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My inbox has been filled lately with pruning questions.  Specifically, how to prune back overgrown flowering shrubs.



Chihuahuan Sage (Leucophyllum laevigatum)
You may be wondering why you need to severely prune back overgrown shrubs?

Well, as you can see from the photo, above – as a shrub’s branches age, they produce fewer leaves and flowers.  As time passes – these branches die, which leave ugly, bare areas.

Here are a few more examples of overgrown shrubs that need to be severely pruned back…

‘Thunder Cloud’ Texas Sage (Leucophyllum candidum ‘Thunder Cloud’)

‘White Cloud’ Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘White Cloud’)
You may think the formally pruned sage shrubs in the photo above, look okay besides being a bit on the large side.  

But, what you don’t see is the large amount of dead branches inside.  In reality, these shrubs are covered in a very thin layer of growth.

Here is an example of old Cassia (Senna nemophila) shrubs that have only been pruned formally.  You can see that there are more dead areas then live growth.

So, how do you go about severely pruning old, overgrown shrubs back?

First of all – don’t do this during cooler months because it will take your shrubs a very long time to grow back.  In addition, it can make frost-tender shrubs more susceptible to frost damage.  Wait until spring for pruning back summer-flowering shrubs such as bougainvillea, sage, oleanders, etc.

You need a good pair of loppers and sometimes a pruning saw and you are ready to go.  Simply prune your shrub back until there is about 1 – 2 ft left (some people go back until there is only 6″ left).

Hedge trimmers can help if you use them to remove the outer part of the shrub and then you can get your loppers inside to prune off larger branches toward the base.

Below, are photos of ‘Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’) shrubs that started out overgrown, were pruned back severely, and grew back.

Overgrown shrubs.

Pruned back to 1 ft.

This is the ugly stage.  But you need to go through this ‘awkward’ stage to achieve beautiful, healthy shrubs.

I promise that it doesn’t last long…

New growth appears 3 weeks later
8 weeks after pruning.

12 weeks after severe pruning.
 You can see that the severe pruning caused the shrub to grow young, new branches that produce beautiful green growth and flowers.


**Although severe renewal pruning keeps your shrubs healthy and attractive – there are a few cases when an old, overgrown shrub won’t grow back.  It is doubtful that the Cassia shrubs, above, will survive for long either with or without severe pruning). 

This usually indicates that the shrub has declined too much and would not have survived for long even without pruning.  If this happens, you are better off replacing your shrub.**

Hand pruners, pruning saw and loppers
A good guideline for severely pruning your shrubs is to do this every 3 years or so.  Of course, you can do this every year if you like to help keep your shrubs from outgrowing their space.

I hope that this helps to answer some of your questions.

For more information on pruning, including how to prune away frost-damaged growth, you can read some or all of these previous posts….



 It’s about to get really cold…

Well, cold for this area of the Desert Southwest.  Temperatures are predicted to dip into the 20’s for a few days, which is quite cold for zone 9a.

As a result, I am being asked by quite a few people about what they should do to prepare their semi-tropical plants for the cold temperatures.


The best thing you can do is to cover your frost-tender plants.  Do this in the evening and don’t uncover them the following day until temperatures are 50 degrees or above.  Recover them later in the day if another freeze is expected.

Earlier this week, I wrote about how to protect your plants during a normal winter freeze (30 degrees and above).  You do have the choice to protect your plants or not.  I mentioned that I only protect my high-profile Lantana near my front entry.

BUT, when temperatures are forecast to fall into the 20’s for a few days, I start pulling out all my old linens, including my kid’s old character bed sheets…


I cover most of my semi-tropical plants including my other lantana, young citrus tree, yellow bells, bougainvillea and pink trumpet vine.

The reason for this is that I don’t want my plants killed to the ground by the frost, which can happen when temperatures dip into the 20’s for a few days.

You see, frost damage can be cumulative with each additional night of freezing temps, creating more damage to plants.

So, if you have frost cloth – use it.  If you don’t, then start raiding your linen closet and pull out towels, sheets, tablecloths, etc.  Believe it or not, even newspaper can provide some protection.  Just anchor it down with rocks to keep it from blowing away.  (I once used canned foods from my pantry to anchor frost blankets 😉

What you shouldn’t use is plastic.

Also, if you want to protect your plants – you have do better then this person did…


What they ended up with was plants with green areas, surrounded by brown, crispy frost-damaged growth.  You need to cover the entire plant with no gaps.

Watering you plants at dusk also helps because water releases heat into the night.


If you have columnar cacti, then protect the ends using styrofoam cups.

Young citrus trees should also be protected….


So what do you do if you didn’t protect your plants and they look like this afterward?


Relax, first of all.  More then likely, it is still alive at the base and will grow back once spring arrives.

Whatever you do, DON’T prune them now!  That can damage or even kill your plant.  I know it is ugly, but it is only until spring when you can prune all the frost-damaged foliage away.

**Even if you protect your plants from frost, there can still be some frost damage that occurs.  It all depends on the severity and duration of the cold.  But, covering them increases the chance that they will recover once temperatures warm up in spring.

This week is off to a busy start.  My husband and kids went on a camping trip, leaving me alone for 24 hours.

I had great plans for what I would do while they were gone. 

I would work on writing blogs….

Work in the garden….

Plant seedlings indoors for a instructional video coming up….

Work on our taxes….

AND get a Redbox movie to end the day.

Well, I did achieve writing a blog and I did get our taxes done, but that was about it.  My oldest daughter asked me to watch my granddaughter for a few hours, which I was happy to do.  However, she had just returned from the doctor after getting her shots, so she was not too happy.  So I just held and cuddled her.

Then my daughter brought lunch over and we visited for awhile.  So I got started on my taxes a bit late.  I do like using tax software, but I don’t like having to get all my receipts together.

I ended the evening eating dinner at 8:00 and watching TV.

As I sat in my very quite house, I remembered where I was one year ago to the day.

We were on a cruise of the Caribbean with in-laws.  They had treated us all to the cruise, which was to be a great time to build memories while we still had my father-in-law with us.  

My in-laws always had their grandkids sitting their table.  My father-in-law couldn’t smile or speak anymore, but he was able to communicate through his iPad.

We had a fabulous time.
Our first visit was to St. Maarten.  I had my camera with me and along with taking photos of the family, I also took pictures of the tropical plants.
I didn’t know my husband was taking a picture 😉
At first, I was shocked at how blue the water was.  (I am from Southern California, where the ocean is gray blue).


The plants were very colorful and I recognized some….

Bougainvillea

Vinca

There were other plants that I had no idea what they were….

This plant is rather unusual.








You know, it didn’t matter that I didn’t know what all the plants where.

It was enough to know that they were beautiful….
I didn’t post a blog on Friday, but I had a very good excuse…
Frost-damaged Bougainvillea
It was time for my springtime annual pruning.
In my zone 9a garden, we do experience temperatures below freezing and as a result, some of my frost-tender plants always suffer some frost damage.
The best time to do this is once the danger of frost is over, which in my area is approximately March 1st.
Arizona Yellow Bells with frost damage.
I really don’t mind, because they look beautiful 9 months out of the year.
‘Rio Bravo’ Sage needing a trim.
This past Friday, I had no consults, the kids were at school and I wasn’t scheduled to babysit my granddaughter.
So, I put on my old gardening clothes, boots and gloves and headed out into my back garden.
Tobey came out to supervise.
My Bermuda grass is still dormant, but once nighttime temperatures stay above 55 degrees, it will start to green up fast.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, in the upper sixties.  I started first on my Orange Jubilee shrub and then moved on to my ‘Rio Bravo’ Texas Sage shrubs.
 
Every  2 – 3 years, I prune back my ‘Rio Bravo’ severely, which rejuvenates them.  Old wood doesn’t produce as much leaves or flowers and eventually dies.  Severe renewal pruning stimulates new growth and helps keep your shrubs from becoming too large.
To say that I am a bit passionate about pruning flowering shrubs the right way, is an understatement.
You can read more if you like in my previous post….
 I spent three hours pruning 10 large shrubs.  It was so nice to experience the outdoors with nothing to listen to except for the breeze and the birds.
There is something so satisfying about surveying how much work you have accomplished after you have finished pruning.
Of course, after I finished, I went inside and took 2 ibuprofen for my sore back.
I think I will let my husband put my pruned branches in the trash can 😉
How about you?  Are you ready to prune yet? 

Last July, we had some guests visiting us from Missouri.  There visit was to be only 48 hours and so we planned a day trip, packed with activities in order to show them parts of our beautiful state.


So, we took them up to Sedona, which is a stunningly beautiful area, less then 2 hours from our home.  As we started the drive north of Phoenix, our friends were amazed at the beauty of the desert and marveled at all of the Saguaro cacti that dotted the landscape.


Soon, the cacti disappeared and pinyon pine started to appear and we soon saw the red mountains of Sedona in the distance.




Sedona is one of my favorite places to visit and we make it up there at least once a year.


Our primary destination in Sedona was a place called ‘Tlaquapaque’, which is a recreation of a Mexican village.  This recreated village is actually full of shops – mostly full of creations from local artists.  Although, I must admit that my favorite store is the Christmas store 🙂


There is just something so inviting about an archway that says “Shops” over it, isn’t there?


Tlaquepaque is a very beautiful place with many specimen trees, shrubs and plants.


As we walked around, our guests headed straight for the shops, while I spent most of my time looking at the gardens.  

I was especially interested in the beautiful container plantings that they had.
Here are a few of my favorites….

Coreopsis, Zinnias and Toadflax


Coleus and Impatiens

An entire walkway was lined with containers full of annuals.

Potted Geraniums and Variegated Ivy

Did you know that Bougainvillea make great container plants?  Look how beautiful they look when trained upward against a wall, below.


Bougainvillea don’t like wet soil and like to be watered deeply and then allowed to dry out in between, which makes them suitable for containers.
 

Indian Fig Prickly Pear

I thought this was an interesting potted plant.  Now most Prickly Pear species are NOT suitable for being planted in pots because of their thorns and ‘glochids’, which are the tiny, brown hairs that get stuck in your fingers.

But, Indian Fig Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a thornless species of Prickly Pear, which makes it okay for use in a container.

Petunias and Purple Coneflower
As I walked around taking photos, I noticed that I was close to my favorite Christmas store, so I ducked inside….


This store (I forgot the name) features beautiful, handmade Christmas ornaments.  I have bought some of my favorite decorations here.  

The display above features a dried agave stalk that they have hung ornaments from.
I resisted the urge to buy more ornaments for myself, but I did purchase an ornament for our guests to take home to remember their trip to Arizona.  It was a dried, red chili with a Santa face and beard painted on it.

As I stepped out of the store, I heard Indian song and drums….


 Imagine my surprise to see an Indian hoop dancer, performing.



My family and our guests enjoyed the performance very much.  

Especially my daughter, Gracie (far right), who in the past was scared of Indians because of their painted faces (from the movies, I think).

She loved the performance and afterward…. 



Posed for this picture and shared it with her school.


We had a fabulous day with our friends and on our way home, decided to treat them to another regional treat….

In-n-Out Burger 🙂

Many people tell me that they are tired of their boring, round green shrubs.  Often, they are surprised when I tell them that those ‘boring’ green balls would actually flower if given a chance.


So, how do you take those boring green balls and turn them into beautiful, flowering shrubs?  


‘Green Cloud’ Texas Sage shrubs


The first step is to rejuvenate your green ‘balls’ by severely pruning them back.  

Now I warn you, this is an ugly stage.  Your shrubs will look like a bunch of sticks poking out of the ground.
Red Bird-of-Paradise shrubs, newly pruned.
 This is best done at certain times of the year, depending on what type of flowering shrub you have.  For example, if you severely prune summer-flowering shrubs back in December, you will have to wait a long time for them to leaf out, once the weather warms.

I pruned the ‘Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’) shrub below in March and by early April, it had already begun to produce new branches.
‘Rio Bravo’ Sage, 1 month after severely pruning.
So, when should you prune your shrubs?

Here is a list of some of the most common shrubs in the low desert and when they should be pruned.
(If you live in the high desert, you can adjust the timing by a month or so later.)
Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea species) – March
Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) – December
Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica) – March
Cassia species (Senna species) – May (once flowering is finished)
Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) – June
Valentine Bush (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’) – May
Texas Sage (Leucophyllum species) – March
Oleander (Nerium oleander) – May or June
Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans) – March
Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) – March or April

If you look closely at the list above, you can see that in most cases these shrubs are either pruned once they have finished flowering OR just after the danger of frost is over in the spring.

The reward for your efforts is a beautiful, flowering shrub like the ‘Green Cloud’ Texas Sage, below.

‘Green Cloud’ Texas Sage

If your shrub is getting a bit large later in the year, you can prune it using hand pruners and removing no more then 1/3 of the growth.  Just be careful not to use hedge-trimmers.

So, do you have to prune your flowering shrubs severely every year?  
Absolutely not.  

As long as your shrub is attractive and not outgrowing its space, you can save severe pruning for every 3 years or so, which will remove older branches and cause new ones to grow in their place.  This is what I do in my own garden.

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Now for those of you who really like the appearance of formally pruned shrubs….

Don’t worry – there is hope.  

There are some types of shrubs that do very well when formally pruned.

But, I’ll leave that for my next post 🙂

I spent last week visiting with a client who was worried that he had lost 80% of his plants to the hard freeze that we had experienced earlier this winter.

I must admit that there was more brown then green in his garden, like the majority of homeowners in our area.  Countless homeowners are anxiously waiting until it is time to start pruning back their frost-damaged shrubs and perennials (myself included).

Personally, I can’t wait to prune back my Bush Lantana, which is not only ugly, but acts like a magnet for trash on a windy day.

 
Drive through any neighborhood in the Phoenix metro area and you will see a lot of brown, crispy-looking plants.
Dwarf Oleander…….
 
Bougainvillea….
Natal Plum….
I think that I will stop here with showing photos of brown, crispy plants because it is getting a bit depressing.
Okay, so here is the big question that I am being asked a lot lately.
“When can I start pruning back this ugly brown stuff?”
The answer is that you can start once the last average date for frost has passed for your area.
Where I live, in the Phoenix metro area, this is usually the beginning of March.  
Soon you will see scores of homeowners digging out their loppers and hand pruners and joyfully start pruning off the ‘brown stuff’ off of their plants.
So, this leads to the next question,
“How can I tell if my plants are even alive?”
Well, this is usually quite easy to figure out.  Remember the client who thought that they had lost 80% of his plants to the hard freeze?  Well, after looking at all of his plants, I only discovered 3 young  lantana that probably did not make it.

This is what I do to tell if a plant is still alive:

Go towards the base of the plant and bend the stems/branches.  If they snap off easily, then that part of the plant is dead.  However, if the stem/branch is flexible and ‘bendy’ then there is live tissue inside.  Even if the branch/stem does break off, look to see if there is live growth inside.  

Below, is a photo of a frost-damaged Bush Lantana that I broke off a small stem off of to see if there was live tissue inside.


If you look carefully, you can see the light-green interior of the branch.  So, this Lantana will recover, but should have all frost-damaged growth removed.
Another clue to look for to be able to tell if your plants are still alive is to look underneath, towards the bottom.  Below, is a photo of a severely frost-damaged Dwarf Oleander that has green leaves underneath.  So, it will recover from the frost-damage.

Okay, now for our last question,

“How do I know how much to prune off of my frost-damaged plants?”

The simple answer is that you prune back to where you see new leaves emerging OR where the branches have live tissue inside.


This Bougainvillea branch (above) has suffered frost damage.  However, look closely.  Can you see the change in color in the branch, from the left side to the right side?

The brown-colored part of the branch on the left side is dead, while the green-color on the right side of the branch indicates that that part is alive.  So, prune where the live part of the branch begins at the closest leaf bud.

If you wait a few weeks and let your frost-damaged plants have a chance to leaf out, that is an even easier way to tell what parts of your plants are alive and what parts are not.

Want more information on how to prune back frost-damaged plants?  Check out “Spring Cleaning In The Garden”.

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Well, the day of my ‘big announcement’ is almost here!

Please come back to visit this Tuesday, March 1st.  
 I can’t hardly wait to share with you what I have been working on lately.

 I hope you all have a wonderful week!
 

Well, the title says it all.  I love plants and shopping.  Pair those two things together and I am in heaven.

Back when I managed landscapes, I had a company credit card which allowed me to purchase to my heart’s content….okay not really, I did have to stay within my plant budget, but it was so nice to spend someone else’s money.

My most recent journey into the plant shopping occurred last week with my mother, Pastor Farmer of Double S Farms.  She was purchasing some trees for their farm and wanted my assistance in selecting them.  And so, we journeyed to a local nursery (not a big box store).

Now this particular nursery is not what I would call a native plant nursery, although they do carry many native plants.  But they also sell tropical plants that thrive in our semi-tropical climate.  You can see Gabriel coming up to help us to tag the trees we selected.
On our way to the tree section, we passed a mass of Bougainvilleas.  It looked like a Bougainvillea forest.
Then we passed through the shaded area of the nursery where frost-tender tropical and shade-loving plants were kept.
Now, we were beginning to get into the tree section of the nursery.
You may have noticed that my pictures are taken from behind my mother and our helper, Gabriel.  Well, put me anywhere with plants….a nursery, a garden, it doesn’t matter – I will always be lagging behind as I love to look, touch and take pictures of plants.
We passed the flowering Palo Verde trees….
We passed some Olive trees….
Did you know that the pollen of the Olive tree is highly allergenic?  It’s true.  Actually, because of this, you can only plant a certain variety of Olive tree in our area, called ‘Swan Hill’, that do not produce pollen and therefore do not produce any flowers.
The ‘Swan Hill’ cultivar was found in Australia years ago from a 30 year-old Olive tree that had never fruited.  It is an interesting story and you can read more about it here.
Okay, back to our search for our tree.  Well, I wish I could say that I had a great picture to show you of the Chilean Mesquite (Prosopis chilensis) tree we selected.  But, it turns out that I was so busy helping to select the tree, I forgot to take pictures of it.
On our way out, I did take pictures of a bunch of Sago Palms (Cycas revoluta), which aren’t actually palms at all, they are cycads.  They grow extremely well here, but must be protected from full sun or their fronds turn yellow from sunburn.
Well, we were at the end of our plant shopping journey, or so I thought….
 
As my mother was paying for the trees, I noticed one of the resident chickens. 
Can you see her?  She is poking around the base of this plant fountain.
**By the way, I think I would love to have a plant fountain someday 🙂
One of the employees noticed my interest in the chicken and motioned me over to the side of the building, where on a potting table, there was a large container.  I looked inside and saw how busy the chicken had been….
 
 
Every afternoon, at about 4:00, she sits up there and lays another egg.
Now, the father, is no absentee father.  He takes his job very seriously.  He was keeping a keen eye on us until we left the nursery.
 
Well, I had a wonderful time, I just love visiting local nurseries.
We selected some beautiful trees and the new Mesquite tree will grow very quickly and will be quite large.  Pastor Farmer envisions having an old tire swing being put up in the tree in a few years for the grandkids to play on.

Now, the title of this post does NOT apply to me.  My ancestors hail from Northern Europe and so whenever a sunny day beckons me outdoors, you will find me with my hat and my sunscreen.

What this title does refer to are plants that not only thrive in our full desert sun, but those that can even thrive in areas with hot, reflected heat.  Just picture a brick wall, facing west, getting the full force of the sun in the afternoon.  Believe it or not, there are quite a few plants that do quite well in the summer sun and seem to be saying “Bring it On”.

Most people either hate or love Bougainvillea.  If you have a pool – do NOT use this plant as they can be quite messy.  That being said, I do love Bougainvillea and have two planted along the back wall that receives afternoon sun.  They do extremely well and actually flower more when in full sun.
For those who prefer using native plants, Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) provides beautiful yellow flowers in the winter and spring.  Their gray leaves provide a great color contrast to your other plants throughout the year, even when not in flower.
Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens), a native from our neighboring Chihuahuan Desert, is a favorite of mine to use in hot, sunny areas.  There are quite a few different Leucophyllum species that come in a variety of leaf colors and offer flowers in shades of purple, pink and white.  They can grow up to 6 ft. high and are great for covering up a large expanse of a brick wall.
Red Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica) is a wonderful plant to use in sunny locations.  Red flowers are produced year-round, although the heaviest bloom occurs in the spring and fall months.  They are a great favorite of hummingbirds.
Cassia species are a wonderful export to us from Australia.  There are four different species that are commonly found in our area, but my two favorites are Silvery Senna (Senna phyllodenia) and Desert Senna (Senna artemisioides sturtii)Beautiful flowers appear in winter and last through spring.
It is no surprise to those who have read my blog for any length of time that I would add Globe Mallow Sphaeralcea ambigua) to my list of sun-loving plants.  The shrub above, is located in my front garden and I will soon be planting some seeds along the wall in my back garden, which faces west and receives full sun all afternoon.
Whether you prefer the green or purple leafed Hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa), both types will grow upright and produce an evergreen shrub that will thrive in the sun.
 Many succulent plants do well in areas with hot, reflected heat.  But a word of caution – just because a plant is a succulent (stores water in it’s leaves), does NOT mean that it can handle full sun.  However, Soaptree Yucca (Yucca elata) does very well in the hot sun.


This is one of my favorite succulent plants.  Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) is actually not a yucca at all.  But it’s succulent leaves make it look like an ornamental grass.  In spring and summer red flowers start to bloom.


Chuparosa (Justicia californica) can be seen along the roadsides throughout the desert.  They are decorated with orange/red tubular flowers that hummingbirds just love.  If they can thrive out in the open desert, they can do very well in your garden.

I hope this list is helpful to those of you who have an area that receives hot, reflected heat that desperately needs a plant.  By adding a plant to areas such as these – actually help to cool that area down because the plant actually absorbs the sun’s rays and keeps them from heating up the surrounding wall, rock, etc.

**Please stay away from planting plants such as Hibiscus, Roses, Citrus and Heavenly Bamboo in these areas.  They do not do well in areas with hot, reflected heat.  However, all of these plants will do very well in north, south and eastern exposures.

If you are reading a plant label at the nursery to see what type of exposure the plant requires, please keep the following in mind.  Full sun in the desert is quite different from the full sun experienced in other areas of the country.  For example, a Hibiscus shrub that is growing in San Diego, can handle full sun.  However, the intensity of the sun coupled with the heat of desert, will make it difficult for a Hibiscus to handle being planted in a western exposure in Arizona.
And so in closing, I hope this list will prove helpful to you as you search for the right plant for that particular area in your garden.
Today was a beautiful, crisp day.  Temps are in the upper 50’s and there are still flowers present in the garden.
Firecracker Penstemon
Hummingbirds just love the flowers.  Blooms will continue until late April.
**I will have some seeds available this spring.  Click here to see if this perennial will grow where you garden.
Stolk
Flowering in my children’s pool garden.
See earlier post about planting this garden.
Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis)
This bright perennial will bloom all year.
This particular flower is from my neighbor’s garden.

Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)
My Valentine shrub is really starting to bloom.  
Blooming peaks in February, but continues into late April.
Rio Bravo Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’)
Surprisingly, my Sage is still blooming, although there are not many left.
**Look closely at the little hairs covering the flower…this helps to protect the flower from the intense heat and sunlight in the summer months. 
Whirling Butterflies (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’)
This perennial blooms spring through fall.  It is slowing down, but I was able to get some pictures of the last blooms.
My neighbor’s yellow rose.
Roses continue blooming through December and into January.  
We actually have to cut them back severely in January to force dormancy.  It just kills me to prune off the beautiful rose blooms of my roses….
My Purple Violas are blooming beautifully.
Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii)
A few blooms remain.  
Next to the flowers is a volunteer Victoria Agave that has sprouted from the parent plant.
Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
Blooms fall through the spring.
Unfortunately, they do self-seed prolifically and I have to do a bit of weeding.
**If any of you are interested in seeds, I should have quite a few available this spring.
Click here to see if Globe Mallow will grow in your area. 
Purple Lantana (Lantana montividensis)
A few blooms remain, but a lot of Lantana has been burned by frost.
This one is located underneath a tree, which gives some protection from the frost.
Bougainvillea
The colorful ‘petals’ are actually not the flower.  They are called ‘brachts’.
The actual flowers are the tiny cream colored flowers in the center.
*I realize I include photos of my bougainvillea often, but it has done very well. Most Bougainvillea have been damaged by the frost, but this one is located underneath a tree in my backyard, which has protected it from the cold.
Thank you for joining me for December’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  Please visit May Dreams Gardens for more sites to visit.
Coming up soon…..A Desert Christmas Celebration.  More specifically, how we decorate our homes and gardens for Christmas.   You may be surprised at what we cover with lights…..