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I am here to showcase a lesser-known plant for you to try in your garden.  

In winter, the garden can often look blah and colorless. But, it doesn’t have to be that way in the desert garden. There are many plants that bloom in winter.

And so, I am very excited to show you this lesser-known plant.  

Are you ready?  Drum roll please…

Isn’t it beautiful?
 
This Australian native is known by different common names with Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violacea) being commonly used in our area of the Southwest.  
 
It is not actually a lilac, but because we cannot grow lilacs in the low desert, this is a wonderful substitute.
 
 
My first experience in using Purple Lilac was over 20 years ago where I used it in a feature area on one of the golf courses I worked for.
Although traditionally, used as a vine, I used it as a ground cover and believe it or not, it did beautifully.  
One of the best attributes of this vine is that it blooms during the month of February in our zone 9 gardens.  
Now be honest, there is not much going on in your garden in winter, is there? Wouldn’t it be great to have gorgeous purple flowers blooming when little else is?
Here are more reasons to try out this vine in your garden:
  • It flowers in winter.
  • When not in flower, attractive leaves cover the vine year round.
  • Fairly low-maintenance.  Prune to control size if needed.  Supplemental fertilizer is usually not needed.
  • Requires a trellis or other support to grow upwards.
  • Hardy to zone 9.
Under normal winter temperatures, it doesn’t suffer frost damage.

It decorates a bare wall beautifully or can screen out an unattractive view.

   
When people ask me if I recommend a particular plant, I tell them that the highest recommendation that I can give is is if I have that plant growing in my garden.
You see, I do not have the patience to grow a plant that struggles and/or takes too much maintenance.  It also has to look beautiful most of the year.
So if you ask me if I truly like this vine, I answer by saying that I have four growing in my backyard 🙂
 
**One complaint that I have hear often is that it can be hard to find in your local nursery. Don’t worry, most nurseries normally have them in stock when they are in flower in winter.  

**It’s important to note that although the flowers look a bit like lilacs, they are not particularly fragrant. But, they are so beautiful, it’s hard not to care.