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Sometimes, one area that many homeowners struggle with is what to plant in their side yards. It can be an awkward place with little sun and not much room for plants to grow. Most of these narrow spaces along the side of our home are little more than “yards,” but there is potential to turn them into “gardens.” On a visit to a client’s house, I saw a great example of this, where the homeowner had created side gardens.

 
First, her first side garden was planted with upright Bougainvillea shrubs against the wall with Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) planted in between. I liked the symmetry of the alternating plants and how they covered the wall so well – I’m not a fan of a view of a bare wall outside my window.

Most of the time the star jasmine produces small white fragrant flowers in spring, and the bougainvillea produces vibrant blooms spring through fall. Also it’s neat about this plant combination is that the base of the wall in a narrow side garden rarely gets much sun, and star jasmine does well in the shade. After all, bougainvillea does best in sunny spots, and the top part of them gets just enough sun to promote blooms.

 
 
In the other side of the garden, Yellow oleander (Thevetia peruviana) trees grew along the wall toward the back and ‘Orange Jubilee’ (Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’) shrubs covered the wall closer up creating a lush green backdrop.

I did make two suggestions in regards to this side garden. Remove the ‘Orange Jubilee’ shrubs growing in-between the yellow oleander trees. Right now, they make that area look overcrowded, and you cannot see the beauty and symmetry of the tree trunks against the wall.

Also, If you never see your side garden or it serves as your utility area, understandably, you may not want to spend time and money on adding plants. However, I do recommend focusing on placing plants directly across from any windows that face into that area, because who wants to look out onto a bare wall?

What do you have growing in your side garden?  

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Do you ever find yourself wishing that you had flowers to give to a friend or to decorate your table?


Instead of heading out to the store for a generic bouquet, how about creating a lovely bouquet straight from your garden?


Now before you say that you don’t have any flowers suitable for a bouquet, think again.  


Here are several bouquets from my garden and a few from the family farm….


Isn’t this a lovely arrangement?

Believe it or not, the flowers in these vases all came from plants that many of you probably have in your own garden.

My mother created this arrangement using gold lantana (Lantana ‘New Gold Mound’), orange jubilee (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee) and Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) flowers.  As you can see, it is beautiful, didn’t cost her anything and took minutes to create.


This is a bouquet that I created using flowers from my late winter garden.  Pink and white globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) coupled with Goodding’s verbena (Glandularia gooddingii) are a vision of pinks and purples.


I used a small pitcher to put cuttings of purple trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis), angelita daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) and flowers from my cascalote tree (Caesalpinia cacalaco).


This antique milk of magnesia glass jar makes the perfect vase for sweet white alyssum (Lobularia maritima) , purple violas and pink bower vine (Pandorea jasminoides) flowers.


Flowers aren’t the only thing from the garden that you can use to create a bouquet with.  

A mason jar filled with cut branches from a kumquat tree looks lovely on this table in winter.


Maybe your winter garden has no flowers.  Well, don’t let that stop you.  A small vase filled with seedpods and dried leaves from a Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) looks great on my mother’s diningroom table.


Perhaps you’ve never thought that petunias could look be used in a vase.  But, if you use a small, shallow bowl, they can add a beautiful spot of color on your table.


Of course, roses always make a lovely bouquet.

Bouquets created from items in your garden are a great way to add a personal touch of beauty to your space.

So, are you inspired to create your own unique garden bouquet?  Step outside in your garden and take a new look at your plants – you’ll probably be surprised at how many would look nice in a vase.

**How about you?  What plants would you use to create a bouquet with?

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.


*This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.*

Last week, as I walked out into the back garden, I noticed something that didn’t look right with my a few of my yellow bell shrubs (Tecoma stans stans)

The photo, above, shows how they should normally look, however, last week, they looked like this….

Definitely not normal looking and manyM of the outer leaves were skeletonized, and it got worse. All four of my yellow bell shrubs had the same symptoms.  So, did my orange jubilee shrubs, which are closely related.

To be honest, I was a bit stunned to see the damage.  You see, I had grown these beautiful shrubs for over 14 years and have never seen this before – not even in landscapes I managed or when consulting.

What was interesting is that other shrubs right next to my yellow bells and orange jubilee weren’t in the least bit affected. So, what is eating my leaves?

I looked at the symptoms – the skeletonized leaves, the fact that many of my leaves were ‘rolled’ and little black dots (insect poop) told me that my shrubs were suffering from ‘leaf rollers,’ which are tiny caterpillars that roll the leaf around them while they eat.  It is hard to spot the caterpillars themselves, but the damage they cause, usually makes it easy to diagnose.

Now that I noticed my yellow bells and orange jubilee shrubs being affected – I have noticed these same shrubs being affected in my neighborhood, along freeways and other areas.  I don’t know why leaf rollers are affecting these shrubs all of a sudden after all these years.  I suspect it is the higher than normal rainfall we experienced this summer, but I don’t know for certain.

Regardless of why leaf rollers are affecting these beautiful shrubs – there are ways to get rid of them. Here are a few different options:

1. Prune off the affected growth and dispose of the leave in the trash can (not in your compost pile).  

2. Treat your shrub using a biological pesticide that contains BT (Bacillus thuringiensis),  which is ingested by the caterpillars.  BT basically ‘eats’ its way from the caterpillar’s stomach outward. I use Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 oz.

3. You can use an insecticide spray to kill the leaf rollers.

4. Lastly, there are systemic insecticides that are applied around the plant and are taken up by the roots – but, their use can lead to the build-up of resistant insects and can have other negative environmental effects.

**Whenever using any pesticide – follow directions carefully. For my shrubs, I will prune back the damaged growth and not apply pesticides. However, if the leaf rollers continue to attack, then I may decide to use a product with BT.

So, if you have yellow bells or orange jubilee shrubs – check them to see if they are being affected by leaf rollers.


**If your bougainvillea leaves are showing signs of being chewed – they may have been visited by ‘bougainvillea looper caterpillars.’  For more information on how to recognize and treat these caterpillars, click here.
Thankfully, the rest of my garden is looking healthy 🙂

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 🙂
I didn’t post a blog on Friday, but I had a very good excuse…
Frost-damaged Bougainvillea
It was time for my springtime annual pruning.
In my zone 9a garden, we do experience temperatures below freezing and as a result, some of my frost-tender plants always suffer some frost damage.
The best time to do this is once the danger of frost is over, which in my area is approximately March 1st.
Arizona Yellow Bells with frost damage.
I really don’t mind, because they look beautiful 9 months out of the year.
‘Rio Bravo’ Sage needing a trim.
This past Friday, I had no consults, the kids were at school and I wasn’t scheduled to babysit my granddaughter.
So, I put on my old gardening clothes, boots and gloves and headed out into my back garden.
Tobey came out to supervise.
My Bermuda grass is still dormant, but once nighttime temperatures stay above 55 degrees, it will start to green up fast.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, in the upper sixties.  I started first on my Orange Jubilee shrub and then moved on to my ‘Rio Bravo’ Texas Sage shrubs.
 
Every  2 – 3 years, I prune back my ‘Rio Bravo’ severely, which rejuvenates them.  Old wood doesn’t produce as much leaves or flowers and eventually dies.  Severe renewal pruning stimulates new growth and helps keep your shrubs from becoming too large.
To say that I am a bit passionate about pruning flowering shrubs the right way, is an understatement.
You can read more if you like in my previous post….
 I spent three hours pruning 10 large shrubs.  It was so nice to experience the outdoors with nothing to listen to except for the breeze and the birds.
There is something so satisfying about surveying how much work you have accomplished after you have finished pruning.
Of course, after I finished, I went inside and took 2 ibuprofen for my sore back.
I think I will let my husband put my pruned branches in the trash can 😉
How about you?  Are you ready to prune yet?