Friday, May 29, 2009

Something Simple...

One fun thing I love about summertime gardening (even though summer is still technically 3 weeks away), is how you have to challenge yourself to be inventive. With the impending heat, it's always questionable what to plant next that will survive.
Instead of wrestling with flowers, and keeping them watered, and fertilizing them, and deadheading to keep them blooming, and wondering when they will finally fade away, etcetera, etcetera....
I thought I'd try something interesting with succulents.

This is an old antique wheelbarrow with the bottom rusted out. It used to be filled with geraniums (a few times throughout the year because they would die from lack of watering, too much drainage, and harsh sun exposure).
First I converted it to a stone garden with a couple cactus. Not quite impressive, I then added another plant or two. Finally, I put together a plan using some small scale succulents, a few cuttings, and a couple feature specimens (in the end, about $15 on plants). It took less than six months to entire planter to fill in, and this photo was taken just after pruning. The planter is located under a large elm tree and receives midday filtered sun and then about 3hrs of full afternoon exposure. It is quite a conversation piece in this downtown Phoenix garden.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Goofin' in the Garden

Meet my new helpers (I think I'll name them Quinn & Trini). They are Pot Heads and quite the neat treat. I received them as a gift from two of my youngster garden fans - Jacob and Edward Jr. Out with their mother shopping one day, they asked "Could we use our allowance money to buy a something for Mr. Vynnie?". Now, that's quite an honor in my book. So be sure to check back and see what Quinn & Trini are up to in the garden.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Duranta - Super Plant!

If the heat has you in a rut with gardening, nothing will boost your spirits better than a little success. Or, how about a big success. One of mine has been duranta. I discovered the plant in 2001 at Tera's Garden in downtown Phoenix, which is no longer around ;-( . The lure of it's summertime durability was irresistible. At the north end of the backyard garden I had a hot wall that was frying the lawn with reflective heat. Bored with bougainvillea, I decided to add a purple duranta.

This picture was taken in 2002 October, about 1year after being planted from a 5gallon pot.

Now, only eight years later (April 2009), that once hot wall is just a cool memory. I prune the duranta about once a year, but I cut blooms from it regularly to add to flower arrangements.
The best thing about this plant, it's one of the biggest features here at Xericopia. Everyone who visits instantly remarks "What is that plant with the blue flowers?!" As they stumble past a field of lavender, swarming hummingbirds, 8ft tall hollyhocks, and purple hibiscus, they fixate on the duranta way out at the far end of the garden.

If you're looking for it in the Phoenix area, check out one of the great local spots like Baker Nursery. You'll likely not this beauty at a general home center.