Hot Gardens Newsletter - Spring 2004
of previous newsletters by month
The sudden summer-like heat that has descended upon us in
the last few days may have caught some of your new, young
plants or transplants unprepared. Like humans, plants
“sweat” in the heat. It’s called transpiration and consists
of evaporation of water from the leaves. Young tender plants
sweat more than older, “hardened” plants and often the young
plants wilt and die – no matter how much you water them.
The problem is that young
plants cannot absorb water from the soil fast enough to
replace the water evaporating from their leaves. One
solution that seems to work is to keep your young plants
shaded until they mature. Sudden heat may also affect more
mature plants, especially when they are putting out new
Double the Damage. The "sweaty"
plant problem is definitely made worse by the winds that
sweep across the desert in Spring. Shading your young
plants may not be enough. You may have to provide
wind-shelter, too. The best solution may be to plant
your most tender plants in the shelter of the block
walls that are so common in desert garden.
Desert Gardening 101.
In your gardening efforts this Spring, we hope you added a
lot of organic material to the soil around your plants and
in your flower/shrub borders. The one universal truth about
desert gardening is that you must improve your soil by
adding organic materials – as well as fertilizers containing
chelated iron and sulfur – on a regular basis. By regular
basis, we mean at least once a year. Ideally, do it twice a
year in Spring and Fall. You can pour all the water you want
on plants in the desert, but unless you improve the soil
first, your garden will never achieve its beautiful
Dry in Santa Barbara.
Beautiful gardens are
everywhere in Santa Barbara, but three deserve special
attention. Several years ago after the very severe drought
in Santa Barbara, their Parks Department
converted a large part of the
Alice Keck Park Memorial
Garden to a low-water usage demonstration garden. It
includes examples of flower borders and dry creek beds, as
well as plants to use in dry shady areas.
Dry, shade is one
of the most challenging environments for low-water usage
gardens because plants that like shade usually like lots of
water. Two plants they recommend for dry shade are the
Kaffir Lily (Clivia Miniata) and the variegated
Liriope “Silver Dragon’. We can attest to the fact that
variegated liriope does very well in the desert and have
seen Clivia thriving in deep, dark shade. Note that the
Clivia's leaves will burn in even the a moderate amount
This shade-loving clump of
at its peak with clusters of brilliant orange flowers
rising above strappy dark green leaves.
Hybridizers have also produced yellow blooming
Happily, the Park Department
includes a brochure and detailed plant list in a box near
the southwest corner of the garden to aid visitors in plant
identification and horticultural requirements of the plants.
The Alice Keck Park
Garden is appropriately located at Garden and Arrellaga
Santa Barbara and there are plenty of places to simply sit
and enjoy the beauty of the garden.
As you make your way from the
Alice Keck Park
Memorial Garden to the Santa
Botanic Garden, you will pass by the Santa Barbara Mission
Rose Garden. It is definitely not low water usage, but the
roses are especially beautiful at this time of year. If you
are a rose lover, this garden is worth a stop.
Travel for Fun and Profit
Learn dozens of ways to
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The route to the
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
from the Mission Rose garden is well marked. Just follow the
signs up Mission Canyon. This 78 acre botanic
garden is devoted to native plants of all regions and
California. Near the entrance, there is a small area devoted
to plants of the Great Basin, Mojave, and Sonoran deserts.
Also near the entrance is a
glorious “meadow” garden which blooms in April and
May of each year.
Eschscholzia californica, –
which do well in desert flower borders and re-seed
themselves year after year – compete with native sunflowers,
salvias and grasses to give visitors a view of a sea of
color. A mile long trail through the Botanic Garden takes
you from the desert through the meadow to the cool redwood
grove then down an oak tree lined path and back to a low
water usage demonstration garden. Along the way you will
find many benches that allow you to simply sit and enjoy the
peaceful environment. They offer guided tours daily at 2
p.m. and have a garden shop and wonderful book store. For
more photos of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden go
Go to our
Newsletter for April 2005