Hot Gardens Newsletter: May and June 2005
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Hot Days, White Nights. As the temperature
soars, most of us avoid our desert gardens until it begins
to cool after dark. That is the best reason to consider
planting a Night Garden. (But plant it in Fall or early
Spring -- not now.
It is already too hot to plant anything except palms.)
Night gardens are
designed with moonlight in mind -- filled with white flowers
and plants with variegated or silvery leaves which are
visible in the moonlight. Among the plants to consider for a
Night Garden in a hot, dry climate:
and some of the paler yellow roses can bloom all
summer long. As a basic part of a Night Garden they
will give you both shimmering beauty and fragrance
in the balmy night air.
(Nerium oleander) is a water-wise alternative to
the white roses. Once established Oleander is one of the
most rugged flowering shrubs and it blooms for months on
end. It is also somewhat fire-retardant, in case you happen
to live in an area at high risk for wildfires. (And if you
live in a high risk for fire area be sure to clear all dry
grass and brush in a 100 foot perimeter around your home and
all buildings on your property.)
Crape Myrtle - (Lagerstroemia
indica) This slow grower will only reach a height of
15 to 20 feet in a hot, dry climate primarily
because it prefers acid soil so be sure to add a lot
of organic mulch before you plant one. It blooms for
months on end in summer
(Buddleia davidii nanboensis) -- make sure you
buy the one that produces white flowers because the purple
flowering variety is more common. Very fragrant, lilac-like
blooms and a drought-tolerant Western native.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera
Caespitosa) -- unlike the invasive pink Mexican Evening
Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) which blooms during
the day, this variety is actually night-blooming, fragrant
and native to the West.
Variegated liriope muscari
'Silvery Sunproof" or Turf Lily is a durable
groundcover and reflects the moonlight softly. It
has small purple or white flowers in late summer.
Nicotiana alata --
the wild species of this upright flowering annual is very
fragrant and a night-bloomer, but the slightly less fragrant
Domino variety takes our heat better.
byzantina) form a dense mat of soft, fuzzy
leaves. In this photo the plants are blooming on
upright stems. To see what a white garden may
look like during the day beside the lambs ears is a
small variegated liriope.
Dwarf Cup Flower (Nierembergia
caerulea 'Mont Blanc') - a low, mounding plant covered with
small white flowers.
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(Achillea millefolium) is a sturdy
Western native that needs little water to survive.
(Lonicera japonica 'Halliana') -- fragrant and
attracts bees during the day.
White Jasmine Vine
(Jasminum officinale or
-- as the name says, the J. grandiflorum has larger flowers.
alba) -- first cousin to the Morning Glory, but this
one blooms fragrantly at night.
Cordia parvifolia) -- not an
Olive, but a native Western shrub that begins a long
blooming season in late Spring. May flower again in Autumn.
In addition to these you may find
other night blooming plants at your local nursery. With all
of them be sure to verify that the flowers are white.
One Color, One Garden.
Recently we have seen several gardens that are essentially
all-green gardens with perhaps one additional color -- often
a row of white roses or, in one case, a small bed of yellow
Lantana. After decades of dominance of the English flower
border style with its riot of colorful spring and summer
perennials and high maintenance requirements, the simplicity
of the all-green garden is enormously appealing. Also
appealing is the minimal upkeep required by the gardens we
have viewed: mow and water the lawn regularly, trim the
shrubs and trees once or twice a year and -- voila! -- the
garden chores are virtually all done.
Summer shut-down is underway in your garden. As longtime
desert gardeners know, when daily
temperatures reach into the 90s F. plants begin to go into
survival mode for the summer. Blossoms fade and growth
slows. Except for annuals you may have in pots on your
terrace, summer is not a time of great activity for plants
in the desert. Just keep to your regular watering schedule
and be sure to deep-water your trees every week or two. But
do not fertilize your plants in an attempt to make them
flower and grow -- you are likely to do more harm than good.
Go to our
Newsletter for June 2004 or
June 2003 or