Posts

Leafy green plants make great window coverings

Leafy green plants make great window coverings

Do you have windows that face outward toward a view that you would rather not see?  Perhaps it is the view of the house next door or a bare wall, or maybe you need some protection from the sun. To solve this problem, have you ever considered using plants in place of curtains?

In my garden, I have east-facing windows, which heat the house early in the day. When our home was being built, I designed the landscape so that there were plants placed in front of those windows. 

Why would I put plants in front of these windows you may wonder? Well, I needed some sort of shelter from the sun, but I didn’t want curtains that would block my view of the garden, so I chose to add Mexican bird-of-paradiseThis yellow-flowering shrub can be pruned into a small tree, which is what I have done, which still allows me to view the garden beyond while providing some protection from the sun’s rays.

A few years ago, I was working with a client who was an interior designer who had employed this same strategy for adding beauty while shielding her windows from the sun. She had decided that instead of curtains for her windows, she wanted ‘natural, green’ window coverings.

This is the view from her living room where the lush green foliage from the ‘Orange Jubilee’ create interesting shadows inside and she can enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by beautiful plants, even while indoors.

To achieve this, she planted a row of ‘Orange Jubilee’ (Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’) shrubs in front of her windows.
Here is another example of using plants in place of curtains. A single hop bush shrub creates a lovely green screen that protects this west-facing window from the blistering afternoon sun.
Have you ever tried using plants instead of curtains?

One of my favorite things as a horticulturist and consultant is to help people discover the new plant introductions that they may have never heard of.


I like to tell them that they can be the first on their block with the latest plant that all their neighbors will want to add in their landscape.  

Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’

Many of you may be familiar with the large, orange-flowering shrub Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’ with its clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers.  Its long bloom period and up to 12-foot height makes it a favorite for screening out a block wall or unfavorable view.

While the flowers and lush foliage are a plus, Orange Jubilee is too large for many smaller areas, which is why this new shrub is one of my new favorites. 


This Tecoma hybrid has bi-color flowers and is affectionately named ‘Sparky’ after Arizona State University’s popular mascot.  This hybrid was created by a horticulturist and professor at ASU.


‘Sparky’ is about half the size of ‘Orange Jubilee,’ which makes it suitable smaller spaces.  It also has smaller leaves and a slightly more compact growth habit.

Both types of Tecoma have the same requirements – full sun and pruning away frost-damaged growth in March.  ‘Sparky’ is slightly more cold tender than ‘Orange Jubilee’.

While I have an ‘Orange Jubilee’ shrub screening the view of my A/C unit, I believe that I need to find a spot for a ‘Sparky’ shrub – especially since I’m an ASU alumni.  
For those of you U of A alumni, there isn’t any word of a red, white and blue hybrid yet – but, I’ll be sure to let you know if they create one 😉

**Would you consider adding a ‘Sparky’ Tecoma shrub to your garden?

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.

What has your winter been like?


Has it been unusually cold or warm?  If you live in the Southwest, you have undoubtedly experienced a warmer then normal winter.  


As a result, many plants that are usually dormant in winter, are green and blooming even though it is still technically February.


I started wearing sandals 2 weeks ago, but I still haven’t broken out my shorts yet.  


Last week, I showed you my edible garden, (also known as a kitchen garden), which is located on the side of our house.


Today, I wanted to show you a peek at what is happening in the back garden during this warm winter.


This is one part of the back garden.  

This was my first vegetable garden.  Because this garden is close to the house, I like to plant vegetables that are harvested frequently such as leaf lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.  

To the right, you can see my pink trumpet vine.  Behind is a hollyhock getting ready to flower.
Against the wall is purple lilac vine in full bloom and peeking through the slats of the fence are nasturtium leaves.



I have two large rose bushes and the ‘Abraham Darby’ rose bush has a few lovely blooms.  You may notice that this rose has a rather old-fashioned appearance.  This is one of many David Austin shrub roses.

After growing 40 hybrid tea roses in the garden of our first house, I have found that I like shrub roses.  They are easier to take care of (need less pruning) and are very fragrant.


The pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) growing up against the pillar of my patio has beautiful, pink flowers.  

Normally, it suffers some frost damage during the winter, but during this warm winter, I have had pink flowers all winter long.  The flowers normally show up in spring and fall and are truly stunning.

I went out into the garden and cut the flowers for a lovely bouquet yesterday.

This plant grows quickly and can be grown as either a vine or a sprawling shrub.


Another plant that usually shuts down for winter is coral fountain (Rusellia equisetiformis).  I love the arching branches of this perennial and its orange/red blossoms.


One plant that still looks like winter, is my bougainvillea.

A few days ago, I asked you on my facebook page if you love or hate bougainvillea.  I had an overwhelming response with most of you saying that you liked it.

I have two bougainvillea.  I used to have more, but while I love the beauty of bougainvillea, I don’t particularly like to prune them, so two words for me.


The blue sky is really the perfect backdrop for the orange, tubular flowers of orange jubilee (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee).  

For those who want a tall shrub that grows quickly, then orange jubilee is a great choice.

I recommend using it against a bare wall or to screen out pool equipment.

In fact, I visited a client who used orange jubilee as ‘green curtains‘ for her home.


Right now, my purple lilac vine (Hardenbergia violaceae) has taken center stage in the back garden.

Growing up my south-facing wall, they burst forth in a profusion of purple blooms every February and last into March.

The whiskey barrel planter is a holding area where I have planted my extra plants.  I’m not sure what I will do with it later.


In addition to growing purple lilac vine up walls, I also like to grow it as a groundcover too.  

*This vine is easy to find in nurseries in winter and spring, when they are in flower.  However, you can have a hard time finding it in summer and fall.  So if you want one, get it now.

Behind my purple lilac groundcover vine, I have red bird-of-paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) growing.  But,  because it is dormant in winter, it isn’t much to look at right now – but I’ll show you how lovely they are this summer.


Hollyhocks have a special place in my garden.  I love these old-fashioned flowers and their flowers are truly stunning in spring (they flower in the summer in cooler climates).

They self-seed and come up every year for me.  In a month, the flowers will start to burst forth and I can hardly wait.

The hollyhocks are located next to my smaller vegetable garden and receive enough water from the garden without me having to give them supplemental water.


Another old-fashioned favorite flower are nasturtiums.  These flowers have a place inside of all of my vegetable gardens.

Not only are they beautiful, nasturtiums also repel bad bugs from bothering my vegetables.  Another bonus is that their leaves and flowers are edible.

The bloom in late winter and through spring.  I let them dry up in summer before pulling them out.  They do drop some seeds, so I always have new ones coming up the next year in the garden.


I have several pots in front of my smaller vegetable garden.  In them, I plant a combination of vegetables and flowers, including bacopa, which trails over the edges of pots.


There are carrots and leaf lettuce growing in my second vegetable garden.

  I step outside into the garden whenever I need a few carrots for dinner and they taste so delicious.


In the same garden, I am growing celery for the first time.  I must say, that I am quite impressed at how well it is growing and can’t wait to taste it.

Last week, I mentioned showing you a part of my garden that I have NEVER shown anyone.

This is my side yard – NOT a garden…


This is the space where we store garden equipment, trash cans and our garden shed.  I also have my compost bin in this area.  

You can see only half of the side yard in this photo, but you aren’t missing anything by not seeing the rest.

Another purple lilac vine grows along the fence, which hides part of the side yard and a large ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde provides welcome shade.

Our second bougainvillea is located along the wall.  It is never watered and it has been 3 years since it has been pruned.  As you can see, it does just fine being ignored.

And so, I hope you have enjoyed peeking into parts of my back garden.  Of course, I haven’t shown it all to you – just the parts that are blooming.

In a few months, I will show the other areas when they are in bloom.

*******************

So, what is blooming in your garden this month?

Do you have a favorite winter/spring blooming plant?


Summertime temperatures bring a riot of color to my desert garden and my plants are growing larger and larger.  The combination of warm (okay, hot) temperatures and summer rains means that my garden is going crazy with growth and blooms.

As I walked around the garden taking pictures, I came away with photos of a large number of yellow flowering plants, some recent transplants, and a couple of plants who normally do not flower this time of year (I must have neglected to tell them when they are normally supposed to flower 😉 

 Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans)
This shrub has now reached a height of 9 ft.  
I will prune it back by about 1/3 in early September.
 A few flowers are still blooming on my Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) even though it is not their typical bloom season.
 I just love the sunny faces of my Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata), which are a perennial that is sometimes treated as an annual.
 I haven’t shown this plant before, but I do love my Eremophila x Summertime Blue.  
They flower off an on throughout the year and I like their bell-shaped flowers.
I transplanted this shrub back in March in order to make room for my vegetable garden.  Thankfully, they survived and now beginning to thrive again.

This pretty little perennial is underused in the landscape in my opinion.  
I love how the spent blooms of my Paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi) have a ‘papery’ texture, hence the origin of the common name.

 I must admit that this picture of a cluster of Orange Jubilee flowers (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee) is not from my garden, but from the garden of my mother and sister.
However, in my defense….I did design their garden and I do have the same type of plant in my garden, but my flowers do not look as nice as theirs do 😉
I love the tiny clusters of flowers of my Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii).
This one sits in the shade provided by my Green Desert Spoon.
An all yellow variety of Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima ‘Phoenix Bird’) proudly shows off it’s flowers in my front garden.



These flowers are not normally found in August, but someone neglected to tell my Desert Museum Palo Verde tree that it can stop flowering now.

All over the Arizona desert, different types of Sages are blooming in response to the summer heat and humidity from our monsoon season.  My Rio Bravo Sage are no exception 🙂

 The flowers of my Rio Bravo Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’) have a light fragrance which just makes this flowering shrub even better.

What is blooming in your garden this month?

To see more blooming gardens, please visit May Dreams Gardens who hosts Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day each month.

************************


I wanted to thank you all again for your wonderful comments in regards to Gracie’s story.  I promise I will post the third and last installment in a few days 🙂

Mondays are usually busy days for most of us.  I know that for me, when the weekend ends, there is a list of things for me to accomplish, including writing my first blog post of the week.


This week promises to be busier then usual for our family.  As I have mentioned before, my son is going in for surgery later this week.  He will be getting another bone graft onto his hip.  Kai, is no stranger to surgery and this one will be his sixth.  The hard part is that he will be confined to a wheelchair and unable to walk for approximately 2 months.  Now that would be hard for most of us to handle, but when it happens to a very active 8 year old boy, it can be even more difficult.  


Due to the upcoming surgery, we celebrated his birthday on Saturday at the park.  It was a beautiful day and we had a great time with family and his friends.  Kai’s real birthday is this Thursday.  I wanted to thank those of you who commented on my last post and wished him a happy birthday 🙂


With all of the upcoming stress of this week, I spent this morning taking a walk in my garden in the morning.  I love to do this after the busyness of the weekend is over and to see what has happened in the garden over the weekend.


I was not disappointed….


 
My Orange Jubilee (Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’), is now covered with beautiful sprays of trumpet flowers.

This is one of my very favorite summer flowering shrubs.  I love the rich, green foliage and that this shrub can grow quite large (12 ft. high and 8 ft. wide). 
Orange Jubilee, pruned up from the ground for maximum height.
 
Another reason that I like this shrub so much is that it is super low-maintenance.  I planted my Orange Jubilee 11 years ago when we built our house.  I have never fertilized this shrub, ever.  It does very well in poor, rocky soil and also thrives in rich, organic soils.

Supplemental water is required in the desert southwest.  The tips can suffer frost damage when temperatures dip into the 20’s and will freeze back to the ground when temperatures hit the teens.  But, it grows back quickly and can achieve heights of 5 – 7 ft. in a single growing season.   It is hardy to zone 7.

Orange Jubilee, pruned from the top, resulting in a fuller and shorter shrub.
It thrives in full sun and in filtered shade.  I like to use it as a background planting along a wall.  I have also recommended it as a screen for a air-conditioning unit and as a less expensive option to hide pool equipment, rather then build a low wall.

Plant smaller shrubs or perennials in front such as Purple Trailing Lantana or Gold Lantana.


Oh, by the way, if you like hummingbirds in your garden, they will love your Orange Jubilee.
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!
Journey with me through the garden to see the rainbow of color that awaits…. inspired by my fellow blogger, Rebecca of Prefer To Be In The Garden.
 Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
RED blossoms cover my Globe Mallow in January.  Bees happily collect pollen from their cup-shaped flowers.  The bees are grateful that blooms will continue until the summer months arrive.
Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
RED plumes of flowers with their yellow throats decorate the Red Yucca in my father-in-law’s garden.  Flowering will continue until fall for this succulent plant.

Orange Jubilee (Tecoma x Jubilee)

ORANGE tubular flowers entice hummingbirds throughout the year on my Orange Jubilee shrub that grows over 6 ft. tall.  Although flowers slow in the winter, I was able to find some protected from the frost under the eaves of my house.

 
Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
ORANGE, red and yellow flowers cover this beautiful shrub throughout the summer and fall months.  I view them through my kitchen window and appreciate their beauty.  Butterflies love them as well.
Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans)
YELLOW flowers adorn my large Yellow Bells shrub, attracting both bees and hummingbirds.  I enjoy their blooms beginning March and lasting through November.
 
Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)
YELLOW, daisy-like flowers bloom throughout the winter and spring on this low-growing ground cover.  Bright winter color, drought-tolerant and low-maintenance makes this perennial a favorite of mine. 
 
Smooth Leaf Agave (Agave desmettiana)
GREEN leaves of my Agave are wet with raindrops after a November rain.
  
Floss Silk Tree (Ceiba speciosa / formerly Chorisia speciosa)
GREEN colors the trunk of the Floss Silk tree, decorated with circular thorns.    
 
Blue Viola
BLUE Violas with their yellow throats brighten a winter’s day.
   
 Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
BLUE, tiny flowers bloom among the leaves, proving that Rosemary is not just a popular herb, but is also beautiful.
  
 Baja Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis)   
PURPLE flowers decorated with white and yellow, decorate this lovely shrub with beautiful blossoms throughout the entire year.
 
Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii)
PURPLE clusters of flowers nestle between boulders on this Verbena plant.
What kind of plants and flowers make up the rainbow in your garden?