Posts

It never ceases to amaze me how that despite how busy your calendar, everything grinds to a halt when you get sick.  Oh, I realize that there are certain types of sickness that you can press on through like a cold or even a small fever.  But, when the stomach flu hits, you are powerless to do anything.


What makes it worse is when everyone in your household gets it as well.  So, we have been spending quality time together nursing our sore stomachs and anxiously awaiting the time until our appetites return.


In the meantime, the garden is undergoing some contruction.


Irrigation trenches are criss-crossing our landscape as we are having new drip irrigation installed.  Our current system was first installed when we built our home 18 years ago and was having problems with numerous leaks.  Considering that the typical lifespan of a drip irrigation system is 10 – 15 years, we were long overdue to have ours replaced.

While it may not seem very exciting, I am looking forward to having separate drip lines for my fruit trees, shrubs/perennials and vegetable garden.

Many plants in my garden are beginning to bloom adn I thought I would give you a peek.


I spread a variety of flowers seeds in my side garden and some have already begun to bloom.


I planted toadflax seeds, which came in a variety of different colors.


I have white, pink and purple varieties adding welcome color to this area of the garden.


The seeds are from Botanical Interests and are called ‘Fairy Bouquet’ toadflax.


Another plant that has started blooming is from Renee’s Garden seed company and is called ‘Vanilla Berry’.

So far, these are the only two types of plants flowering in this garden, but the California poppies are getting ready to burst forth in different colors including white, purple, pink and of course, orange.


Citrus trees are also in full bloom perfuming the air with their intoxicating fragrance.  I am hopeful that my young Meyer’s lemon tree will produce its first lemons.


The peach trees bloomed earlier this year and are now filled with immature peach fruit – I can almost taste the peach jam that I will make from them this May.

Lobelia

The cool-season annuals that I planted in the fall are still going strong.  Even though they look great right now, I will replace them later this month with warm-season annuals in order to allow them time to grow a good root system before the heat of sumemr arrives.


Late winter and spring is also when my autumn sage (Salvia greggii) is also in flower.  I received several different varieties, straight from the grower, to try out in my garden, which were planted last fall.  They are doing great in their current location where they receive morning sun and afternoon shade.

On another note, we have been anxiously awaiting the re-emergence of our desert tortoise, Aesop.


We last saw him in late October before he went into his hole to hibernate.  Since then, we’ve periodically checked on him and today, we moved slightly.  So, I can’t wait to see him begin to walking out in the garden.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

How is your garden looking?  Is anything blooming yet?

One of my favorite shrubs is Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii).  I have used it in countless landscapes and I like how well it does when planted around trees where they can enjoy the filtered shade.


Now that fall is just a couple of days away (SUPER excited about that by the way), my thoughts drift toward plants that bloom in fall, which include Autumn Sage.


For more reasons why you may want to add this delightful plant to your garden, check out my latest article for Houzz.com

Architecture, interior design, and more ∨

Hire residential landscape architects to help with all aspects of landscape design, from selecting or designing outside patio furniture, to siting a detached garage or pergola.
As you get ready to host an event, be sure you have enough dining room chairs and dishes for dinner guests, as well as enough bakeware and chef knives for food preparation.

In my last post “A Long Forgotten Area Ready for Transformation”, I told you that I would share what plants I was going to have put in this neglected area.


The plants I chose are based on the following:


– I have grown them myself in either my home garden and/or in landscapes I have managed.


– They are relatively low-maintenance.


– Drought-tolerant.


– The plant palette will also ensure year round color, with at least one or more plants being in bloom at a given time.


So are you ready to see what I chose?


Let’s start with the trees…


The area has two large Foothills Palo Verde trees along with a Wolfberry tree, so I chose one other type of tree to add.

 

 

Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) is one of my favorite desert trees.  It is not a true willow, but is named for the fact that its leaves are willow-shaped.
 
Colorful flowers appear throughout the summer that add a vibrant punch of color to the landscape.
 
Hardy to zone 6, Desert Willow requires well-drained soil and full sun or filtered shade.
 
For more information on Desert Willow along with the different varieties available, check out my Houzz article about this lovely tree.
 
Now for the shrubs…
 
 
Valentine Bush (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’) is my favorite shrub of all time.
I will never forget the day when I was first introduced to this red-flowering shrub, by Mountain States Wholesale Nursery.  It was 1999 and I was a horticulturist fresh out of college.
 
I was given 2 Valentine shrubs from Mountain States to plant in the landscape area I managed.  Ever since then, I have been hooked.
 
 
Red flowers appear on this shrub, beginning in January and lasting until April.  If you haven’t noticed it before, there isn’t much blooming in winter, which is one of the reasons I love Valentine.
 
The foliage is evergreen and Valentine are hardy to zone 8.  Better yet, they only need to be pruned once a year – in spring after flowering.
 
Plant in full sun and well-drained soil.
For more information about Valentine, check out my post about this great plant.
 
 
My second choice for shrubs is Baja Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis).  
 
Now, this isn’t its rather invasive cousin Ruellia (Ruellia brittoniana), pictured below…
 
Baja Ruellia is what I like to think of as a smaller version of Texas Sage species (Leucophyllum sp).  It doesn’t get as large and has a longer flowering season then Leucophyllum.

 

 
The flowers of Baja Ruellia are tubular and appear spring through fall, with the heaviest bloom occurring in spring.  
 
The foliage is light green and rarely suffers frost damage in our zone 9b climate.  Hardy to zone 9, Baja Ruellia should be planted in full sun and well-drained soil.
 
 
The third shrub for this area will be Silvery Cassia (Senna phyllodenia).  This Australian native does very well in arid landscapes.
 
The silvery foliage will provide contrast to the darker greens present in the landscape.  Evergreen to 20 degrees, this shrub flourishes in zone 9 landscapes.
 
Yellow flowers appear in late winter and into spring.  Pruning is needed after flowering, to remove seed pods in managed landscapes.
 
Like the other shrubs, Silvery Cassia enjoys full sun and well-drained soil.



The smallest shrub for this area will be Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii).  This plant is hard to zone 7, so remains evergreen during winter here.


Flowers appear fall through spring in the low desert.  The most common colors are red or pink, although there are other colors such as white, lavender and peach. 


I like to use Autumn Sage around trees like Palo Verde, where the filtered shade shelters it from the intense summer sun.  I first saw them planted around a tree at the Desert Botanical Garden and I really liked the way it looked, so I have repeated this design in many of my landscapes.
The Autumn Sage above, was planted by me around a Foothills Palo Verde about 12 years ago and they are still going strong.


I still have perennials and accent plants to show you that I have included in the design and I’ll share them with you next time.


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


Life around our household has been busy lately….


School is back in session (for which I am extremely grateful for 😉


My son Kai, has ditched his wheelchair for a walker and will soon be able to walk without it.


AND


My daughter, will soon come home after leaving 5 months ago for the Navy.  She is graduating from her Equipment Operator School next week and will be an official ‘SeaBee’.  She will be on leave for 2 weeks before she reports for combat training in Mississippi, where she will be stationed for a month.


The BEST news is that her permanent base will be in Port Hueneme, which is where she wanted to be.  What is even better for us, is that it is in Southern California, just 7 hours from home!!!


We are getting ready to celebrate her homecoming, which I will share with all of you 🙂

Do you suffer from temptation when you visit your local plant nursery?

I certainly did during my last visit.  I had such a great time and took quite a few photos, so I had to split them up into two separate posts.
(You can read the first post here if you like).

I have saved my two most tempting moments for this post, so I guess we should get on with it…

Sage shrubs (Leucophyllum species) are available in many different species.  ‘Green Cloud’ Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Green Cloud’) is perhaps the most popular and I have two growing in my front garden.

However, I must admit that my favorites are ‘Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’), which grows in my back garden and the other is called ‘Thunder Cloud’ Sage (Leucophyllum candidum ‘Thunder Cloud’).
This shrub has silver gray leaves and blooms off and on spring through fall.
The flowers contrast so beautifully with the silvery foliage.
I must confess, that I don’t have any in my garden – but I may need to find a space for these beautiful shrubs.


On nursery visits, I frequently take the opportunity to take pictures of plants such as this Arborvitae.  They aren’t favorite plants of mine, but that really doesn’t mean anything – it is just a matter of personal preference.
Many nurseries showcase ways to combine plants.

I am frequently inspired during my nursery visits by some of their ideas like this Sweet Potato Vine among Sago Palms and Umbrella Plant.


Can you guess what plant was used to create this dense shrub?

Believe it or not, it is Pyracantha.
Usually, you find it growing along the walls….
You can frequently find new uses for plants at your local nursery.


I found a bunch of Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia) in full bloom.  I like to use these as groundcovers in areas with light shade.


There were many different types of succulents available like this Lophocereus schottii ‘Monstrosus’.
If you tend to accidentally kill your plants, you can always buy this reproduction of an agave…
I guarantee, you won’t kill this one.  I have seen these beautiful plant sculptures ‘planted’ in pots with gravel or small pebbles instead of potting soil.
Well, my visit was drawing to an end, when I saw two plants that I was sorely tempted to buy….
I love Autumn Sage.  Usually you see them in red, hot pink, peach and even white.  But I saw these Autumn Sage with light pink flowers called (Salvia greggii ‘Heatwave Glitter’).
In my garden, I love to use cool colors like pink.  I wanted to buy one of these plants so badly, but I couldn’t think of where I would put it.

My last temptation of the day was a plant that I have seen occasionally in landscapes, but rarely in the nursery.


At first glance, this may look like Purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis), but look closer.

Can you see white flowers mixed in with the purple?

Believe it or not, this Lantana has both purple and white flowers.  It is called ‘Lavender Swirl’.

I love this look of both flowers together.  

Now, if you cannot find this type of Lantana, there is a solution….

Simply plant a White Trailing and Purple Trailing Lantana in the same hole.  As they grow, their stems and flowers will intermingle together.

I really could have bought this plant, but I already duplicated their appearance already by planting White and Purple Lantana together in my front garden.

And so, I left the nursery, only purchasing the plants that my mother-in-law needed.

When I got home, my husband couldn’t believe that I hadn’t bought any plants for myself.  Normally, he has the shovel ready before I even get home from the nursery because he knows me so well 😉
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….
Parry’s Penstemon (Penstemon parryi)
Beautiful flowers and a magnet for hummingbirds.  Need I say more….?
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
The delicate light blue flowers are so beautiful.

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.
Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)
Reliable bloomer fall through spring.  Hummingbirds will appreciate this small shrub in the garden.
Pink Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
Blooms fall through spring.
Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica)
Flowers year-round.  Slows down in the winter, but continues to flower in protected areas.
 
 Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
My favorite plant in the garden.
Angelita Daisy (Hymenoxys acaulis)
Year-round bright color.  Heaviest blooming occurs in the spring. 

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.
 

Do you ever wonder what plants look good together?  Below are pictures of some of my favorite plant combinations along with some general guidelines that I follow when designing a garden.

Sometimes red and pink colors always compliment each other.  Introducing yellow flowering plants provide a high color contrast that brings out the red and pink colors.  Above is a golf course landscape that I planted with Valentine shrub (Eremophila ‘Valentine’), Parry’s penstemon (Penstemon parryi) and desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata) against the backdrop of foothill palo verde trees.

 

Parry’s agave (Agave parryi) with purple trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis)

Also, succulents paired with perennials almost always compliment each other with their contrasting shades of green and textures.  Other recommended succulent and perennial pairings include desert spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri) alongside black dalea (Dalea frutescens), prickly pear species with penstemon or try octopus agave (Agave vilmoriniana) with purple or white trailing lantana.

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii ‘Red’)
   
Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)

I use plants with white flowers as a backdrop for plants with red, pink and purple flowers; I like the way the white flowers emphasize the other colors.

‘Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae) & Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)

Most of the time the pairing of purple flowering plants with those that have orange flowers always looks great.  When deciding what colors look good when paired together, it helps to look at a color wheel.  In general, the colors that are opposite each other look great when paired together because their colors contrast so well.  Other orange, purple plant combinations to try are cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) with (Leucophyllum species), or  Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) with purple lantana. 

Angelita daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) and parry’s penstemon (Penstemon parryi)
 

Also, I believe that any garden looks better with some yellow flowering plants.  As I mentioned earlier, the color yellow makes the other plants look better, (think of the color wheel).   I have had clients that have said they do not like yellow until I show them how much better their other plants look when we introduce just a few yellow flowering plants to their landscape and they quickly change their mind.

 
Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans)
Bougainvillea ‘Barbara Karst’
 

I often recommend the following for those who are looking for large shrub combinations.  Okay, I realize that many people either love or hate bougainvillea. Personally, I love them.  I have two bougainvilleas and since I don’t have a swimming pool, so I am not bothered by their litter. Their beautiful and vibrant colors are amazing.

I pair my bougainvillea with yellow bell shrubs.  Their colors contrast nicely, and they screen out the back wall of my garden.  I give them plenty of room to grow, and they produce beautiful flowers spring through fall.  If you do have a swimming pool and don’t like bougainvillea, how about trying orange jubilee (Tecoma hybrid ‘Orange Jubilee’) and Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) together?
 
Weber’s agave (Agave weberi) and purple trailing lantana
 
I have just one more tip –  if you want to pair flowering plants together to enjoy the contrasting colors, make sure that they bloom at the same time of year.  It is so easy to visit the plant nursery and see the pretty photos of flowers on the different plants and pick what ones you think will look great together only to discover later that one flower in the fall while the other blooms in spring and so you never see their flowers at the same time.
 
So, visit your local nursery and try some of the suggested plant combinations or see what beautiful plant pairings you come up with for your garden.

Do you like hummingbirds?

If so, you may want to make sure that you have some autumn sage (Salvia greggii) growing in your garden – it is a hummingbird magnet.

While red is the most common color of this small shrub, it also comes in other colors including shades of pink, purple, coral and white.

It has has a long bloom period in low desert gardens, beginning in fall and lasting until late spring. When growing in the flat desert, plant it in a filtered shade for best results.  Prune back by 1/2 its size in early March.