Sierra Gold Dalea

Dalea capitata ‘Sierra Gold’

This versatile, aromatic, flowering groundcover will perform beautifully for you in rock gardens, borders, narrow planters and medians, and even in areas with reflected heat.

  • Plant Form: Semi-deciduous groundcover
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 8 inches tall x 3 feet wide
  • Exposure: Full or reflected sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring and Fall (Mar – May & Aug – Oct)
  • Native to: Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

 

Sierra Gold Dalea is a creeping groundcover with aromatic (lemon-scented), fine-textured, bright green leaves. In spring and again in fall, the plant is covered by small, yellow, pea-like flowers in spikes. This hybrid of Mexican parents drops many of it leaves during its winter dormancy, when it may look unattractive (in mild winters, it may retain its foliage). Plant in full sun and well-drained soil. Shear back by half in early spring after the last frost to rejuvenate the plant and keep it dense. Lovely in rock gardens, by patios, or in borders, and to create a soft backdrop for more pointed plants like yuccas, agaves, and tall cacti. Sierra Gold is a great choice for mass plantings in areas with reflected heat. Can be used in tight planting areas, such as medians and planters, due to its compact size and tolerance for reflected heat. Rabbits seem to leave this plant alone after establishment.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for August

Jun
30
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Plant of the Month – July

Red Yucca,
Red Hesperaloe

Hesperaloe parviflora

  • Plant Form: Evergreen succulent
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 3 feet tall x 3-5 feet wide (flower spikes are 3-7 feet tall)
  • Exposure: Full or reflected sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring – Fall (March – Sept)
  • Native to: W. Texas, NE Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

 

Red Yucca is not actually a yucca, but a relative whose 2 to 3-foot-long, stiff leaves are thornless, making it a safer choice for pathways, borders, and drives than true yuccas. In fact, its small size makes it perfect as a focal point for smaller landscape islands and patios, as well as around the base of trees or lampposts. It works equally well as a groundcover, in rock gardens, or in containers. Besides its versatility, arching flower stalks from its symmetrical rosette of leaves provide an artistic shape with abundant coral to red flowers from late spring until fall. Its gray-green, grass-like leaves are edged with curling, white fibers. Red Yucca’s abundant flowers attract hummingbirds by day, and night-pollinating moths by moonlight. The only maintenance needed is cutting the spent flower stalks and protecting the plant from hungry rabbits.

 

 

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for July

May
31
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Plant of the Month – June

Santolina,
Lavender Cotton

Santolina chamaecyparissus

Santolina is a small but mighty asset in drought-tolerant settings, making a sturdy and colorful hedge, border plant, groundcover, solitary specimen, or a beautiful addition to rock gardens, and herb or knot gardens.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1 foot tall x 2 feet wide
  • Exposure: Full sun – Part shade
  • Bloom Time: Late spring to Summer (May – August)
  • Native to: Mediterranean Basin
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

 

Santolina is a tiny powerhouse when it comes to useful, beautiful, drought-tolerant plants. This soft, gray-green plant grows tight and compact, and holds bright yellow, button-like flowers on tall stems high above the rounded plant in late spring and summer. The flowers are great in dried arrangements, wreaths, and crafts. Rub the finely-dissected leaves between your fingers to release the pungent fragrance, and imagine being in a Christmas tree farm with fresh-cut wreaths. Deer and rabbits avoid eating this plant. Santolina survives heat, poor soil, and infrequent watering, but must have well-draining soil, and can be killed by overwatering. Prune back to the ground in spring if it becomes sparse or leggy. Versatile as a small hedge, border plant, solitary specimen, or large-scale groundcover, especially as a sturdy soil-builder on problematic hillsides. Beautiful in rock and succulent gardens, herb and knot gardens, or massed by itself for dramatic effect.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for June

May
1
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Plant of the Month – May

Firecracker Penstemon,
Eaton’s Firecracker,
Scarlet Bugler

Penstemon eatonii

Firecracker Penstemon is a hummingbird magnet that is also prized by gardeners for its brilliant, abundant flowers.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 2 feet tall and wide (flower stalks 2-4 feet tall)
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Late winter – spring (Feb – June)
  • Native to: S. California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

Firecracker Penstemon is irresistible to hummingbirds due to its nectar-filled, brilliant, scarlet flowers. It is among the first to bloom in spring, providing an early-season nectar source for hummingbirds. This low-growing, shrubby perennial produces a mound of rich, dark green leaves from which tall stalks of flowers emerge, the tubular flowers usually hanging to one side of the inflorescence. Grows best in well-drained soil with full sun, as shade can cause plants to sprawl. Overwatering may cause the plant to rot. Harvest the flowering spikes in summer when seed capsules are dry to scatter seeds to start new plants. The basal rosette of leaves will remain attractive year-round. Plant in masses for a stunning display (and to drive hummingbirds crazy), or as accents against cacti, boulders, or rock walls.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for May

 

 May Garden Tasks

Due to warmer weather, it is best to water during the early morning and late evening hours to reduce evaporation.

Due to warmer weather, it is best to water during the early morning and late evening hours to reduce evaporation.


Rising temperatures cause changes in plants…prepare for summer!

 

~ Change watering schedule from mid-day to early morning or evening as weather heats up to minimize loss through evaporation.

~ Maintain a good mulch of organic matter (such as leaves, bark, or chipped wood) covering garden soil throughout the summer to hold in moisture, moderate soil temperatures for optimum root growth, improve the soil as it decomposes, and prevent weeds from germinating. Mulch allows you to water less often (but still deeply). Keep mulch several inches away from tree trunks and plant stems for good air circulation.

~ Remove spent flowers from annuals, perennials, and shrubs—unless you want to collect seeds (such as from Penstemons); “deadheading” old flowers stimulates repeat blooming.

~ Work compost or soil amendments into planting beds to improve moisture retention as summer approaches.

~ Encourage your plants’ roots to grow deeply for moisture. In spring, for average soils, water established plants deeply only every two to three weeks. By the time summer’s heat arrives, plants’ feeder roots will be growing deeply for moisture, and the plants won’t need watering more than once a week during very hot spells.

 

Check out our featured “Plant of The Month” for May

 

 

 

 

 April Garden Tasks

    Color season is reaching its peak—spend time outside enjoying it!

 

Your garden plants will reach full glory this month in southwest gardens. Be sure to take time to stop and enjoy them.

Your garden plants will reach full glory this month in southwest gardens. Be sure to take time to stop and enjoy them.

~ Reset irrigation schedules and increase watering time as temperatures rise

~ Plant cold-tender perennials, preferably in pots so winter protection is easier

~ Transplant Joshua trees and yuccas from March to mid-April

~ Work compost or soil amendments into planting beds to improve moisture retention as summer approaches

~ Keep mulch on the soil–especially with organic matter such as leaves, bark, or chipped wood–to temper the drying and heating effect of the sun; irrigation will be more effective with less frequency and quantity

~ Teach your plants to grow deeply for moisture. In spring, for average soils, water established plants deeply only every two to three weeks. By the time summer’s heat arrives, plants’ feeder roots will be growing deeply for moisture, and the plants won’t need watering more than once a week during very hot spells.

~ Check aphids on new growth; wash off with a strong jet of water

~ Continue pulling weeds before they form seed heads (if weeds are brown, you waited too long); you’ll have fewer weed problems later. Remember that weeds need disturbed soil to prosper; if you disturb soils with a hoe to remove weeds, you are cultivating the perfect bed for next year’s weeds. Instead, pull weeds by hand to minimize soil disturbance, or mow weeds before seeds form, then cover with mulch to prevent next year’s weed crop from forming. If you don’t have enough mulch to cover all your weeds, mow repeatedly during the spring growth season often enough to remove flowers before seeds develop. After just a season or two, you will greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for weeding.

 

 

Check out our featured “Plant of The Month” for April