Have you noticed that landscapes around parking lots and shopping malls look somewhat lackluster? This is often due to a combination of over-pruning, over-planting, and the wrong plant in the wrong place.
Sadly, this is so commonplace that a beautifully designed and well-maintained landscape stands out, which is where I found myself recently.
My husband and I went to our local outlet mall to buy some clothes for him, and I hadn’t walked more than a couple of steps when I realized that something was wrong – actually right! The parking lot islands weren’t filled with overcrowded shrubs pruned into round balls and cupcake shapes.
Most of the plants were natives and allowed to grow together and in their natural shapes, which begs the question, who created a rule that plants can’t touch each other?
Shrubs such as Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica), turpentine bush (Ericameria laricifolia), and chuparosa (Justicia californica), intermingled with ornamental grasses like pink muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris).
I confess that I wasn’t a very helpful shopping companion for my husband as I kept being distracted by the attractive landscaping and stopping to take pictures.
My favorite area was where a fabulous yellow orchid vine (Callaeum macropterum) was growing up a large wall.
Due to the large scale of the wall, there were likely at least three vines planted together. Yellow orchid vine deserves to be used more in the landscape, yet is rarely seen.
I find that it does best in morning sun or filtered shade and regular water. Its yellow flowers are lovely and form a papery seed pod that resembles a butterfly. You can learn more about this vine here. While they aren’t a common vine that you’ll find at the nursery, you can usually find them at botanical garden plant sales or your local nursery may be able to order one for you.
If you live in the greater Phoenix area, and want to see some great examples of desert natives and natural landscaping, visit Phoenix Premium Outlets in Chandler. And who knows? You may even find some great deals at your favorite outlet stores.