As summer begins to slowly fade and the heat begins to dissipate, the Southwestern garden comes alive.
Plants perk up in the absence of 100+ degree temperatures and people begin to venture outdoors (without their hats!) to enjoy their beautiful surroundings.
When people talk about their favorite season, many will tell you that spring is the time that they enjoy the most as their gardens come alive, spring forth with new green growth and colorful blooms.
Sky Flower (Duranta erecta)
While spring is a glorious time in the desert landscape with winter blooms overlapping with spring flowering plants along with cactus flowers – it isn’t the only ‘spring’ that the desert experiences.
Fall is often referred to as the “second spring” in the desert southwest as plants take on a refreshed appearance due to the cooler temperatures with many still producing flowers. Many birds, butterflies and other wildlife reappear during the daytime hours in autumn.
Desert residents often find themselves making excuses to spend more time outdoors whether it’s taking a longer walk or bringing their laptop outdoors where they can enjoy the comfortable temperatures and surrounding beauty of the landscape.
Fall is also a time where we take a look around our own garden setting and decide to make some changes whether it is taking out thirsty, old plants replacing them with attractive, drought tolerant plants or creating an outdoor room by expanding a patio or perhaps adding a pergola.
Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus v. wrightii)
No matter what garden region you live in – fall is the best time of year to add new plants to the landscape as it provides plants with three seasons in which to grow a good root system before the heat of the next summer arrives.
**Thinking of making some changes to your landscape? Click herefor a list my favorite drought tolerant plants that provide fall blooms.
https://www.azplantlady.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Artist_Garden_Phoenix_Southwest_264Sep92C20152C9-36AM.email@example.com://firstname.lastname@example.org 16:45:002022-09-11 06:44:29Celebrating “Second Spring” in the Southwest Garden
I have had a love affair with roses for over 26 years.
It all began when we bought our first house. I was a young mother with two girls who was giddy with the possibilities of having her very own spot of garden to grow roses in.
We would take our girls around to the local rose gardens where so could see what types of roses to pick for our new rose garden.
The rose garden was located in the front yard along the side of the driveway. At the time, money was tight so we ended up purchasing twenty different ‘grade 1 1/2’ roses for $3 each at Home Depot.
‘Grade 1’ roses are considered to be the cream of the crop and the best type to purchase based on the their size and number of canes (stems).
A few months later, my roses were in full bloom and the talk of the neighborhood (we definitely stuck out from the surrounding neighbors since we had taken out a large chunk of lawn to grow a LOT of roses).
Many people ask if I had a favorite hybrid tea rose and the answer is “yes”. Mr. Lincoln with its deep red blossoms which were incredibly fragrant always stands out in my memory of our first rose garden. At one time, it reached almost 6 ft. tall and had over 30 blossoms covering it.
Three years later, I had gone from 20 rose bushes to 40 – all a different type of hybrid tea or shrub rose. I realize that I maybe went a little overboard, but I loved growing roses – no two roses were the same.
Whenever we were traveling, if there was a rose garden nearby – we would visit it…
The rose garden at Kilkenny Castle in Ireland.
That’s me posing by the roses and the castle in 2003.
Santa Barbara Mission rose garden in California
After we sold our home in Phoenix, we moved out to the suburbs to be closer to my husband’s job. As we built our new home, I knew that I did want room for a few roses.
After adopting our three youngest kids, I was eager to share my love for roses with them. They each picked out their own rose from a rose catalog and helped plant them. It was a fun experience, complete with finding earthworms in the soil and more.
While their roses did grow, they didn’t have the best location, which was rather shady and so they turned out rather straggly. Needless to say, they were pulled out a couple of years later.
Even though I didn’t have roses growing in my garden, I still went out of my way to enjoy them whenever I found myself on the road.
International Rose Test Garden in Portland, Oregon in 2015.
Stopping to smell the roses in Santa Barbara, CA in 2016.
A few years ago, I realized that my love affair with roses never ended and that it was time to think seriously about growing a few again.
Surprisingly, not a single one is a hybrid tea rose. In fact, all are David Austin shrub roses.
Shrub roses are easier to grow, more resistant to disease and insect pests and smell amazing!
One of the cool aspects of being a local garden expert is the the folks at David Austin send me free roses to test in my garden. In return, I tell them how they do in the desert climate and share my findings with you too!
My favorites for the desert garden are ‘Ancient Mariner’, ‘Darcey Bussell’, ‘Lady of Sharlott” and ‘Olivia Rose’. All of these are available through mail order via this link.
I am so happy that I have returned to growing the plant that inspired my passion for gardening years ago.
Winter is the best time to add new bare root roses to the desert garden. I invite you to consider adding some to your garden.
**Have you ever grown roses? Do you have a favorite type? If you find yourself overwhelmed by the different types of roses there are to pick from, I have written an article for Houzz, which looks closer at several of the most popular roses in order to help people select the best type of rose for their garden.
https://www.azplantlady.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/William_Shakespeare_rose_sign.email@example.com://firstname.lastname@example.org 01:10:002022-09-17 02:38:18My Love Affair With Roses: Looking Forward and Back
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.
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 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.
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.
Use Hop Bush in the same ways as oleanders to provide a nice green hedge or privacy screen.
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 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?
https://www.azplantlady.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/oleander_hedge_Arizona.email@example.com://firstname.lastname@example.org 12:30:002022-09-18 03:24:09Hop Bush: The Alternative to Oleanders
Fall Blooming Shrubs, 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)
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.
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?
https://www.azplantlady.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Los_Angeles_Arboretum_Salvia_leucanthaemail@example.com://firstname.lastname@example.org 06:45:492022-10-09 01:58:46Fall-Blooming Shrubs for Cool Color
https://email@example.com://firstname.lastname@example.org 03:12:002022-10-09 02:09:55Video: Fall Gardening Tasks for the Southwest Garden
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).
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.
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.
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.”
https://www.azplantlady.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Dodonaea_viscosa_hedge_Hopbush.email@example.com://firstname.lastname@example.org 13:30:002022-10-15 04:52:07An Attractive, Drought-Tolerant Hedge for Southwestern Gardens: Hop Bush
I’ve grown penstemon for years and recently planted a Parry’s penstemon in my front yard. I enjoyed seeing its pink blossoms waving in the breeze and the hummingbirds who stopped by for a drink of nectar.
The individual flowers began to fall, leaving only a few behind, which is the best time to prune the flowering stalks back.
If you wait too long, the chances are that you will lose your window of stimulating your penstemon to produce more flowers. It’s best to do this when there are a couple of blossoms left on the plant.
This is what my young penstemon looks like right now, but within a couple of weeks, new flowering spikes will begin growing.
The reason that pruning off the first set of flowers stimulates a second bloom period is that the penstemon’s goal is to produce seeds. To do that, they produce flowers to attract pollinators and once pollinated, the flowers drop and the seed develops. However, when by pruning off the flowering spikes when there are a few flowers left, we disrupt the cycle and the plant will produce another set of flowers for the purpose of producing seeds.
Photo: Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
Doing so will promote a second bloom for several penstemon species including firecracker penstemon(Penstemon eatonii) and Parry’s penstemon(Penstemon parryi).
https://www.azplantlady.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Parry27s_penstemon_parryi.email@example.com://firstname.lastname@example.org 19:26:002022-10-16 04:22:48Timely Pruning Produces Second Round of Flowers
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.
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.
Fall Blooms, Pink muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
Using plants with overlapping bloom periods ensure year-round beauty for your landscape.
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.
https://www.azplantlady.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Fall_Southwest_Landscape_Turpentine_Bush.email@example.com://firstname.lastname@example.org 13:30:002020-12-31 11:06:39Fall Blooms for the Southwest Garden