Saturday, July 30, 2016
This is unequivocally a hot climate plant. It is frost sensitive and is likely to be cut down by freezing temperatures, though it has a good reputation for coming right back from the roots in mild winter gardens. But beyond that, both its growth and bloom seem to be triggered by high temperatures and plenty of sunlight.
My young plant went into the ground in June of last year (an unusually mild June!) from a 2.5 qt pot. It grew a little, then suffered frost burn during winter and took months to begin growing again. Sometime during this last June it began an impressive growth spurt. At present it is upwards of three, perhaps four, feet tall and equally wide, with a healthy showing of flowers. I am watering it occasionally, and of course it is still a young specimen needing a little extra moisture. It is not quite as drought-tolerant as some natives, but it certainly is an excellent low-water-use plant. And it blooms in July, which few native plants do!
Curiously, considering how successful it is in the low desert, it seems to have originated in the West Indies. Precisely where is apparently open to debate since it has been in cultivation time out of mind, growing throughout tropical regions; but it is uniquely associated with Barbados.
It has quite a variety of common names. In the southeastern US I find it listed as Pride of Barbados, but here in Arizona it often goes by the name of Red Bird of Paradise. Despite the resultant potential for confusion with Strelitzia reginae, I rather like the Bird of Paradise cognomen as the flowers are nearly always airborne, fluttering on their long stems as the breezes move through. They are, in fact, a good source of movement in the garden, as well as brilliant color.
Danger Garden. There were other plants I would have liked to include, especially Salvia farinacea and my newish white lantana, both of which have proven very reliable for bloom during this particularly dry summer. But I only managed to take pictures of the Caesalpinia!
Weather Diary: Partly cloudy; High: 112 F (44 C); Low: 81 F (27 C); Humidity: 15%-70%
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
As for flowers, the situation is much what it has been. The flush of bloom on the lavender miniature rose is over, and I need to do a thorough deadheading. The little creamy one continues to flower. Blossoms of Catharanthus roseus are plentiful, and I keep suddenly remembering how much the plants have grown since I put them in back in May. Above all, Lagerstroemia indica "Rhapsody in Pink" is proving its worth this summer with a very resilient flowering in this difficult season.
However, all is very, very dry. I have not lived here long enough to be familiar with the normal range of extremes, but this has certainly been the hottest, driest summer since we moved here. Granted, our first summer saw record-breaking rainfall, but even last year the monsoon rains supplied a significant season change between June and July, giving a good deal of relief to the plants. This year I have only seen a couple of brief downpours in the garden, enough to cool the air for a few hours, but not enough to really moisten the soil. And overall, the temperatures remain quite high, reaching 105 F - 111 F (41 C - 44 C) daily, which dries the soil further as well as being a threat in itself. There is no residual mositure to speak of, and even the wild desert plants are in emergency mode. Rubber rabbitbrush, last year a reliable source of green in the landscape, is turning brown from the bottom up; many of the wild trees are partially or completly leafless.
|...seen on a walk yesterday morning; July beauty in the desert... Many desert plants are naturally summer deciduous.|
Having moaned and groaned, here are a few of the bright spots in the South Border.
Lagerstroemia indica "Rhapsody in Pink" is a marvel.
This is the only part of the garden where the hedge is nearly complete, though the plan is to have it extend around the east and north sides as well. I have used the variety "Tuscan Blue" for its relatively upright growth habit. If all goes well, it should make a solid backdrop to the borders as well as providing screening from the tack/hay shed beyond. So it is a very integral part of the garden and should certainly be given its full share of care by the gardener!
On this last Tuesday in July, the South Border is still looking fairly good overall. The plants and I are waiting for a break in the weather! Hopefully we won't have to wait till October...!
Posted for the Tuesday View theme at Words and Herbs - thanks for hosting, Cathy!
The culprits were Caesalpinia pulcherrima and Hamelia patens. In the case of the Caesalpinia, I will perhaps try the boiling water trick at some point as it is a fairly woody plant, albeit tender. The flowers would be grand in a vase if one could get them to last any time!
The other component of the vase is lantana, of which I have used two types, both the named "Denver Red" (the dark cluster in the photo below)...
Rambling in the Garden!
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
The fact is, I've missed two regular weekly memes already and it's only Tuesday night! I am sitting at the computer looking across at Monday's vase. There was no way of knowing for certain that Caesalpinia pulcherrima and one stem of Hamelia patens would not survive cutting well. As it happens, it seems they don't! So there went the Monday Vase as yesterday was too busy for a second try. As for today, I felt that turning and watering that compost heap simply had to be done... and I was too bushed afterward to take pictures of the South Border. Trust me, it hasn't changed much since last week!
Instead I took a quiet, fairly random look at the garden, camera in hand. Here is the mini tour.
Caesalpinia pulcherrima, while not useful for bouquets, is growing well in the East Border. It is seen here with Artemesia x "Powis Castle" behind.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
But the garden still has a surprising amount of bloom. Some of the blossoms are a bit crispy; others have a tendency to wilt. But there is bloom! Here is a brief tour.
The two Lagerstroemias, L. indica "Dynamite"...
There is the indefatigueable Russelia equisetiformis "Big Red".
Along with Russelia, I was relying on Hamelia patens to supply nectar for hummingbirds, who have, however, apparently left to spend the hot season elsewhere! The Hamelia is a wonderful plant, but it is planted in a very fast-draining part of the garden, and I am having trouble keeping enough water on it. Perhaps by next summer it will be better established and I will have amended the soil enough to keep moisture levels more even.
It is certainly the tropicals that are the source of mid-July bloom in this garden!
|Catharanthus roseus in lavender and white|
|White lantana with native chinchweed growing nearby. I normally allow some chinchweed to add a bit of yellow to the late summer garden.|
|Lantana "Denver Red" filling in below Euphorbia tirucalli "Firesticks"|
|Mirabilis jalapa (Four o'Clocks), unopened flowers|
|Cuphea ignea "Vermillionaire"|
But there are some dry country plants in bloom as well. Alyogyne huegelii is sproradically in bloom though not today. There is also Eremophila hygrophana.
And there is the native Penstemon pseudospectabilis "Coconino County". To my surprise, it is still putting out flowers, having been more or less in bloom since late spring. The foliage behind belongs to Hippeastrum "Naranja".
There are also grass flowers.
|Pennisetum setaceum "Rubrum"|
And a few roses, especially among the miniatures, such as my little creamy white one. (I think it once had a fair amount of pink to it, but that was long before the heat began!)
Crown Princess Margareta is also trying to do her bit.
Among the surprises are continuing bloom from Dianthus...
...and the reblooming iris "Clarence", with this being its second bloom.
And one of the best of all is Salvia farinacea, planted near Hamelia patens, but much more tolerant of the low water conditions. It has been in nearly continuous bloom for months.
We are still waiting our first real monsoon rains, with another chance in the forecast through this coming week. It would make such a difference! Right now the plants are dealing with the triple difficulties of high heat, very low humidity, and hot winds. Just about everyone would be happy with a good downpour here.
In the meantime, I'm pleased that planning from last summer has resulted in a much better range of flowering plants to tide over the hottest months. This is the desert garden's doldrums, much different from growing in more temperate regions. To see many other July gardens around the world, don't forget to visit May Dreams Gardens!
|Penstemon pseudospectabilis "Coconino County"|
Weather Diary: Sunny; High: 110 F (43 C)/Low: 88 F (31 C); Humidity: 12%-29%