Newsletter August

Hot Gardens Newsletter – August 2005

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Hot Walls.  While we have entered into the Too-Hot-To-Do-Anything-Outside season, we would recommend that you take a quick foray into your garden during midday and feel how hot those concrete block walls are. Then, during the evening, do it again. This simple test will show you how much heat is being absorbed during the day, then radiated back out at night.

It is still far too early and too hot for Fall planting, but consider greening up those walls once the weather cools.  A hedge or climbing vine can significantly reduce the heat captured and released by concrete block walls, thus reducing the temperature of the air surrounding your home both day and night.  For a list of shrubs that make excellent hedges click here.

Boxwood, myrtle, Japanese privetTopiary Trim.  Shrubs around your garden can be more than natural coolants. Consider trimming them into interesting shapes. Topiary does not necessarily mean shrubs trimmed to look like teddy bears or dinosaurs.  Shrubs pruned into simple geometric shapes are also topiary.  But some shrubs lend themselves more to being trimmed in interesting forms.  This photo shows a combination of three shrubs trimmed to simple but attractive shapes.

A combination topiary hedge using low Korean Boxwood with a globe of fine-leafed Myrtle and a tall rectangular hedge in the rear of Japanese privet. The three different shapes and three textures add interest to this part of the garden.

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The low hedge in front is Korean Boxwood (Buxus Koreana) which is recommended for hot, dry climates. English Boxwood does not like alkaline soils and hot summers. Behind the Boxwood is a large Myrtle (Myrtus communis) shaped into a globe. The tall hedge at the rear is the fast-growing Japanese Privet (Ligustrum japonicum).

Myrtle Fan.  We especially like Myrtle for hedges. It is a dense shrub with small leaves and needs only an annual trimming after it has been initially shaped.  Its natural shape is globular so it is best used for a wide hedge–not a narrow one. Keep that in mind when you decide to shape it by pruning.

Ligustrum japonicum privetJapanese Privet, on left, shoots branches out in all directions and requires frequent attention.  It also has a pungently scented flower that looks somewhat like white lilac–but it sure doesn’t smell like lilac!  A row of privet shrubs, however, can make a narrower hedge than the wider, more globular Myrtle.

Hardenbergia Lilac vineGreen Links. If your garden is surrounded by a chain link fence, instead of planting a shrubs to hide it, you may want to add green to it with some vines. We especially like the look of the Australian-native Lilac vine (Hardenbergia violacea) which blooms in February — an early sign that winter is ending. It is a rugged, evergreen vine that will take full sun and requires only moderate water.


The Delicious Side of Global Warming.  One of Britain’s largest grocery store chains, Sainsburys, has just harvested and sold the first-ever crop of apricots grown commercially in the U.K. Kiwi fruit is next on their list of new, locally-grown, non-native fruits. Another grower has planted an almond orchard in Southern England with an eye to harvesting the nuts commercially. This may impact growers elsewhere on our planet who may find that the demand for their exported apricots, kiwis and almonds will diminish. You can find a list of fruit trees and nut trees for your desert garden on this site. We would like to thank Joan Padro for bringing this news about apricots in London to our attention.

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Want a  color-filled hedge? Lantana could be the best choice.
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Clematis  and other vines can be grown in a hot dry garden.
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6 ways to transform drab garden walls into things of beauty.


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