I love the color purple in the garden because the color, helps to visually ‘cool’ the garden.

'Rio Bravo' Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae 'Rio Bravo')

‘Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’) 

Have you ever wondered how some plants handle our hot temperatures and intense sunlight?

Look carefully at the flowers, above.  Note the small hairs covering the petals?  They help to reflect the sun’s rays.

sage shrubs

I like using large shrubs to screen the back wall of my garden, so I have quite a few ‘Rio Bravo’ sage shrubs.

They put on a spectacular show off and on throughout the summer when they bloom.  (Leucophyllum langmaniae) is just one species of Leucophyllum (Texas Sage).

Of course, if you insist on pruning your sage shrubs into round ‘blobs’ – you will never see the flower show.

For guidelines on how to prune your desert, flowering shrubs correctly, click here.

I am always on the lookout for new ways to display annual flowers.  I’ll do anything from transforming old, antiques into planters to using brightly-colored containers.

On a recent visit to the Green Bay Botanical Gardens in Wisconsin, I saw this creative use of an old, decaying tree trunk…

decaying tree trunk

What a great example of a sustainable flower ‘pot’.

The depression within the tree trunk held just enough potting soil for the flowers to grow in.

Seeing this made me wonder what other items that we find in nature that we can use as planters.

Any ideas?

Question:  Do you like the way fallen flowers look in the landscape?  

A Carpet of Fallen Flowers

Some people describe the layer of spent blossoms of trees or shrubs as a ‘colorful carpet’ that adds beauty to the landscape.

A Carpet of Fallen Flowers

Or do you feel the pull of your leaf blower calling out to you whenever you see a layer of spent blossoms littering the ground?

For me, I love the beauty of small, fallen flowers.  It is a natural occurrence and benefits the soil and plants as they breakdown.

In spring, palo verde trees are covering the ground throughout the southwest with a yellow carpet.  In winter, red blossoms from Valentine shrubs (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’) create a carpet of red and in the summer months, Texas sage, (Leucophyllumspecies) leave a layer of purple in their wake.

Of course, if you have a swimming pool, you may want to clean up the flowers and put them on your compost pile.

So, what about you?  Do you allow the flowers to remain or do you clean them up?

Last month, I asked you on my Facebook page, which plant I should profile in my upcoming article for Houzz.com  (Every month, I write a plant profile on plants that grow well in the Southwest.)  

My blogger friend, Becky, who lives in Tucson, mentioned that Feathery Cassia (Senna artemisoides) would be a good choice.

Surprisingly, I hadn’t thought to feature this great shrub considering that I have used it in landscape designs in the past.

Feathery Cassia (Senna artemisoides)

In 2012, I was asked to design the plantings along a street in Rio Verde, AZ.

In addition to succulents, trees, perennials and other shrubs – Feathery Cassia was one shrub that I wanted to be sure to include due to its low-maintenance, drought-tolerance and gorgeous winter color.

Valentine (Eremophila maculata 'Valentine')

In just over a year, Feathery Cassia has a good start, but will grow much larger.

I love pairing this shrub with Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’) with its red flowers.

Feathery Cassia (Senna artemisoides)

I like this shrub so much, that I have planted 5 of them along in my own garden, along a long block wall.  I can’t wait until they start growing.

If you want to learn more about Feathery Cassia, like why do people call it ‘feathery’ or learn about the surprise the flowers harbor – check out my latest article from Houzz…

 

Architecture, interior design, and more โˆจ

Before you throw your next party, browse a wide selection of bar ware, bar glassware and serving platters.
For small bathroom ideas, browse photos of space-saving bathroom cabinetry and clever hidden mirrored medicine cabinets.

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I hope you are all enjoying your week.  I am getting ready to head to Florida next week in order to participate in a fun gardening project.  I’ll let you know more soon…

*This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.*

Last winter, I was enjoying a rare moment of peace….no kids or husband in the house, the garden didn’t need any attention and no articles to write. So, I decided to see what was on television.  As I was channel surfing, I saw a gardening show and of course, I stopped and watched.

What I saw was the host and featured garden expert, showing how to grow vegetables and flowers together in containers. Since I love both vegetables and flowers, I was intrigued.  So I bought the book written by the featured garden expert and got started.

I found nice plastic containers on sale along with some tiny trellises, as well as planting mix (NOT potting soil, which gets too soggy for container plants).
Planting mix is specially formulated for containers – it has a light texture and holds just the right amount of moisture for plants.

Then, I started planting.  I came up with the vegetable and flower combinations on my own and I must admit that I was happy how they turned out…

 growing flowers in containers

The first container has purple violas, spinach, bell pepper plant and nasturtiums. I started all of these from transplants, except for the nasturtiums, which came from seed that I planted.

I periodically snip the spinach for salads and I have harvested a single bell pepper so far.  However, there are flowers on my pepper plant, so more peppers are on the way.

 growing flowers in containers

This container was planted with red and green leaf lettuce, pink dianthus and cucumbers.

I snip the lettuce for salad and the dianthus has been blooming nonstop. The only problem that I have had with this container are the cucumbers.

Cucumbers do best when started from seed, not transplants.  I have grown a lot of cucumbers over the years.  So, I placed two small trellises in the back of the container and planted cucumber seeds at their base. I picked a variety of cucumbers that were small and would do well in a container.

Unfortunately, they never came up.

I tried planting them in my regular vegetable garden and they never came up.

I tried starting them indoors and they didn’t sprout.

*I had purchased the seeds online from a very reputable seed company, but the entire package of seeds was defective.

So I planted my go-to cucumber seeds and they are starting to grow beautifully.

 growing flowers in containers

My last vegetable/flower container has romaine lettuce, sugar snap peas and Icelandic poppies.

The lettuce has done very well, BUT my little dog discovered that he likes lettuce, and he would take some little bites from the sides of the lettuce.  I simply put some plastic patio chairs around the pot and he kept away.  Later, I took the chairs away and he left the lettuce alone.

The poppies haven’t bloomed yet, but I can see their buds, so it won’t be long now.

I have been picking off sugar snap peas every time I am in the garden and eating them on the spot.

So, does the idea of growing vegetables and flowers together appeal to you?

The book I read was “Easy Container Combos: Vegetables and Flowers” by Pamela Crawford. (I haven’t been asked to promote her book – I bought it myself and really enjoyed it so much).

I can’t wait to try some different combos this summer once the lettuce fades away.  I promise I will share ๐Ÿ™‚

**One thing I love so much about gardening is trying new things. This one was a home run for me.  

Growing Annuals: An Unusual Flower Container

Summertime temperatures bring a riot of color to my desert garden and my plants are growing larger and larger.  The combination of warm (okay, hot) temperatures and summer rains means that my garden is going crazy with growth and blooms.

As I walked around the garden taking pictures, I came away with photos of a large number of yellow flowering plants, some recent transplants, and a couple of plants who normally do not flower this time of year (I must have neglected to tell them when they are normally supposed to flower ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

yellow flowering plants

 Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans)This shrub has now reached a height of 9 ft.   I will prune it back by about 1/3 in early September.

Globe Mallow

A few flowers are still blooming on my Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) even though it is not their typical bloom season.

yellow flowering plants

 I just love the sunny faces of my Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata), which are a perennial that is sometimes treated as an annual.

Eremophila x

I haven’t shown this plant before, but I do love my Eremophila x Summertime Blue.

They flower off an on throughout the year and I like their bell-shaped flowers.

I transplanted this shrub back in March in order to make room for my vegetable garden. Thankfully, they survived and now beginning to thrive again.

yellow flowering plants

This pretty little perennial is underused in the landscape in my opinion.  

I love how the spent blooms of my Paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi) have a ‘papery’ texture, hence the origin of the common name.

yellow flowering plants

I must admit that this picture of a cluster of Orange Jubilee flowers (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee) is not from my garden, but from the garden of my mother and sister.

However, in my defense….I did design their garden and I do have the same type of plant in my garden, but my flowers do not look as nice as theirs do ๐Ÿ˜‰

Glandularia gooddingii

I love the tiny clusters of flowers of my Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii).

This one sits in the shade provided by my Green Desert Spoon.

yellow flowering plants

An all yellow variety of Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima ‘Phoenix Bird’) proudly shows off it’s flowers in my front garden.

yellow flowering plants

These flowers are not normally found in August, but someone neglected to tell my Desert Museum Palo Verde tree that it can stop flowering now.

Rio Bravo Sage

All over the Arizona desert, different types of Sages are blooming in response to the summer heat and humidity from our monsoon season.  My Rio Bravo Sage are no exception ๐Ÿ™‚

Rio Bravo Sage

The flowers of my Rio Bravo Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’) have a light fragrance which just makes this flowering shrub even better.

What is blooming in your garden this month?

To see more blooming gardens, please visit May Dreams Gardens who hosts Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day each month.

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I wanted to thank you all again for your wonderful comments in regards to Gracie’s story.  I promise I will post the third and last installment in a few days ๐Ÿ™‚

I absolutely love to travel and one of my favorite destinations is Europe.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to visit in recent years, but my daughter and her husband were able to travel there this summer and visited three different countries – France, Germany and Italy.

Love to travel

Love to travel

When they returned, I couldn’t wait to hear about their adventures and view their photos.  I was particularly touched by the fact that my daughter took the time to take some pictures of some of the beautiful flowering plants they saw in Germany.

love window boxes

 I just love window boxes….don’t you?

The reason it meant a lot to me is that my oldest daughter is not particularly into gardening – but that could be because she lives in an apartment and has no space for gardening ๐Ÿ˜‰  So, the fact that she took the time to take photos for me to share with me meant a lot.

I do not know what all of these flowering plants are and would love some help with identifying some of them ๐Ÿ™‚

Geraniums

Geraniums, Verbena and Chamomile? Don’t you love the stone planter?

Germany has a special place in my heart because years ago, my grandparents were transferred there for work when I was young.  As a result, I spent two summers in Germany as a child along with my parents and siblings.  

Love to travel

We spent our time in Frankfurt where my grandparents lived.  I remember the large field of strawberries that were grown in the back garden and the struggle keeping the rabbits away.  But mostly, I remember how delicious the strawberries tasted.

Lobelia

 Lobelia I grow this beautiful annual in the winter months.

A couple of times a week, a local farmer would drive up our street and open up his van which contained a plentiful harvest of all sorts of fruit and vegetables.  Wouldn’t it be great if the farmer delivered produce straight from the farm nowadays?

little garden gnomes

Okay, I just love this photo of little garden gnomes.

I find it interesting how certain smells can bring a crystal clear memory to my mind.  To this day, the smell of bus exhaust reminds me of a cobblestone street in downtown Frankfurt.

my daughter's favorite flower

These were my daughter’s favorite flower that she saw. Any ideas what type of flower this is?

On my kitchen wall is the beautiful cuckoo clock that my grandparents brought back from Germany.  Growing up, we loved hearing it cuckoo on the hour and dancing to the music that played afterward as the tiny figurines twirled in a circle.

beautiful flower

Isn’t this a beautiful flower? Any ideas what it is? 

Our cuckoo clock has not worked for many years and I keep meaning to get it fixed so that my kids can enjoy it as I did as a child.

Beautiful red roses

Beautiful red roses.

Both my husband and I have some German ancestry and I hope to be able to visit there again and experience the beauty that Germany has to offer.

Love to travel

Are there any places that have a special place in your heart for, or that you yearn to visit someday?

I have been enjoying the weather very much this June.  Now for those of you who do not live in the desert, this is not a ‘normal’ statement.  June is a month that is spent indoors, hibernating with the air-conditioning and looking outside at the garden.

But, we have had a cooler then normal June so far.  Saturday’s temperature was 17 degrees below normal.  I was looking forward to this day because I had planned to spend time pruning and weeding.  As I worked outside, the breeze felt cool…..again, NOT normal for this time of year.

Today, the temperatures are about normal for this time of year and I did venture outside to get some work done in my vegetable garden, but once the clock hits 10:00, I tend to go back inside.

Even though it is hot outside in June, there is a riot of color in the garden.  This is normal for this time of year.  So, many desert residents spend their time indoors, viewing the beauty of their gardens through the windows ๐Ÿ™‚

 Color in the Garden

Color in the Garden ;This is my first time growing sunflowers. They look so pretty in my vegetable garden.

 Color in the Garden

Color in the Garden, My Bougainvillea is absolutely glorious this time of year.

 Color in the Garden

Pink Bower Vine lines the front entry to my house. They thrive in the afternoon sun.

 Color in the Garden

Gold Lantana also lines the walk up to my front entry. I love their bright blooms.

 Color in the Garden

Warm summer temperatures are perfect for my Texas Sage shrubs.Their purple blooms will come and go through the fall months.

 Color in the Garden

Orange Jubilee takes center stage in my side yard.  I love the lush green foliage, but the flowers are my favorite part.

Orange Jubilee

A relative of Orange Jubilee, is my Yellow Bells shrub.   It is covered in yellow blossoms, which brighten an otherwise boring expanse of a brick wall.

Radiation Lantana

My last submission, Radiation Lantana.Blooms appear March through November…..I am so blessed!

Please visit May Dream Gardens for more GBBD posts.  I love seeing what is blooming around the world.

On another note, life since my son’s surgery has been busier then usual.  Whereas I used to blog 6 times a week, I now feel accomplished if I write 3.  But, I don’t feel too badly about it.  I am enjoying my time with my son, who is wheelchair bound for at least 3 more weeks.

We play cards, watch movies, read books together.  He also has fun playing with his army men, Wii, his Legos and reading books on his own.  We suffered a little bit of a setback yesterday.  Kai was signed up for our church’s Vacation Bible School this week and my husband went with him to help out.  Unfortunately, there was too much physical activity that Kai could not participate in and he was often left on the sidelines.  He hip was also bothering him with the extra activities that he could participate in, so we spoke to him and agreed to not continue with VBS this year.   

The great news is that Kai will start physical therapy in 3 weeks, which means that he can start putting weight on his leg ๐Ÿ™‚  Right now though, we are busy keeping him happy when all he can do is sit and lie down.

I am so thankful for the comments that I continue to receive.  I apologize that I have not had the time to respond as much as I would like too.  But, I am trying my best to carve out a little time each day to visit all of you and leave a little note ๐Ÿ™‚

June Daysโ€ฆ.Dry Grass, Sprinklers and a Harvest

I just love this time of month, when it is time to show what is blooming in my garden.  Spring has definitely sprung and most of my plants are flowering, although there are a few holdouts.

First, are the blooms that will soon be ending as we move into the summer months. 

My Valentine shrub has been blooming reliable since December.  Normally the blooms end in April, but our cooler then normal spring has helped to keep them blooming longer.

Valentine

 Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)

My Globe Mallow had been pruned back, but now has had a second flush of bloom. 

Globe Mallow

Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

My Geraniums that I transplanted to the vegetable garden are still blooming, but warmer temperatures will soon stop the flowers from coming until fall arrives.

blooming in my garden

And my last winter/spring bloomer….my Firecracker Penstemon.  I had pruned back the dead flowers in late March and have been rewarded with a second flush of bloom.

Firecracker Penstemon

 Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)

Now for some new spring/summer bloomers…..

One of my favorite flowering trees, Desert Willow, is covered in pink blossoms.

Desert Willow

 Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)

Desert Marigold, a perennial which is often grown as a annual wildflower, are beginning to make their appearance in my garden.  They self-seed and I allow them to come up in certain areas.

blooming in my garden

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

And last, but not least….my favorite flowering tree, the ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde.

blooming in my garden

 ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde (Parkinsonia hybrid ‘Desert Museum’)

I hope you have enjoyed this blooming tour of my garden.  Please visit May Dreams Gardens to see other Garden Blogger Bloom Day participants.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Vibrant blooms, Annual Vinca

Vibrant blooms, Annual Vinca (Catharanthus roseus)

One of my favorite summer annuals is vinca.

Vibrant blooms

Stop by any nursery this time of year, and you will find flats full of their vibrant blooms, and there are many different colors available.

Vibrant blooms

From purples and pinks to bright reds.

Vibrant blooms

Vinca works excellent in containers or when planted in the ground.  They prefer well-drained soil in a warm, sunny area.

This warm-season annual enjoys regular watering and does best with some fertilizer, but don’t overdo it.  I usually apply a slow-release fertilizer when planting and follow up with monthly applications of a liquid fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro.  If you want to go organic, then you can just use a mixture of good potting soil mixed with compost.  

Vibrant blooms

Now some of you may have had the experience of growing beautiful vinca one year and the next year; you have a terrible time with them. Shortly after planting you notice your vinca beginning to wilt, and no amount of water seems to help.

Vibrant blooms

Has this happened to you? Extra water will not help because the vinca is suffering from a case of ‘Vinca Wilt’.  This is not the scientific term, but for those of you who like long scientific names, your vinca is likely the victim of a Phytophthora fungus, which affects the roots, preventing them from absorbing water – hence the dried out look of the vinca.  

This fungus lives in the soil and infects the roots, causing them to rot. It loves moist conditions, and so more water hastens the demise of vinca.  

So, what can you do? The fungal spores can last for months or even years in the soil. You can usually rely on one good year of vinca growth, but then the spores start to multiply, and by the next year, they begin to affect your new plants.

Vibrant blooms

I recommend using vinca for one year and then use something different the next three years. Of course, you can remove all the soil from your containers and sterilize the inside with a bleach water mixture and then add new soil, which can work for a few containers at home, but it is not cost-effective in a larger setting.  For me, it is not worth it either, because there are so many other beautiful summer annuals that you can use. 

I hope this solves any mystery surrounding vinca.  They are beautiful and well worth growing – for a year at least.