuce (Winter Density-bibb- and Queen of the 4 seasons -romaine style)- Giant Italian Spinach, Swiss Chard-Neon Lights?- Red Russian Kale, and Albino Beets with their yummy greens are all doing super. I recently found out that you can cook radish greens. It seemed such a shame to throw out all the green tops, so I did some research and found several recipes. Both of my younger girls are Chinese, also, and LOVE sauteed greens. My oldest pronounced my latest efforts as "the best you've ever made!" High Praise! It had a bit of brown sugar and balsamic vinegar in it.

    I do not know Mr. Warnock, but he lives in Northern Utah and manages and almost 4 season vegetable garden. His methods and reasoning are sound and I would give his 2 gardening books 2 thumbs up. I hope the beets turn out good. I am not turnip or red beet person but these albino beets sounded great.
    Best regards,
    Jeanine

    PS– How do you like the Malabar Spinach. You could do a column some time on less known vegetables.

    Reply
  3. azplantlady
    azplantlady says:

    Hello Janine,

    What great information! I may need to read this book.

    I like growing Malabar spinach, but haven't cooked with it yet. Have tried some with salad greens. I will do a post about it, next spring.

    Thank you so much for telling me about what is happening in your vegetable garden 🙂

    Noelle

    Reply

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