Blanket Flower
Gaillardia x grandiflora

  • Plant Form: Perennial, ground cover
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – August), Fall (September – November)
  • Native to: Canada, Central U.S.
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -30°F

Blanket Flower is a low, mounding, perennial prized for its long bloom season, brilliant flowers, and compact form. Native across much of the United States, its daisy-like flowers vary from yellow to gold, red, orange, or bronze depending on the variety, but variations abound from single-color to multi-color petals. Songbirds feed on the flower seeds, helping spread them to new garden sites, but plants can also spread by underground rhizomes. Butterflies and pollinators are attracted to its nectar. Flower production is best if plants are periodically deadheaded, but this reduces reseeding. Cut flowers are beautiful in indoor arrangements. Even after the petals drop off, the cone-like centers are nice in crafting fresh herb wreaths, and are used dried for other crafts. Recovers quickly in spring after winter frost. Besides being patio friendly, heat-loving, drought-tolerant, water-wise, and fire wise, Blanket Flower resists browsing by rabbits and deer, and tolerates most soils. Invite this cheery plant into your borders, beds, raised planters, containers, mass plantings, cutting gardens, wildlife gardens, and butterfly gardens.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for September

Crape Myrtle
Lagerstroemia indica

  • Plant Form: Deciduous tree, shrub
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 2-22 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – August), Fall (September – November)
  • Native to: China
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

This sturdy plant will surprise you with its year-round offerings: prolific blooms of red, pink, rose, white, or purple from summer to fall, fall color of leaves before they drop, and sculptural branches in winter.

Crape Myrtle’s claim to fame is its incredibly showy, ruffled flowers, but it has many other admirable qualities. This ornamental shrub or tree offers year-round interest: flowers from summer into fall, fall foliage color, sculptural branching in winter after leaves drop when allowed to grow naturally, and interesting exfoliating bark, revealing a velvety trunk. Many hybrids are available to satisfy a spectrum of needs and preferences for size, height, and blossom color, from knee-high dwarfs to towering shrub-tree forms. These deciduous plants are very low-maintenance if you select the correct variety to fit your space (to avoid constant pruning, which some call “crape murder”). Flower colors range from white to pink, rose, red, and purple. Crape Myrtles are resistant to both rabbits and deer, tolerate most soils, grow well in containers, make great flowers for cutting, are patio friendly, easy-care, water wise and fire wise. Landscape uses include privacy screens, hedges, specimen trees, mass plantings, borders, and containers.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for August

Jul
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Plant of the Month – July

Chitalpa Chitalpa tashkentensis

  • Plant Form: Deciduous tree
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 15-25 ft. tall x 15-30 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May), Summer (June – August), Fall (September – November)
  • Native to: Hybrid from North American parents
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -20°F

This hybrid tree gets its drought-tolerance from its southwest parent, Desert Willow, and its cold tolerance from its southern parent, Southern Catalpa. The two species combine for this sterile but lush-leaved, large-flowered tree that produces less litter than either parent, and is adaptable to most soils and climates across the American southwest.

Chitalpa inherited some of the best qualities from each of its parents, producing an exciting, drought-resistant plant ideally suited for most soils and climates throughout the American southwest. This hybrid deciduous tree is a cross between Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) from our southwest desert washes, and Southern Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides) from the southeast U.S., combining the drought tolerance of Desert Willow with the cold tolerance of Southern Catalpa. Chitalpa has larger flowers and more lush foliage than Desert Willow, but this sterile hybrid doesn’t produce long, narrow seedpods like its parents, creating less litter than either parent. Its bloom season is incredibly long, from spring through fall. Bright-green leaves showcase abundant trumpet-shaped, lavender-pink flowers in upright clusters of 15 – 40 flowers, which hummingbirds love. This multi-trunked tree may begin life with an irregular form, but quickly creates a dense, spreading crown. Use as a specimen tree, shade tree, accent, screen, patio plant (deep taproots won’t lift cement), or in dry washes and hummingbird gardens.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for July

Jun
1
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Plant of the Month – June

Sunray Coreopsis
Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Sunray’

  • Plant Form: Perennial
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall x 2-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: North America
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -10°F

This cheery perennial gives back so much while needing so little maintenance. Coreopsis attracts butterflies during its long bloom season, and provides great cut flowers from spring through summer.

 

Sunray Coreopsis is an outstanding variety of North American native prairie plant that blooms all summer with large, golden-yellow flowers held on long stems above its dark green foliage. Tolerant of almost any soil as long as it is well drained, this mounding perennial thrives with heat and sun, and is drought-resistant. Although fairly short-lived, Coreopsis will self-seed to help perpetuate itself in the garden, and can also spread by rhizomes. This easy-to-grow plant attracts butterflies, makes great cut flowers, grows well in containers, and is rabbit- and deer-resistant. As with many perennials, Coreopsis benefits from being divided and replanted in the fall every few years. To encourage its best flowering, keep deadheading spent flowers. This compact, Great Plains native perennial works great in borders, containers, mass plantings, rock gardens, meadows, cottage gardens, and along paths.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for June

Apr
30
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Plant of the Month – May

Catmint
Nepeta faassenii

  • Plant Form: Perennial
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall x 2-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Late spring (May), summer (June, July)
  • Native to: Asia, Europe, Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

It’s hard to believe that this delicate-looking plant is so sturdy. Catmint is tolerant of most southwest garden challenges, including cold, heat, drought, poor soil, rabbits, and deer, while offering long-blooming flowers, attracting butterflies and bees, and providing scented foliage for bouquets and dried potpourris.

Catmint is beloved by gardeners for a host of features: it is fast-growing, long-lived, low-maintenance, resistant to browsing animals and pests, attractive to butterflies and bees, water-wise, and is graced with periwinkle-blue flowers over a long bloom season. This cornerstone of many xeriscape gardens is also cold hardy, heat tolerant, drought-tolerant, easy to grow, and tolerant of most soil types. Its gray-green foliage is lacy and aromatic, deterring rabbits and deer, but charming humans; scented foliage is used in dried potpourri and in fresh arrangements. Cut flower stalks are great in bouquets. Deadhead spent flowers or shear back stems for denser plants with more lush second blooms. This compact perennial is lovely cascading over walls, walkways, and containers, and makes an attractive rock garden accent or small-scale groundcover. Perfect in borders, containers, mass plantings, rock gardens, along paths, and to hide the knobby “knees” of rose bushes.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for May

Red Tip Photinia
Fraser’s Photinia
Photinia x fraseri

  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Moderate
  • Mature Size: 5-15 ft. tall x 5-15 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (April)
  • Native to: Asia
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0-5°F

A beautiful transition of leaf colors tracks the growth of new foliage from red to bronze to deep green at maturity in the appropriately named Red Tip Photinia.

Red Tip Photinia is stunning in spring when its new growth flashes red at the tip of each stem. As the red foliage matures, it turns bronze, and then settles into a deep green. Additional pruning of branch tips encourages new red leaves from spring into summer. Continual trimming will sacrifice white flowers, which nearly cover the plant at peak bloom (some people dislike their odor). Avoid pruning in fall, since freezing winter temperatures damage new growth. While this ornamental evergreen shrub can be trained into a small specimen tree, it is usually used for hedges and privacy screens.  In dry climates, this shrub is hardy, carefree, drought-tolerant, and disease free, but it does appreciate afternoon shade in hot desert areas. Well-drained soil is vital to this attractive shrub. Smaller cultivars are available, growing only 2-3 feet tall and wide. Use as a hedge, background planting, espalier, or small single-stemmed tree. Cut branches are beautiful in arrangements.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for April