Posts

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Most of us are familiar with the idea of using ground covers in the landscape and how they can add a welcome carpet of color.  

Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii)

But, you may be surprised to find that they serve another purpose that is especially appreciated in hot climates.  Ground covers help to reduce the heat from the sun.  They do this by preventing the sun from heating up the ground that they cover.  When the ground heats up, it absorbs heat only to re-radiate it outward.  So, using ground covers is just one way to help cool down the landscape by a degree or two. 

I recently shared my favorite 10 native Southwestern ground covers in my latest article for Houzz.
What is your favorite ground cover? 

Some daughter-in-law’s don’t have much in common with their father-in-law. 

In my case, when I married my husband 25 years ago, I wasn’t sure if I would have any shared interests with my father-in-law…..he was a dentist (I was deathly afraid of dentists), he ran 3 miles a day (I got a ‘stitch’ in my side if I tried running to the corner), he was very orderly and meticulous (I am neither of those things) and he was soft spoken (while I can be a bit loud).

I knew he loved me and I him, but sometimes conversation would lag because besides the kids and family, there wasn’t much else to talk about.

That is until I started to become interested in plants and landscaping.  You see, my father-in-law always had well-designed landscapes filled with beautiful plants.  As I decided to pursue a degree in Urban Horticulture, he was very supportive.

Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingi)      
Even better, we now had lots to talk about.  Our visits would often include visits into each others garden.
I would show him my newest plant acquisition and he would in turn, ask me questions about a few of his plant problems.
Red Yucca  (Hesperaloe parviflora)
 
A few years later, he and my mother-in-law made the trip up to my newest job location, took me out to lunch and asked me to show them around the landscape areas I was in charge of.

Blackfoot Daisy  (Melampodium leucanthum)

 When he retired, he asked me to design the landscape for their new home.  He had some ideas of what he wanted and then let me go at it.
Damianita  (Chrysactinia mexicana)
 I enjoyed working closely with him, in coming up with a design and the plants that he liked.

Purple Prickly Pear  (Opuntia violaceae)

While I enjoyed visiting and seeing his landscape mature, I didn’t always agree with the way he like to prune his shrubs…


 His style gardening was orderly and meticulous, like he was.
We would sometimes tease each other because our styles were vastly different.

‘Torch Glow’ Bougainvillea

But no matter our landscaping styles, we still enjoyed going out into the garden together. 

Last October, my father-in-law was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).  

Phoenix Bird-of-Paradise  (Caesalpinia pulcherrima ‘Phoenix’)

In a very short time, he was robbed of the ability to speak, swallow, eat and the use of his hands.
Now, unable to work in his garden himself, he had to rely on others.
I considered it a privilege to help him where I could.

‘Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’)

He endured this horrible disease with dignity, a sense of humor and through his faith.

Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marginatus)

This past Saturday, after 2 weeks in hospice care, he passed away.

We were all blessed to be by his side as he took his last, labored breath.

One of the last things he wrote was,

“My race is almost over.”


**********************
 I think it will be awhile before I can step into his garden without shedding tears.  
I will miss sharing our love for plants together…..

This past spring, I was pleasantly surprised to find some previously lost plants growing again in my front garden.  How did I lose them in the first place?  Well, when I first designed and planted our garden, over 10 years ago, I included quite a few different flowering perennials.  Like many flowering perennials, they were short-lived and I did not replace all of them.  I don’t really have a good reason for not replacing them, but at the time, I was busy managing other gardens and landscapes and did not have the energy to focus on my own….sad wasn’t it?

Well, here is how I found my plants……last winter and spring, we received much more rainfall then usual.  In late March, I was checking around the garden for weeds when I saw some tiny leaves starting to poke their way through.  I looked closely at them before ripping them out and discovered that they were the offspring from my original plants.

Paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi)
Paperflower was the first of my lost perennials to return.  The seeds from my original plants had laid dormant for 8 years until the copious rainfall caused them to germinate.  I love this little plant with its gray-green leaves but the coolest thing is that as the flowers die, they become papery in texture.  You can see the spent flowers above towards the right lower corner.  
This plant makes a great groundcover and has bloomed for me spring through fall.
  Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii)
Although I have grown many different types of Verbena, this one is my favorite.  I love the delicate, tiny purple flowers and the way the plant spreads out on the ground.  Definitely not a fussy plant, it will flower like crazy throughout the spring and off and on during the rest of the year. 
 
Like many flowering perennials, it is rather short-lived but does self-seed.  It looks fantastic when placed next to boulders.

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)
The last plant that has made it’s reappearance in my garden was my Desert Marigold.  This flowering perennial grows very well in the southwest and can be seen lining the roadways during the spring, especially when we have had sufficient rain.  It does very well in the residential landscape as well and is sometimes treated as an annual wildflower.
The sunny, yellow flowers can be seen off and on, year round.  They are very easy to grow from seed, but can be purchased in 1-gallon containers.  However, it has been my experience that my Desert Marigolds last longer when I grow them from seed, rather then transplant them from containers.  
I am so happy to have all of these plants back in my garden 🙂
Don’t you just love the feeling you get when you find something that you thought you had lost?

Today, I visited our local big box store to buy some summer annuals for my containers.  Each time I visit, I mentally prepare myself ahead of time because I usually get frustrated at the fact that they frequently sell the wrong plants for the wrong time of year.  I have posted about this before, which you can read here if you like.

In the meantime, I thought I would give you a pop-quiz.  I know, I know….no one likes pop quizzes.  In high school, those words would create a sinking feeling in my stomach every time.  But I promise, I will give you the answers and I am an easy grader 😉
 
The following are flowers that were offered for sale today.   Some are summer annuals for our area and some are winter annuals, which will soon die from the coming summer heat.  Are you ready for the quiz?  There are two possible answers for each question – summer or winter flower. 
 Petunias
Winter or Summer Annual?
  
Celosia
 Winter or Summer Flowers?
 
Vinca
Winter or Summer?
 
Lobelia
Winter or Summer Annual?
 
 
Verbena
Winter or Summer Flowers?
 
Alyssum
Winter or Summer?
 
 
Impatiens
Winter or Summer Annual?
 
Red Salvia
Winter or Summer?
 
Begonia
Winter or Summer Flower?
 
Portulaca
Winter or Summer Annual?
 
I told you I would give you the answers, so here they are:
 
Petunias – Winter
Celosia – Summer
Vinca – Summer
Lobelia – Winter
Verbena – Summer
Alyssum – Winter
Impatiens – Winter
Red Salvia – Summer
Begonia – Winter
Portulaca – Summer
 
How did you do?  It is not easy to tell looking at the flowers which one will do well in summer and which ones do best in winter. 
 
I do go to big box stores and buy plants because they are usually inexpensive.  BUT, I DO NOT rely on their advice or the fact that if they are carrying certain plants, that they are appropriate to plant at that time of year.  Shopping at big box store nurseries only works if you do your research ahead of time.  Just because they have a plant on display does not mean that it will survive for long in your garden.
For example, the big box store had winter and summer annual flowers displayed right next to each other (above).  There was no way to know that the one on the right would survive the summer and that the one on the left would soon be dead from the summer heat.
 
If you are uncertain about what plants to purchase, then I recommend doing your own research OR going to a local nursery, where you may pay a little more, but you can receive expert advice on the right type of plant to plant the right time of year.
 
I ended up buying two Radiation lantana for my front containers.  Lantana are great summer flowers and I then transplant them into my garden in the fall.
 
**Butterfly update – the caterpillars are still within their chrysalis.  I am hoping they emerge early next week.  I have had to bring them indoors the past two nights because the temperatures have dropped below 55 degrees.  I will keep you updated 🙂
 
I hope you all have a great weekend!
Welcome to my first Fertilizer Friday.  On this day, I am so excited to get to show you what is flowering out in my garden.
 
We have had unusually cool weather these past few days and some rain.  In the desert, we almost always welcome the rain, which will soon be gone for a few months until the summer rains begin.

 Pink Beauty (Eremophila laanii)


 Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans)

Even though the flowers are not red or purple, the hummingbirds love to visit the yellow flowers of my Yellow Bells.
 
 Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)

I have had to prune back most of my Firecracker Penstemon a week ago, but should get a second flush of bloom soon.  This flower is one of the few that I have peeking out.
 
Pink Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides)
I have two Pink Bower Vines that line either side of the entry to my house.  They bloom most of the year, but slow down somewhat during the heat of the summer.
  
Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddinggii)
My Verbena has been blooming nonstop for two months.  She has been kind enough to have self seeded in order to give me two new plants as well.
  
 Bougainvillea
My Bougainvillea are beginning to produce their colorful brachts again.  The actual flower of the Bougainvillea is not the colorful outer leaves (brachts), but actually the tiny cream colored flower in the center.
My last contribution to my first Fertilizer Friday is the first few flowers of my Orange Jubilee shrub.  I love how tall this shrub grows, it’s lush green foliage and of course the pretty orange flowers.
 
 Orange Jubilee (Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’)

I have enjoyed participating in my first Fertilizer Friday, which is the creation of Tootsie Time.  Please visit her to see what is blooming in other gardens today.
**By the way….my youngest daughter has a surprise that she would like to share with you all tomorrow.  It is kind of gross right now, but will end up just beautiful in the end. 

I am so happy it is Friday!
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…..