It may seem rather strange to think of landscapes decorated with lilies in fall, but summer and fall rain bring on the lovely blooms of rain lilies (Zephyranthes species).

lilies add beauty to the gardens

Rain or ‘zephyr’ lilies add beauty to the gardens throughout the Southern half of the U.S., including the Southwest.  While their apperance may make you think that they are delicate and needs lots of coddling, nothing could be further from the truth.

lilies in fall

Like other types of lilies, they are grown from bulbs planted in fall and are surprisingly, moderately drought tolerant.

lilies in fall

The white species (Zephyranthes candida) is my favorite and has evergreen foliage.  There are other species and hybrids in colors such as pink and peach.

Rain lilies deserve a greater presence in the landscape, given their delicate beauty that adds welcome interest to the garden.  They are also easy to grow.

For more information on this delightful plant, including the different species and how to plant and grow your own this fall, check out my latest plant profile for Houzz.

 
 

 

 

What’s Happening In My Fall Garden…

While fall color may be somewhat lacking in the Southwest landscape in comparison to areas with brilliant fall foliage, we do have several plants that wait until fall to begin to color the landscape with their blooms.

Turpentine bush(Ericameria laricifolia)

Turpentine bush(Ericameria laricifolia) is a desert native that has lovely, dark green foliage year-round. With the arrival of fall, they are transformed by the appearance of golden yellow flowers.

It’s hard to find a plant that needs less attention than this drought-tolerant beauty – pruning every 3 years and monthly watering in summer is all it needs.

Learn more about why you should add turpentine bush to your landscape including how to use it for the greatest effect and what plants to pair it with in my latest article for Houzz.com

 

Purple Blooms for the Fall Garden

When trying to decide what to fill our containers with, most people gravitate toward colorful, flowering annuals. For those of us who live in the Southwest, we are equally likely to fill our pots with cacti or succulents, which thrive in our dry climate.

However, did you know that plants aren’t the only thing that looks great in containers?  In fact, what many people would consider ‘trash’ can actually transform the look of a container and your outdoor space.

Fuss Free Container Plantings

Dried plant material can add a unique and striking look to the landscape when showcased in a pot.

Besides decorating your outdoor space, they aren’t particular about sun, shade and are perfectly happy without any water or fertilizer.

In this particular case, I had a lovely blue container in my front entry that had stood empty for longer than I would care to admit to.  The opening was too small for most plants and it sat in the shade for most of the day making it difficult to grow colorful annuals.

Fuss Free Container Plantings

On a recent visit to a client whose home was surrounded by the natural desert, I found some dried plant material that would soon find its way to my house.

Among a pile of yard debris mixed in with cut tree branches and branch clippings were several dried yucca flowering stalks that had been pruned away and were waiting to be put in the trash.

Now most people would probably walk right by this pile of discarded plant material and understandably so.  But, I was on the lookout for items that the homeowner could use for a walled in patio, which was quite bare and received hot, reflected sun for most of the day.

Fuss Free Container Plantings

My thought was to add colorful, glazed containers in order to bring welcome color to this space and fill them with cacti.

yucca

However, once I saw the dried yucca stalks, I decided that they would make a striking filler for a container.

Fuss Free Container Plantings

The homeowner, who enjoys designing the interior of her home, saw the potential right away and selected three stalks.

soaptree yucca (Yucca elata)

The flowering stalks came from a magnificent soaptree yucca (Yucca elata) that they had growing in their front yard.

Fuss Free Container Plantings

The homeowners graciously offered to give me a few of the stalks to take home.

 blue container

I knew that my empty blue container would make the perfect home for dried yucca stalks.

Fuss Free Container Plantings

While I love my new dried yucca stalks – they are just a few natural items that can be used in containers.

Fuss Free Container Plantings

This large, dried flowering stalk from an agave would look fabulous in a container and displayed in the corner of an entry or patio.

Fuss Free Container Plantings

Discarded canes from an ocotillo that would otherwise be headed toward the landfill can find new purpose as a filler for containers.

Fuss Free Container Plantings

A saguaro skeleton would make a dramatic statement if ‘planted’ in a large container.

Fuss Free Container Plantings

On my recommendation, this client gave up trying to grow flowering annuals in her shady entry and add colorful containers with bamboo poles.

Do you have a location where you’d like to have containers, but whatever you plant there dies?

Do any of the following situations where you’d like to have containers apply to you?

– Too much shade or sun

– Access to irrigation is limited

– You are gone for long lengths of time and can’t care for container plants

– Worried about staining the concrete or tile underneath the container from mineral buildup from watering

– You tend to kill anything you plant

If you are dealing with one or more these situations you may want to look at adding dried plant material to your containers for a unique and fuss-free look that will add beauty to your outdoor space.

It’s All About the Leaves: Creative Container Plantings

Plants that stay green all winter while also producing flowers are somewhat rare in the Southwest, which is why Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) is one of my favorite additions in landscapes I design as well as in my own garden.

Mexican Honeysuckle

Mexican Honeysuckle

Orange, tubular flowers appear throughout the year, with the heaviest bloom occurring in spring.

Mexican Honeysuckle

Hummingbirds find their flowers irresistible.

Mexican Honeysuckle

The lime-green foliage looks great year-round and this small shrub thrives in light, filtered shade.  

For more information on this latest drought-tolerant and beautiful plant, including what plants to pair it with, check out my latest article for Houzz.

Great Design Plant: Justicia Spicigera Brings In the Hummingbirds

From Trash to Treasure: Unique, Fuss-Free Container Plantings

Do you think of yourself as a trendsetter?  How about being the first landscape in your neighborhood to have the newest plant varieties on display?

I am always on the lookout for new plants that give a unique and often unexpected look to outdoor spaces awash in a sometimes overwhelming sea of bougainvillea, lantana and oleanders.

Now, I would like to state at this point, that I have no problem with bougainvillea, lantana and oleanders as plants – they are beautiful plants that are easy to care for with little fuss.  However, because they are used so often, they lack the impact that we would like for our landscaped areas to make.  At the 2015 Garden Writers Conference that I attended, one of the speakers said this, “When things are expected, they become less powerful and impactful.”

Southwest New Plant Varieties

The tradeshow associated with the conference had many vendors displaying the newest tools to make gardening easier, which I wrote about in a previous post.  There were also many growers present showcasing the newest plants on the market along with new varieties of well-known plants.  

Southwest New Plant Varieties

Walking through the booths filled with beautiful plants, I felt like a kid in a candy store.  Everywhere you looked, there was a new plant drawing me in closer to read its tag to see if it could be grown in a hot, arid climate.

Southwest New Plant Varieties

Many of the growers handed out free plants to conference attendees so that they could try them out in their own gardens.  

Like I said before….I was a kid in a candy store where everything was free!  

Monrovia, a well known grower, had a large number of plants on display including this one that I found rather interesting…

Southwest New Plant Varieties 'Bonsai Blue'

This is a dwarf jacaranda, called ‘Bonsai Blue’, which grows 6 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide.  This would be a great option for someone who had limited space but who wants this tropical plant along with its purple flowers decorating their outdoor space.  

I was excited to receive 3 ‘Brakelights’ red yucca(Hesperaloe parvifolia ‘Perpa’), which have darker red flowers than the traditional red yucca.  

Southern Living Plant

I headed out to the Southern Living Plant and Sunset Western Garden Collection booth in search of plants that would thrive in my neck of the woods.

Southwest New Plant Varieties

Lovely plant varieties of autumn sage, nandina and other salvias were a feast for the eyes.  Many of the new nandina varieties are compact, reaching 2 ft. high and tall.  

Southwest New Plant Varieties

Many of the plants in their display were suitable for testing in my garden, so arrangements were made to send a variety to me to try out such as ‘Flirt’‘Lemon Lime’ and ‘Obsession’ varieties of nandina, which are more compact and offer a variety in foliar color. Another plant to look forward to receiving in the mail is ‘Little Kiss’ Salvia which has red and white bicolor flowers, much like ‘Hot Lips’ salvia, but is more compact in size, reaching 18 inches.     

In the meantime, I was given 2 ‘Meerlo’ lavender plants at the tradeshow, which have lovely variegated leaves giving an entirely new loook to lavender.

Southwest New Plant Varieties , 'Showy' pink milkweed (Asclepias speciosa).

High Country Gardens, is a mail-order nursery that specializes in drought tolerant and native perennials.  I spoke to the owner, David Salmon  about their newest plant introductions including ‘Showy’ pink milkweed (Asclepias speciosa).

Southwest New Plant Varieties

Salvias species such as autumn sage (Salvia greggii) and closely related, Salvia microphylla were on display.  In low desert gardens, they bloom fall, winter and spring and do best when planted in partial shade.  

I picked up 3 varieties of Salvia microphylla from the of the Salvia Heatwave Collection to try in my home garden.  They are purported to be more compact than the closely related Salvia greggii, while also being great in containers.  

 'Drift' roses

Roses were also on prominent display, including many types of low-maintenance, groundcover roses such as these ‘Drift’ roses distributed by Star Roses and Plants.  This new type of rose is a cross between groundcover roses and miniature roses making them perfect for the smaller garden.  

I received a single ‘Drift’ rose at the tradeshow, which now is now planted in my side garden.  

Other plants offered by this grower include the highly popular ‘Knockout’ roses as well as beautiful shrubs and perennials. 

David Austin Roses

A representative from my favorite grower of roses, David Austin Roses, was on hand, direct from England.  These are shrub roses with old-fashioned blooms that are highly fragrant.  I’ve grown several in my garden and was excited for the opportunity to try their newest rose introduction – ‘Olivia Rose Austin’, which isn’t available to the public yet.  They will be sending me one this winter to plant in my garden. 

Southwest New Plant Varieties

Believe it or not, I did pass up the offer of some free plants.  Azaleas and gardenias would not grow well in the alkaline soils and while I wish that I could grow hydrangea – they do not like the dry, heat in the Southwest.

'Wave' petunias

‘Wave’ petunias have taken the potted, flowering annual realm with their masses of blooms.  The petunia flowers are smaller than regular petunias, which allows for more of them to grow closely together creating a mass of welcome color.  

Several varieties were on display including the newest variety ‘Burgundy Velour’ with its deep red flowers.  

Petunias are my favorite cool-season flowering annual because they aren’t fussy and the newer ‘Wave’ varieties are simply stunning.  You can find them at most local nurseries.

Southwest New Plant Varieties

It took me 2 afternoons to get through all the booths at the tradeshow and my bags were filled with plants as well as samples of the newest gardening tools and other items.  

I could hardly wait to get my new plants home and into the garden.  

So, how did I get them home on the airplane you may wonder?  

I brought two suitcases with me and carefully wrapped each plant in newspaper and then a plastic bag.  I then used my dirty clothes to cushion the area around them in each suitcase.     

They all made it home relatively unscathed and are now planted in my garden 🙂

Over this past weekend, I found myself overwhelmed with an abundance of new plants.  

It all started with a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden’s annual fall plant sale.    

Desert Botanical Garden's annual fall plant sale.

I brought my son, Kai with me who was happy to follow me around pushing the cart.    

The best place to find great quality plants along with those that can be hard to find is this plant sale.  I also like to see the newest plant varieties so that I can stay up to date.  

I’ve learned over the years to come to the sale with a list or else a number of unplanned plant purchases make their way home.

Desert Botanical Garden's annual fall plant sale.

This year, I was proud of myself since I stuck to my list other than one extra plant.  Coral fountain, damianita, elephant’s food along with purple and white trailing lantana were going to replace plants lost this summer due to a problem with irrigation.

Desert Botanical Garden's annual fall plant sale.

Ironically, I found a picture of me shopping at the plant sale, posted by the Desert Botanical Garden on their Facebook page (I’m the one on the right wearing sunglasses).  

The silver lining for my husband was that despite the fact that I came home with 14 plants, most were being replaced, so no new holes or irrigation was needed.

Southern Living Plants

Later that afternoon, two UPS deliverymen showed up at my door with several boxes filled with new plants.

Yep, MORE plants!  

These plants were sent to me by Southern Living Plants to test how they will perform in Arizona.  

To say that I was happy would be an understatement.  Fourteen plants from the plant sale plus 8 of the newest varieties of plants to try out in my garden – I was in heaven.

Saturday morning dawned and we all found ourselves outdoors ready for a morning filled with gardening.

vegetable garden in preparation

My husband and daughter, Gracie, added a new layer of compost and manure to the vegetable garden in preparation for planting carrots, garlic, leaf lettuce, radishes and Swiss chard.  Meanwhile, I got to work opening up the boxes holding my newest plants.

'Sunshine' shrub.

The first new plant variety to test was a Ligustrum ‘Sunshine’ shrub.

Desert Botanical Garden's annual fall plant sale.

I liked the yellow-green color, which would add great color contrast to the garden.

Desert Botanical Garden's annual fall plant sale.
Desert Botanical Garden's annual fall plant sale.
'Lemon Lime', 'Obsession' and 'Pink Blush'

Several new varieties of Nandina including ‘Flirt’, ‘Lemon Lime’, ‘Obsession’ and ‘Pink Blush’ will find a home along the side of my house, which faces south.

Opening each box and discovering a beautiful plant made me feel like it was Christmas Day.

desert tortoise called Aesop

As I was opening up the boxes of plants, the newest addition to our family (a desert tortoise called Aesop) came out to see what we were up to.

Desert Botanical Garden

He kept walking around the patio, circling around us before he would travel to the grass for a quick snack…

Aesop has grown quite friendly and will venture out when he sees us out and about.  He will also let us pet him.

We were pleasantly surprised at how much time he spent with us.  Aesop would walk around and around the patio, just watching what we were doing.

As you can see, he can walk quickly (for a tortoise).

Desert Botanical Garden
Desert Botanical Garden

Back to the plants, I opened up boxes that contained two new salvias – ‘Killer Cranberry’ and ‘Little Kiss’ which will be located in filtered shade, next to the patio, where they will do best.

The last box that I unpacked revealed a completely new plant to me, which I was anxious to try.

Platinum Beauty

Lomandra ‘Platinum Beauty’, which is a variegated ornamental grass.

Of the new plants, I expect the nandina varieties to do well since regular nandina does.  Salvia will also perform well in filtered shade in desert gardens.

However, I am looking forward to seeing how the ligustrum and lomandra will do in an Arizona garden.

I promise to keep you updated as to how they all perform.

Sonoran Tortoise Adoption Facility - checking out the baby tortoises

Photo: Sonoran Tortoise Adoption Facility – checking out the baby tortoises.

It has been just over a month since we adopted Aesop and we have all been surprised at how much fun it has been seeing him walking to and fro in the backyard or looking outside and seeing him outside our patio door taking a drink of water from his dish.

hibernate time

With the cooling temperatures, he will soon hibernate, but in the meantime, Aesop has been spending more time walking around during the day as the temperatures have begun to cool somewhat.

To find out more about our adoption journey with Aesop, click here

For those of us who love to garden, we are often looking out for new inventions and products to decrease the amount of time we need to maintain our garden while also increasing our enjoyment.

annual Garden Writer's Conference

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the annual Garden Writer’s Conference, which was held in Pasadena, CA.

In addition to informative seminars and tours of beautiful gardens, there was also a tradeshow connected to the conference.

The tradeshow was made up of vendors connected to the garden industry.  Their goods ranged from newly invented tools to make gardening tasks easier, unique garden items as well as the new plant introductions.

Today, I’d like to show you a few of the garden products that I felt would interest you.

(My next post will involve some of the newest plants on the market.)

Bloem Living

Soft-sided garden containers were a prevalent item at the show.  I particularly liked these colorful options offered in small to large sizes by Bloem Living

‘Bloem Bagz’ are made from recycled water bottles and can be used for growing flowers, herbs,  vegetables or whatever type of plant you like.

new inventions

They even have a raised bed with bamboo supports that begins flat and easily folds out.  I can just picture growing herbs in this container.

new inventions , Smart Pots

Along the same line, Smart Pots, offers larger fabric raised beds that are ideal for creating raised vegetable beds.

new inventions , Smart Pots

Also offered are bags that you can be used to create your own compost bin.  Imagine not having to build a compost bin out of wood?

new inventions , Smart Pots

As you can see, the bags come folded flat.

new inventions , Smart Pots

They then easily unfold to create a portable and inexpensive container.

According to their literature, Smart Pots have excellent drainage, last for years and decrease the amount of heat retained inside the soil during summer.

innovative garden container

Before we leave the innovative garden container products, I’d like to show you ‘Ups-A-Daisy’.

new inventions , Smart Pots

These are planter inserts that fit inside of containers, decreasing the amount of expensive planting soil that goes into pots.

rainbow-colored

I really enjoyed myself in this booth with its rainbow-colored products.

The Dramm display was largely dedicated to devices for watering plants.

From long and short watering wands in any color you could imagine to innovative hose-end spray nozzles that have a multitude of settings from watering plants, washing your car or even your dog.

rainbow-colored

There was even a chocolate colored spray wand, which lent a somewhat elegant look to a garden tool.

Greenview Fertilizer

The folks from Greenview Fertilizer had a variety of organic fertilizers.

For Southwest gardeners, the citrus, palm, rose and all-purpose plant food would be a welcome addition to the garden.

I was given samples of the citrus fertilizer, which I can’t wait to use for my lemon and orange trees.

Stretch Tie

Stretch Tie is an expandable plant tie.  This innovative tie expands and moves with plants as they grow, instead of girdling them as inflexible ties can do.

You can use these plant ties for houseplants, tomatoes, trees, and vines.  I will be giving some to my mother for helping her train her gourd vines.

 Garden Connects.

Another garden tie product that I found interesting was Garden Connects.  I met the woman who invented them and it was easy to see how these silicon connectors could be used to canes and small stakes such as those used to create teepees  for vegetable vines to crawl up on.

different varieties of flower and vegetable seeds

While the sight of a rack filled with many different varieties of flower and vegetable seeds may not look out of the ordinary…

Renee's Garden Seed Company.

One that has seeds free for the picking isn’t something you see every day.

Not surprisingly, this was a popular display – not just because the seeds were free, but because the types of seeds offered.  Many new or hard to find varieties of seeds were offered through Renee’s Garden Seed Company.

I can’t wait to grow the white, pink and pale yellow California poppies seeds that I got as well as some new varieties of nasturtium and poppy flowers.

Botanical Interests and Irish Eyes Seed companies also had impressive seed displays, several of which, made their way into my suitcase for the trip home. 

I hope that you are intrigued by many of these garden products as much as I am.

new inventions

Next time, I will share with you some of the new plant introductions that were on display and my attempt to bring many home in my suitcase 🙂

**If you haven’t had a chance yet, I invite you to enter the giveaway for a great gardening book called “Getting Potted in the Desert”.  The drawing is this coming Monday!

Imagine a garden with containers filled with a variety of colorful flowers, herbs, ornamental grasses, succulents and even vegetables.

beautiful plants

Wouldn’t you love to have pots that look like this, overflowing with beautiful plants?

But, what if you live in the desert?  Can you grow plants in pots that aren’t just beautiful but that can thrive in our hot, dry climate?  

Believe it or not, you can. Whether your container garden is limited to one pot or several – you can grow plants in pots in the desert garden.  

beautiful plants

Now before you say, “I’ve got a black thumb…everything I plant in pots die”, I have a great resource for you.

Container Gardening Book

“Getting Potted In The Desert” is a wonderful resource that shows you step-by-step instructions on how to create beautiful potted gardens that will thrive in our desert climate.

Getting Potted In The Desert

While you can find other books that offer helpful advice on how to create potted gardens, “Getting Potted In The Desert” speaks specifically to those of us who live and garden in the desert Southwest where our hot, dry summers bring about special challenges.

Beyond the helpful advice on selecting containers and the right location, the book also talks about plant choices including flowering annuals, perennials, grasses, herbs, succulents and vegetables.

Getting Potted In The Desert

Clear and easy to understand guidelines are given on how to water, fertilize and how to adjust to changing weather conditions including freezing temperatures.

What’s even better, the guidelines are broken up into monthly guides, making growing plants in pots, easy.

Lists of plants that do well in the desert container garden are also given along with lovely photographs of pots filled with plants, which will inspire you.  

Herb Container Garden

Herb Container Garden 

The author, Marylee Pangman, has over 20 years of experience growing potted plants in the desert.  In fact, she is a certified Master Gardener and had her own company, “The Contained Gardener”, where she designed and maintained container gardens for clients.

In addition, she has taught numerous classes on growing potted gardens that can withstand hot summers and desert winters.  

Flower and Vegetable Container Garden

Flower and Vegetable Container Garden

As a horticulturist who has planted and maintained container gardens over the years, I can tell you that Marylee’s book is a godsend for those who love container gardening and need practical guidance.

You can order your own copy of “Getting Potted In The Desert” and find out more about Marylee at  www.potteddesert.com

*I was provided with a free copy of this book for my honest review.

Book Review: Potted, DIY Stylish Garden Containers

Fall is finally here and it’s time to get busy in the garden.  Did you know that fall is the best time of year to add new plants?  It doesn’t matter where you live, planting in fall gives plants three seasons to grow a healthy root system before summer arrives.

shrubby germander(Teucrium fruiticans).

Teucrium fruticans Azureum

Today, I’d like to share with you another drought tolerant and beautiful plant – shrubby germander(Teucrium fruiticans).

While it’s name may not be impressive, this shrub certainly has a lot to boast about.

Shrubby germander planted alongside Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera)

Shrubby germander planted alongside Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) 

First, it has blue flowers that add welcome color that contrasts with other colors such as orange and red.

Young shrubby germander growing alongside red autumn sage (Salvia greggii)

Young shrubby germander growing alongside red autumn sage (Salvia greggii) 

The silvery foliage also adds great color contrast to the landscape when paired near plants with darker green foliage.

Shrubby germander

Shrubby germander can grow 5 – 6 ft. tall and wide, however, there is also a more compact variety ‘Azureum’ that only reaches 3 ft.

For more reasons why you’ll want to add this attractive shrub to your landscape, check out my latest plant profile for Houzz.com.

 

Drought Tolerant and Beautiful: Bear Grass

The beginning of fall is only a few weeks away as the long summer winds down.  Fall is a wonderful time in the garden and is the best time of year for adding new plants, allowing them a chance to grow before the heat of next summer arrives.

Fall Blooms for the Southwest Garden

Turpentine bush (Ericameria laricifolia) in bloom

When deciding what plants to add to your garden, many people concentrate on incorporating plants that bloom in spring and summer, but there are a number of attractive plants that bloom in fall.

Pink muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

Fall Blooms, Pink muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

Using plants with overlapping bloom periods ensure year-round beauty for your landscape.

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Many plants that flower in fall also flower at other times of year as well such as damianita(Chrysactinia mexicana), Mexican honeysuckle(Justicia spicigera) and autumn sage(Salvia greggii).

Early October is a great time to start adding new plants, so now is a great time to decide what type of fall-blooming plants to add.

I recently shared 10 of my favorite, drought tolerant fall bloomers in my latest article for Houzz.  I hope you’ll include some of these in your landscape where they will help to decorate your fall landscape.

 

Do you have a favorite fall-blooming plant?

What to Do In The Southwest Garden – September