Hot Gardens Newsletter: April 2005
South African aloes in bloom at the Los Angeles Arboretum. In late winter when most of the Arboretum was drab these hardy plants put on an astonishing and gorgeous show. The giant aloe, left, is the Aloe arborenscens. Spire aloes in bloom look like flaming torches.
Another plant that blooms in late winter giving you intensely purple flowers is the Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia), shown right. We also think of this vine as an early sign of spring. This sturdy climber needs very little water and attention.
Washed Out. The winter rain washed away the damaging salts which accumulate naturally in our poor soil. That is the good news. The bad news is that the drenching rains also washed away many nutrients. You may need to increase the frequency with which you fertilize your garden. Please note: do not increase the amount of fertilizer you use at any one time, just fertilize a little more often.
Oh Those Beautiful Aussies
The brilliant yellow blooming shrubs you are seeing everywhere are the Australian-native Feathery Cassias (Cassia artemisioides or Senna artemisioides — botanists don’t agree about the latin name!) They bloom early, are drought-tolerant, and look great massed along a garden wall as a low, open gray-green hedge, reaching only 3 to 5 feet tall. And they are virtually carefree — just plant them and ignore them.
Invisible Texan Another plant that goes largely unnoticed until it blooms in Spring is the Mescal Bean tree or Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora). This native of Texas, New Mexico and northern Mexico bursts forth with purple or lavender wisteria-like blossoms at this time of year. Often trimmed to a tree-like shape, it grows very slowly to 20 feet tall. The Mescal Bean tree tolerates drought, poor soil, wind, cold, heat and keeps on looking great and green year ’round. The downside: its brilliant red seed pods are poisonous so pick them up and dispose of them safely
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