Newsletter March

Hot Gardens Newsletter: March 2006

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Hot Nights Coming.  If you want to add white, fragrant night-blooming plants to enjoy during hot evenings, visit our June newsletter for suggestions about what to plant this Spring to enjoy on summer nights.

They Make Scents.  Fragrant gardens are simply the best! Here are three plants that do well in hot, dry climates and fill the air with fragrance, too.

Butterfly Bush or Summer Lilac (Buddleja davidii). This rangy shrub grows fast and produces fragrant, lilac-like blooms in mid-summer. In cold winter areas it may freeze to the ground, but will regrow and bloom the same year. In fact, if you plant one right now, you may have a sizable shrub with blooms this summer in your desert garden. One interesting variety is the ‘Harlequin” with dark purple flowers and white-edged leaves.

Crabapple Malus in FallIn Spring the crabapple produces gorgeous pink blooms and in Fall it has rich orange color leaves.  

Flowering Crabapple. (Malus ionsis ‘Klehms’) Cars will come to a screeching halt on the street outside your home if you plant a flowering crabapple in your front yard. When this tree blooms, it is covered with glorious, fragrant double-pink flowers. The fruit is large and can be pickled. Most crabapple trees are rounded and low-growing to about 15 or 20 feet. Because many varieties are susceptible to disease, ask your local nursery which one is best for your area. But try to find a fragrant, double-flowering one!

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pittosporum in bloomThe dwarf varieties of Pittosporum, also called ‘Mock Orange’, make good foundation plants, but the larger non-dwarf varieties are suitable for hedges and lawn trees. The tree and shrub forms of pittosporum are unbelievably fragrant when in bloom in Spring.

Pittosporum.  (Pittosporum tobira) Many of us know this plant as either the ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf” or “Turner’s Variegated Dwarf’ varieties. But neither produce the incredible fragrant flower clusters that the non-dwarf Pittosporum tobira does. It can be used as a hedge shrub or small tree and grows from 6 to 15 feet tall with very dense shade beneath. Another member of this family is the Cape Pittosporum (P. viridiflorum) which grows to 25 feet high, has small, very fragrant flowers, but–alas–may not be suitable for all hot climates. Again, ask your local nursery.

Applause! Applause!  Within the last month we have heard from two gardeners who intend to install plants that supposedly will not grow in their locales. One is a Malaysian gardener who longs for wisteria; the other, a Nevada gardener who has planted a Laotian palm outdoors. With some careful soil preparation, proper shelter and loving care, these plants may survive. If not, at least they gave it a good try. We have seen some unexpected success from time to time and cheer on these experiments.

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