Who doesn’t like ‘natural beauty’?  I have a renewed appreciation for my ‘natural beauties’ out in the garden during the summer months.  Now, I realize that there are some who do enjoy the satisfaction of working hard with their plants and being rewarded with a beautiful display and I think that is great.  But for me, the last thing I want to do is have to fuss over a plant in the middle of the summer heat so that it will look beautiful for me.  I would much rather enjoy the ‘natural beauty’ of my summer plants looking through the windows from the comfort of my air-conditioned home.

Earlier this summer, I wrote about one of my favorite ‘natural beauties’ in the garden, Yellow Bells.  Today, I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite summer vines which is a wonderful example of ‘natural beauty.’

Queen's Wreath vine

Queen’s Wreath vines grace the Arizona State University campus.

Queen Wreath Vine (Antigonon leptopus) is a colorful asset to my garden This ‘natural beauty’ is a vine that is native to Mexico and Central America.  Stunning pink sprays of flowers appear in spring and last until the first frost.  *In tropical areas, it can be considered invasive, but here in the desert, it is easily managed.

Natural Beauty

In our desert climate, they do require supplemental water, but no fertilizer is needed.  Bees are attracted to the beautiful flowers, and I love the pretty heart-shaped leaves. 

Queens Wreath vine

 A wall of Queen’s Wreath Vine at ASU

Queen’s Wreath is a robust vine.  It can grow in full sun including areas of reflected heat.  It will also grow in light shade although flowering will be reduced.   

The only maintenance required in my garden is pruning it back in winter once it dies back after the first frost.  However the roots are hardy to 20 degrees F, and in the spring, it quickly grows back with a trellis, fence or an arbor for support.

**My first experience with queen’s wreath was in our first home in Phoenix, where there was a support made up of twine tied between two palm trees.  We had no idea why it was there, but it sure looked ugly.  Well, before we had time to remove the twine, beautiful, light green, heart-shaped leaves began climbing up the support and quickly covered it.  Gorgeous sprays of pink flowers rapidly followed, which was a pleasant surprise.  

What natural beauties are enjoying in your garden this month?  

I will be sharing another favorite ‘natural beauty’ from my garden soon.

For those of you who have read my blog from time to time, you have already met some of the members of “The Refuge” and seen glimpses of their gardens.

Today, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce to all of the residents and show you more of their garden and the beautiful desert that surrounds them.

California desert

The Refuge is a beautiful, green oasis, located in the California desert, near Palm Springs.  Stark, beautiful, desert mountains surround them that are often covered in snow in the winter.

California desert

It does rain in the desert and is always a time of celebration.  Dry desert washes, are suddenly filled with running water.

In the middle of this desert are the home and gardens of my sister and her family.

Beautiful Desert Garden

 Peach Tree Blossom

In the middle of the desert, you will find life in this desert garden.

Beautiful Desert Garden

Yellow Daisy (Euryops pectinatus)

Flowers are lovingly grown by my sister, Daisy Mom.

Beautiful Desert Garden

Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis)

Vegetables are grown by my nephew, Mr. Green Jeans.

Mr. Green Jeans

My sister and niece, Fruity Girl, also lend a hand to the vegetable garden.

Beautiful Desert Garden
vegetable garden

A large Mesquite tree graces the front garden….

Beautiful Desert Garden

And if you look closely, you will often find one of the residents of “The Refuge” high up in the tree.

high up in the tree
brother-in-law

We have heard from Mr. Compost, my brother-in-law, about how why we should compost and his guest post can be read here.

All that is left for me to do now is to introduce you to the supporting cast, which includes, Gimli, who is the son of my dog.

Missy….and their shy cat.

Gimli
shy cat

The beauty of the surrounding desert, the gardens of “The Refuge” along with it’s residents make this a very special place to visit.

Beautiful Desert Garden

There is so much that I am looking forward to sharing with you…we will visit the vegetable garden in depth and view more of the beautiful flowers that my sister grows.

We will also be going on a field trip to see a wind farm which is located close by “The Refuge”.

As the seasons change, we will be visiting the garden to see the changes that they bring.

Thank you for visiting “The Refuge” with me.

The time has finally arrived!  Summer temperatures are but a memory and fall is here! 

Every year we wait for the end of summer so we can start adding plants in the garden. The only question is what plants will I add?

The possibilities are endless…    

add new plants

 Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

The signs that fall in the desert may not be as evident as in other parts of the county, yet they are here.  Elongating shadows, cooler evening temperatures along with increased plant growth and flowering are clear signs that the heat of summer is fading and cooler temperatures are on their way.

add new plants

 Blackfoot Daisy  (Melampodium leucanthum)

October and November are the best months in which to plant most types of plants in the desert.  The reason for this is that plants use the cooler weather in which to grow a healthy root system so that by the time that the summer arrives, they are ready to handle the stress of the intense heat.

add new plants

 Parry’s Penstemon  (Penstemon parryi)

Most trees, shrubs, perennials, and succulents can be planted now.  Stay away from planting palms, bougainvillea, lantana and other plants that suffer frost damage during the winter months.  They do best when planted in the spring.

add new plants

 Chaparral Sage   (Salvia clevelandii)

As in all climates, be sure to plant correctly.  Dig a hole three times as wide as the root ball but no more profound than the root ball.  This will allow the roots to grow outwards more quickly.  

When growing native plants, you do not need to add any amendments to the hole as this can cause the roots to just stay in place, enjoying the nutrient-rich soil, instead of venturing out into the regular soil.  If you do decide to add amendments to the soil, be sure to incorporate them well with the existing soil.   

Newly installed plants will initially require more water than established plants, so be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Bower Vine

 Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides)

So visit your local nursery and get planting! 

Fall Planting: How to Select Plants

drought tolerant

Globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) brings a unique “cottage-garden” feel to the desert plant palette along with some surprises. In spring a flush of beautiful flowers are produced that will cause people to stop in their tracks. After that, globe mallow will bloom off and on throughout the summer and fall.  

This shrubby, perennial is native to the Southwestern areas of North America where it is found growing along washes and rocky slopes. They grow quickly and reach approximately 3 ft. X 3 ft. in size. Globe mallow is cold hardy to about 20 degrees F.

drought tolerant

Drought tolerant

Although most globe mallow plants produce orange flowers, they are available in other colors including pink, purple, white, red and shades in between. At the nursery, you will usually see the orange flowered variety available. However, some growers are beginning to stock selections of globe mallow in different colors. But buyer beware; unless specially marked or blooming, you don’t know exactly what color flower you will end up with make sure if you want a certain color to check for mark.  

Often, the surprise occurs after you plant them and wait to see what color the flowers will be. I bought four globe mallow, out of bloom, for my garden and ended up with one red, two pink and one white. For those who do not like surprises in the garden, you can wait and buy them in bloom in the spring.

drought tolerant

USES: Globe mallow attracts hummingbirds as well as butterflies. They serve as a colorful backdrop for small perennials or small cacti. Consider planting with any of the following plants for a colorful desert flower garden – penstemon, desert marigold, ruellia, and blackfoot daisy. This beautiful but tough plant does best in full sun and performs well in areas with hot, reflected heat. Do not plant in shady areas as this will cause them to grow leggy.

Globe mallow do self-seed, and the seedlings can be moved and transplanted in the fall if desired. They are used frequently for re-vegetation purposes because they grow readily from seed.

Globe Mallow

MAINTENANCE: This pretty perennial is very low-maintenance.  No fertilizer or amendments to the soil are required. Prune once a year to approximately 6 inches to 1 ft. after it has finished blooming in late spring/early summer, which will help to prevent them from self-seeding, maximize future blooming and minimize unproductive, woody growth. Globe mallow is not the type of plant to repeatedly shear into a formal shape. When pruning, wear gloves and long sleeves since the tiny hairs on the leaves can be irritating to some as well as an eye irritant.

Once established, globe mallow is quite drought-tolerant, but will require supplemental irrigation for the best appearance and flowering. My globe mallow plants are connected to my drip-irrigation system and do very well when watered three to four times a month, spring through fall.

Globe Mallow

ADDITIONAL FACTS: Historically, globe mallow were used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes such as treating diarrhea, sore throats, eye diseases as well as skin disorders. Their roots were used for upset stomachs and poultices were made for treating swollen joints and broken bones.

*Have you ever grown globe mallow?

Fall is Here! Time to Start Planting!