Posts

I am excited to show you two pictures of one of my favorite perennials.

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
 
Isn’t this a cool picture of a bee, ready to pollinate the flowers of this penstemon?
 
I must confess that I did not take this photo (or the other one below).  My husband took both of these beautiful pictures.
 
This firecracker penstemon is happily growing in my garden and is now over 14 years old, which is rare.  
 
Every winter, it sends up spikes covered in red, tubular flowers, much to the delight of the resident hummingbirds.
 
The blooms last through spring in my desert garden.  In cooler climates, it will bloom in spring through early summer.
 
To learn more about this red beauty and how easy it is to grow in your garden, click here.


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


I hope you have enjoyed my favorite flower photos.  Starting tomorrow, I will begin posting a series of my favorite DIY blog posts, so please come back for a visit!
 

Yellow is a great color to include in the garden.  


Why?


Yellow-flowering plants will help the other colors in your garden to ‘pop’ visually because it provides great color contrast.

Damainita (Chrysactinia mexicana)
 
One of my favorite yellow-flowering plants is damianita, which blooms in spring and again in fall.
It thrives in hot, sunny, desert gardens, is drought-tolerant and is almost maintenance-free.
 
I love how it looks like ‘yellow clouds’ sitting on the ground when in bloom.  
 
For more information on damianita as well as a few other desert perennials that I like to use in desert landscapes, click here.

I love the color purple in the garden because the color, helps to visually ‘cool’ the garden.

‘Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’)
 
Have you ever wondered how some plants handle our hot temperatures and intense sunlight?
 
Look carefully at the flowers, above.  Note the small hairs covering the petals?  They help to reflect the sun’s rays.
 
I like using large shrubs to screen the back wall of my garden, so I have quite a few ‘Rio Bravo’ sage shrubs.
 
They put on a spectacular show off and on throughout the summer when they bloom.  (Leucophyllum langmaniae) is just one species of Leucophyllum (Texas Sage).
 
Of course, if you insist on pruning your sage shrubs into round ‘blobs’ – you will never see the flower show.
 
For guidelines on how to prune your desert, flowering shrubs correctly, click here.
 

Do you like orange flowers?


I do.

Orange Jubilee (Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’)
 
Which is why I have the orange flowering beauty in my garden.
 
Clusters of orange, tubular flowers hang from this large shrub from spring through fall, making the hummingbirds in my garden very happy.
 
Learn more about this beautiful shrub and how to grow it in your garden, here.

I am sharing with you a few of my favorite close-up flower photographs this week.


Here is one that brightens up my garden summer and into early fall…

Sunflower
It is hard to find a flower that grows so large and that is easy to grow.
 
 
I plant mine from seed each spring and then plant a second crop in mid-summer.
 
Did you know that you can make a bird feeder and shade tomatoes using sunflowers?
 
*****************************
 
Now for the winner of the book, Hellstrip Gardening…
 
And the randomly picked winner is….


Liza who blogs at “Good to Grow
Congratulations!


Thanks to all of you who entered.  I highly recommend getting a copy for yourselves and transforming your garden.

Do you enjoy going out into the garden in summer?


I don’t!


I admit to sometimes neglecting my garden when the temperatures go above the century mark.  My aversion to gardening in a furnace is one of the reasons that I like to use desert-adapted plants that don’t need much attention.



One of my favorite fuss-free plants is chuparosa (Justicia californica).  

It has beautiful red, tubular flowers that decorate the garden in late winter into spring and sporadically throughout the year.  Hummingbirds can’t resist it AND it is drought-tolerant and low-maintenance.

Want to learn more?  Here is my latest plant profile for Houzz:




Every year, I hope to avoid a certain malady that always pops its head up in mid-August.

I was pretty sure I had skipped it this year, but early this week – it hit me.

What is this malady?

“I don’t want to venture out into my garden.”

 Shocking, isn’t it?  Now, there is nothing wrong with my garden.  In fact, it looks its best this time of year.
My summer-flowering shrubs are absolutely covered in blooms, my trees are growing beautifully and my lawn is thick and green (thanks largely to increased humidity and monsoon rains).
Bougainvillea ‘Barbara Karst’
Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans)
Orange Jubilee
The fact that I haven’t spent much time out in the garden is rather obvious from the photos of my slightly overgrown plants below…
Rio Bravo Sage
Gold Lantana
So, why on earth don’t I want to go out in the garden?
Well, I must admit that I get a little ‘burned out’ on gardening.  It has to do with the fact that I get a bit tired of the summer heat and living in the Desert Southwest, means that there is always something to do in the garden 12 months of the year.  
Sometimes, I just need a little break.  I don’t think this makes me a bad gardener or horticulturist – do  you?

So, maybe some of my plants are a bit overgrown and need a little pruning.  Well, they can grow for a couple more weeks and I’ll get to it in early September.  

Besides, I would rather have a overgrown plant covered in flowers then one that is over-pruned and ugly, wouldn’t you?
I will shake off this seasonal ‘malady’ and be out in the garden, eager to plant seeds for my winter vegetable garden the beginning of September.
**How about you?  Do you suffer from the same malady from time to time?  Please tell me about it – it will make me feel better 🙂

Summer is officially here.  To be honest, I think it is funny that summer ‘starts’ on June 20th when we have already had temperatures above 100 degrees for weeks.

It may be hot, but my vegetable garden is thriving. 

Here is a snapshot of the past week in my garden:

 My newest vegetable garden is doing very well.  Actually, it is doing better then I had even hoped.  The reason for this is that it receives filtered shade in both the morning and afternoon.  
 The result is that my marigolds and nasturtiums are still thriving even though they normally die off by the end of May.

I am a thrifty person by nature and like to save money when I can in the garden, so I collect the seeds from dried flowers in order to plant them again the following season:


 Hollyhock seeds
Marigold seeds
I save the seeds in regular envelopes.
About 3 weeks ago, I cut back my spent hollyhocks and have been pleasantly surprised to see them come back.
My vegetable gardens continue to produce corn, tomatoes, string beans, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers and herbs.
Before you see the following picture, I need to remind you that I am far from a perfect gardener…
 This is what happens when you are out of town and don’t get to harvest your corn.

You can see that the kernels are sunken and even dried out.

Now if you grew an heirloom variety of corn, you can save the dried kernels for planting next year.  
(Heirloom varieties of vegetables aren’t hybrids and will grow the exactly the same as the parent plant).

OR, you can allow the corn cobs to dry out completely and set them out for the birds, which is what I plant to do since I planted a hybrid type of corn.
(The seeds from hybrids won’t produce the same plant).
Clockwise from top: Basil, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary and Purple Basil.
 
I normally dry my herbs in bunches, hanging upside down.  But my sister has done it by drying them on cookie sheets.  Because we live in a desert, this is a viable option.
I must admit that I haven’t tried this before, so I’m anxious to see how it works.  I set the cookie sheets out in my garage, covered with a dish cloth.  
We’ll see how it works.
Lastly, I have planted some vegetable seeds outside of my garden.  More about that later….
As for the rest of the week – I will be spending much of my time indoors in air-conditioned comfort, viewing my garden from indoors 😉 

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

How about you?
What are you doing in the garden this week?

Usually when I am called to a help out a homeowner with their landscape, it is because they are having a problem with their plants, or sometimes they are new to the desert and want to learn how to garden in our dry climate.  

Last week, I visited a homeowner who had some questions about whether or not he was taking good care of his garden.

His house is located just northeast of the metro Phoenix area, in the desert.  He and his wife had lived there for over 15 years and they designed their garden by themselves.

As I approached the front entry, I was greeted by this beautiful Ocotillo that was back lit by the morning sun…

When approaching a new client’s house, I always look around their front garden, because it gives me an idea of their preferences and maybe problems that they are having.  This gives me a ‘heads-up’ before I actually meet the client.
His front garden was just beautiful and I was looking forward to seeing what his back garden looked like…
There was a fireplace with a lovely seating area and you could see the pool surrounded by beautiful desert plants in the distance.
The wall of his back garden backed right onto the desert.  He had some beautiful artistic pieces, including this metal Ocotillo.
There was a very large Indian Fig cactus.  This type of prickly pear is very popular because it is thornless.  But it needs a lot of room to grow.
This particular Indian Fig was hiding something….
 A beautiful water feature flowed from underneath the Indian Fig.

Rosemary grew along the side as well as potted annuals.
Isn’t this a beautiful area?
There was also an empty vegetable garden, but the homeowner did have herbs growing in containers….


 Many people keep their hummingbird feeders up year round because we have hummingbirds 12 months out of the year.
This hummingbird faces a mirror.  The mirror serves two purposes, according to the homeowner:
One, it keeps the woodpeckers from making holes and second, it gives them an additional view of visiting hummingbirds.
You can see a little Verdin flying in for a drink of the hummingbird nectar.
Lastly, we viewed a shady area of his garden.
The plants in this area do very well in light shade.
There was Heavenly Bamboo to the left, Cape Honeysuckle to the right, Star Jasmine vine next to the door and Texas Mountain Laurel ‘Silver Peso’, which is a gray-leafed form.
I had a wonderful time visiting and I did have a few suggestions regarding proper watering and when to prune.
I hope you enjoyed seeing this beautiful desert garden with me.
******************************
Life is quite busy this week for me as I am sure it is for most of you with the upcoming holiday.
I will post again before Thanksgiving 🙂

Some of you may remember reading about one of my rose bushes, Mr. Graham Thomas, who last week made a fool of himself.  You can read more about Mr. Thomas his foolish exploit here if you like.  Even though he had only been in the ground in my back garden for only 10 weeks, he decided he couldn’t wait and produced 10 beautiful rose blooms.


What is wrong with that you may ask?  Well, Mr. Thomas was so impatient to outdo his neighbors, Mr. William Shakespeare and Mr. Abraham Darby that he neglected to wait for his stems to grow strong enough to hold up the blooms.  As a result, the stems flopped to the ground under the weight of the roses.



 Doesn’t he look foolish?  


Well, I am proud to say that Mr. Thomas seems to have learned his lesson this week.  I went outside this morning and there he was, proudly holding up a single rose.

 Now I realize he is still a bit small and the stem is a bit wobbly, but he holding up his rose just the same.

I have to say, that I often feel similar feelings when my kids learn from their mistakes.  It makes you feel like you really accomplished something.  Now, last week, I wasn’t sure that my scolding Mr. Thomas or trying to embarrass him by posting his photos would cause him to see how foolish he had been.  I really wasn’t sure if he was listening.  But, I guess he was 🙂

On another note, thank you very much for your well wishes.  I am  recovering.  The fever is gone and I actually went to the grocery store yesterday.  I must say that shopping for 4 kids and a husband fills up the shopping cart quite a lot and I was pooped out when I go home.  Thankfully, my husband took one look at my face and told me to go inside and rest.  He took the groceries in and put everything away :o)

My one expedition today is to go to a local garden restaurant.  Actually it is a farm grill that is set among a very pretty garden setting.  My mother (Pastor Farmer) called me yesterday to let me know that the flowers are in full bloom.  So, I am off to take pictures and then come home and take a nap.  **Isn’t it frustrating how long it takes to get your strength back once you are over the flu?

Well, I hope you are all staying well.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!