Posts

I like to use plants in my garden that add a lot of color and the drought tolerant and beautiful, sandpaper verbena certainly doesn’t disappoint.



Its blossoms are a vibrant, deep purple that carpets the ground in a mass of glorious color spring through fall.


The deep green leaves add a visually cooling element to the landscape as well.


Butterflies find the flowers irresistible too.  


See where this colorful ground cover gets its name and why you’ll want to include it in your drought tolerant garden where it will add beauty to your outdoor space in my latest plant profile for Houzz.com



Have you ever had your day take a completely different turn than you anticipated?  Mine certainly did, and it all started with a discovery behind the lilac vine.


My day was off to a great start.  I didn’t have any appointments or looming writing deadlines.  Couple that with a weather forecast in the 70’s, I decided to spend a few hours working in the garden.

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae) back in February.
 
One of the things that I needed to do was to prune back my purple lilac vines now that they were finished flowering.  They just needed a little light pruning to keep them from growing into my new lemon tree.
 
While I was pruning the vines, my little dog, Tobey, was trying desperately to get underneath one of the vines.  I assumed that it was a lizard, but I couldn’t call him off.
 
 
Now, Tobey, is our little rescue dog who thinks that he is big and tough, but truth be told, he’s not.  But, when I had to carry him inside because he wouldn’t leave the vine alone, I suspected that there might be something else going on.
 
 
I slowly approached the vine and heard something growl.  Concerned that there may be an injured animal, I slowly parted the leaves, and a cat ran out and jumped over the fence.
 
At this point, I assumed that it was a feral cat and that the problem was solved. 
 
But, I heard some rustling sounds and thought that I could see some movement in the dark confines of the vine’s branches.  So, I ran inside to grab a flashlight so that I could see better.  The problem was, that while we had plenty of flashlights, all their batteries were dead.
So, I decided to use the flashlight on my cell phone to see what was making the sounds at the base of the vine.
 
I slowly parted the leaves and saw what looked like little rats.
 
 
But, closer examination showed them to be newly born kittens.
 
 
I could hardly believe it!
 
 
They were just darling, and I tried to count how many there were.  I think that there were four, but it might have been three.
 
 
I went back inside so the mama cat could come back.  She hopped to the top of the wall and waited to be sure that there weren’t any humans or dogs nearby before climbing down and disappearing into the vines.
 
 
So what will we do?  
 
I talked to my sister who has worked with feral cats in the past.  It turns out they are incredibly self-sufficient.  We’ll probably wait until the kittens are weaned and then trap the mother and get her spayed and then re-release her.
 
As for now, I need to break the news about the furry bundles behind the vines to my husband (who sleeps during the day) and the kids once they come home after school.  
 
 
In the meantime, the dogs have been banished to the side yard for the time being, much to their dismay…
 

Yesterday, doing several errands, I was driving through the parking lot of our local Walmart when I saw a sight that stopped me dead in my tracks.


Now, normally parking lots are prime examples of bad landscape practices with over-planted and excessively pruned shrubs.  But, what I saw was truly breathtaking.

Blue Hibiscus shrub Alyogyne heugllii
This fuss-free, shrub was awash with large, purple blossoms.   The color was so vibrant and it added a lot of needed color to the parking lot island.

So, do you know what type of shrub this is?


I’ll give you a few hints:

– It is native to Australia.

– It is drought tolerant and thrives in the low desert.

– It grows best in full sun and blooms in spring and occasionally throughout the summer.


This is a blue hibiscus shrub (Alyogyne huegelii). 

This shrub grows fairly large, growing 6 – 8 ft. tall and wide.


While I have only seen it in purple & dark purple, it is also found in pink and white.  
What really stood out to me about this shrub is not just its beauty, but the fact that it was thriving in an area where many plants struggle in the hot, reflected heat of a parking lot island.

**How about you?  Have you ever seen this shrub before or grown it in your landscape?  Please share your experience with this purple-flowering beauty.
At first glance, violet silverleaf (Leucophyllum candid) may look like a nice gray shrub with a smattering of purple flowers.

BUT, when you crank up the humidity and add some summer rain into the mix and it really explodes with color…


These shrubs literally stop people in their tracks with their purple beauty.

Violet silverleaf is easy to grow in arid climates and when not in flower, its gray foliage provides great color contrast in the landscape.

Find out more about this Texas native and why you’ll want to include it in your garden in my lates plant profile for Houzz.com:


Have you ever seen this shrub growing?  Do you have one in your landscape?

Are you familiar with Texas sage, also referred to as Texas ranger?

 
If you live in the Southwest, you have undoubtedly seen these beautiful shrubs.
 
Believe it or not, these purple flowering beauties are a fuss-free plant.  
 
Unfortunately, some people over prune them…
 
 
The one on the left has been pruned into a ‘ball’ while the one on the right hasn’t been pruned as severely.
 
Want to learn more about this native shrub and how to care for it properly?  Check out my latest plant profile for Houzz.com

Do you have a list of favorite plants for your Southwestern garden?


I do.


Today, I’d like to share with you about one of my favorite shrubs, desert ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis).


It has beautiful, light-green foliage and purple flowers that appear off an on throughout the year, with the heaviest bloom occurring in spring.

Unlike its cousin (Ruellia brittoniana), desert ruellia does not take over the garden space.  

It needs little maintenance, and looks great with a variety of other flowering plants.

For more information on where this lovely shrub grows, how to plant it and how to use it in the landscape, check out my latest plant profile for Houzz.com

To see my other plant profiles for Houzz, click here.

A few years ago, while visiting my sister in the Palm Springs area in California, we visited the Living Desert Museum.  This is a combination botanical garden and zoo.



We had a great time exploring along with our kids and I enjoyed taking pictures of the different plants that I saw.


While walking through the gardens, I noticed a small shrub, which at first glance, I assumed was a small species of Leucophyllum (Texas Sage).




I took a quick photo and then walked on.

Fast forward 2 years later, where I found myself learning about a newer plant on the market that thrives in desert heat, is drought-tolerant, flowers all year and needs little to no pruning.

Now any plant that looks great but isn’t fussy in desert gardens is one that I definitely need to get to know better.  

I found out that this particular shrub was supposed to look a lot like a gray Texas sage.  That was when I remembered taking the photo, above.

I was thrilled to find out that I had been introduced to this plant earlier, but hadn’t known it.

There is so much that I can say about Blue Bells (Eremophila hygrophana ‘Blue Bells’) and I have written an article about this beautiful, yet tough shrub, which you can read in my latest Houzz plant profile…

Kitchen designs, bathroom designs, and more ∨

Hire residential landscape architects to help with all aspects of landscape design, from selecting or designing outdoor patio furniture, to siting a detached garage or deck.
A home remodeler or residential architect will see the potential in the architecture and building design of your home.

I strongly encourage you to be a trendsetter in your neighborhood by planting this lovely shrub in your garden!