Posts

Do you use white flowering plants in your landscape?

I do.

However, some people tend to overlook white flowers in favor of flashier colors such as yellow, orange or red.  But did you know that white flowers can help show off the other colors in your landscape by providing color contrast?

In addition, white flowering plants also have a visually cooling effect in the garden, which is a welcome sight in the Southwest where summers are hot.

I’d like to share with you some of my favorite white flowers, all of which do well in the Southwestern landscape.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Bush Morning Glory (Convolvulus cneorum)
 
Pretty white flowers with yellow centers are just one of the reasons people love Bush Morning Glory. Its silvery foliage is another great color that it adds to the landscape.
 
In the desert, the flowers appear for several weeks in spring before fading away. However, the silvery foliage is evergreen and will add great color contrast when planted nearby plants with dark green foliage.
 
Do you have an area that gets full afternoon sun and reflected heat?  Bush Morning Glory can easily handle it while looking great.
 
Hardy to zone 8, bush morning glory grows approximately 2 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide.  Prune back in spring, after flowering has finished by 1/2 its size.
 
White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)
 
White Gaura is a flowering perennial that has a prominent place in my landscape. It has small flowers, shaped like small butterflies, that start out pink and turn white as they bloom.
 
 
This lovely perennial does best in filtered sun and flowers in spring and fall. It requires little maintenance other then shearing it back in spring to 1/2 its size.
 
White gaura is related to the pink variety ‘Siskyou Pink’, but has a bushier appearance and grows larger – approximately 2 1/2 ft. wide and tall. This native perennial is hardy to zone 6 gardens.
 
‘White Cloud’ Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘White Cloud’)
 
While most of us are more familiar with the purple flowering Texas sage shrubs, there is a white variety that is well worth adding to your landscape.  
 
‘White Cloud’ Texas Sage can grow large, 6+ feet tall and wide, if given enough space. It thrives in full sun and in summer and fall, periodic flushes of white flowers cover the silvery green foliage.
 
Avoid the temptation to excessively prune this shrub, which decreases the flowering and is not healthy for this type of shrub.  Hardy to zone 7, this shrub looks great when used as an informal hedge or against a wall.
Hedgetrimmers aren’t needed for pruning Texas sage. My Corona Compound Loppers are what I’ve used to prune mine for over 10 years with some hand pruning as needed for wayward branches.
 
For guidelines on how to (or how NOT to) prune flowering shrubs, click here.
 
Texas Olive (Cordia boissieri)
This Texas native is a huge favorite of mine – Texas olive is a large shrub or small tree, depending on how you prune it. It has dark green, leathery leaves, and beautiful white flowers, which appear spring through fall on evergreen foliage.
 
Whenever I see this shrub, I always take a moment to admire its beauty, since it isn’t used often in the landscape – but it should be!
 
Small fruit, resembling an olive is produced, which are edible. They thrive in full sun. Allow plenty of room for it to grow as it gets 25 ft. tall and wide. Hardy to zone 9, the only drawback of this white-flowering beauty is that it can be a little messy, so keep away from swimming pools.
 
All of these white flowering plants are drought tolerant and do well in hot, arid climates.  
 
Do you grow any of these in your garden? Which is your favorite?
 
As beautiful as these plants are, I have more to show you next time in Part 2 next week!

Do you use any power tools to keep your landscape looking its best?

If you are like me, you may have a hedge trimmer and perhaps a leaf blower, or both.  

When I was contacted by the folks at Troy-Bilt to review their newest line of garden equipment that is powered by CORE technology, I was very excited to partner with them and I was provided with the products free of charge. Each piece of this equipment uses a rechargeable battery.  Their equipment line includes a hedge trimmer, leaf blower, string trimmer and a lawn mower.

Due to my previous experience with the quality of Troy-Bilt products, I have high expectations for these new tools will share my experiences with a video.

 
CORE technology means that the “power comes from the motor and not the battery.”  
 
According to Troy-Bilt, “the controller communicates with the CORE motor to monitor how hard it’s working and senses when the motor needs more power and automatically calls for more energy from the battery. So when you need maximum power, CORE answers. The controller efficiently manages the transfer of energy from the battery to the motor to deliver maximum runtime from every charge”.
 
The equipment is simple to put together, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow.  I couldn’t wait to use both of them on a particular problem area in my landscape.
 
 
I have an informal hedge of white gaura growing in my front garden, but within its depths lurks an infestation of bermudagrass.  The grass was left over from when we renovated the landscape and took out the lawn.  As usually happens, sometimes grass can re-emerge, which is what happened here.
 
Unfortunately, I am now at the point that where the grass is threatening to take over my gaura, so drastic measures need to be taken.
 
To solve the problem, I have to prune back the gaura severely so that I can get to the base of the grass and dig it out.  So, I will use the hedge trimmers to prune the gaura back severely and then the leaf blower to help clean up the area afterward.
 
 
Troy-Bilt’s CORE hedge trimmer is effective and not too heavy for me to use comfortably.  I am impressed at how easily it cut through the old stems without getting tangled up.
 
 
I have had the opportunity to test over five different Troy-Bilt blowers over the past few years and this one is my favorite.  It is very powerful, easy to hold, and simple to use.
 
Battery-powered technology paired with Troy-Bilt’s CORE engine creates powerful garden equipment that is easy to use. The power of their tools rivals those with gas-powered engines.  Now, I don’t have to worry about messing around with power cords – no more rolling and unrolling electrical cords, accidentally cutting the cord, or having to constantly move the cord out of my way.  I also don’t miss having to fill gas engines up with fuel.
 
One thing that is important to note is that the battery should only be charged at temperatures between 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  So, for those who live in areas with extremely cold or hot climates, the battery will need to be charged indoors.
 
All of the CORE power garden equipment operate off of the same battery.  Each tool comes with a battery and charger, but you can order additional tools without the battery if you  have one from other CORE products.
 
To learn more about Troy-Bilt’s line of CORE products and how they work, click here.
 
*I was offered the hedge trimmer and blower free of charge from the folks at Troy-Bilt with the expectation of an honest review.

Do you have a front garden or a front yard?


I really don’t like to refer to front area of a home as a ‘yard’.  


The definition of the word ‘yard’ is “a piece of ground adjoining a building or house.”


Now, while I do have a piece of ground adjoining my house – it is so much more then that.  


The piece of ground is filled with trees, shrubs, perennials and succulents, which in my opinion makes it not a ‘yard’ BUT a ‘garden’.


So, I thought that I would show you a little of what is growing in my front ‘garden’….


This time of year, my firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) is in full bloom, much to the delight of bees and hummingbirds.

This tough perennial blooms January through April in my zone 9a garden.
In cooler climates, it will flower in the summer.


Underneath the front window, lies a row of white gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), which flowers in spring and fall.  This perennial is hardy to zone 5.



Agave are my favorite type of succulent and I have several different types in my garden.

This one is near the front entry and is called artichoke agave (Agave parryi ‘truncata’).  

It is a medium-sized agave and can grow in zones 7 and up.

As you can see, it has produced some offsets (babies, pups, volunteers).  They are attached to the mother plant by a underground stem.

I have taken several of the offsets and replanted them around my garden…


This one was planted 2 years ago from the mother plant.  

It is easy to take offsets and plant them in other areas in the garden.  I wrote about it a few years ago and you can read it here.


In late winter, I am always impatient to see my globe mallow begin to show the first glimpse of color peeking through.

I have several globe mallow plants and each one produces a different-colored flower.


Here is my pink globe mallow.


And it’s neighbor, which has white flowers.


This globe mallow has vibrant, red flowers and is located on the other side of my front garden.

While I love all of my globe mallow flowers, I think that the pink are my favorite…


The most common color of globe mallow is orange.  But, as you can see, there are other colors available.  

You can read more about this plant and its flowers in an article I wrote for Houzz.com


I mentioned that I had a few different species of agave in my garden.

This is my largest one, which is called octopus agave (Agave vilmoriniana).  

I raised this agave from a tiny pup (bulbil) from the flowering stem of its mother, who I had grown in a large pot.

This agave has a tropical look with its curvy leaves and does best in areas with filtered or afternoon shade.


Victoria agave (Agave victoria-reginae) was named for Queen Victoria.

This smaller agave has a very distinctive look and is highly-desired, which makes it rather expensive.

I was given the largest one in the photo, above, by a client and it has since gone on to produce many babies for me.


Some people may think that lantana is overused in the landscape, but I like to put a twist on the traditional lantana.

There is a lantana called ‘Lavender Lace’ that produces both purple and white flowers on the same plant.  BUT, it can be hard to find and is expensive.

So, I create the same look by planting both a purple and a white trailing lantana in the same hole.


My favorite types of plants are flowering shrubs and groundcovers.  However, I like the different textures that succulents add to my front garden.

So, I have green desert spoon (Dasylirion acrotriche) on both sides in the front.  This species of desert spoon has a darker-green color then the gray/blue leaves of regular desert spoon.


Finally, I’d like to finish with my favorite flowering shrub, Valentine whose red blooms began to appear at Christmas and will last through April.

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

I hope you enjoyed this partial tour of my front garden.  I do have trees and other plants growing, but because they are dormant in winter, I will show you them in the future, once they are looking  their best.

**Tonight, I am leaving on the red-eye for Miami, Florida where I will be taking part in the Saturday6 once again.

So what is the Saturday6 you might be asking?

We are a group of 6 garden bloggers from around the country brought together by Troy-bilt to test their products, write garden articles and give our honest opinions and advice.

While in Miami, we will be touring the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.  Later, we will be creating a community garden in Miami, filled with edible plants.

I will be sure to share with you our adventures.  I can hardly wait to leave!