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Hot Gardens Newsletter:  Winter 2008

List of previous newsletters by month 

Wild Fire Stoppers.  The firestorms that struck the western Mojave desert regions outside of Los Angeles in October revealed a new use for succulent plants.  At least one homeowner claims that her giant Aloe arborenscens stopped the fire from burning her home.  And she may be right.  The 4 and 5 foot tall Aloes were planted like a hedge around her house.  Naturally filled with water, they baked and wilted in the intense heat -- but did not burst into flame. 

Many drought-tolerant plants have high oil content and burst into flame easily -- aloes are the exception.   Since we wrote about this, we have heard similar reports from other gardeners in fire areas, confirming the value of these and other succulents as fire barriers.
aloe arborenscents in bloom Aloes bloom in Spring, sometimes as early as February, and provide a welcome burst of brilliant orange and yellow color in otherwise drab late-winter gardens.  These giants are well over 6 feet tall.

Hate To Give Up Your Lawn?
  Buffalo Grass (Buchloe dactyloides) is growing in popularity as a substitute for traditional lawn turf grasses, such as fescue or Kentucky Blue Grass.  This native of the American Great Plains needs significantly less water and the newer varieties which grow to only 3 inches in height almost never need to be mowed.  In autumn, Buffalo grass turns brown, then regrows in Spring.  If your local nursery does not have the seeds or plugs, you can find them online.   More ideas for lawn replacement here.

Non-Toxic Weed Prevention.  Get a head start on weed control in your flower borders by applying biodegradable corn gluten on the beds.  This natural product, available in local nurseries or online, prevents seeds from sprouting without harming your existing plants.  Corn gluten is a pre-emergent weed killer -- it does not work if those pesky weeds have begun to grow.

Winter Root Health.  It is cold now in many desert regions of the Northern Hemisphere, but the trees in your desert garden still need watering.  This is doubly important if your winter climate includes drying winds.  In winter your trees are growing new roots within the protected environment of the soil.  Slow, deep watering every two weeks or so should keep your trees healthy through the cold dry season.  More roots this winter also means more vigorous growth in Spring. 


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More gardening news for you

fan tex ash rio grande succulents in bloom santa barbara mission rose garden
For a burst of color in fall 
plant a Fan Tex ash Rio Grande. 
Other trees are here.
Succulents bloom beautifully
in spring and can thrive
with almost total neglect.
Preview the many gardens
of Santa Barbara including
the Mission Rose Garden.

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Our 9 Most Popular Hot Gardens Newsletters: 

1.  Flowering plants that reliably bloom in scorching mid-summer heat.

2.  Australian plants and trees that grow well in hot, dry climates.

3.  Weather-proofing palms for winter; cold weather palm trees.

4.  A white garden for night time viewing.

5.  Topiary can be easy to create and add charm to your garden.

6.  Techniques to combat death by heat exhaustion of plants in pots.

7.  Cactus as security barriers for your property.

8.  South African aloes for brilliant late winter color in your garden.

9.  Frugal gardening tips to save you money.

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