Monday, September 13, 2021

Moving the Blog...


Dear friends,

After trying a few posts back here on Blogger, I've decided to once more move the Small Sunny Garden blog.  In fact I am in the process of moving the entire archive of posts from both their erstwhile homes--here and on The blog will now be (hopefully) more easily accessible for reading, commenting and subscribing, regardless of what platform you are arriving from.  It also allows me to post more easily, as well as creating an archive all in one place.


Sound the trumpets and beat the drums!

The new blog address is at  The introductory post is here.  

I've been running my poetry blog ACM Weekly on Substack for over a year now, and I've found it to be a very usable platform.  Although Substack does allow for paid subscriptions, the Small Sunny Garden remains a free site.  Simply click through the initial "read it first" button to reach the posts.

Or go ahead and subscribe, if you like!  I'd be very happy to see you there!

Monday, September 6, 2021

Bits and Bobs

The first vase from my new home isn't much to look at, but it's a start.  I've combined some flowers I've planted with some stems I've foraged from the yard.

One of the most exciting things about our new property is the wonderful native plants all over it.  It's an older home on mostly undisturbed desert, which means a lot of quality native desert plants instead of the weedy things that colonize disturbed soil.  

In this particular vase, this means daisy-flowered brittlebrush (Encelia farinosa), which is rampant... and lovely.  I had to purchase it for my previous garden, but here it is growing naturally on the hillside and in the garden area.  There is also plenty of desert hackberry (Celtis ehrenbergiana seems to be the currently correct name), with its brilliant orange fruits.

Then there are a couple of things I've planted despite arriving here when temperatures were already in the triple digits.  Or perhaps because of it, since I managed to buy both at discount.  They're a sort of promise of things to come, but they've already supplied some pleasant color to look at from the kitchen window.

These are Salvia farinacea "Victoria Blue", with its tiny, brilliant plumes, and Catharanthus roseus, that reliable, summer-flowering, heat-loving tropical that is so reliable in desert plantings.


It's been a more difficult start than I had hoped here.  Just after we arrived, quite a bit went wrong with the sale of our home in Missouri.  We were forced to find a new real estate agent, restart the listing process, and figure out that the home's entire septic system needed to be replaced with a costly alternative system.  All of this has held up the cash we needed to begin some necessary repairs on this place, plus the horse fencing. Not surprisingly, perhaps, I had migraine headaches for weeks running as we tried to sort everything out.

The house is once more under contract now, and we are hoping everything goes through this time.  Meantime, I am very much falling in love with our new location--up in the high desert overlooking the lower San Pedro River valley.

It's a fantastic place to call home.

This is my first In a Vase on Monday in a long time!  Joining with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, where many other wonderful vases are to be found each week...

Lastly, here is Encelia farinosa, a shot I took some days back since I didn't get a good one for the vase.  This is a delightful plant with silver foliage and yellow daisies and well adapted to extremely xeric conditions.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Six on Saturday: from the Monsoon Rains

 It's all about the rain right now.  Here at our new home, this month's monsoon rains have been torrential but much-appreciated by the growing things.

When we arrived, most of these plants were leafless or looked to be dead or dying.  But the rains have been falling for several weeks now, and the results are delightful.

At the top of the page is sweet acacia (Vachellia farnesiana) in full bloom.  The lot is full of these, ranging from small trees down to shrubs on down to sprouts and seedlings at ground level.  I shall have to begin weeding them out, there are so many!  The scent is wonderful.

The palo verdes are leafing out as well.  Their bloom time is mid-spring, but they are breaking their summer-deciduous dormancy in response to the rain.

I realize as I write this that I've assumed this is Parkinsonia florida, the blue Palo Verde, but I haven't checked it out.  There are some other wild varieties in southern Arizona, and I need to confirm just which one this is.  Lovely, in any case.

Another plant that was leafless when we arrived is this smallish ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), which is now such a mass of leaves that those long thorns are nearly invisible.  I've wanted an ocotillo of my own for years, and here is one already in the ground and, apparently, thriving.  

It did look like a cluster of dead sticks when we arrived, but that is to be expected of an ocotillo in June.  It responded with leaves within two or three days of my giving it a quick spray of water.  (Temperatures were at record highs when we arrived.)  Since then the monsoon rain has kept it quite happy.

No leaves sprout on cacti, of course, but the young saguaro has clearly been drinking heartily.  Its ribs feel taut to the touch right now!

I consider it an honor, more than anything else, to have a saguaro in my garden.  I've taken the liberty of christening this one Bungo.

Lastly come the flowers.

The two half-price Salvia farinacea that I rescued are settling in nicely beneath the small kumquat...

...while the kumquat itself is recovering well.  Its leaves were withering and ready to drop when we came.  Now it not only has new growth but has begun to flower as well.  Yes, the scent is delicious.

Not a bad six for a start, I think!  After a difficult time leaving Missouri, followed by a rough first month here, (we were frankly sick with the stress and fatigue of it all) it looks like we are settling in.  I'll be posting more soon, if all goes well.  There is so much to discover here, and it is certainly a different part of the desert than my previous garden.  Still the Sonora, but at about 4000 feet elevation as well as further south.  There will be much to learn.

Meantime, this is my first Six on Saturday post, linking with the Propagator's weekly theme.  I've looked forward to participating but decided to wait until I could start blogging and gardening anew here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The First Daylily

close-up of bright yellow daylily Stella de Oro

Daylilies (Hemerocallis) grow quite well here.  Indeed, the species H. fulva, with its rich, rusty orange blooms, has naturalized as a roadside or farm margin wildflower.

I planted the bright yellow dwarf "Stella de Oro" in my little border, certain that it would thrive and provide color through the summer months.  "Stella" was the first everblooming daylily, developed by amateur breeder Walter Jablonski in 1975.  It is still widely sold and with good reason.  It supplies color and reliability, and it was a good choice for a small space, such as this one!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Ring Around Some Roses

rosebuds, hellebore flowers, and a heuchera leaf for In a Vase on Monday

Today's vase (if such it can be called) makes use of the first rosebuds and the last hellebores.  Also of my very reliable heuchera, in the form of one largish leaf.

I remain convinced that this noID miniature rosebush is an unlabeled plant of 'Daniela', which I grew in Arizona.  What other deep red mini will shoot rapidly to knee-high and taller, then explode into half a hundred flowerbuds?  Whatever it is, it's been a bright spot in the garden ever since I planted it.

The hellebore is H. x 'Ivory Prince'.  It opens just as the earliest bulbs are finishing, providing extra interest as the spring season moves from squill and rock irises to mid-season Narcissus.  I didn't expect it to last all the way to the first roses, but here we are, though some might argue that the blooms are a little past 'lasting', being rather tattered by now.

And the marbled red leaf comes from Heuchera 'Carnival Rose Granita', or so I think.  At any rate it was from the Carnival series, which is said to be a hybrid Villosa, good for heat tolerance.

close-up of rosebuds, hellebore flowers, and a heuchera leaf for In a Vase on Monday

The lovely, small, blue dish was made by my friend, Canadian potter Rosie Sarich.  It is a saucedish from a larger nacho set I ordered from her, and I have kept it out from the packing because it is so useful, though I didn't expect to use it as a vase!

But I have to be quite creative about containers at present because just about everything is now packed onto the moving trailer.  And the trailer is locked and due to be picked up tomorrow.  

So we are eking out our last efforts here before hitting the road. An AC repair on our truck, packing the few things we've kept with us, some last clean-up, and a job I have put off as long as I well could--digging my irises to pot up some of the rhizomes.  None are quite to the dormant stage yet though I've waited as long as possible.  But they are sturdy, vigorous plants and will hopefully forgive and survive my timing!

Meantime, the miniature rose is taking over the show in my tiny border.  It is transitioning from late spring to early summer here.

At least I managed to post this week; last Monday I was still dealing with no internet, thanks to a lightning strike that destroyed the only thing left vulnerable in our electric outlets: the modem.  I still say it was sheer bad luck as there really wasn't very much lightning, just a few close strikes.  One did the job! With everything else that was happening, it took me awhile to get the replacement issue sorted.  All done now, though, and a Monday vase to cheer us on!

Thanks, as always, to Cathy for hosting In a Vase on Monday!  

rosebuds, hellebore flowers, and a heuchera leaf for In a Vase on Monday