Hot Gardens Newsletter: October 2003
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The brutally hot summer here in the Southwest ruined many
lawns. The usually unnoticeable Kentucky bluegrass found in
many fescue lawn sod and seed mixes suffered terribly and
simply died, leaving ugly bare spots. (The fescue part of
the mixture survived for the most part in the form of green
clumps.) If you decide to reseed you will have to water
several times a day for a couple of weeks until the new
grass is established. And you may have to do it all over
again next year – the world is becoming hotter. It may be
time to re-think that lawn altogether.
Front Yard Geometry.
We recently saw a moderate-size front yard that
had been “planted” with terra cotta color pavers. The
pavers were spaced far enough apart to allow for
creeping thyme to be planted between them. The look was
very geometric, greener, and more attractive than a rock
mulch solution. The fragrance from the thyme as one
walks across the “lawn” is wonderful!
As a border to this inventive yard
the owner had planted scented geraniums and other
desert-hardy plants. To top it off, he got a nice tax
write-off -- his lawnmower was donated to charity.
Now through the middle or end of November is the absolutely
best time to plant trees and shrubs in your garden. The
weather has cooled down enough – well, at least it is below
100 degrees F. these days—to minimize the heat stress on
transplants. If you are planting a tree, be sure to dig the
hole at least 2 to 3 times as wide as the root ball. But do
not plant it deep: the top of the root ball should not be
covered. Be sure to ask your nursery for their planting
instructions for your local area.
Hummingbird Heaven. The
Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha ‘Midnight' planted outside our kitchen window is now over 3
feet tall and in full bloom. What a pleasure it is
to watch hummingbirds feeding on the brilliant
purple flowers from dawn to dusk. Over
2,000 plants classified are as salvias, but this is
our favorite for hot climates. It blooms twice a
year – in Spring and late Fall. Trim back the
branches to about 8 inches after each bloom fades to
spur new growth and encourage a longer blooming
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Ban the Butterflies.
Yes, yes – we know that butterflies are beautiful. But the
reality is that before they are butterflies, these creatures
are caterpillars with huge appetites for plants in your
garden. We recommend that you plant a bird-friendly garden
instead of one that encourages butterflies. You can find
more information about gardens that wild birds – not