Thursday, July 30, 2015


Leucophyllum frutescens "Compacta", amy myers photography, small sunny garden
I've shared a few stems of Leucophyllum on the blog from time to time.  Tight, slightly curly green leaves and lilac blue trumpet flowers deep inside.  They made good additions to vases.  I thought I had seen this year's showing, and was mildly impressed.

And now, all of sudden my bush is in full bloom.
Leucophyllum frutescens "Compacta", desert, garden
Not merely blooming, you understand, but dripping with flowers.
Leucophyllum frutescens "Compacta"
All this from a plant that was no more than a few awkward branches when I bought it last autumn!
Leucophyllum frutescens "Compacta"
Large, lovely trumpet flowers, with only the faintest sweet scent, but the perfect colour to cool the heat of July...
Leucophyllum frutescens "Compacta", small sunny garden
As I've explained before, this variety arrived at home tagless.  From my research so far I am fairly well convinced that it is L. frutescens "Compacta" so that is how I intend to label it in future unless otherwise informed!  The common name of L. frutescens is Texas Ranger, alluding to its provenance in west Texas, that home of any number of usefully drought-and-heat-tolerant species.

And it is a superbly heat-tolerant plant, expected (like many Leucophyllym varieties) to grow to around 5 ft (1.5 m).  It blooms in response to summer rain, when the garden desperately needs a dash of cool colour.  It is evergreen, deer resistant, and can be grown in alkaline soils.  It is also attractive to bees...
Leucophyllum frutescens "Compacta", amy myers photography
What more could one ask?
Leucophyllum frutescens "Compacta", amy myers photography, small sunny garden
Weather Diary: Fair; High: 99 F (37 C)/Low: 82 F (28 C)  Did you see that?  It didn't even break 100 F yesterday!  Slight chance of rain in the forecast this week...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Monday Vase: A Rose By Any Other Red...

Rose "William Shakespeare 2000", Monday vase meme
Because this is, in fact, the red rose William Shakespeare 2000.  For any of you who shake your heads when looking at the rather pale hue, that is how it has been during the heat of summer!  Most of my roses have bloomed considerably lighter than their "normal" colour.  At any rate, I know that the scent is right!

I've not presented the Bard much on the blog yet, despite the fact that this is my favorite of David Austin's red roses.  Grown well, the lush quartering, large blooms, deep, rich crimson colour, and full old rose fragrance make it one of the most superb of roses.

This bush was planted at the same time as the other David Austin varieties, but in a different location - namely, a small planter in the front patio.  I had so longed to see a deep red rose there.  But I am learning that the front patio is perhaps the toughest location on our property, more of a heat sink than anything else.  I hadn't expected this with its northern exposure and shade-producing (and heat-reflecting?) walls on all sides.  But most plants find it difficult there, and roses particularly tend to have trouble with spider mites.  So Will, having recovered from a combined attack of mites and aphids, shall soon be relocated to the garden; I have just the spot...

In the meantime, he is recovered enough to put out some blooms: small, yes, but it's thrilling to see them coming finally!  I cut one open blossom and one bud for today's vase.  Then I added the scarlet equivilent to their crimson, the colour supplied by my faithful Russelia.  A few stems of Salvia greggii "Flame" (almost invisible in these photos) and the silver foliage of Convolvulus cneorum completed the effect in my small-mouthed earthenware pot.
Monday Vase meme
"William Shakespeare 2000" with Russelia equisetiformis...
Rose "William Shakespeare 2000", russelia, monday vase meme
...with Convolvulus cneorum...
Monday Vase meme, silver foliage, Convolvulus cneorum foliage
...which is mostly used to accent the far side of the arrangement.
Monday Vase meme, Amy Myers ceramics
A close-up of a few scarlet trumpets at the mouth of the little pot...
Russelia, Monday Vase meme
I was unable to complete the post yesterday, but here it is now for Tuesday!  Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this wonderful theme!
Monday Vase meme, Convolvulus cneorum, Russelia
Weather Diary: Mostly sunny; High: 104 F (40 C)/Low: 88 F (31 C)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Garden Foliage: July

With summer proceeding apace, I have been wanting to take a quick look at some of the different ways foliage is designed for surviving drought and high temperatures.  This post is necessarily greatly simplified, but here are a few things I am noticing in the garden.

Narrow leaves:

Many of the plants have needle-like leaves or slightly wider, giving almost the texture of conifers in some cases.
The tiny leaves of Lavendula stoechas "Madrid"...
...Rosemarinus "Tuscan Blue"...
...or Chrysactinia mexicana (Damianita).
In Tetraneuris acaulis they become more grass-like... also in Salvia reptans...
...and a little wider still in Gaura lindheimeri...
...or, at the other extreme, the nearly thread-like leaves of desert shrub Senna nemophylla.

Leathery leaves:

Many leaves are tough and leathery.  Some are small, like Eremophila maculata "Valentine"...
...slightly larger in Eremophila "Outback Sunrise"
Penstemon parryi's are much larger, but undeniably leathery...
...while the leaves of Leucophyllum frutescens "Compacta" are merely stiff - for all the curlycues!
Lagerstroemia "Rhapsody in Pink" has leathery leaves though they're not overly thick.  In fact, they make a nice foil to all the needly leaves nearby!

Grey and furry leaves:

In addition to the silky foliage of Convolvulus cneorum, which I featured in the Monday Vase, there are Lavendula "Goodwin's Creek Gray"...
...and Salvia officinalis.   The relatively wide leaves of S. officinalis tend to collect the dust that is always blowing around, but today's photo shows it nice and clean.  The entire garden got a good hosing off last night in quick pursuit of a sudden showing of aphids - not a problem on this sage, but a good shower didn't hurt!
Also silver though not furry is Artemisia "Powis Castle".  I suppose the near-white foliage reflects light and heat?  It is certainly proving well-adapted thus far!

Small, sparse leaves:

Although Russelia equisetiformis is referred to as nearly leafless, to me the tiny leaves themselves are part of its charm...
...and there is also, of course the wild Palo Verde I am following for the tree watching meme.  Its foliage is an excellent example of the small, sparse look!


Lastly, the succulents, with which I have fared badly as summer continues.  I think my error was in assuming they would be tougher than the other plants.  Apparently, not all of them.  No doubt a good Agave would be thriving at present, but I haven't put in many spiny things out of deference to those walking through this rather small space.  Perhaps I will weaken eventually and simply allow pedestrians to enter at their own risk!  At any rate, Sedeveria "Sorrento" continues to hold it own, its leaves rather greener than earlier in the year...
...and - so far an extremely resilient plant and one which demonstrates several of these features - is Euphorbia trinculli "Firesticks".  Narrow, sparse, and succulent!  Every so often I stop and remind myself how much it's grown since planting last spring...
Linking late - but had to get a few more photos this morning - with Christina and Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day...
Weather Diary: Slightly cloudy; High yesterday: 102 F (39 C)/Low: 79 F (26 C)  Actually it's been quite nice in its way, with a cool breeze blowing and only 99 F so far today...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Vase: the Cottage Look

monday vase meme, small sunny garden
Today's vase is more of a rustic affair than usual, being composed mostly of greenery from shrubs.  Pomegranate and two other very drought-tolerant types - Leucophyllum frutescens and Convolvulus cneorum - combine to make a mostly leafy arrangement.  Some stems of Perovskia and a flower from the Leucophyllum, which is blooming nicely just now, add a purply note.
monday vase meme, small sunny garden, amy myers ceramics
I've always felt that my white glaze over stoneware made for a rustic effect, and this chunky pot seemed just right for the material today.

Pomegranate foliage is plentiful; in fact, I really should do a complete pruning overhaul of what has become an overgrown shrub rather than a tree.  So I had no compunction adding a few of its stems to the vase.  Likewise with the Convolvulus, which is acting more like an octopus than a shrub.  This, despite the fact it is still in its original nursery pot awaiting decent planting conditions!  (For those of you who remember, this the "Clarence" of an earlier post.  Coming along nicely.)

I love the Convolvulus foliage.  Its soft, hairy leaves are distinctly silver, elongated, gently rounded to the tip.  White flowers are said to come in spring and summer, but Clarence has not bloomed so far.  If the growth habit is good, I think I would be willing to grow this one for the foliage alone.
monday vase meme, small sunny garden
Leucophyllum (variety unknown, but I think I can safely say this is L. frutescens, probably "Compacta") is a happy choice for a hot climate.  It is blooming merrily away, but most of the flowers are fairly deep inside, so only one ended up in the vase.  It also has softly rounded foliage, greener than the Convolvulus, and without the soft hairs.  It is being used as an accent at the top corner of the south bed, and after a slow start it is growing rapidly.  It supplied the trumpet flower in the top photograph.

The Perovskia, despite my complaints in my last post, is blooming fairly well and supplied a cluster of its little filagree flowers to the mix.  It is seen here next to a Leucophyllum branch.
monday vase meme, small sunny garden
The blue flowers to the front, the silver foliage to the back...
monday vase meme, small sunny garden
Happily linking to the Monday Vase meme with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

Happy Monday!
monday vase meme, small sunny garden
Weather Diary: Fair; High: 100 F (38 C)/Low: 82 F (28 C)
We had a significant amount of rain last Saturday, and the humidity is still high while temperatures are down.  This is great for the plants though I can't say it's much more comfortable to me!  But the garden is looking fresher.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Blooming in July

Rose "Crown Princess Margareta", Desert garden, July bloom
This is certainly not the lushest time in the small, sunny garden!  But as it is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, here is a look at what is in bloom just now.  

Because there are some very special plants in flower in spite of the weather. Some of them are one-bloom-at-a-time sorts, like the two Osteospermums that throw off the occasional blossom.  "Blue-eyed Beauty"...
Osteospermum "Blue-eyed Beauty", desert garden, July bloom
...and "Sideshow" are neither of them blooming heavily, but they are willing to smile at the world from time to time.  I look forward to a stronger showing when weather eases up.
desert garden, July bloom, Osteospermum "Sideshow"
Agastache "Ava" continues to bloom with great pertinacity.  I still think she would be wiser to get settled into the ground first, but she has other ideas.  So far the blooms are much more delicate than I expected.  Sadly, A. "Apricot Sprite" collapsed, apparently a watering failure on my part; but it took me entirely by surprise.  "Ava" is set to be a considerably larger plant in future years, and she holds court down at the bottom of the garden, an area still very sparsely planted.
desert garden, July bloom, Agastache "Ava"
Other plants are just beginning a bit of a blooming spree.  For instance - to my great delight - Gaura lindheimeri is opening a new set of blooms.  I cut it back shortly after planting, and it has responded with plenty of bushy growth and now a new flush of flowers coming on.  I suspect this is the variety "Siskiyou Pink", but the plant was labelled only with the species name, so I'm not sure.  Are there any other varieties in this colour mode?
desert garden, July bloom, Gaura lindheimeri
Leucophyllum - variety unknown, in this case - is considered highly reliable here, and it has been growing rapidly after a slow start.  Now it is sending out a new set of flowers.  Here is a close-up of one of the blooms with its lavender trumpet and speckled throat.  They are not overly large or showy but a very nice addition to a handsome evergreen shrub.
Leucophyllum, Texas Ranger, desert garden, July bloom, flower
Lavender "Goodwin's Creek Gray" has been opening its new flower stalks for a week or two.  I have certainly found a favorite in this one!
desert garden, July bloom, Lavender Goodwin's Creek Gray, lavendula
On the other hand, though Perovskia atriplicifolia is blooming, I cannot convince myself that it is really happy.  It has not grown strongly, and I lose a stem or two from time to time for no obvious reason.  This is one plant I had expected to be a good choice in this garden, but now I am not so sure.  Maybe it just needs another year of growth?
Perovskia atriplicifolia, desert garden, July bloom
And now, cheating just a little, I introduce an almost-blooming plant: Galtonia candicans, the summer hyacinth.  This is a summer-blooming bulb, native to South Africa.  Though not particularly drought-tolerant, it has held up well to the heat.  It was one recipient of an olla, which might have helped it pull through the worst of the weather in June - at least I can't help hoping so!  I have never grown it before and am waiting the opening blooms excitedly.  I have a hunch they won't last till next month, so here they are... as far as they've gotten...
desert garden, July bloom, Galtonia candicans, summer hyacinth
And then there are a few plants that have gone on and on, blooming.
Russelia equisetiformis holds the record, so far!
desert garden, July bloom, Russelia equisetiformis, Coral Fountain
Salvia greggii "Flame" has closed the gap made by a resting S. g. "Autumn Moon".  Flame has not been without a flower since May, I think.
desert garden, July bloom, Salvia greggii Flame, autumn sage
Autumn Moon looks set to start blooming again soon; it is already opening a few new buds.  Below it, miniature rose "Daniela" has continued blooming, but flowers at present are single.  Still bright red... and a few pavers have gone in along the Central Bed.
desert garden, July bloom
Crape Myrtles... yes, in the plural now...  Two days ago I happened onto a not-to-be-missed second one.  It is duly installed in the patio awaiting better planting conditions.  This one is "Dynamite", a bright red with occasional white.
desert garden, July bloom, Lagerstroemia, Dynamite, crape myrtle
 I finally did a little research and learned that both of these varieties bloom the summer long.  They start late but can continue flowering into September.  Now I understand why Rhapsody in Pink has gone on and on...  I'm thrilled with these plants. 
desert garden, July bloom, Lagerstroemia, Rhapsody in Pink, crape myrtle, crepe myrtle
And the roses are doing their part.  None are blooming heavily, but several refuse to stop for the heat.  Crown Princess Margareta is closer to her normal colour now.
rose, Crown Princess Margareta, desert garden, July bloom
St. Swithin is doing well, though blooms are only semi-double...
desert garden, July bloom, English rose
...while Wollerton Old Hall has single blooms that look magnolia-like at present!  No, I am not complaining, merely waiting for cooler weather.  (Yes, this really is Wollerton Old Hall!)
desert garden, July bloom
With rain forecast for much of the next seven days, a lot may change in the garden.  It may become possible to plant out some of my finds from the past several weeks.

Better than I expected for July's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day with Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

One more look at the Gaura...
Gaura lindheimeri, desert garden, July bloom
Weather Diary: Fair; High: 106 F (41 C)/Low: 84 F (29 C)