|My Abraham Darby shrub rose and my little dog, Tobey.|
Have you ever had the experience of receiving an unexpected bouquet?
I’ve been blessed to have gotten bouquets throughout my life from my wonderful husband, my children, and in the past – from a boyfriend or two.
But recently, I was presented with a bouquet from an unlikely source.
If you look up the definition of the word, ‘bouquet’, it states “an attractively arranged bunch of flowers, especially one presented as a gift or carried at a ceremony.”
This spring, I was delighted to see that my garden had presented me with an unexpected bunch of flowers – in other words, a bouquet.
This area in my front garden has a lovely Sandpaper Verbena (Glandularia rigida), which is a ground cover with vibrant purple flowers. It blooms spring through fall and thrives in full sun.
I planted the Sandpaper Verbena, however, I didn’t add the other flowers in this area.
Last year, I noticed the white flowers of Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) growing up in the middle of the Verbena. It came from a seed from a nearby plant that alighted in this area and grew in the presence of irrigation.
I liked the look and as the plants were doing well together, I left them to their own devices.
Well evidently, someone else wanted to join the party. Enter, Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) that came up on its own. I have several throughout the landscape and they do self-seed sometimes.
I absolutely adore colorful plants and I must say, I am so happy with this bouquet growing in my garden. As long as they play nice and one doesn’t try to take over the other, they can remain.
Who knows who will show up in my living bouquet next year?
Have you ever paused in the shade of a mesquite tree (Prosopis spp.) and noticed that its branches grow every which way?
I was reminded of this when I was visiting a client earlier this week and was advising him on how to care for his mesquite tree. I looked up and saw a cluster of branches growing up, down, sideways, and in curvy pathways.
In an ideal situation, mesquite trees resemble the shape of more traditional tree species, as shown above. However, they don’t always turn out this way.
Have you ever wondered why mesquite trees grow in such crazy ways?
The answer is quite simple – in nature, mesquites grow as large shrubs. The branches of shrubs grow in all directions, up, down, sideways, etc., and so do mesquites.
The problem arises when we train them up as trees, and their branches don’t always behave as trees do. Because of this, mesquites that have been pruned into trees, do best being pruned by a professional, particularly when they are young and certain branches are being chosen to remain while others are pruned off.
Of course, this doesn’t always happen, and you can see the results of bad pruning practices in many places.
I do love the shade that mesquite trees provide and I must admit that I enjoy a good chuckle when I see the unusual shapes that some mesquite trees have taken.
How about you? Have you ever seen a mesquite tree with crazy branches?
What do you do when you spot aphids on your plants?
Do you reach for the nearest bottle of insecticide? Spray them off with a hose or remove them with your fingers?
Believe it or not, sometimes the best thing is to do nothing.
So, is this something I learned in school? No. I figured it out by observing the plants in my first garden.
One of my favorite things I do as a landscape consultant is to show my clients newer plant introductions on the market.
Imagine being the first person on your block with the latest plant that all your neighbors will want to add in their landscape.
|Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’|
Jazz up the appearance of your containers by painting them a different color.
Grow herbs and vegetables along with flowers in pots.
|Leaf lettuce and garlic grow along with flowering petunias.|
|Winter container garden with spinach, parsley and garlic growing with pink petunias.|
|Cucumbers growing with vinca and dianthus.|
Plant succulents for a low-maintenance container.
|Desert Spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri).|
Fill the bottom space of large pots with empty, plastic containers.
I have a wonderful treat for you! This week’s blog post is from Dr. Jacqueline Soule.
Chances are that her name sounds familiar and that is because she is a noted plant expert and well-known author of several books on desert gardening.
Jacqueline grew up in Tucson and currently resides there where she enjoys growing low-maintenance plants that add beauty, which thrive in the desert.
I am fortunate to call Jacqueline my friend and we are both part of SWGardening.com I am excited to share with you her post on Germander.
“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
by Jacqueline A. Soule, Ph.D.
Special for AZ Plant Lady, 03 2020
Germander is a gorgeously green low-water ground cover that grows well in Arizona, is great for pollinators, and happens to be usable as a culinary herb.
Greeting from another desert garden this week – that of garden writer Jacqueline Soule, who lives in Tucson (Gardening With Soule – in the Land of El Sol). Noelle has graciously shared her space this week to allow me to introduce you to one herb for your landscaping.
Germander Has a Long History
This handsome herb was brought to the mission gardens of Arizona in 1698 by Father Kino. Germanders are native to the rocky hillsides of Greece and Turkey, where they get rain only in the winter. This means they tolerate dry and hot conditions well!
Which One to Use?
There are around 100 species of germander! The one most commonly used in landscaping is the wall germander (Teucrium chamaedrys). This species has tiny, bright green, rounded leaves. The creeping germander is the same species, but has been selected over time to be a low ground cover (Teucrium chamaedrys var. prostratum). Both of these are available at many local nurseries (but not big box stores).
For landscaping, germander offers a gorgeous bright, forest-green. I confess, I prefer this color in general over the blue-green of rosemary. Even in poor soil and with little water, germander grows to form a dark green carpet, about 2 feet around per plant, the creeping germander a bare 4 to 6 inches tall.
Germaders grow well in alkaline (unamended) desert soil, in full sun to part shade situations. Reflected summer light is tad too much for them, so not under picture windows.
Both germander and rosemary have many oil glands in their leaves and are fragrant plants. But then there are the flowers! Germander flowers are far more fragrant than rosemary. Germander blooms are almost honey-scented, like sweet alyssum. Like rosemary, germander are bee pollinated, by both European honey bees and by our native Arizona solitary bees, with occasional butterfly visitors.
Use In Your Landscape
Both rosemary and germander can be used in roasting potatoes or to add flavor to meat dishes. I use either herb to scrub down the grill prior to cooking – depends on which needs pruning. In ancient Greece, hunters would field dress their meat with germander, often found growing wild in the hills. (It may have anti-microbial properties.) Germander abounds on Greek hillsides because the strong oils render it unpalatable to wildlife. I won’t promise it is rabbit proof, but those “wascally wabbits” don’t bother mine.
Herbs that can be used to create a beautiful, low-water-using, edible, Southwest landscape are numerous. Learn more in this webinar offered March 25, 2020 by the Herb Society of America – only $5 and you don’t have to drive anywhere! Or in April, drive to Carefree, where Jacqueline will speak about “Gardening for Fragrance” on April 18 2020.
Want to learn more from Jacqueline? Check out two of her most popular books – Arizona, Nevada & New Mexico Month-by-Month Gardening and Southwest Fruit & Vegetable Gardening.
Did you know that you can have plants blooming in your landscape every month of the year? In the desert garden, this is definitely true!
One of the most popular programs that I teach at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is ‘Flowering All Year’. During the presentation, I teach students how to incorporate plants in their gardens so they can enjoy colorful blooms all year long.
Sadly, many desert dwellers miss this opportunity. Drive down a typical neighborhood street in winter, and you will have a hard time finding plants in bloom except for colorful annual flowers. As you’ll note, the focus in our gardens is typically on plants that flower through the warm season.
So, how can we change that? It’s quite simple – add plants that will flower in winter. Believe it or not, there are quite a few plants that fit the bill.
I invite you to come along with me on a virtual tour of the plants I showed to the students in the class as we walked through the garden in mid-February.
*Before we embark on our walk, I have a confession to make. Usually, I arrive early before my classes to see what’s in bloom so I can plan our route. But, my daughter’s bus arrived late that morning, so I was running a bit late. As a result, I didn’t know what we would see. Thankfully, there was plenty to see.
Plants for Cool-Season Color:
The vibrant, blooms of Purple Lilac Vine never disappoint. Blooms appear in mid-winter, adding a welcome relief to colorless winter landscapes. Here it is planted in a tall raised bed and allowed to trail downward. In my garden, it grows up against a wall with a trellis for support.
Several perennials and small shrubs do best in the desert garden when planted in filtered sunlight. Desert trees like Ironwood, Mesquite, and Palo Verde are excellent choices for producing filtered sunlight. Mexican Honeysuckle doesn’t do well in full sun. As a result, it thrives under the shade of this Ironwood tree. I love the texture contrast in this bed next to the Whale’s Tongue Agave.
Desert Marigold is a short-lived perennial that resembles a wildflower. Yellow flowers appear throughout the year on this short-lived perennial. I like to use them in wildflower gardens or natural desert landscapes because this yellow bloomer will self-seed.
Shrubs, vines, and perennials aren’t the only plants that add winter color in the landscape. Colorful stems of the succulent Firesticks add a splash of orange all year. I am a fan of the use of blue pots in the garden, and here, it adds a powerful color contrast with the orange.
Lush green foliage decorated with orange/red blooms is on display all year long with this Australian native. Several types of Eremophilas add cool-season color to the landscape, and this one deserves more attention. There must be a blank space in my garden for one…
Blue Bells is arguably one of my most favorite plants. It resembles a compact Texas Sage (Leucophyllum spp.) but doesn’t grow as large AND blooms throughout the year. For best results, plant in full sun, but well-drained soil is a must.
My favorite choice for winter color is Valentine Bush. Red/fuschia blooms begin to appear in January and last into April. For maximum color impact, use them in groups of 3 – 5. They are low maintenance – prune back to 1/2 their size in mid-April after flowering. No other pruning is required.
Winter into spring is a busy time for Aloes, and many species do well in the desert garden. Most require filtered sunlight to do their best, but ‘Blue Elf’ Aloe does well in both full sun and bright shade.
People from colder climates are often surprised to note that rosemary flowers. In the desert, we are fortunate that we get to enjoy their blue flowers from winter through spring – the bees like them too!
Toward the entrance to the garden, I was delighted to see Shrubby Germander. A star in my own garden, this shrub has flowered all winter long and will continue to do so into spring. The blooms are a lovely periwinkle color.
As our walk was wrapping up, the bright red blooms of a Chuparosa shrub caught our eye. A hummingbird was busily drinking as much nectar as he could. I like to use this shrub in landscapes with a natural theme as it has a sprawling growth habit. It flowers through winter into spring and an important nectar source for hummingbirds.
Of course, blooming plants aren’t the only way to add color to the garden. Garden art can play a vital part in adding interest. The Desert Botanical Garden is host to a traveling art exhibit with various animals made from recycled plastic. This group of meerkats greets visitors to the garden.
I hope that you enjoy this virtual tour of winter color in the garden and will add some to your own.
What plants do you have that flower in winter?
I love to spend time out in the garden but it may surprise you to learn that I don’t have a garden shed full of tools, fertilizer, and other gardening items.
Full Disclosure: I USED to! As a garden influencer, companies send me their newest tools and fertilizers in hopes that I will recommend them to my followers. As a result, my garage was overflowing with so much stuff!
And you know what? I found that I only need a few must-have items. As a result, my shed is much cleaner with only my go-to items that I use in the garden.
With the holidays fast approaching, I’m here to help you make your gift list easier with seven items that I use for my own desert garden. Perhaps you’ll find some helpful gift ideas or items to add to your own wishlist!
*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
I often use my bare hands when I work in the vegetable garden and with my container plants. Most garden gloves are bulky garden gloves that make it hard to handle smaller planting tasks. That’s why I love my new Foxglove Original Garden Gloves. They keep my hands clean yet allow me to ‘feel’ what I’m doing when I handle plants or plant seeds. Of course, I love that they come in gorgeous colors – I have a pair of periwinkle blue.
Got weeds? Okay, who doesn’t? Three years ago, I was introduced to the CobraHead Hand Weeder and I love it! This tool is unique as it’s easy to use and works well at removing weeds. The handle is made from recycled plastic and the blade is made of forged steel. Its curved shape is ergonomic and it really does make weed removal so much easier. I use it for weeds that sprout up in the garden as well as in my vegetable garden. There are several sizes – I use the ‘mini’ and the long-handled’ ones.
Here is the tool that I use most often in my garden as it’s always on hand when I need to do smaller pruning tasks. These Compact Hand Pruners FIT IN MY POCKET, which means that I can put them in my back pocket whenever I need to use both hands for other garden tasks. How many times do you lay down hand pruners only to forget where you put them? Dramm makes great garden products and their hand pruners are sharp and work well for cutting stems up to 1/4″ in diameter. I love that they come in a variety of bright colors – I have the purple ones!
Here is a new product that I used for the first time this year. I like to prune, but I hate having to clean up afterward. I was asked to test out this Garden Clean-Up Canvas Tarp, and afterward, I was hooked! The tarp is relatively large and sturdy. It lays flat, and you put your garden clippings on it (branches, lawn clippings, etc.). Once you finish, you grasp the corners with their green rubber handles and haul it to the curb (or trash can). I’m not the only one happy it – my husband is too as he doesn’t have to clean up after me once I’ve finished pruning.
Whether I need to read the tiny print on a packet of seeds or identify a bug, I rely on my readers. I can’t see much without them. So, if I have to wear glasses, I want them to be colorful or have a pretty floral pattern. I love these Classic Floral Readers, which come in three pairs cause let’s face it – they can be misplaced. I love the compliments that I get on my glasses, and I’m sure you’ll love these too.
My mother introduced me to this useful tool on my shelf several years ago. Soon after, I ditched all my other hand shovels because this one was far superior. The narrow shape of this Ergonomic Alumunium Hand Transplanter/Shovel makes it great for adding flowering annuals into pots. I also use it in my vegetable garden for transplants, as well as creating furrows for seeds. Another bonus is that its handle is comfortable on your wrist and comes in other bright colors – I have a blue one.
Here is a new product from the folks at Botanical Interests, who are famous for their beautifully decorated seed packets. For the first time, they have released Botanical Art Prints from selected seed packets! This summer, I had the opportunity to tour their facility and meet the owners. One of the stops on our tour was their art department and I was blown away by the beauty and artistry of their botanical drawings. There several to choose from, ready for framing. I confess that I don’t have one yet, but hope to soon! I can just picture them in my office or kitchen. *I encourage you to check them out to see the different botanical art prints available.
I love to travel and much of that involves garden travel. One of my go-to items that I bring with me is my Baggallini Journey Crossbody Purse. I like to carry a smaller purse when I’m on the road and this one has served me well for over 7 years! Despite its compact size, I’m amazed at how much it fits – phone, sunglasses, reading glasses, chapstick, tissues, pen, business cards, and a granola bar. I like that it has slots for my drivers license and debit/credit cards as well as a zipper pouch for money – it rids you of the need to bring a separate wallet. This is a well-made product and I am a huge fan of Baggallini products! It comes in a variety of colors.
I hope that my must-have list inspires you. I use all of these products and highly recommend them. Hopefully, you will find inspiration as to what to add to your list or buy for friends and family.
**Need MORE ideas? Check out my store page on Amazon.
For those who live in the western half of the United States, water has always been a precious resource. In recent years, this has become especially true during a long-term drought has made its impact felt.
As a result, many of us find ourselves looking for ways to save water. The first place you should start is your landscape as that is the largest percentage of your water consumption.
Today, I’d like to show you examples of three different low water landscape options: