If you are above the 4000 foot
level, winter is here--or on the way--so wait until next
Spring for major landscape installation. Everyone--whatever
altitude you live at--should add mulch to flower beds and
around trees and shrubs now!
||Jack in the Beanstalk trees. In
the children’s story, the magic beanstalk sprouted
and grew sky-high overnight. While we cannot promise
you instant, tall, shade-giving trees, there are
some that grow fairly fast. The
Chitalpa (Chitalpa x tashkentensis)
will grow 2 feet or more every year to a mature
height of 25 to 30 feet. Better yet, this
heat-loving tree blooms with pink, white or lavender
flowers all summer long.
Another fast grower is the
Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia). It can reach 30
feet tall within 5 years and ultimately can grow to a height
of 40 to 60 feet. It has a graceful weeping shape, as does
the Nichol’s Willow-leaf Peppermint tree (Eucalyptus
nicholii). Again, you can count on growth of 2 feet or
more per year with this low-water usage eucalyptus which
grows to 50 feet tall. The bark is reddish-brown and the
leaves, when crushed, smell like peppermint! You can find a
list of more trees that will grow fast in our southwest
desert climate on
Fast Growing Trees.
Spouting Off. If
you are considering disconnecting your expensive fountain
forever because of the drought, you don’t have to remove it
or leave it standing bare. It can be easily transformed into
a beautiful container for plants to give you seasonal color.
Combine flowering annuals such as purple, lavender and white
petunias with trailing ones such as the chartreuse-leafed
sweet potato vine. Plant densely for the most dramatic
If you intend to keep your fountain
as a water feature, remember to run it frequently, if only
for a short time, to prevent damage to the pipes and pump
from lack of use.
Iris Love. We have
to confess to a passion for
Bearded iris (Iridacese)
and if you act quickly there is still time to plant rhizomes
for fabulous blooms next year. Plant them shallowly, just
below the surface. After the flowers fade, the upright
leaves continue to give a vertical structure to a garden
border. Iris thrive in the sun and do not like “wet feet”.
The Bearded iris is a low water usage plant, except for
those water-guzzling, repeat bloomers that flower in both
Spring and Fall. Consider combining iris with scented
geraniums (Pelargonium) for a perennial border that
remains gray-green year ‘round and can survive some neglect.
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Almost Native. Our
efforts to grow a bougainvillea this year produced so-so
results and old-timers promise us that our struggling plant
will freeze and die over winter in our Mojave
desert garden. (Those of you in the Sonora
desert, in and around Phoenix, will probably have better
luck.) But a low-water usage climber that has bloomed
profusely in yellow, gold and orange for months is the
Trumpet creeper, a native of South Africa
that acts like a local. It needs support and can grow to 30
feet in one season. It can also be used as a ground cover on
a steep, dry slope. As with virtually all low water usage
plants, it will need regular watering until it is