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No matter where you live, you will see the same shrubs being used over and over again in countless landscapes. While the shrubs may be attractive, their overuse throughout neighborhoods creates a boring appearance because they are so common.

oleanders

In California, Nevada, and Arizona, oleanders have held a prominent spot in the landscape for years. Their popularity is due to their lush evergreen foliage, ability to withstand intense heat, and their pretty flowers.

However, their overuse in many areas makes their beauty less impactful and frankly, almost forgettable.

 At a recent conference, this point was put quite succinctly by the head of horticulture for Disneyland who said,

“When things are expected (in the landscape), they become less powerful and impactful”.

His statement sums up what happens when we use the same plants over and over.

In the case of oleanders, there is another problem.

Oleanders

Oleanders are susceptible to a fatal disease called, oleander leaf scorch. This disease has come from California into Arizona where it is popping up in neighborhoods in Phoenix and also Lake Havasu. I have consulted with several cases affecting large, mature oleanders in Arcadia, Biltmore, and Moon Valley areas in Phoenix. 

This bacterial disease is spread by leaf-hopper insects and there is currently no known cure or control available. Infected oleanders slowly decline over 2-3 years before dying. To date, dwarf oleanders have not shown signs of the disease, only the larger forms. But, that could change sometime in the future.

Objectively, there’s a lot to like about oleanders; they thrive in hot, dry climates with minimal fuss, have attractive dark green foliage, and add color to the landscape when in flower. However, their overuse in the landscape makes them less impactful and coupled with their susceptibility to oleander leaf scorch, people want an alternative. 

You can learn more about this disease that affects oleanders here.

Hop Bush: 

Hop Bush

When asked for another option for the large, tall forms of oleanders, I recommend Hop Bush (Dodonaea viscosa), also known as Hopseed Bush.

This native desert shrub has attractive, evergreen foliage and a similar growth habit to oleander. They grow up to 12 feet tall or prune to a shorter height.

Hop Bush

Use Hop Bush in the same ways as oleanders to provide a nice green hedge or privacy screen.

Hop bush flower

Hop bush flower

While they don’t have colorful flowers; they have lovely foliage that is only mildly poisonous as opposed to oleanders which are highly toxic.

Hop bush

Hop bush has a lovely natural shape or prune as a formal hedge.

Want to learn more about this oleander alternative? In my latest Houzz article, I share what types of plants look nice next to hop bush, how to care for them and show a purple-leaf form.

I hope that you find a spot for this lovely shrub in your landscape.

Have you ever seen hop bush growing in the landscape?  

Do you use white flowering plants in your landscape?

I do.

However, some people tend to overlook white flowers in favor of flashier colors such as yellow, orange or red.  But did you know that white flowers can help show off the other colors in your landscape by providing color contrast?

In addition, white flowering plants also have a visually cooling effect in the garden, which is a welcome sight in the Southwest where summers are hot.

I’d like to share with you some of my favorite white flowers, all of which do well in the Southwestern landscape.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Bush Morning Glory (Convolvulus cneorum) White Flowering Plant

Bush Morning Glory (Convolvulus cneorum)

Pretty white flowers with yellow centers are just one of the reasons people love Bush Morning Glory. Its silvery foliage is another great color that it adds to the landscape.

In the desert, the flowers appear for several weeks in spring before fading away. However, the silvery foliage is evergreen and will add great color contrast when planted nearby plants with dark green foliage.

Do you have an area that gets full afternoon sun and reflected heat?  Bush Morning Glory can easily handle it while looking great.

Hardy to zone 8, bush morning glory grows approximately 2 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide.  Prune back in spring, after flowering has finished by 1/2 its size.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) White Flowering Plant

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)

White Gaura is a flowering perennial that has a prominent place in my landscape. It has small flowers, shaped like small butterflies, that start out pink and turn white as they bloom.

Siskyou Pink White Flowering Plant

This lovely perennial does best in filtered sun and flowers in spring and fall. It requires little maintenance other then shearing it back in spring to 1/2 its size.

White gaura is related to the pink variety ‘Siskyou Pink’, but has a bushier appearance and grows larger – approximately 2 1/2 ft. wide and tall. This native perennial is hardy to zone 6 gardens.

White Cloud' Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens 'White Cloud') White Flowering Plant

‘White Cloud’ Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘White Cloud’)

While most of us are more familiar with the purple flowering Texas sage shrubs, there is a white variety that is well worth adding to your landscape.  

‘White Cloud’ Texas Sage can grow large, 6+ feet tall and wide, if given enough space. It thrives in full sun and in summer and fall, periodic flushes of white flowers cover the silvery green foliage.

Avoid the temptation to excessively prune this shrub, which decreases the flowering and is not healthy for this type of shrub.  Hardy to zone 7, this shrub looks great when used as an informal hedge or against a wall.

Hedgetrimmers aren’t needed for pruning Texas sage. My Corona Compound Loppers are what I’ve used to prune mine for over 10 years with some hand pruning as needed for wayward branches.

For guidelines on how to (or how NOT to) prune flowering shrubs, click here.

Texas Olive (Cordia boissieri) White Flowering Plant

Texas Olive (Cordia boissieri)

This Texas native is a huge favorite of mine – Texas olive is a large shrub or small tree, depending on how you prune it. It has dark green, leathery leaves, and beautiful white flowers, which appear spring through fall on evergreen foliage.

Whenever I see this shrub, I always take a moment to admire its beauty, since it isn’t used often in the landscape – but it should be!

Small fruit, resembling an olive is produced, which are edible. They thrive in full sun. Allow plenty of room for it to grow as it gets 25 ft. tall and wide. Hardy to zone 9, the only drawback of this white-flowering beauty is that it can be a little messy, so keep away from swimming pools.

All of these white flowering plants are drought tolerant and do well in hot, arid climates.  

Do you grow any of these in your garden? Which is your favorite?

As beautiful as these plants are, I have more to show you next time in Part 2 next week!

container plants

What type of plants comes to mind when you are planning what to plant in your containers?

I’m willing to bet that purple hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’) and bush morning glory (Convolvulus cneorum) probably weren’t the first plants that came to mind.

Admittedly, I tend to think of using plants known for their flowers or succulents in my containers.  That is until a trip to California that I took this past April.

container plants

In the Napa Valley region of northern California, sits Cornerstone Sonoma, which describes itself as “a wine country marketplace featuring a collection of world-class shopping, boutique wine rooms, artisanal foods, art-inspired gardens.”

Believe me; it is all that and more.  There was so much to see, but what caught my attention were some unusual, yet beautifully planted containers.

Purple hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa 'Purpurea'), shrubby germander (Teucrium fruiticans), and violas. (container plants)

Purple hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’), shrubby germander (Teucrium fruiticans), and violas.

There were square steel containers filled with plants that are well-known for their foliage and are seldom used in pots.

I was intrigued, especially when the plants used were also popular in the desert Southwest.

container plants

There were quite a few things about this type of container planting that appealed to me.

One, it is low-maintenance – no deadheading required.  Just some light pruning 2 – 3 times a year, to control their size. Second, the plants are all drought tolerant (with the exception of the violas). Lastly, I like seeing new ways of doing things and using plants prized for their foliage in containers is something we don’t see too often.  

Fast forward a few months, and I decided to rethink what to add to the large, blue planter by my front entry.  So, I thought, why not try the same arrangement?

container plants

Granted, the plants are smaller than those I saw in California, but given a few months, they should grow in nicely.

As you can see my new plants are rather mall, however, the purple hopbush will grow taller and its evergreen foliage will add shades of purple and green to this space. Furthermore, this shrub is one of those highly-prized plants that do well in both sun and filtered shade.

The silvery-gray foliage of bush morning glory creates a great color contrast with the darker greens of the other plants. While it may not flower much in this semi-shady corner, I want it for its silvery foliage.

In addition, I want to use a plant that has bright green foliage, so I have a single foxtail asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus Myers), which will thrive in this semi-shady exposure. 

Maintenance will be relatively simple with periodic pruning to keep wayward branches in check. Fertilizing in spring and late summer with a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote will be all that’s needed to keep my container plants happy.

Do you have any plants with attractive foliage that you would use in containers? 

From Trash to Treasure: Unique, Fuss-Free Container Plantings

Beautiful Hop Bush Shrub (Dodonaea viscosa)

Beautiful Hop Bush Shrub (Dodonaea viscosa)

I am always on the lookout for great examples of plants in the desert landscape. In my work as a landscape consultant, I drive through countless neighborhoods, which allows me to see lots of ideas.

A few years ago, I drove by a house that had a beautiful Hop Bush shrub (Dodonaea viscosa).  

Beautiful Hop Bush Shrub (Dodonaea viscosa)

This evergreen, drought tolerant shrub does wonderfully in our southwestern climate, and it is a frequent addition to landscapes I design. 

It’s versatility is one of the reasons it is near the top of my favorite shrub list.

  • Hop Bush is a great substitute for Oleander shrubs.
  • They can grow up to 12 feet tall or be maintained at a shorter height – basically you can decide how large it gets.
  • Their height makes them a great choice to screen out an unattractive view in spaces where a tree won’t fit while providing shade for for windows.
  • Hop Bush can be allowed to grow into their natural shape or pruned more formally.
Beautiful Hop Bush Shrub (Dodonaea viscosa)

Native to the Southwest, Hop Bush is quite versatile and relatively fuss-free, especially if maintained by pruning every 6 months or so, as shown above. Here is another example of a hop bush shrub that has been pruned more formally, which it handles well.

Beautiful Hop Bush Shrub (Dodonaea viscosa)

 Of course, you can always let it grow into its more natural form as a large shrub.

For more information on hop bush including what its flowers look like and why it’s becoming a popular substitute for oleanders, you can read my earlier blog post – “Drought Tolerant and Beautiful: Hopbush the Alternative to Oleanders.”

Did you ever read the book, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett?  It was one of my favorite books as a child, and I always imagined myself exploring a hidden garden.

very secret garden , Taft Garden

Well, on the second day of our road trip, I was able to explore a very secret garden that very few people have seen.

To be honest, this hidden garden wasn’t on our original itinerary.  We were to travel by boat to the Channel Islands and explore Santa Cruz Island for the day.  But it was canceled at the last minute due to the high winds.  So, we had to find something else to fill our do for the day.  What better than to find a garden to visit?

We did some searching for gardens near the town of Ojai, which was near our hotel and found a reference to the Taft Garden, which is a 265-acre garden that couldn’t be found on a map and wouldn’t come up on a GPS search.

very secret garden , Taft Garden

We were given a map with landmarks provided such as a cluster of mailboxes, creek crossings, forks in the road and a big white barn.  With my reliance on GPS, it was somewhat surreal to navigate the way most people used to a long time ago.

very secret garden , Taft Garden

The bottom of the map had large, bold print that advised us against sharing the location of the garden with anyone else, so I won’t spill the beans.

Our route meandered through the foothills of the mountains outside of Ojai, and we passed large homes that sat on large acreage.

very secret garden , Taft Garden
very secret garden , Taft Garden

Three peacocks were perched on a corner watching us drive by.

The road was so little traveled that we only saw one car on our way to the garden.

very secret garden , Taft Garden

Groves of oak trees stood in natural areas along our route, which took us across two creeks, pass a large barn and finally to our destination.

very secret garden , Taft Garden

The entry to the garden is unassuming so as not bring attention to the fact that it is there.

very secret garden , Taft Garden

Our rental car was the only vehicle in the parking lot as we were the only visitors.

very secret garden , Taft Garden

Walking toward the visitor center, I was filled with anticipation for what discoveries awaited us along the meandering paths of the garden.  I also like to learn about new plants and how I may be able to incorporate them in my garden as well as in those of my clients.

very secret garden , Taft Garden
very secret garden , Taft Garden

Stepping inside the small visitor center, you are asked to give a donation of $5.

very secret garden , Taft Garden

Then you sign the guestbook.  

Believe it or not, we hadn’t seen anyone else in the garden at this point.

very secret garden , Taft Garden

Near the visitor’s center, a lovely bed of colorful plants was on display.  The plants in this garden are primarily from Australia and Africa, and I was familiar with many of them, although a fair few were somewhat foreign to me.

very secret garden , Taft Garden

The main path ran along one side of the garden with smaller, winding pathways branching off, encouraging exploration.

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

This aloe was enjoying the dappled sunlight.

 nice collection of agave and prickly pear cacti

On the right side of the path was a nice collection of agave and prickly pear cacti.  The other side was filled with shrubs native to Australia and many different species of aloe, which are mostly native to South Africa.

Yellow Protea flower

Yellow Protea flower

Elk Horn (Cotyledon orbiculata)

Elk Horn (Cotyledon orbiculata)

One of the things that strike you right away about this garden is that this isn’t you typical botanical garden filled with beds of flowering annuals and perennials.  While there was plenty of plants flowering, many were somewhat unusual, although most could be grown in California as well as many other arid climates.

Taft Garden

Scattered throughout the garden were bright red benches, which guests to stop and rest, to enjoy the beauty around them.

Agave angustifolia and Agave parryi 'truncata'.
Agave angustifolia and Agave parryi 'truncata'.

Agave is my favorite type of succulent, and they had several varieties including Agave angustifolia and Agave parryi ‘truncata’.  

majestic oak trees
majestic oak trees

Toward the center of the garden, is a large group of majestic oak trees that stand amidst an expanse of St. Augustine grass.  Interspersed throughout the lawn were small islands of I believe, clivia plants.

Australian grass tree (Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata)
Australian grass tree (Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata)

As I mentioned earlier, this Australian grass tree (Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata) is not your everyday plants – but very interesting – I’d say almost like a plant out of a Dr. Seuss novel, don’t you think?

Taft Garden

There were so many lovely vistas as well as unusual plants and combinations; I was very busy taking a lot of photos.  However, my legs were quite sore the next day from bending and squatting down for the perfect photo shot – at least I don’t have to feel guilty for not being able to visit the gym on our trip 🙂

Mexican Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii)

Mexican Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii)

Taft Garden

Toward the back of the garden stood a large guest house.

A floss silk tree is surrounded with a variety of succulents.

A floss silk tree is surrounded with a variety of succulents.

Bright orange aloe blooms around the house

Bright orange aloe blooms around the house.

The house was planted with a large variety of succulents, which were in full flower on this lovely spring morning.

Bougainvillea, yellow iris and a container filled with succulents

Bougainvillea, yellow iris and a container filled with succulents add welcome color toward the entry.

Artichoke agave (Agave parryi 'truncata') and 'Blue Glow' agave
Artichoke agave (Agave parryi 'truncata') and 'Blue Glow' agave

Artichoke agave (Agave parryi ‘truncata’) and ‘Blue Glow’ agave

Across the lawn from the house, a desert area filled with several agave species, columnar cacti, golden barrels and yucca create a lovely contrast to the darker green plants surrounding them.

dark pink flowers of rock purslane (Calandrinia spectabilis)

The dark pink flowers of rock purslane (Calandrinia spectabilis) grab your attention along with the bright orange flowers of soap aloe (Aloe maculata).

 Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) with Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima)

Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) with Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima)

This was by far my favorite combination of plants.  The contrast of textures with the grasses waving in the breeze and the upright purple flowers of the salvia was just breath-taking.

I took a video of how it looks with the wind blowing, which it was quite a lot that day.

California poppies (Eschscholzia californica)

In a nearby field, the bright orange flowers of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) were in full bloom creating a carpet of color that could be viewed from the house.

Japanese garden.

Up the hill from the house stood a Japanese garden.  The raised terrace was built around a large oak tree, which I appreciated the shade it offered since I didn’t wear my hat 😉

Japanese statues and a Zen area

Japanese statues and a Zen area completed this section of the garden.  

Taft Garden

In the back of the raised terrace, was a vine-covered walkway with arches that looked out into an enclosed outdoor area.

Majestic oak trees

Between the two arching oak trees was a circular stage.  Majestic oak trees were used to great effect throughout the entire garden.

Taft Garden

As I walked back toward the house, I could see one of the gardeners hard at work, pulling weeds from around the succulents.

Taft Garden

As we walked back toward the entrance, we took another route along a gravel path lined with tall tree aloes, pink flowering ice plant along with daisies of all colors blooming.

Taft Garden

Despite the high winds, it I had a fabulous time in this very secret garden.  It is without a doubt one of my top 5 gardens of all time with its use of beautiful, drought tolerant plants from around the world.

If I had to pick my favorite vista of the garden, it would be the one pictured in this photo…

Taft Garden

This is how I envision what heaven will be like.  I hope that God has a nice little garden cottage prepared for me next to a lovely garden like this one.

If you would like to learn more about this secret garden, here is a link to an article written about a few years ago with more photos.

Visits to the garden are by invitation only, and you can contact the garden through their Facebook page here.

California Road Trip: Day 2.5 – Avocado Trees, Fairy Gardens, Wineries and Family Dinner

The true test for many plants in my humble opinion are how they perform during extremes.  If a plant looks great in the blistering heat of summer as well as when temps dip below freezing in winter, than it deserves a prime spot in the landscape.

Cold and Heat Tolerant Plants, Pink Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)

Pink Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)

Thankfully, there are quite a few drought tolerant, flowering plants that do well with both the heat and cold for those of us who want a beautiful, fuss-free landscape filled with colorful plants.

I shared 10 of my favorite cold and heat tolerant, flowering plants in my latest article for Houzz.  

Hopefully, you will find some new favorites to try in your own garden.

 
 
 

I love flowers.  In fact, it was my love affair with flowers that inspired me to get my degree in horticulture.  I figured that life is too short to not do what you love, so working as a horticulturist allows me to be around blooming plants throughout much of the year.

As the weather begins to cool, blossoms begin to lessen, but one of the many benefits of living in the Southwest is that there are always some plants showing off their flowers.

Today, I’d like to share with you just a few of the flowering plants that I saw during the past couple of weeks, which are decorating the fall landscape.

Pink Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla) flowers in spring and fall, is extremely drought tolerant, thrives in full sun and is hardy to 10 degrees F. Still in bloom in November

Pink Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla) flowers in spring and fall, is extremely drought tolerant, thrives in full sun and is hardy to 10 degrees F.

Creeping Indigo Bush (Dalea greggii) is a groundcover, which flowers in spring and fall, is drought tolerant, thrives in full sun and is hardy to 10 degrees F. Still in bloom in November

Creeping Indigo Bush (Dalea greggii) is a groundcover, which flowers in spring and fall, is drought tolerant, thrives in full sun and is hardy to 10 degrees F.

The Cascalote tree (Caesalpinia cacalaco) flowers in fall and on into early winter, is drought tolerant, thrives in full sun and is hardy to 20 degrees F.  While thorny, there is a new variety with a smooth trunk, called 'Smoothie'.  Still in bloom in November

The Cascalote tree (Caesalpinia cacalaco) flowers in fall and on into early winter, is drought tolerant, thrives in full sun and is hardy to 20 degrees F.  While thorny, there is a new variety with a smooth trunk, called ‘Smoothie’.

 Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is an ornamental grass that flowers in fall, is drought tolerant, thrives in full sun to filtered shade and is hardy to 0 degrees F. Still in bloom in November

Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is an ornamental grass that flowers in fall, is drought tolerant, thrives in full sun to filtered shade and is hardy to 0 degrees F.

Blue Bells (Eremophila hygrophana) flowers all year long, is drought tolerant, thrives in full sun to filtered shade and is hardy to 17 degrees F. Still in bloom in November

Blue Bells (Eremophila hygrophana) flowers all year long, is drought tolerant, thrives in full sun to filtered shade and is hardy to 17 degrees F. Still in bloom in November

These are but a few plants that are still in bloom in November in my zone 9 climate.

How about you?  What is blooming in your garden or neighborhood?

A Beautiful Centerpiece for November’s MGB

It may seem rather strange to think of landscapes decorated with lilies in fall, but summer and fall rain bring on the lovely blooms of rain lilies (Zephyranthes species).

lilies add beauty to the gardens

Rain or ‘zephyr’ lilies add beauty to the gardens throughout the Southern half of the U.S., including the Southwest.  While their apperance may make you think that they are delicate and needs lots of coddling, nothing could be further from the truth.

lilies in fall

Like other types of lilies, they are grown from bulbs planted in fall and are surprisingly, moderately drought tolerant.

lilies in fall

The white species (Zephyranthes candida) is my favorite and has evergreen foliage.  There are other species and hybrids in colors such as pink and peach.

Rain lilies deserve a greater presence in the landscape, given their delicate beauty that adds welcome interest to the garden.  They are also easy to grow.

For more information on this delightful plant, including the different species and how to plant and grow your own this fall, check out my latest plant profile for Houzz.

 
 

 

 

 

What’s Happening In My Fall Garden…

The beginning of fall is only a few weeks away as the long summer winds down.  Fall is a wonderful time in the garden and is the best time of year for adding new plants, allowing them a chance to grow before the heat of next summer arrives.

Fall Blooms for the Southwest Garden

Turpentine bush (Ericameria laricifolia) in bloom

When deciding what plants to add to your garden, many people concentrate on incorporating plants that bloom in spring and summer, but there are a number of attractive plants that bloom in fall.

Pink muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

Fall Blooms, Pink muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

Using plants with overlapping bloom periods ensure year-round beauty for your landscape.

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Many plants that flower in fall also flower at other times of year as well such as damianita(Chrysactinia mexicana), Mexican honeysuckle(Justicia spicigera) and autumn sage(Salvia greggii).

Early October is a great time to start adding new plants, so now is a great time to decide what type of fall-blooming plants to add.

I recently shared 10 of my favorite, drought tolerant fall bloomers in my latest article for Houzz.  I hope you’ll include some of these in your landscape where they will help to decorate your fall landscape.

 

Do you have a favorite fall-blooming plant?

What to Do In The Southwest Garden – September

Have you ever found yourself driving through a neighborhood past landscapes planted with the commonly planted lantana and oleander shrubs when you see something completely different that catches your attention?

A few weeks ago, I was leaving a client’s home in North Phoenix and started on my way home, when I drove past this beautiful, drought tolerant landscape.  

Great Landscape Design: Drought Tolerant and Beautiful!

Beautiful drought tolerant landscape.

The corner of the landscape was anchored by an ocotillo whose graceful canes added needed height to the landscape.

Palo brea trees add year round green color and yellow flowers are so set appear later in spring.

Globe mallow(Sphaeralcea ambigua) adds a welcome spot of orange in late winter and into spring and will bloom again in fall.

Cacti and agave add great texture contrast with their unique shapes. The Argentine giant cactus(Echinopsis candicans) willproduce large, lily-like flowers in spring.  

americana, lophantha and victoria-reginae

Beautiful drought tolerant landscape.

Several species of agave have been used throughout the landscape including Agave species americana, lophantha and victoria-reginae.  With so much variety in the color and sizes available in agaves, there is one for almost any landscape situation.

Several different cacti are tucked in here and there leading one to want to walk around and discover what else is growing in the garden.

The thin, upright succulent stems of candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica) add great texture contrast when planted next to succulents and cacti with thicker leaves/stems.

The main planting area in the center is on a slightly elevated area, which offers a glimpse of the plants located toward the back. Landscape design that creates areas that artfully take center stage and then recede into the background as you walk through, which creates intrigue and heightens the desire to see what else is present in the garden.

drought tolerant landscape

Aloes, which do best in light shade, are scattered throughout the landscape, which add color in late winter into spring.

In the background, the orange, tubular flowers Mexican honeysuckle(Justicia spicigera) attracts hummingbirds all year long.

Variegated agave americana adds great color contrast with their bi-colored leaves while Indian fig prickly pear(Opuntia ficus-indica) adds height in the background.  

Golden barrel cacti (Echinocactus grusonii)

  I love this unusual pathway that zig-zags through the landscape.  Golden barrel cacti (Echinocactus grusonii)are used to greatest effect by grouping them in 3’s.

Large boulders finish the landscape adding mass and texture while not needing any pruning or water.

It’s important to note that large boulders like this may need heavy equipment to place. If you want to avoid the hassle and expense of using heavy equipment, you can place 2 medium-sized boulders next to each other for a similar effect.

There are several things that I enjoyed so much about this landscape.  One is how they used a large amount of different plant species without it looking ‘busy’.  Also, instead of laying out the entire landscape where you can see everything from the street, this one leads you on a path of discovery when you are treated to glimpses at what is located further in.

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

This past week was event filled along with some rather unexpected occurrences for me.  One was that for the first time since early January, my calendar was quite suddenly empty.  I had several landscape consultations scheduled that were cancelled at the last minute by clients and rescheduled for various reasons including a flooded house to a puppy eating a cigar.

It was rather disconcerting to go from trying to keep my head above water to having the gift of extra time on my hands, but I enjoyed it and got some gardening articles finished ahead of looming deadlines.  

granddaughter, Lily

Last week was also a big milestone for my husband who turned 50.  We celebrated throughout the week, but one of our favorite outings was breakfast at Joe’s Farm & Grill with our granddaughter, Lily.

On a sad note, our friend, neighbor and vet passed away unexpectedly on Friday.  He had treated the furry members of our family for 18 years with love and respect.  We were also blessed to have been his neighbor for over 15 years.

We will miss his loving care for our animals, seeing him and his wife walk their dogs in the evening and even the lemons he would leave at our door.

After hearing the shocking news of his death, I had a hard time focusing on anything else this weekend and even writing took a backseat – hence the lack of blog posts.  But, it was a blessing to be able to set work aside for few days and let the loss sink in.

My schedule is now filled up again with appointments and the desert is awash in spring color, which is a busy time in the garden.

I hope your week is off to a good start.  

10 Tips for Drought Tolerant Gardening