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How would like gorgeous red, tubular flowers blooming at Christmas time and lasting past Valentine’s Day, all packaged up in an attractive, low-maintenance shrub?  Believe it or not, such a shrub exists.  Let me introduce you to ‘Valentine Bush‘ (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’). 

My first experience with this colorful shrub occurred in 2000 when  I was offered two free Valentine shrubs to test out on the golf course where I was working. Never one to pass up free plants, I was more than happy to try these new shrubs out. 

Young Valentine, six months after planting, next to Trailing Rosemary.
 
Those new shrubs did so well that a couple of years later, I had planted over fifty of them planted all around the golf course. I love their cool-season blooms, which add a welcome splash of color when many plants aren’t blooming, and the dark green foliage continues to add beauty to the landscape even when their flowers fade.
 

Nowadays, you will find Valentine in both commercial and residential landscapes.  An interesting fact that many may not know is that many of the arid-adapted plants that thrive here are native to Australia, including the species Eremophila

USES:  Valentine provides much need color in the landscape during the winter months and will bloom through early spring.  Red is often a color missing in the desert plant color palette which this shrub provides.  Valentine grows at a moderate rate and will reach a mature size of 3-4 feet high and 4 feet wide.  

I pair it with groundcovers such as blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) or trailing rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), and perennials such as Parry’s penstemon (Penstemon parryi) and desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

Valentine when not in flower.
When not in flower, Valentine is still very attractive and is hardy to 15 degrees F.  It does best when planted in full and reflected the sun.  Their leaves turn maroon at the tips during the winter adding some fall color to the landscape.

MAINTENANCE:  Valentine does best with regular irrigation and soils with good drainage.  If planted in areas with wetter soils, let the soil dry out between watering to prevent root rot.  
 

You will probably not believe this, especially coming from me – the person who rants and raves about beautiful shrubs that have been incorrectly pruned by being sheared, but here it is:  Valentine shrubs should be sheared.  That’s right, I said they should be sheared.  

Believe it or not, there are some types of shrubs where shearing is the best way to prune them, and this is true for Valentine.  They should be pruned ONCE a year, once they have finished blooming in the spring.  DO NOT prune later in the year as this will remove the branches that will produce the flowers later in the year.

 
Here is the first bloom of this season on my Valentine shrub.
 
Well, would any of you be surprised to know that Valentine is my favorite shrub?  I mean, what is there not to love?  It has everything – low-maintenance, attractive foliage, thrives in the heat and sun and most importantly, gorgeous winter color.
 
In this landscape area, I designed, you can see Valentine in the background paired with Parry’s Penstemon and Desert Marigold.
 
So run, don’t walk, and go and add Valentine to your landscape.

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Yesterday, doing several errands, I was driving through the parking lot of our local Walmart when I saw a sight that stopped me dead in my tracks.


Now, normally parking lots are prime examples of bad landscape practices with over-planted and excessively pruned shrubs.  But, what I saw was truly breathtaking.

Blue Hibiscus shrub Alyogyne heugllii
This fuss-free, shrub was awash with large, purple blossoms.   The color was so vibrant and it added a lot of needed color to the parking lot island.

So, do you know what type of shrub this is?


I’ll give you a few hints:

– It is native to Australia.

– It is drought tolerant and thrives in the low desert.

– It grows best in full sun and blooms in spring and occasionally throughout the summer.


This is a blue hibiscus shrub (Alyogyne huegelii). 

This shrub grows fairly large, growing 6 – 8 ft. tall and wide.


While I have only seen it in purple & dark purple, it is also found in pink and white.  
What really stood out to me about this shrub is not just its beauty, but the fact that it was thriving in an area where many plants struggle in the hot, reflected heat of a parking lot island.

**How about you?  Have you ever seen this shrub before or grown it in your landscape?  Please share your experience with this purple-flowering beauty.

A few years ago, while visiting my sister in the Palm Springs area in California, we visited the Living Desert Museum.  This is a combination botanical garden and zoo.



We had a great time exploring along with our kids and I enjoyed taking pictures of the different plants that I saw.


While walking through the gardens, I noticed a small shrub, which at first glance, I assumed was a small species of Leucophyllum (Texas Sage).




I took a quick photo and then walked on.

Fast forward 2 years later, where I found myself learning about a newer plant on the market that thrives in desert heat, is drought-tolerant, flowers all year and needs little to no pruning.

Now any plant that looks great but isn’t fussy in desert gardens is one that I definitely need to get to know better.  

I found out that this particular shrub was supposed to look a lot like a gray Texas sage.  That was when I remembered taking the photo, above.

I was thrilled to find out that I had been introduced to this plant earlier, but hadn’t known it.

There is so much that I can say about Blue Bells (Eremophila hygrophana ‘Blue Bells’) and I have written an article about this beautiful, yet tough shrub, which you can read in my latest Houzz plant profile…

Kitchen designs, bathroom designs, and more ∨

Hire residential landscape architects to help with all aspects of landscape design, from selecting or designing outdoor patio furniture, to siting a detached garage or deck.
A home remodeler or residential architect will see the potential in the architecture and building design of your home.

I strongly encourage you to be a trendsetter in your neighborhood by planting this lovely shrub in your garden!

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.



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.


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.


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 ∨

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…

The weather has warmed into the low 70’s this week and the flowers are beginning to burst out of their buds….

 Pink Beauty (Eremophily laanii)
 The first few blooms are beginning to appear on this Australian native.
Grows up to 6 ft. high and blooms spring through fall.
Desert Senna (Senna artemisiodes sturtii)
Another of my Australian favorites and are drought tolerant and extremely easy to grow.
Grows up to 6 ft. high and flowers in the spring. 

 
Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
This Southwest Desert native has reached full bloom, causing hummingbirds to eagerly drink of it’s nectar.
Grows up to 2 ft. high, when flowering.  Blooms winter through spring (removing spent flowers, will cause more blooms to form and prolong the flowering period).
 
‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde (Parkinsonia hybrid ‘Desert Museum’)
It’s early, but the first few blooms on my Palo Verde tree are starting to appear.  
This beautiful tree grows approximately 30 ft. high and wide.  In late spring, the tree will be a mass of beautiful yellow flowers.
 
 Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides)
This blossom is ready to open and join it’s neighbors and reveal its magenta heart.
Grows on a trellis for support and blooms fall through spring in the desert. 

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)
My second favorite Australian native, is in full bloom and is buzzing with bees.
Grows on a trellis or as a groundcover.  Blooms in February. 

 
Violas and Alyssum
My annuals have bloomed non-stop all winter and show no signs of quitting any time soon.
 
Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)
My favorite Australian native who is aptly named for the time of year when it reaches full bloom.
Grows approximately 3 ft. high and wide.  Blooms December through April.
This is my monthly contribution to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, which occurs on the 15th of each month.  Please visit Carol of May Dreams Gardens to see what is blooming in other gardens around the world.