Do you remember when you were a child and couldn’t wait to grow up?  First it was learning how to walk before you could run.  Then learning how to ride a bike without training wheels.  Later you become impatient, waiting until you are old enough to get your driver’s license, although that is often scary for the parents.

Well, this is not a story about a child impatient to grow up.  Rather, it is a story of a rose bush that is in too much of a hurry to flower.

Back in January, we reintroduced roses into our garden.  We purchased 3 David Austin roses – Abraham Darby, Graham Thomas and William Shakespeare.  My children were so excited the day we received the roses in the mail.

Reintroduced Roses

Reintroduced Roses

We prepared the holes using bone meal, bagged compost, blood meal and aged steer manure according to the directions from the rose grower.  

Reintroduced Roses

Once we planted them, they were so small, it was hard to even see them.

Only two months later, we saw the beginning of a single rose bud growing on our Abraham Darby rose, which belongs to my third oldest daughter, Ruthie.  We were all so excited and it seemed like it took forever for it to bloom.

Reintroduced Roses

It was well worth the wait.  I love the light pink of the petals and the fragrance was just intoxicating.

Well, not wanting to be outdone by it’s neighbor, Abraham Darby….Graham Thomas decided that he would outdo Abraham.

Almost all at once, he started to grow not just one rose bud, but 10!

Reintroduced Roses

Now normally, I would be absolutely thrilled.

beautiful roses

I mean, who wouldn’t love all of these beautiful roses perfuming the air.  But, there was just one problem.  You can see part of the problem in the photo above.

beautiful roses

Graham had not grown big enough stems to support all the new roses, not to mention even one rose.

And so, we had beautiful roses laying on the ground….

beautiful roses

Hopefully, Graham will think twice about growing roses before he has big enough stems.  

Interestingly, our William Shakespeare rose is quite patient.  He is rather puny and only formed his first rose bud a week ago.  But, the stem should be able to support the rose (hopefully).

And so the moral of the story is, do not flower until you have grown big enough to support them.   I hope Mr. Graham Thomas has learned his lesson….

A Neglected, Overgrown, Nameless Rose….

I love color in the garden.  My garden is full of flowering shrubs and perennials.  I am blessed to live in an area where it is possible to have flowers in my garden 12 months of the year.  My favorite way to accomplish this is to include plants that flower most, if not all year long.

Today, I would like to share with you some of my favorites….

full of flowering

Full of flowering, Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) Flowers year-long with heaviest bloom occurring in spring and fall.

full of flowering

Red Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica) This shrub has beautiful flowers 12 months of the year.  Blooming does slow down in winter, but flowers are still present.

full of flowering

Pink Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides) Two of these vines grace the front entry to my house.  They produce flowers all year, but do slow during the hot summer months.

full of flowering

‘Blue Bells’ (Eremophila hygrophana) Resembles Texas sage, yet stays compact at 3 feet tall and wide.  Purple flowers are produced all 12 months of the year.

Baja Ruellia

Baja Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis) One of my absolute favorite shrubs.  Purple flowers are present all year, but blooming slows down in winter.

Cape Honeysuckle

Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) Reliable bloomer throughout the year.  Hummingbirds flock to the beautiful orange flowers.  Winter temperatures slow down blooming.

Mexican Bird-of-Paradise

Mexican Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) This versatile shrub can be trained as a small tree.  I have 4 in my landscape.  Yellow flowers are produced off and on all year.

Purple Trailing Lantana

Purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) In a protected area (under an overhang or underneath a tree), this groundcover can bloom all year long.  The lantana pictured above, was located underneath an overhang which is why is still looked wonderful in January when I took this photo. 

I live and work in zone 9a and so the plants bloom times are affected by our highest and lowest temperatures.  As a result, many of the plants that do flower all year long will slow down in the winter and fewer blooms will be produced.  But, in my experience, there are still flowers even in January.  

Plants such as the lantana and cape honeysuckle will produce more blooms in the cold winter months if planted in protected area.  Examples of protected areas are up against a house, underneath the eaves or underneath a tree.  I have a bougainvillea that has stayed green all winter and still has flowers on it because it is located underneath a tree.

I hope you will try some of my favorite flowering plants.  For those of you who live in different climates, look for plants that will provide you with color for as long as possible.  If you cannot have blooming flowers year-long, then try incorporating plants with beautiful foliage and textures so that there is always something beautiful to see in your garden every single month of the year.

**For more suggestions for colorful plants for your arid garden, I recommend Arizona Gardener’s Guide, which lists hundreds of trees, shrubs and perennials that add beauty while thriving in our often challenging climate.

 

 
 

Summer time brings a riot of color to our desert gardens, which are but a distant memory in December.  However, cooler temperatures do not mean that our gardens have to take a holiday.  In our desert climate, there are many plants that flower reliably in December.  Here are some of my favorites plants from my December garden.

December Garden

December Garden, Parry’s Penstemon (Penstemon parryi)

Beautiful flowers and a magnet for hummingbirds.  Need I say more….?

December Garden

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)(Penstemon parryi)

The delicate light blue flowers are so beautiful.

December Garden

Baja Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis)

I just love this shrub and it’s pretty purple flowers.  Most blooms are produced in spring, but some flowers are still produced in winter.

December Garden

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)

Reliable bloomer fall through spring.  Hummingbirds will appreciate this small shrub in the garden.

December Garden

Pink Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

Blooms fall through spring.

Baja Fairy Duster

Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica)

Flowers year-round.  Slows down in the winter, but continues to flower in protected areas.

Firecracker Penstemon

  Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)

My favorite plant in the garden.

Angelita Daisy

  Angelita Daisy (Hymenoxys acaulis)

Year-round bright color.  Heaviest blooming occurs in the spring.

Valentine

  Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)

This is what my Valentine looks like in December.  However, peak flowering occurs in February, hence the name ‘Valentine’.

So, just because it is December, it does not mean that you have to resign yourself to a landscape without flowering plants.  Try one or more of these and see the difference a little color in December adds to your desert garden.

No Snow….

I want to share with you three amazing plants that I encountered on Saturday, each with pink flowers, yet each one so different from the other.  I spent the afternoon at the Arboretum at Arizona State University (my alma mater).  Many people are surprised to find out that they have a wonderful arboretum that encompasses the entire main campus.  I had a wonderful time just walking around and taking pictures of beautiful trees and plants, my husband patiently trailing behind me with the kids.

OK, first the pretty…

amazing plants

  Queen’s Wreath, Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus)

Queen’s Wreath is a beautiful vine that is native to Mexico and Central America.  Stunning pink sprays of flowers appear in spring and last until the first frost.  The most common variety has vibrant pink blossoms.  However, there is a scarlet variety ‘Baja Red’ and also a rare white variety as well.  Bees are attracted to the flowers, and the leaves are an attractive heart-shape.

amazing plants

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

amazing plants

This beautiful vine will die back at the first frost, but it’s roots are hardy to 20 degrees F.   In the spring, it quickly grows back and requires a trellis, fence or an arbor for support.

**When we bought our first home in Phoenix, there was support made up of twine tied between two Palm trees.  We had no idea why, but it sure looked ugly.  Well, before we had time to remove it, beautiful, light green, heart-shaped leaves began climbing up the twine support and quickly covered it.  Then gorgeous sprays of pink flowers promptly followed, which was a pleasant surprise.

Next, the amusing…..

amazing plants
amazing plants

 Chinese Lantern Tree, Sickle Bush (Dichrostachys cinerea)

I had to laugh when I saw this flower.  I think it looks like it is having a bad hair day.  You can see why some people call it Chinese Lantern tree because the flowers do resemble them and it sounds better than calling it “Bad Hair Day Tree.” 

amazing plants

The tree itself is relatively unremarkable.  The flowers are not distinct.  It is native to the tropical areas of Africa, parts of Southeast Asia and Australia.  It grows well in full sun or filtered shade.  In wet, tropical areas, it can be invasive.  However, in our dry climate, that is not a problem.

amazing plants

 Seed Pods

**Okay, I have to admit, that I had to look up information on this Chinese Lantern tree – I hate admitting that.  I do not profess to know about every type of plant; this is easily evidenced by my travels to colder climates where I know about only a fraction of what the plants are there.   But this one was in my backyard.  I had never seen this type of tree before and had never learned about it either.  So, I went through my countless dry climate plant books hoping to find what type of tree this was, and only one book had it listed, (which made me feel better).  It is not common here in Arizona, but I guarantee that I will never forget it.

Now finally, the unique…

Floss Silk Tree

 Floss Silk Tree (Ceiba speciosa, formerly Chorisia speciosa)

The flowers of this tree make you stop in your tracks – they are that beautiful and unique.  Unfortunately, the flowers were all gone except for the one above, which was almost ready to fall.  The flowers are produced primarily in fall and winter months.  Some trees will produce flowers once they drop their leaves in winter, while other varieties flower both with and without the leaves being present.  Although the flowers are a striking feature, there is more…

thorns

Their trunk is covered with cone-shaped thorns.

thorns

This beautiful tree does well in full sun or part shade.  They do grow quite large, up to 40 ft. Wide and 50 ft. Tall.  Silk Floss trees are native to Brazil and Argentina.

**So, I was done for the day.  I had two memory cards full of photos, sore feet, and a patient husband and kids, walking with me to the car.  I was about to get in when I saw the Silk Floss tree next to the parking garage.  So my husband, who knows me all too well, wordlessly unpacked the camera so I could take the last few photos.  Occasionally see these trees around the Phoenix area, but rarely, so I was thrilled to get these pictures.

I hoped you enjoyed my visions of pink.  I will post more of my expedition at a later time.  I’m pretty sure it will take me a long time to catalog all of the photos I took.

Can You Over Water Your Plants in the Desert ?