One of my favorite things I do as a landscape consultant is to show my clients newer plant and shrub 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.  

Orange Jubilee shrub

Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’

Many of you may be familiar with the large, orange-flowering shrub Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’. This popular shrub has clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers and a long bloom period. Its large size 8-12-foot height makes it a favorite for screening out a block wall or unfavorable view.

While the flowers and lush foliage are a plus, Orange Jubilee is too large for many smaller areas, which is why this newer shrub is one of my new favorites. 

'Sparky' Tecoma shrub

‘Sparky’ Tecoma is a hybrid that has bi-colored flowers and is named after Arizona State University’s popular mascot due to the coloring. It was created by a horticulturist and professor at ASU.

Sparky shrub

‘Sparky’ is about half the size of ‘Orange Jubilee,’ which makes it suitable for smaller spaces. It has smaller leaves and a slightly more compact growth habit, reaching 4-5 feet tall and wide.

Both types of Tecoma have the same requirements – plant in full sun and prune away frost-damaged growth in March.  ‘Sparky’ is slightly more cold tender than ‘Orange Jubilee’.

new Shrub

I have added three of these lovely shrubs in my front garden. One along my west-facing side wall, and two that flank either side of my large front window. They add beautiful color 9 months a year.

For those of you who are U of A alumni, you can plant one and call it something else. To date, there isn’t any word of a red, white and blue hybrid yet – but, I’ll be sure to let you know if they create one ๐Ÿ˜‰

winter garden

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 winter 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:

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae) winter garden

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

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.

Whale's Tongue Agave and Mexican Honeysuckle underneath an Ironwood tree from winter garden

Whale’s Tongue Agave and Mexican Honeysuckle underneath an Ironwood tree

Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) from winter garden

Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera)

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.

Weber's Agave (Agave weberi) and Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata) from winter garden

Weber’s Agave (Agave weberi) and Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

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.

Firesticks (Euphorbia 'Sticks on Fire') and Elephants Food (Portulacaria afra) from winter garden

Firesticks (Euphorbia ‘Sticks on Fire’) and Elephants Food (Portulacaria afra)

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.

'Winter Blaze' (Eremophila glabra) from winter garden

‘Winter Blaze’ (Eremophila glabra)

Eremophilas from winter garden

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 Eremophila and Mexican Fence Post Cactus from winter garden

Blue Bells Eremophila and Mexican Fence Post Cactus

Blue Bells (Eremophila hygrophana) from winter garden

Blue Bells (Eremophila hygrophana)

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.

 Valentine Bush (Eremophila maculata 'Valentine') from winter garden

Valentine Bush (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)

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.

Aloe ferox from winter garden

Aloe ferox

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.

Trailing Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) from winter garden

Trailing Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

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!

 Shrubby Germander (Teucrium fruiticans 'Azurea') from winter garden

Shrubby Germander (Teucrium fruiticans ‘Azurea’)

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.

Chuparosa (Justicia californica) from winter garden

Chuparosa (Justicia californica)

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.

winter garden colors

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?

Drive By Landscapes: Winter Beauty in the Southwest Garden

(Russelia equisetiformis) coral fountain

When you ask most people what they want in their garden, their most common answer is, “color”. One of the best plants that I like to recommend for warm-season color is coral fountain, also known as firecracker plant (Russelia equisetiformis). It has beautiful, cascading foliage that resembles the movement of water.

coral fountain

Deep orange flowers begin to appear in spring, the attract both humans and hummingbirds. As you can see, this is not a plant for subtle color – it is dramatic.

Coral fountain paired with elephants food (Portulacaria afra).

Coral fountain paired with elephants food (Portulacaria afra).

 It looks great when paired with succulents like artichoke agave (Agave parryi โ€˜truncataโ€™)elephants food (Portulacaria afra), or ladyโ€™s slipper (Pedilanthus macrocarpus). For additional interest, you can plant it alongside yellow-flowering plants from the low-growing gold lantana (Lantana โ€˜New Goldโ€™) or angelita daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) all the way to the tall yellow bells (Tecoma stans stans).

 coral fountain

In my garden, I have three of them growing underneath the filtered shade of my palo verde tree. If you’d like to learn more about coral fountain to see it would be a good fit in your garden, please read my earlier post

Anna's Hummingbird sitting in front of my kitchen window.

Photo: Anna’s Hummingbird sitting in front of my kitchen window.

Hummingbirds are arguably the most popular birds in our gardens.  It’s not unusual to find hummingbird feeders hanging, enticing these flying jewels to come and drink of the sweet sugar water.

Of course, there are a large number of plants that promise to lure hummingbirds into your outdoor spaces as well so that you can sit and enjoy their antics.

But, what if you don’t have much space for gardening or maybe you simply want to create a special place for hummingbirds to visit.

container hummingbird garden

Well, a container hummingbird garden may be just the solution for you.

container hummingbird garden

I am very fortunate to have hummingbirds in my Arizona garden throughout the entire year.  Early last year, I decided to create my own hummingbird haven in some old plastic pots.  I gave them each a new coat of paint and got started.

container hummingbird garden
container hummingbird garden

My son and dog, Polly, came out to help me add the new plants.

container hummingbird garden

At first, the plants looked rather small and straggly.  But, I knew that it would only a matter of a few months and they would fill out and look great.

It’s been about 20 months since I planted my hummingbird containers and I am treated to the view of these tiny birds sipping from the flowers with their long tongues.

I created a short video to show people what my garden looks like now and how they can create their own hummingbird haven with only a container.  I hope you enjoy it. 

For a list of plants that I used in my containers, click here.

**What are your favorite plants that you use to attract hummingbirds?

Do you love hummingbirds?  If asked, most people would say that these tiny birds are among their favorite bird species.

Anna's Hummingbird whose head and throat are covered in pollen

Anna’s Hummingbird whose head and throat are covered in pollen.

I always pause whatever I’m doing whenever I see a hummingbird nearby as I marvel at their small size along with their brilliant colors and flying antics.

Last weekend, I enjoyed an unforgettable experience observing and learning about hummingbirds at the annual Hummingbird Festival, in beautiful Sedona, Arizona.

hummingbird gardening

At the festival, I gave two presentations on small space hummingbird gardening, showing people how they could create a mini-hummingbird garden in a container.

When I wasn’t speaking, I was enjoying the garden tour, visiting local hummingbird gardens along with attending other lectures given by noted hummingbird experts.  

Hummingbird Banding

While there were wonderful events throughout the weekend, this was one particular event that I’ll never forget.

Immature Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Immature Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Imagine being able to observe hummingbirds up close being banded and re-released. It really is as incredible as it sounds! In fact, I was able to hold and release a hummingbird myself!

So, what is hummingbird banding?

Hummingbirds are captured, tagged and re-released and is done to track hummingbird migration, the age and health of hummingbirds.  

Mature Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Mature Black-Chinned Hummingbird

This hummingbird banding site was located in the backyard of a home in Sedona.

hummingbird feeders

Multiple hummingbird feeders are set out to attract a large number of hummingbirds.

hummingbird feeders

A few of the feeders are inside of cages with openings for hummingbirds to enter.

hummingbird feeders

A hummingbird enters to feed from the feeder.

hummingbird feeders
Hummingbird Banding
Hummingbird Banding

Each little hummer is carefully put into a mesh bag in order to safely transport it to the nearby table to be examined and banded.

It’s important to note this process does no harm to them and it is a very quick.

The tools needed for banding hummingbirds

The tools needed for banding hummingbirds.

Hummingbird Banding

The birds are carefully removed from the bag and the process begins.

Young male Anna's hummingbird

Young male Anna’s hummingbird.

Hummingbird Banding
Hummingbird Banding

They are carefully inspected for general health and to identify the species of hummingbird.  On this day – Anna’s, Black-Chinned and Costa’s hummingbirds were seen.

Hummingbird Banding

Measurements of the beak and feathers are taken to determine the age.

Hummingbird Banding

Feathers on the underside are softly blown with a straw in order to see how much (or how little) fat a hummingbird has.  A little fat indicates that a hummingbird is getting ready to migrate.

Hummingbird Banding

Special eyewear is required for the banders to see what they are doing with these tiny birds.

Hummingbird Banding

For the banding process itself, hummingbirds are placed in a nylon stocking so that one of their legs is more easily manipulated.

Hummingbird Banding

The small band is carefully placed on the leg.

Hummingbird Banding

As you might expect, it isn’t easy to band hummingbirds because of their tiny size – the bands themselves are so small that they fit around a toothpick.  In fact, hummingbird banding is a highly specialized job and there are only 150 people in the U.S. who have permits allowing them to band hummingbirds.

drink of sugar water

After the banding has been done, hummingbirds are given a drink of sugar water before being released.

hummingbird bander is from St. Louis

This hummingbird bander is from St. Louis, MO and was so excited to see his first Costa’s hummingbird (which aren’t found where he lives). 

newly-banded hummingbirds

For me, the most exciting part is when observers have the opportunity to hold and release the newly-banded hummingbirds.

hummingbirds

The hummingbirds would sit for a few seconds in the palm of your hand before flying off.

Holding a hummingbird in your hand is as amazing as you would expect!  The hummingbird that I released was a young black-chinned hummingbird that had hatched earlier this year.

hummingbirds

One of the observers who got to release a hummingbird was a gentleman who was 100 years old + 1 month old!

How wonderful to be able to experience new things at that age ๐Ÿ™‚

red rocks of Sedona.

The garden where the banding was held was beautiful – especially with the backdrop of the red rocks of Sedona.

hummingbirds feeding

I must admit that I was equally split between observing the banding and watching the numerous hummingbirds feeding.

Can you tell how many hummingbirds are in the photo, above?

Seven!

I have got to add more hummingbird feeders to my own garden!

***********************

I am so grateful to the folks at the Hummingbird Society who put on a wonderful festival.  I enjoyed speaking and learning about these wonderful “flying jewels”.

The festival is held every other year in Sedona, AZ.  There were over 1,000 attendees this year.  I highly encourage you to consider attending this special event next year.  

A Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden Finished!

Does the idea of attracting hummingbirds to your outdoor space appeal to you?

It’s hard to find anyone who wouldn’t welcome these colorful visitors.

The best way to attract hummingbirds is to have a garden filled with their favorite nectar plants, but what if you don’t have a garden space or any room for additional plants?

What can you do to attract hummingbirds besides hanging out a hummingbird feeder?

Create your own hummingbird container garden!

Imagine a pot filled with one or more plants that are irresistible to hummingbirds. A container takes up little room and enables you to attract hummingbirds to your garden whether your outdoor space is an acre or a small apartment balcony.  

Creating a Hummingbird Container Garden

Hummingbirds always seem to be flitting around my garden and they love to perch up high in my cascalote tree.

I recently set out to create three different hummingbird container gardens in my backyard.

The reason that I decided to do this was that I was asked by the Hummingbird Society to be a speaker at the Sedona Hummingbird Festival this summer. The topic of my presentation will be teaching people how to create their own hummingbird container garden. So, I thought that it would be a fun project to create my own.

Many people rely solely on hummingbird feeders to attract hummers because they don’t have enough garden space. My hope is that I can show them that they can have a mini-hummingbird garden despite their limited space.

I must admit, that I love it when I have to buy plants for a project. So, I headed out to the Desert Botanical Garden’s spring plant sale.  

Creating a Hummingbird Container Garden

I had a wish list of nine plants that I wanted to use and I was thrilled to find them all.

vegetables and flowers

The pots that I decided to use were repurposed.  They used to be located next to my vegetable garden where I would plant a mixture of herbs, vegetables and flowers in them.

The problem was that my 7-month-old puppy, Polly, kept eating the edible plants out of them. So I decided to use them for non-edible plants in hopes that she would leave them alone.

I had bought the pots 3 years ago – they were on sale at Walmart for $5 each. I had painted them using spray paint that was suitable for use on plastic.

For my portable hummingbird garden, I moved the pots to an area that receives filtered shade underneath my ‘Desert Museum’ palo verde tree. I also gave them a new coat of paint to freshen up the colors.

To add height and definition, I raised the orange pot by placing it on some leftover step stones.

attracting hummingbirds

Each container was to have 3 different plants.  I had some fun deciding on the combinations for each pot.

For the orange container, I decided to plant a succulent mini lady’s slipper(Pedilanthus macrocarpus), Mexican fire (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) and Waverly sage(Salvia ‘Waverly’).

I confess that I have never grown any of these plants in this container before, which makes this project even more fun.

While I have grown the regular-sized lady’s slipper,  I didn’t know there was a mini variety until I saw it at the sale and I knew that I just had to have it – it would be a perfect size for a container. (One thing that I love about the Desert Botanical Garden’s plant sales is that you can often find unusual or rare types of plants).

Mexican fire will bloom spring through fall, producing red flowers. I don’t have any experience growing this shrub at all, so this project will be a learning experience.

The salvia, ‘Waverley’ sage, has white and lavender flowers, which are beautiful. Like most salvias, it will do best in filtered shade in the desert.

Polly is checking out what we were doing

Polly is checking out what we were doing.

My son, Kai, was excited to help out with the project. He decided that the orange pot would be his so he wanted to add the plants himself.

Blue Bells(Eremophila hygrophana), Mexican honeysuckle(Justicia spicigera) and red autumn sage(Salvia greggii).

Next up was my purple pot.  In it went Blue Bells(Eremophila hygrophana), Mexican honeysuckle(Justicia spicigera) and red autumn sage(Salvia greggii).

Blue Bells is a relatively new plant on the scene and this Australian native flowers all year long and has evergreen foliage.  I have used it a lot in recent designs but this is the first one in my own garden.

Autumn sage has always been a favorite of mine – especially in areas with filtered shade where their red flowers will decorate the landscape fall through spring.

Mexican honeysuckle had been my go-to choice for shady areas where its bright green leaves and orange flowers look great all year.  After 17 years as a horticulturist, there is finally one in my landscape.  

Sierra Star(Calliandra 'Sierra Star'), garnet sage(Salvia chiapensis) and purple trailing lantana(Lantana montevidensis)

The blue pot contains a newer plant variety, an unknown and an old favorite.

Sierra Star(Calliandra ‘Sierra Star’), garnet sage(Salvia chiapensis) and purple trailing lantana(Lantana montevidensis) made up the last trio.

Sierra Star is a hybrid with two famous parents – pink fairy duster(Calliandra eriophylla) and Baja fairy duster(Calliandra californica). It blooms throughout the year, producing reddish-pink flowers.  I have used in several new designs and am so excited to have it in my garden.

Garnet sage is another salvia that I am looking forward to learning more about. It has lovely magenta flowers and attractive foliage.

Some people may be surprised to learn that purple trailing lantana attracts hummingbirds, but you’ll find it on most hummingbird plant lists and I’ve seen them feed from lantana before.  

attracting hummingbirds

As with all container plantings, I used a high-quality planting mix.

As I stepped back to admire my work,

attracting hummingbirds

Unfortunately, someone else decided to come and admire my hard work too.

attracting hummingbirds

I admit that I haven’t had much trouble with dogs eating my plants until Polly and her sister Penny came along.

attracting hummingbirds

My hope is that after she gets used to them, the newness will wear off and she will learn to ignore them.

Until then, we put up a temporary barrier.

attracting hummingbirds

Thankfully, the barrier won’t keep the hummingbirds away. In my experience, it takes a few days for them to notice new plants (and hummingbird feeders).

I’ll keep you updated as to how my hummingbird container does and will take photos along the way that I can use in my upcoming presentation.

Last week, as I was frantically rushing around getting ready to fly out to Chicago to attend my daughter’s Navy graduation, I received an email from a reader of my blog, which literally stopped me in my tracks and brought a huge smile to my face.

When you blog, it is almost always a one-way conversation.  I don’t often get to know if my ‘ramblings’ help or inspire others, except for when I meet some of you in person.  So, this email just made my day (or should I say, my entire month).

Here is a small excerpt…

“Since moving here (from SC three years ago) my son and I have found your Pinterest Page, and Facebook page AND blog as our source when we have questions about things we have planted. Because of that my 14 year old has been mightily successful in his gardening efforts: veggie gardens, herbs and his hummingbird garden too. This mother thanks you for being willing to show not only your success but not quite so successful growth too (ie your onions.- they weren’t failures, just small).  Jacob, my son, was so gleeful (as most boys [I guess] would be) when he pulled his onions this week and they were bigger than yours.  (I don’t know what it is about competition and boys…. ) He is currently awaiting his corn harvest.  He has planted two varieties to compare the difference- one The Golden Cross Bantam (Hybrid) and some other kind I cannot think of at the moment (silver queen or something..)”

I wrote her back and told her how much her email meant to me.  And then, I wondered if she wouldn’t mind if I make her son’s garden a subject of an upcoming blog post. 

Jacob is 14 years old and in addition to being a great gardener, also likes birding.  

Are you ready to see Jacob’s garden?

Young gardener garden

Young gardener garden

This is the hummingbird garden.  I asked Jacob, what he planted in his garden and what species of hummingbirds that he has seen visiting.  

“There are many things I have added to my hummingbird garden.

Here is a list: 

Dianthus

Spanish Lavender

Fern leaf Lavender

French Lavender

Columbine

Kangaroo paw (orange red in color)

Ivy Geranium (to add color to garden not specifically for hummingbirds)

May Night Salvia

East Friesland Salvia

Pink Salvia

Blue Black Salvia

Trailing Verbena

Verbena

Guara Ballerina Rose

Cardinal climber vine

Black eyed Susan vine

Rocket Snapdragons

Snapdragons

Pineapple Sage

Autumn Sage

Cinnamon Basil

Basil

Bee Balm

Aloe Blue Elf

Aloe Vera

Lantana (yellow and a new variety which is white with yellow on the outside of the flower)

A few rogue sunflowers

and a young Desert Willow sapling that I started from seed last year.

That is it so far but you never know what tomorrow will bring. 

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Four different species have visited my garden; Annaโ€™s hummingbirds are year round residents, Black-chinned hummingbirds stay throughout the summer, the Rufous and Broad-tailed hummingbirds are common in migration. The hummingbird garden is situated near our kitchen window(s), I really enjoy sitting at the table watching them. Last year we actually got to enjoy watching a mama Anna Hummer feeding her babies. The house Finch and sometimes the red headed woodpecker visit too. The curved bill thrashers love to eat the bugs.”

Young gardener garden

Young gardener garden

I wanted to hear more about Jacob’s vegetable garden so I asked him what types of vegetables he likes to grow.

“Some of my favorite vegetable(s) to grow here is corn, and tomatoes The corn partly because it is something new for me to try producing. I am growing two types this year; Bantam corn and sweet corn. I will compare the two to see which harvests the most and grows better. The tomatoes have so many new varieties that I have not grown before so I am having a blast trying new tomatoes this year. I am trying the Summer Set tomato, Lemon boy, Roma, Cherry tomato, Big Beef, Early Girl, and of course the Phoenix. All have produced except the Phoenix, so far.
I also planted Okra last year. The plant generated much, but I waited till they were to big and they were bitter. I kept the plants though because the flowers were very pleasing to the eye. 

Young gardener garden

Young gardener garden

White Icicle Radishes were another vegetable I had fun growing. I found a watermelon called Moon and Stars that was believed to be extinct, I am growing that also.”

As many of you may have experienced, there is one or two vegetables that you have a hard time growing.  I asked Jacob, if he struggled growing any type(s) of vegetables in his garden.  

“Squash seems to be the hardest for me to grow here in Arizona. I haven’t been to successful but I keep trying. I have Zucchini and crook- necked squash growing this year, hopefully I will be a little more successful.”

Young gardener garden

Young gardener garden

I have a list of vegetables that I want to try to grow for the first time in my garden.  I just don’t have the room to grow everything I want ๐Ÿ˜‰  I asked Jacob what was on his ‘wish list’ for his vegetable garden.  

“I would love try Purple Bell Peppers. They would be fun to grow, and to eat.”

Young gardener garden

Young gardener garden

While I enjoy teaching people how to garden and sometimes ‘how not to’ – I wondered if Jacob had any gardening tips that he has picked up along the way that he would share with you.  

“My gardening tips are more of an encouragement. Never be afraid to try new things even here in the desert. Some things might be successful, some may not. Don’t give up even if your things don’t produce. Try again, they may in the next year. Gardening is about succeeding and failures and learning from them.

Romaine lettuce

This year my mother found some pins that she shared with me, on Pinterest., that I tried. Regrowing celery from the root, lettuce, and onions too. The celery flourished! The Romaine lettuce did well also, the yellow onion not quite as successful. It did produce an onion, just not a very large one. This was a fun gardening experiment, some I may retry once the summer heat has passed. 

Praying Mantis hatched from a purchased egg case

Praying Mantis hatched from a purchased egg case.

Something else I am doing this year is allowing the plants to go to seed in hopes that I can use the seeds for next years garden. 

A Young Gardener and His Special Garden

Gardening is about succeeding, failures, experimenting with new things, and learning from them.”

I must say, that I am very impressed with Jacob’s garden and also with how much he has learned since he started his garden.

As he stated, don’t be afraid get out in the garden and try.  Of course, you will have some failures (all gardeners do – I have had my share).  But, you will also have successes that make failures pale in comparison.  Gardening is a huge experiment, which makes life fun and exciting.

I am so grateful to Jacob and his mom, Deb, who took the time to write to me and then to share their garden and thoughts with me.

“THANK YOU!”

A Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden Finished!

Last time we ‘talked’, I was showing you a Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden that I was asked to work on.

“Creating a Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden”

As I promised, here is the photo of the finished project…

Hummingbird Garden

Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden

 Although the new plants are somewhat small and scraggly-looking, they will soon grow and produce many flowers.

Hummingbird Garden

Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden

We created a pathway throughout the garden and groups of plants will visually guide visitors along the curved path.

The pathway was made of 1/4″ stabilized decomposed granite, which is essentially decomposed granite that has been mixed with a stabilizer.  This creates a natural pathway that has a hard surface.

As I promised last time, here is a list of butterfly / hummingbird reflecting plants that we included:

Autumn Sage  (Salvia greggii) Butterfly & Hummingbird

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) Butterfly & Hummingbird

Baja Ruellia  (Ruellia peninsularis) Hummingbird

Baja Ruellia  (Ruellia peninsularis) Hummingbird

Black Dalea  (Dalea frutescens) Butterfly / Hummingbird

Black Dalea  (Dalea frutescens) Butterfly / Hummingbird

Damianita  (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Damianita  (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Firecracker Penstemon  (Penstemon eatonii)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Firecracker Penstemon  (Penstemon eatonii)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Globe Mallow  (Sphaeralcea ambigua)Butterflies 

Globe Mallow  (Sphaeralcea ambigua)Butterflies 

Lantana (all species)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Lantana (all species)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Red Fairy Duster  (Calliandra californica)

Red Fairy Duster  (Calliandra californica) Butterflies / Hummingbirds 

These are but a few of the plants that will attract butterflies and/or hummingbirds.  So how about including some in your garden?

Do you like butterflies and hummingbirds?  It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t.

Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden

Hummingbird at the Living Desert in Palm Desert, CA

Over 13 years ago, I was working for a golf course management company.  At that time, I created a butterfly garden and a separate hummingbird garden, adjacent to one of the golf courses.

A few years afterward, I created another hummingbird garden at another golf course.  It was so rewarding to see the little hummers visit the flowering plants and perch up high in the Palo Verde trees.

Hummingbird Garden

Hummingbird Garden

So you can imagine how excited I was when I was asked to help create a new butterfly & hummingbird garden.

In fact, the site was the same hummingbird garden that I had created over 10 years ago (above).

Over the years, the plants hadn’t been replaced and it didn’t look the same as it did.

Creating a Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden

I visited the site with the person who was spearheading the new garden and we started to determine what existing plants would stay and which ones we would have removed- because this garden is to be an educational garden for the community, we needed to keep only the plants that attracted butterflies and/or hummingbirds.

The woman I was working with is a retired horticulturist in Minnesota and we had so much fun talking about ‘gardening’ and past projects.

Then I went to work on the design.  The garden will have a path and benches on either end so that people can sit and enjoy watching butterflies and hummingbirds.

Because this was to be a combination Butterfly/Hummingbird garden, I incorporated plants that would attract both.

In fact, there are many plants that attract both butterflies and hummingbirds.

Once the design and estimate was approved, it was time to come back out and mark out the path and flag for plant and boulder placement.

It was so much fun to see my old friends from my former landscape crew stop by and say “hi”.

A few days later, it was time to place the plants, which is my absolutely favorite part.

Creating a Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden
Creating a Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden

Later that same day, the landscape company came out to install the plants.

I can’t wait for you to see the finished project and show you the plant list.

**To see the finished project and plant list, click here.**

PS.  Thanks to all of you who so kindly voted for me for “Top Gardening Blog”(I came in 7th out of the 51 blogs that were nominated :-).

Every week, I enjoy seeing who happens to visit me in the garden.  To be precise, feathered visitors.

Some of you may know that I also write a blog for Birds & Blooms magazine and as a result, I am always on the lookout for interesting and sometimes unusual birds.


But, often it is my regular visitors that bring a smile to my face.

Here are some of the visitors that I had last week….

Unusual Birds

Unusual Birds

House finches are some of my most common visitors.  They just cannot seem to get enough of my sunflower seeds.  I love the bright colors of the male birds during mating season.

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds have to be one of my absolute favorite birds.  I am fortunate enough to have them visit my garden all year round.

This little Anna’s hummingbird is enjoying the flowers of my Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii).

Unusual Birds

Some of the larger birds who come to visit are Doves.  I have four different types of doves that visit, but Mourning Doves are by far, my most frequent visitors.

My bird feeder, like many others, make it difficult for doves to eat directly from them.

Unusual Birds

Sometimes however, they do manage to get a quick snack, but it is difficult for them to perch on such a small area, so they usually content themselves from eating birdseed that falls to the ground underneath my bird feeder.

Unusual Birds

Okay, I must admit that I did not take this photo in my garden.  I saw this little female hummingbird when I was taking a walk,  She was sitting in a Palo Verde tree only a block from my house.  I usually take my camera when I go for a walk, because I never know what I will see.

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I would like to thank you all for your kind comments about my post “An Embarrassing Admission”.  I am so blessed to have such great people take the time to read my blog and I am always so thankful for you who take the time to leave me a comment ๐Ÿ™‚

This week is full of activity for me.  We are busy painting the interior of our house.  On Monday, we painted the family room, kitchen and all the hallways, which took about 14 hours of work.  The next day, I certainly felt it in my muscles.  There is no way that I am going to the gym this week…..I am getting my workout painting ๐Ÿ™‚

There is still some painting left to do, but I think I will give my muscles a bit more of a rest and work on making some plum jam tomorrow. – my mother’s tree is just full of ripe plums – yum, yum.