Hot Gardens Newsletter:
List of previous newsletters by
Caesalpinia pulcherrima! This plant,
commonly known as the red Mexican Bird of Paradise,
has recently achieved "Highway Plant" status.
Department of Transportation has planted it along Interstate
15 near Barstow in the Mojave Desert. That means CDOT
thinks the Mexican Bird of Paradise
will survive exhaust
fumes, dust storms, unrelenting winds, little water and
utter neglect! In the kinder, gentler conditions of your
desert garden it may quickly grow to a height of as much as
12 feet. In summer this large, lacy-leaf shrub is covered
with red and orange blooms for months on end.
Take the Screwdriver Test.
Not certain if you are watering your lawn too much
or too little? Well, here is an easy test. Take an 8 inch
screwdriver and push it into your lawn in various locations
-- close to and far away from sprinklers -- an hour after
you have watered. If it goes in all the way, you are
irrigating enough and may even want to cut reduce the amount
you are watering.
If you cannot push it in to that
depth, you may need to increase the water your lawn is
receiving. One important note -- if, an hour after your
lawn has been watered, it is still "squishy" you are
irrigating way, way too much. (Note: since we wrote this, we
are now recommending that you remove and replace your lawn
Do not fertilize the plants in your desert garden
during the hottest summer months. Most of them are in a
summer dormancy state and the last thing they want is to be
awakened by a jolt of nitrogen. You may want to lightly
fertilize plants in pots because daily watering washes away
all the nutrients in the pots. Avoid planting anything but
palms in hot months. It is better to wait until the average
daily temperature reaches around 90 degrees F. before you
begin Fall planting.
Fads and Fancies. Over the decades garden styles and
preferred plants have changed and continue to change.
Once-popular plants get torn out, new ones are planted. We
became very aware of this one Spring several years ago
during a visit to Santa Barbara when we saw tall purple and
blue spires of the
Pride of Madeira (Echium fastuosum)
blooming spectacularly in gardens which had been planted
originally in the 1930s and 1940s. This perennial resembles
a 5 foot tall mountain lupine, loves sunshine and will
survive winter temperatures of down to about 20 to 25
degrees F. It definitely deserves a place in drought
Passion for Purple.
Judging from what is in garden centers and retail
nurseries these days, a new plant passion has
begun. Purple, burgundy and chartreuse leaf plants
seem to be the new garden stars -- perhaps in
reaction to the gray-leaf Mediterranean plants that
have been so popular for several years now.
In this garden purple-leaf
have been added to
a predominantly gray-green Mediterranean garden.
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More News on Global Warming. The
hundreds of thousands of birds who annually nest and breed
in the Orkney Island have, this year, failed to lay eggs and
hatch chicks. The cause, according the a report in the
British newspaper, The Independent, is starvation. The
sandeels, a primary source of food for the birds, have
disappeared. The sandeels are a cold-water species and the
water around the Orkney Islands has become warmer. Once
again, we thank Dr. Joan Padro for bringing this to our