Plant of the Month

Greek Sage
Salvia fruticosa

  • Plant Form: Perennial sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Very low, low
  • Mature Size: 3-3.5 ft. tall x 3-5 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, very light shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May),
    Summer (June – Aug)
    (Sept – Nov)
  • Native to: Mediterranean region,
    North Africa, Canary Islands
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15 – 20°F

Greek Sage gives in so many ways, and requires so little in return. It is a treasured culinary herb that is used like Garden Sage due to its aroma and flavor, but is more subtle. It tolerates poor soils, drought, frost, and heat, resists browsing by deer and rabbits, and attracts hummingbirds. Add to all this its beautiful, long-blooming, blue flower spikes, and you have a true garden winner.

Greek Sage is as beautiful as it is useful, from its aromatic leaves to its tall spikes of striking blue flowers. No pampering is needed, because this heat-tolerant plant prefers poor soils to fertile ones, is drought-tolerant, and is fairly cold hardy. As long as the soil is well-drained and the plant gets lots of sun, Greek Sage will thrive. Maintenance is simple: a hard prune in early spring for shape, and a light prune after flowering in summer to encourage a denser bush and tease out another flush of flowering (trim at the base of the flower stalk to the next pair of new buds). Despite its similar appearance to Garden Sage, it grows taller and is prized for its distinctive aroma and flavor, considered more subtle. Greek Sage actually contributes between 50-95% of all dried culinary sage sold in the US. Besides its long history of medicinal uses, this sage is valued in borders, beds, pots, flower-cutting gardens, herb and hummingbird gardens, and Mediterranean or rock gardens.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for March


The Desert Underground

Who would guess that anyone could say, with any credible authority, “Mushrooms can help save the world?” And even more preposterous, that in the desert, fungal threads that connect to plant roots combat global warming? Even though these statements sound like science fiction, we are finding that both are proving to be absolutely true. 

These concepts were at the forefront of the vision to create an artistic, visually compelling book that would transport readers along a graphic “tour” of the unseen desert beneath the soil surface. Robin’s new book, “The Desert Underground,” will lead you on a virtual tour of the hidden but magnificent world of microorganisms intertwined with roots that silently works under our feet every day.

“The Desert Underground” book reveals the amazing partnerships that connect every native plant underground across the landscape. Journey through the interlocking biological and geological systems that work together to create a surprising carbon sponge, helping to combat climate change wherever desert soils remain intact.

Come on a virtual tour of the desert’s surprising living soils under your feet. Join in this tour within the pages of “The Desert Underground” book by Robin Kobaly.
Sample page from “The Desert Underground”

Robin’s newest book was released at a special exhibit featuring “The Desert Underground” at the Joshua Tree National Park Art Expo at the 29 Palms Inn in September 2019. A series of large graphic displays, created with the original artwork presented in Robin’s book, led viewers along an illustrated tour through our desert soils, delving deeper and deeper into the underground. The exhibit was created by Robin Kobaly and was presented by The SummerTree Institute, an environmental education nonprofit, of which Robin is Executive Director.

Visitors take a virtual “tour” of the desert underground at the
Joshua Tree National Park Art Expo in fall 2019.

For more information about
The Desert Underground” book,
or to order your own copy,

Check out our other events and workshops!  


 March Garden Tasks

    Warm, mild weather this month prompts rapid growth of plants, as well as insect pests


Check aphids on new growth; wash off with strong jet of water -- or bring in ladybugs to help out!

Check aphids on new growth; wash off with a strong jet of water — or bring in ladybugs to help out!

~ Plant perennials as early as possible this month if you missed the fall planting season

~ Plant bare-root trees and shrubs through early March

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

~ Reapply any mulch around plants removed by rain or wind

~ Replace batteries in your irrigation clocks when Daylight Savings Time starts

~ Teach your plants to grow deeply for moisture. In spring, for average soils, water 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

~ Get rid of weeds while they are small, especially before they reseed




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


California Native Landscaping

Enter the fascinating world of southwest desert plants

Through our series of workshops and classes, we invite you to enter into the captivating world of plants and their impressive uses. Experience the plants growing in your area’s natural community as you never have before…through taste, smell, touch, and stories.

Let us lead you through native gardens to witness the variety and beauty of native plants available to gardeners throughout the southwestern United States. Join us in exploring the ancient and modern uses of our native plants for medicine, tools, shelter, clothing, and food. Enjoy learning how to incorporate drought-tolerant native plants into your garden design for benefits you might not have imagined. Discover the fun of using native southwest desert plants for food, herbal remedies, landscape, and even art.

In our workshops and classes, you will learn which of California’s 4,800 native plants are perfectly suited for your particular yard, and which ones best serve as evergreen hedges, privacy screens, shade-giving trees, long-lived ground covers, erosion control, seasonal color, interesting vines, and striking specimen plants. Find out how to select, plant, irrigate, and care for a remarkable variety of attractive, drought-tolerant native plants. Read More


Water-Wise Landscaping

Water-Wise Landscaping DVD

Water-Wise Landscaping DVD

Available Now!

This engaging DVD, produced by The SummerTree Institute and featuring professional botanist Robin Kobaly, contains all the essential information you need to transform your High-Desert property into an enchanting, Water-Wise Landscape. You choose your path of discovery by selecting the topics within yard themes. This comprehensive DVD, with nearly four hours of hard-to-find expert information, covers the resources you will need to plan, design, plant, irrigate and maintain an attractive, drought-tolerant landscape.

To help you choose the right plants, you will find descriptions and growing tips for over 80 plants suited to high-desert gardens, all grouped by water-use themes.

Discover how you can create beautiful drought-tolerant landscaping in the high deserts of the Southwest with valuable tips and insider’s information. Robin leads you on this journey with fun demonstrations and real-life examples of yard solutions.

Here’s a sample:

Water-Wise Landscaping DVD

Special Features:

  • Yard Design
  • Understanding Soil and Mulch
  • Planting Tips
  • Irrigation
  • Maintaining a Healthy Landscape
  • Profiles of 84 Star-Performing Plants
  • Price: $20.00, plus $2.50 shipping – All proceeds go to The SummerTree Institute to help support outreach efforts and educational materials for the non-profit’s “Water-Wise Landscaping” programs. Visit for more program details.

Other Ways To Order:

To place an order with your credit card by phone, please call 760-363-1166.
Download the Water-Wise Landscaping DVD order form to mail a check or credit card information.

“All I can say is Wow! The presentation – Robin, the DVD –was simply superb…”
—Michael Stevens, Community Liaison Officer, Mojave Water Agency

“This DVD is absolutely a phenomenally crucial tool in educating the public…I’m so excited about this wonderful educational tool!”
—Marie Sovitsky, Publications Coordinator, Mojave Desert Resource Conservation District