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Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)

Summer temperatures are fading and it’s time to get back outdoors and enjoy the beauty surrounding our homes.  When many plants begin to slow down blooming, there are some that are just getting started including these fall-blooming shrubs.

This time of year is very busy for me as many of my clients are ready to focus on their garden.  However, as busy as I get, I try to find some time to sit outside and enjoy the colorful plants in my own garden.

Mt. Lemmon Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii)

Mt. Lemmon Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii)

Fall is the best time for adding new plants to the landscape, so this is a great time to take a look at your garden and see where you would like to see some welcome autumn color.

If you are ready to add more color to your outdoor space this autumn, I invite you to read my latest article for Houzz where I list my favorite flowering shrubs in the fall garden.

Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii)

Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii)

Do you love purple flowers? Check out my blog post where I feature autumn bloomers with purple flowers.

What is your favorite flowering plant for fall?

Last weekend, our family loaded our suitcases into the car and headed out to Southern California to visit my second-oldest daughter, Rachele, who is stationed there at a Navy base.


I was excited to see Rachele, but also to visit that part of California since it is near where I grew up and also where I met my husband while attending college.


On Saturday morning, we left our younger kids with Rachele and ventured up into the hills outside of Santa Barbara in order to visit our college.



Westmont College is located on side of the mountains in the small town of Montecito.

Most people haven’t heard of Westmont.  It is a small Christian, liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,200.


The college is set among beautiful gardens that echo the Spanish/Mediterranean style.


Believe it or not, I was not interested in the gardens or plants when I attended Westmont.  I was more focused on having fun, dating and passing my classes.  At the time, I was decidedly “undecided” in what I wanted to major in.




I spent 2 years at Westmont before I got married and moved to Arizona.


Now, whenever I am visiting Santa Barbara, I like to take time to visit the beautiful gardens of my former alma mater.


I’d love to take you on a little tour of my favorite spots and share some memories…




This is the main administration building, which used to be the mansion that stood on this estate.


This is where my husband and I met.  We both had part-time jobs in adjoining offices and I thought he was awfully cute and nice.

My favorite part of the building was the courtyard outside with its fountain.


I love the detail of the water fountain.


Years ago, I posed for this photo with my friend, Mary by the same fountain.

I love the look of stone finials, don’t you?


It may have been the end of December, but there were still blooms to be seen like this pink azalea and the hibiscus, below…


I couldn’t help but think of those whose gardens are frozen and/or covered in snow right now.  The Mediterranean climate is truly wonderful – this area rarely experiences temps below freezing.


An old bougainvillea grew up among the stair railing.


I can only imagine how old this bougainvillea is.


I love garden gates, don’t you?


Especially when you notice the detail.

While the converted mansion and its surroundings were beautiful, the college has its share of plain, boring dormitories.


This was my freshmen dorm where I lived on the third floor.  The dormitory looked much the same as when I attended except that there were video cameras and electronic door locks with card readers.

While the dorm wasn’t too impressive, the view from my room was…


I could see the ocean and the Channel Islands from my window.


Up above the dorm, on the mountainside was an old tea garden that was part of a large estate.  Students would climb up and explore the ruins.


As we left the dorm, we walked along the path lined with Simplicity roses toward a building where I must admit that I did NOT spend much time…




This is the large boulder located by the library.  Students could be found sitting on top studying or catching some rays.


There was a Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii) flowering next to the boulder.  This shrub can be grown in the desert, if given some afternoon shade.


I hope you have enjoyed the tour so far.  


Next time, I will show you the small chapel nestled within the trees, a small pond, a stunning garden filled with flowers and the area that was burned in a large wildfire a couple of years ago.

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….

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 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).
 
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.
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.
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 🙂
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 🙂
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.

I have been enjoying sharing with you some of my favorite lesser-known plants.  These are plants that are not used enough in the landscape and can brighten up an otherwise boring landscape filled with over-used landscape plants such as Lantana, Dwarf Oleander, etc.  My last post featured the beautiful Valentine shrub.


I am very excited to talk about this lesser known plant.  Let me introduce you to chaparral sage (Salvia clevelandii).

Isn’t it beautiful?

Years ago, I planted the chaparral Sage above along with many others around a golf course.  Their blue-purple flowers were a definite focal point in the spring time landscape.
The striking flowers begin to form in the spring and continue on into early summer.  

This shrub is native to San Diego county and performs well in well-drained soil. 

Like most of my favorite plants, this flowering shrub is low-maintenance.  There are also many other reasons that I think you should definitely try this out in your garden:

Hardy to 10 degrees F.   
And so mine is still green despite temps dipping into the low 20’s this winter.

Has a beautiful, naturally round shape.  Only requires pruning by at least 1/2 its size in February and removal of spent flowers in the summer.
Hummingbirds will be congregating around the beautiful flowers.

Reaches a mature size of approximately 4′ x 4′. 

The foliage is highly fragrant and is attractive even when not covered with flowers.

In the low deserts, it is wise to place the shrubs where they will receive filtered shade in the afternoons.  In high desert locations, they can be set out in full sun.

The foliage is quite fragrant and while most people enjoy its fragrance, some do not.  So, be sure to find a Chaparral Sage plant ahead of time to make sure that you enjoy the fragrance as much as I do before you buy some for your garden.

The fragrance is best enjoyed from a short distance, so I recommend not planting right next to walkways or windows.

Chaparral Sage looks great when planted near yellow, red or pink flowering plants.
I hope you will decide to try this shrub out in your garden.  I absolutely love mine.

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For those of you who are determined to be trendsetters in your garden, try these beautiful, fuss-free plants in your garden.

Well anyone who knows me well, would definitely have a hard time believing that I actually wrote a title like this one.

For those of you who may not know me personally….I will let you in on a secret – I love getting a good deal and living simply.  My mother (Pastor Farmer) is very good at this as was her mother, so I guess it is in my DNA.  I love shopping sales and coming home with items that normally would have cost much more.

When I quit my full-time job as a landscape designer, we had to make some cuts to our household budget which was a challenge that I actually enjoyed, especially at the grocery store.  My daughter Ruthie is always asking me how much I saved each week at our local grocery store.  I think she is on her way to becoming a saver as well.

I am also a huge proponent on saving money in the garden as well and it is really not difficult to do while still having a beautiful garden.  Now you would expect that the best way to save $ in the garden is by downsizing and you would be partly right.  You can definitely save money by downsizing, but it does not always save you money.
I am going to share with you a great way to add beauty to your garden, decrease your maintenance and save money.  It is really so simple that I hope you are inspired to try this in your own garden.
Okay, are you ready?  All you need to do is to purchase shrubs that will grow to a large size.  You may be asking, is that all?  YES!  
Many shrubs will grow to a large size, which takes up space in the garden.  The more space covered equals fewer plants needed.  Large shrubs also are great at covering up bare walls, hiding pool equipment / air-conditioning units while adding beauty, particularly if you select a flowering shrub.
My Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans) shrub easily grows to 7 ft tall and wide.  Mine covers approximately 30 sq. ft. of area in my garden while providing beautiful flowers 9 months out of the year.  It also helps to cover up my bare wall.
Want more examples?
This is a ‘Torch Glow’ Bougainvillea that I placed along my father-in-law’s back garden wall.  Paired with two others, their unique branching habit along with their bright colors really provided a great focal point.
Now people either love or hate Oleanders (Nerium oleander).  For the average garden, I do NOT recommend planting the large varieties.  But, the dwarf forms of Oleanders do grow to a good size and can reach heights of 6 ft.  Since Oleanders are so easy to grow, many people have them in their gardens.
So, if you would like to include some in your garden, I recommend trying a red flowered variety since most Dwarf Oleanders seen in landscapes are the pink and salmon colors.  (Be aware that all parts of Oleanders are poisonous).
 When you talk to newcomers to the desert southwest, they often ask about the beautiful large shrubs with orange/red flowers are planted along the freeways.  
Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is beautiful in the summer landscape and as you can see, hides a bare wall very well.  Maintenance in my zone 8b area is very simple – just prune back to 1 ft. in January and they will soon grow back to 6 ft. high in the summer months.  **Another helpful tip to help prolong bloom – prune back lightly (by 1/4) in August to extend the bloom period throughout October and early November.
I just love the unique flowers of Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica), so do hummingbirds.  I love both the beauty and low maintenance of these shrubs.  Please do not prune them into ‘balls’…..they are so beautiful in their natural form 🙂
If you prefer more green then flowers, then the following shrubs may be more to your taste….

 
Hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa)
 You could easily put 5 small shrubs along with 3 groundcovers in this area….where just 2 Photinia (Photinia fraseri) fit very well in the area above.
 
Many of you may be surprised to find out that many of the shrubs you already have in your own garden can grow quite a bit larger then you let them.  The solution to the problem is quite easy…..stop over pruning them and let them grow.  The alternative is to plant multiple shrubs in a given space and as they grow,  you are forced to keep pruning them back to keep them from crowding each other.
 
Well how about buying a single 1-gallon shrub (you don’t need to spend extra for a 5-gallon) and give it space to grow?  You will be rewarded with more $ in your pocket, a large beautiful shrub and fewer plants to prune and maintain.
Yes, your new 1-gallon Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) will look scrawny – but not for long….
Other suggestions for shrubs that will grow large:
Littleleaf Cordia  (Cordia parvifolia)
Orange Jubilee  (Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’)
 Pink Beauty  (Eremophila laanii)Feathery Cassia  (Senna artemisioides)
Chaparral Sage  (Salvia clevelandii)
 
You may be wondering where my next post on our trip to the east coast will come.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if they were becoming somewhat boring – especially for those who read my blog for gardening topics.  So, I thought that I had better write a gardening post.  I promise that I will write more about our trip  – our visit to Amish country was just fabulous.
Have a great week everyone!

Those who know me quickly learn that I love a bargain.  I get so excited when I find something on sale.  It gets even better when I have a coupon for the sale item.  Finding a good bargain is in my DNA.  I come from a long line of women who love to find great deals.

Well for me, this also extends to the landscape.  Now, it may seem a contradiction when I state to my clients that they can save a lot of money by using large plants.   We all know that large plants cost a lot of money at the nursery.  

I quickly go on to explain to them that I DO NOT recommend buying large-sized plants at the nursery.  In fact, I love finding shrubs in the 1-gallon size at the nursery.  They are much cheaper, which pleases the bargain hunter in me.  What I DO recommend is buying plants in small containers that will grow large fairly quickly.

For example, this 1-gallon Green Cloud Texas Sage cost about $5 dollars at the nursery.

I admit, it is not very impressive and it is hard to imagine what it will look like when it grows up.  But, this is a fast growing shrub and in just 2 – 3 years it will look like this….
 
I’d say that you got a pretty good deal for only $5.
A few years ago, I worked for a home builder, helping new buyers design their new landscapes.  By the time I would meet with them, they had spent a lot of their money already on the inside of their new home.  And so, their budget was quite limited in terms of what they could spend on their landscaping.  
I would then create a design for them using trees and shrubs that would grow large and quickly.  This way, they did not have to spend money on a large amount of plants and their garden would still look very beautiful.
Here are some shrubs that grow quickly and will grow large, as long as you don’t over-prune them.  All of them can be purchased as 1-gallon plants.
 Orange Jubilee (Tecoma x Jubilee)
 Threadleaf Cassia (Senna nemophila)
 Hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa)
 Bougainvillea
Other advantages in starting out using 1-gallon plants as opposed to 5-gallon or larger is that the smaller the initial size of the plant, the easier it is for them to be transplanted.  Not just for the gardener, but it is also easier for the plant as well.  Larger plants can have a more difficult time dealing with transplant shock.
I have been making some changes in my own garden and have been on the look out for shrubs in a 1-gallon size.  I planted a Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii) last month from a 1-gallon container.  
I admit, that it is quite small.  But, it won’t stay this way for long.  Soon, it will soon reach the size of this 3 year old Chaparral Sage that I planted in a commercial landscape….
While you are waiting for your small shrubs to grow large, you can fill in the empty spaces with annuals that you can later pull out once your shrubs start to grow.

Another new addition to my garden is a new Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).  The nurseries are starting to stock them right now and it is easy to find them in 5-gallon sizes.  I had to look a little more carefully before I found the 1-gallon size.
Okay I admit that I almost have to put on my reading glasses to be able to see this tiny shrub.  But it grows so quickly. 
In just 2 – 3 years, it will look like this….
Not too bad for $4, is it?