Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Perfectionist In Me

Ever walk out in the garden and get frustrated?  That was me today as I was outside working on bits and pieces here and there.  I had to pull out two dead Jacarandas and then I replaced them with two Mandarin orange bushes.  Little by little the fruit garden is coming along.  However, as I was carefully taking one of the Mandarin bushes out of the container, the roots all fell out and I had to carefully try and place them into the ground.  I'm crossing my fingers that the plant will be okay.  If not, I have the plastic container and receipt. 
Look at this garden!!!  Can you believe that this is my headling pic for the blog?  It has filled in somewhat, but I had to trim the Cereus and Jacaranda down and all of it shows new growth.
As I move over to the fern garden, I see my basil is coming up nicely and I fertilize the bamboo.  The trees are all swaying in the wind and I'm enjoying the breeze until I see that the VERY top of my Euc has a bare branch.  Being OCD, I stare at it for several minutes.  I grab my binoculars, research info on the internet, and take a chair with a very long pole to examine where the tip of the tree goes bare.  I'm still just wondering if the leaves will come back as there are many branches with new growth.  Essentially I want all traces of winter gone from the garden NOW!

For the good news, I see fresh fruit on the apricot, peach, fig, tangelo and mulberry trees. The persimmons is about to flower.  In fact, I ate several of the mulberries and was very thankful that we have fruit trees all around us.  I looked at the whiskey barrels and saw beautiful flowers on the cacti.  My castor beans are coming back as are the older bougainvillea.  My only remaining sacred Jacaranda is very green and lush(only half the tree survived).  BUT for every several steps forward, we take one backwards!  An interesting thing in the bougainvillea world happened.  The freeze killed all the first year regular looking bougainvillea in the sun garden YET the Torchglow variety all survived. And what about all of those elephant ears I planted last year?  I believe May will reveal whether the bulbs survived or not.   I've got so much more work to do! I have one whole side of bamboo garden to put in while on another, I've still got to do the citrus garden. One thing at a time....I know.  It just is overwhelming sometimes.  So do you ever look at your garden and get frustrated? 
The beginnings of my succulent garden.

Coral Fountains

                            This pic was taken in Phoenix during a visit to the botanical gardens.

One of my favorite plants for the Sonoran desert is the Coral Fountains(Russelia equisetiformis).
This next plant in the groundcover series has a bushier and grassier appearance.  It has beautiful long orange/red flowers that are produced on a stalk.  I absolutely love Coral Fountains but unfortuneatly our extreme freeze killed our plant to the ground.  It was lush and full....and spreading! Sad times. However, hope remains as it began to come back in mid April.  The hummingbirds adored this plant and all it took was one cold freeze for 4 days to take this beauty down.  However, I am not giving up on this plant so easily.  This plant had performed very well in the garden with intense sun and very little water once it was established.  If we have a freeze like that again, I am going to cover this beauty up.  I highly recommend this plant for the Tucson area especially if you love your hummingbirds and want something to do well.

A blogger friend, Noelle of Ramblings from a Desert Garden, reported on this plant several months ago. She is up in the Phoenix area so I had wondered how her Coral Fountains did up in the warmer regions of our state after that severe frost.  She reported that her plant was brown but had new growth coming back.  The temps recorded at El Presidio were 16 to 17 degrees over the course of several days in Tucson which almost completely killed the there wasn't any new growth for us until several weeks ago.  The temps we experienced were not typical of our winter lows, but they do happen. However, the plant is a great choice for our wildlife and xeric landscapes in Tucson. The link to Noelle's write on the Coral Fountains is below.  She's got a great blog on plants from the Phoenix area.  If you haven't read Ramblings from a Desert Garden, here's your chance below.  Until next time....

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mexican Petunia

An easy plant to grow in Tucson, this grassy appearing petunia is one to place around your garden.  It dies back in winter, but comes back in spring.  After our extreme freeze, I thought this plant was a goner, but new growth began appearing during our first week of 80 degree weather in March.  That is impressive.  It spreads and can create a large grassy patch in your garden with brilliant purple flowers.  The secret for letting this plant become a weed is to give it bright sunny shade or morning sun.  The more sun this plant gets; the more blooms you'll see.  If you alter the ground in any way and loosen our hard clay soil, the roots will have a better chance to spread....and they will if given the chance:).  They will grow in shade but don't expect a lot of flowers.  They will also reflect the amount of water you give them.  It can be a drought tolerant plant, but if you give it more water, this plant will bush out and  perform even better. It doesn't get too tall(max about 3 feet) but it will grow wide into clumps if given free range.  This is a common plant around Tucson and easy to grow.  Give it the right conditions and the Mexican Petunia will be a wonderful and low care plant for your Tucson garden.  Until next tomorrow....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dwarf Cup Flower

Continuing on with this groundcover series, I am excited today to write about this particular plant!  Shocking.  Surprising.  Light.  Airy.  And purple!!  Okay I need to calm down:)  Why am I excited about this plant? Of all of the groundcovers I planted, this one snapped back the fastest after our winter freeze and began growing quickly producing its first flower in March!  Look at the pic below...
Taken in March.  These were the first signs of life in the garden.

In spring, this plant really began taking off and it was the only one in this particular tree well to survive our extreme freeze.  It adds lovely texture to surrounding plants and enhances the overall appearance of the fern garden.  In this particular garden, the focal plants are ferny with smaller leaves which is what this plant provides!  This plant is highly recommended for your Tucson or Zone 9 garden.  Here are the facts thanks to Linda Strader from the Tucson Examiner.
I took this at The Gardens...part of the UA Extension on River and Campbell.  This plant is really just an amazing groundcover or potted plant. 

 "Dwarf cup flower (Nierembergia hippomanica) is an underused, desert loving perennial, that deserves more attention. For Tucsonans, finding a flowering plant that loves the heat, blooms profusely, is drought tolerant, and reseeds itself readily, is a dream come true. The only requirement that mars perfection is it does need light shade, such as underneath a mesquite or palo verde tree. Dwarf cup flower grows from about 6 to 12 inches tall and wide. It has stiff, upright needle like leaves, bright green in color. Tiny purple flowers cover the plant throughout the summer. It is recommended to cut back to influence more blooms, but not necessary. Another variety is ‘Mont Blanc’ with white flowers, but it does not seem to reseed itself as easily as the purple species. Plant Dwarf cup flower in the spring for an accent in your desert garden. Since it has low water requirements, you can use your existing irrigation system. It also does well in pots." End of article.
So there you have it....from two Tucsonans.  This plant is a must for your groundcover or potted areas. Until next time.....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Autumn Joy from El Presidio.  Stock footage from my older camera.

An experiment really.....from Wisconsin.  We all do this at some point.  We take a plant from a different gardening zone and try it in our own.  And this is what I had done with this particular plant.  There are MANY varieties of sedum that are better suited for our Tucson area. I saw this growing next to my Mom and Dad's house and thought, why not?  It had thick succulent looking leaves and looked like it would do well here.  So I took several clippings and put a moist paper towel around the ends in a ziploc bag right before I boarded my plane back to Tucson.  When I arrived back home, I stuck them in some soil in a pot.  At first it didn't look hopeful, but the new transplants snapped back and did very well.  Now this plant had my I put it into the ground once the roots were established in the pots and watched it grow and grow.  Our freeze this winter killed the plant to the ground, which is weird because it was from Wisconsin, but I see that it's coming back again in the place I put it.  I placed this sedum in indirect light to protect from the extreme afternoon sun.  It is under a ramada that is fairly shaded.  While it has grown, it hasn't "gone to town" in the area I placed it. Perhaps this will be the year?  For a groundcover, this is a plant that I would use for a seasonal flare to add punch to an already hardy and existing groundcover.   I use this plant with my tropical spiderplants, elephant ears, caladiums, and philodendrons. I had thought to use this as a groundcover like my parents did back home, but it seems this is better in pots and planters with other plants.

Here is more info from Marie Iannotti.....
"Showy Sedum, the taller plants in the genus Sedum, are often taken for granted in the garden, partly because they don’t bloom until the fall, but also because they require so little care from the gardener. Their thick, succulent leaves are able to withstand drought and rainy weather. The flower buds form early and remain attractive well in winter. If the deer or rabbits didn’t eat them, Sedum would be a perfect plant(people living on the outskirts of town and in the Foothills/Oro Valley-watch out....Javelina will find it:) Varies with variety from Zones 3 - 10.

Border Stonecrop are a small section of the hundreds of species of Sedum. These taller growing Sedum have thick stems, fleshy leaves and tight flower heads that start out looking similar to heads of broccoli. Most are sturdy enough to stand upright on their own, with a few varieties showing a trailing quality suitable for containers. Flowers tend to be in shades of pink and mauve, that start out pale and deepen as they mature. Flower heads are attractive from bud through their dried stage.

Design Tips:

Sedum look especially good in a small mass planting that takes center stage in autumn. Because they look good all season, Sedum are suitable for edging, specimen plants and containers. Smaller varieties are good choices for rock gardens(Tucson!) and wall. Sedum make great cut flowers and are popular with butterflies.

Cultural Notes:

Sedum are extremely easy to grow. They prefer a well-drained soil, but can tolerate rainy weather as well. Extreme heat and lack of sun both cause Sedum to get a bit leggy. Pruning the plants back in early July will encourage them to get bushier and to grow more study.

Maintenance: Sedum flowers bloom only once; late in the season. Sedum do not need deadheading and often look good right through the winter. After several years, the center of Sedum plants will show signs of dying out. Division is needed at that point, to keep the plant vigorous. Stem cuttings can be taken at any time, to propagate more Sedum. "  End of article.
So there you have it. Until tomorrow.....
6 - 24" H, 12 - 24" W
Full Sun / Partial Shade
Bloom Period:
Late Summer / Fall

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blue Daze Evolvulus

Many of you may wonder why a lot of desert plants in Tucson have that grayish/silver/fuzzy kind of leaf? It's a defense from our hot sun and if you see that color on plants, it's a good indication that the plant will survive our extreme temps in the desert.....which this plant did!  One of the shocking things to survive our extreme freeze here was the Blue Daze Evolvulus.  This plant performed wonderfully this past year providing lots of lovely light blue blooms under one of the trees here during our summer months.  It received a good amount of southern least 6 hours.  However it was not placed in the direct sun and it rarely, once established, needed great amounts of water.  I am going to buy more of these plants again this year.  They are hardy and do extremely well in amended soil.  Many people use this plant in hanging baskets.  Sounds like a good idea to me:)  Here are the facts....

Evolvulus, or blue daze, is an evergreen subshrub that grows in a low, spreading mound, up to 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) in diameter, but no more than 1 ft (0.3 m) tall. The stems become woody as they age. Leaves and stems are densely downy, covered with a light gray fuzz. Use your tongue to feel the feltlike texture. The egg shaped leaves are about a 0.5 in (1.3 cm) wide and 1 in (2.5 cm) long. The funnel shaped flowers are born individually in leaf axils near the stem tips. They are about 1 in (2.5 cm) across, with five pale lavender or powder blue petals and white throats. Evolvulus blooms profusely and almost continuously, but each flower lasts only a day, opening in the morning and closing by afternoon. The cultivar, 'Blue Daze' is widely available.

Evolvulus grows well in full sun in poor sandy soils that are well drained. Light: Evolvulus does best in full sun, but can tolerate a little shade, especially at midday.

Moisture: Evolvulus needs a well drained soil, but also frequent watering. It cannot tolerate wet soils at all, and very rainy periods or overwatering will cause fungus problems and lead to premature death. Evolvulus needs very little water in winter, and the humidity should be low when the temperature is low.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. This is one plant that likes it hot! In areas that get frost, grow blue daze as an annual or in a container that can be brought inside. Some specimens of blue daze may survive light frosts, especially if they have been mulched.

Propagation: Propagate blue daze from softwood stem cuttings or by seed. The stems tend to take root where they touch the ground, so blue daze can be propagated easily by separating rooted stems from the mother plant.

The name “Evolvulus” means to untwist, referring to its nonvining habit. That's pretty special for a plant that is in the morning glory family.

More plants to write about for this groundcover series.  Until tomorrow gardening friends....

Groundcovers for the Sonoran Desert

Our next series takes us into the extremely fun world of groundcovers. What are groundcover plants?  Simple.  It can be anything that covers the ground for either an aesthetic purpose or planted to prevent erosion or drought.   In the desert, groundcover plants can mean many different things.  You can use cactus as groundcover or smaller agaves.  Most think of groundcovers as fuzzy furry greeny leafy plants, but it doesn't always have to be.  I have worked with 4 primary types of groundcovers....the desert plants like cacti or agave, the vine, the traditional, and the tropical groundcovers.  There is so much to choose from that it can be overwhelming.  So I'd like to show some pics to help demonstrate this next series of plants that I am currently using or experimenting with at El Presidio.  Let's begin with the desert groundcover theme......
Here is barrel cactus used in a repeating form punctuated with smaller agaves under a mesquite
 Another prickly choice for groundcover are the hairy style cactus that you see below from the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  I'll be taking you there in several weeks.  While not traditional in the sense of a groundcover, like from my home back in Wisconsin, it is a groundcover for the desert. Agaves are also commonly used.

An example of a vine groundcover is something like Algerian Ivy or Confederate Jasmine.  At El Presidio, the Confederate Jasmine is used like a groundcover for the northern planters.

Furry, soft, sweet and whimsical with smaller blooms, the choices for our traditional groundcovers are limitless.  Here are a few that we use like lavender, lantana, verbena......many of the ones chosen for this series will be from this category.

Taken from the fern garden, I have a lot to say about this plant coming up in this series.
              And you recognize the close up below on this beloved plant in Tucson?

And finally let's check out a tropical groundcover idea....

Again used in planters to fill in space under our large oaks, caladiums do a great job hiding the live oak suckers that pop up around the base.

As you can see, many plants can be considered groundcover plants.  We'll take a look into some fun and beautiful plants for your Zone 9 garden. If you go to some of the local nurseries, you'll notice that we have an endless choice of plants to choose from.  This series could not cover all of those plants, but I'll highlight a few.  I'll also let you know how these particular groundcovers did during our extreme freeze.  Most of these plants are which ones made it and which ones didn't?  Stay tuned for more today.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Remembering the Supermoon......

Taken in front of the Eucalyptus
Laying on the dirt road(hoping not to get run over) snapping away a million shots!:)

Shot from Anklam Road behind A Mountain

Sometimes the shots have a yellowish tint while others are whiter...

Our dusty air created this visual display on 3/19/2011.  What an incredible view!!! I need something else for my camera because these pics take forever to get is an attempt to show you just how tricky taking moon pictures can get.....

Sometimes, they turn out blurred or the hand moves slightly or the moon face doesn't even show up!!!:)  That's the fun of photography:)
                                                     Rising behind the Rincon Mountains

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Ironwood Tree

The Ironwood is one of the largest and longest-lived Sonoran Desert plants, reaching 45 feet in height and persisting as long as 1,500 years. During these hot days of summer, I wanted to share this very native tree to homeowners.  Recently at the Gardens, people have asked me about the Mexican Buckeye and Ironwood.  The high school I work at is called Ironwood Ridge and is surrounded by many of these slow growing trees.  Owls love to call the Ironwood their home as do many other birds.  I found this article that I thought I'd share with you from the Pima County State Files. In the spring, these trees have a lovely lavender to dark purple blossom. The bark is a solid silver grey color.  It is more commonly seen around washes and in the Oro Valley area, but they do grow in town.  Most people in the city of Tucson don't use this plant in their landscape because it's slow growing.  It is a highly recommended tree however for our residents both local and wild:)  The article is as follows....
Don't can train this as a tree and it gets about 20 to 25 feet high and around 30 feet wide. Some places report this tree as high as 45 feet.  The trees around school are pruned yearly.

"It is a single or multi-trunked evergreen tree, and displays lavender to pink flowers in May. By early summer, the pods mature. Each 2-inch pod contains one to four shiny brown seeds that are relished by many Sonoran animals, from small mammals and birds to humans. Its iron-like wood is renowned as one of the world's densest woods.

The shaded sanctuary and richer soils created by ironwoods increase plant diversity and provide benefits to wildlife. Ironwoods are too hard to provide nesting cavities for birds, but the cacti that grow beneath them provide such opportunities. Insects abound within the ironwood complex, attracting birds and reptiles. As with other legumes, the ironwood's leaf litter supplies nitrogen to the soil and its seeds provide a protein-rich resource for doves, quail, coyotes, and many small rodents.

The Ironwood tree is found only in the Sonoran Desert, in the dry locales below 2,500 feet, where freezing temperatures are uncommon. In fact the Ironwood's habitat is almost an exact match of the Sonoran Desert boundry. Ironwoods are most common in dry ephemeral washes. Ironwoods function as oases of fertile and sheltered habitat within a harsh and challenging desert landscape. As a tree becomes established, it tempers the physical environment beneath it, creating a micro-habitat with less direct sunlight, lower surface temperatures, more organic matter, higher water availability, and protection from herbivores. Because of these factors, the Ironwood tree has immense ecological value in the Sonoran Desert.

Ironwood grows taller than most trees in Sonoran desert scrub, so it serves as a great perch and roost for hawks and owls. It's dense canopy is utilized by nearly 150 bird species. Add tall ironwoods to the scrubby vegetation on some desert bajadas, and you're likely to add 63 percent more birds than creosote, cactus and bursage alone could support. The ironwood's canopies are so dense that they reduce the probability of extreme heat exposure in the summer.

Air temperatures may be 15 degrees cooler under ironwoods than in the open desert sun five feet away. Ironwood also shelters frost sensitive young saguaros, organ pipe cactus, night-blooming cereus and many other native plants growing beneath them. More than 230 plant species have been recorded starting their growth within the protective microclimate under ironwood "nurse plants." This also creates an optimum wildflower nursery which is foraged by rabbits, bighorn, and other native species.
In addition to the birds, there are 62 reptiles and amphibians, and 64 mammals that use ironwoods for forage, cover and birthing grounds. At just one site in the Silverbell Mountains, an ironwood-bursage habitat also shelters some 188 kinds of bees, 25 ant colonies, and 25 other types of insects. That adds up to an extraordinary level of biodiversity." End of article.  So there you have it....another lovely native tree to put into your Sonoran yard:) Currently they are rebounding from our severed winter freeze.  Some need to be pruned up.  The owls love the Ironwood!  We had several owlings last summer around July.  I wish I had brought my camera, but I'll remember next time. Source:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Bunny Tips for the Desert

I may have found the Easter Bunny hiding out in Tucson:)

Pedro Cola de Algodón needs to be careful in Tucson while hiding his eggs.  Hawks, coyotes, cats, and many other predators find his kind very tasty and necessary for survival in our desert climate.  But I think Pedro has some magical ability going for him.......
Here are some tips he recommends for hiding eggs in the desert and keeping your children/grandchildren alive......
1.  Don't hide melts in our heat.
2.  While hiding eggs, keep your eyes out for rattlers. It's that time of year.
3.  Do not hide eggs near spiky cacti or other similiar plants.
4.  Use eco friendly products that break down in our desert climate in case a forgotten hidden object remains hidden.
5.  Keep foods, like eggs, out of the direct sun and place in complete shade.
6.  If a child comes back with a Gila Monster attached to a limb, take child immediately to the hospital where both child and Gila Monster will be saved. Do not allow Gila Monster to turn upside down as that is how it poisons its victims.  Do not kill Gila Monster as they are protected.  Instead focus on the positive. Gila Monsters are known for their brilliant pretty Easter colors:) and look like baby dinosaurs.
7.  Javelina eat everything so don't hide eggs the night before:)
For those of you who celebrate this holiday, Happy Easter!  May you have a wonderful day with your family and friends. 

A Rose Garden in Tucson

on River and Campbell
UA County Extension

Right now is prime time rose season in Tucson.  There is something to be said about rose gardens and the magic they bring twice a year.  During the months of April and November, many rose bushes awaken with hundreds of lovely colors. Today let's take a walk through the rose garden at THE GARDENS off of River and Campbell.  I accidentally came upon these roses because there was a plant sale and was shocked by this amazing display of landscaping art.

Anything is possible.  This garden demonstrates that if you build it, they will grow:) The smell......
If you don't believe roses grow here in Tucson, you must check this garden out.  No charge.
Every color....every shape.....every size........
A walkway defines this entire garden.........
A place to sit and reflect.....

Yes....this is Tucson and yes there is a lot of 90 degree sunshine going on.......
Master rose gardeners, a society of them, come together and discuss soil and other rose topics to create this masterpiece......
The major rose display will finish up here in town around May.........

This rose was my favorite because of the color and size.

There is something magical about pink and white roses mixed together.  When I look at this pic, it takes me back to another time.  I shot two pics of this particular row because it triggered a happy Auntie Vi.  She was one of my favorite Great Aunts growing up and her garden always made me smile.
I like roses but they do require some maintenance.  Many people say that they are really easy to grow and the quick answer is yes....BUT.....they don't always look so great in summer or after a particular windy season.  And there are insects that enjoy this plant......
However I do love them in other people's gardens......

Some roses have open form while others have a tighter bud.....

So you want roses now.....where can you get them?  Below are two pics from the rose section at Mesquite Valley Growers on Speedway and Pantano.  You have an endless variety to choose from....just take a look......

So you see......even in Tucson, "A rose is a rose is a rose."

Hope your spring is awakening creative thoughts in the garden!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Italian Cypress

My final write on this series is about the Italian Cypress.  This is a popular plant for Tucson.  It's structural and adds definition to your garden space.  These can get quite large and tall.  Use this Cypress in repetition at corners or the entrance to a building.  You may see these placed around a walkway as a formal structure.  This Cypress, like most, require strong and hot sun.  You'll see this plant around town used in a lot of different ways.  Place around the corners of your home or near entrances....parkways. This plant defines space. It is drought tolerant and slow growing or at least that was my experience with it. You've been warned:) Again, this plant is popular with local wildlife, mainly birds, who like to nest in this giant. 

I wanted to share an observation about this cypress here in Tucson.  Lately, as of last year, I have noticed a decline in these plants.  Some groupings have totally collapsed and turned brown as if they were attacked by a parasite or insect....a blight. Along Speedway, near Pantano by an apartment complex, 5 or 6 trees just died.  I had this happen to one of my plants and I stopped trying to grow these in the landscape as it is hit or miss with this browning phenomena.  The worst part was that they were healthy cypress for so long and then it was a sudden and quick collapse.  Everything died.  The East side of town appears to be suffering from this attack while other parts of town show healthy and large specimens on their property.  It's a great plant if placed in the right spot so be aware.  Until next time.....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sea Green Juniper

The Sea Green Juniper taken in March when everything was still dead or coming back. It can tolerate the extreme cold.

I'm a sucker for open structured emerald evergreens.  This larger evergreen loves sun. It is a moderate growing Juniper with a lovely sea green hue that reminds me of the coast of San Francisco.  I have two on the property and at one time I had more, but I had to move them because they can get quite large. Place them in full sun here in Tucson and they'll be greener and brighter.  Be careful where you plant this large bush as it can overtake a space in no time.  Many homeowners end up pulling this plant out of the ground because it took up too much space.  Here is another observation I have with this plant which I can't explain....but I'll try.  I bought several and planted them in a row.  Out of the 4 I put into the ground, one died for no reason.  Other people have told me the same things and it's just an observation I'm sharing with you all:) Has this happened with you?  This plant doesn't mind the poor clay soil, but it does seem to collect a lot of trash blown around by wind.  If you are located in a high traffic area, I might think about planting something else.  However, it does make a nice large screen and will fill a large empty space. This plant likes sun and is drought tolerant once established.  Many people neglect this plant and it still does well.  You can prune it although I like the open branched structure.  When it rains, it has that nice junipery smell.  Birds also love to hang out in these large bushes.  It is low maintenance for the most part with an occassionaly trim here and there. Some people make sculptures out of these bushes!!  Here is a pic taken from the internet on how it looks when in its unpruned natural state.  Height:  Around 8-10 feet in Tucson.  Width: They spread out at around 6-7 feet here....maybe more.  BIG Juniper that loves our sun.  Nice!

Blue Cone Arborvitae

Big.  Round.  Large. Low Maintenance.  Structural. Evergreen. The Arborvitae.

This monster of a plant swallows up landscaping space.  Some of our Tucson yards just have this plant as their only focal point in their landscaping!  I will say that birds do love this tree pronounced ar-bor-vee-tay (although it's fun to hear everyone say it differently).  That may be the only interesting thing about this plant.  "Hey hey hey....don't be so mean blogger guy.  Every plant has its place."  Yes it does, but I don't think it belongs in a lot of the landscaping around town.  It is attractive if you have a lot of room in your landscape for it or need it for a focal point, but for most homeowners, this is not a plant to use as your sole landscaping answer.  It's rather boring, but why do homeowners do it?  Well simple.  It's easy to grow.  Loves sun.  Takes up a lot of space that people don't have to manage. And it doesn't take a lot of water once established and has a nice structural look to it.  So it does have its place if it's done well.....but most people have these giants inappropriately placed around their homes and they make their places look.....boring.  My recommendation is to use this plant, if you have the space, in a repeating fashion like on a wide sidewalk curb like the above pic.  I put in several at a group home that doesn't take care of the backyard at all. They frame an entrance to an alleyway. These are low maintenance and can withstand the Tucson extremes.  It's good for people who don't want a high maintenance plant that doesn't require a lot of work.  They are attractive plants but should not be overdone:)  I do like them, but if you are into desert design, this is maybe not the best choice out there for your yard:)  Until next time.....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wichita Blue Juniper

I'm not good with Junipers.  They do grow here, but it appears neglect is better and not for people who like fussing over plants.  I had to move this beautiful plant off the property to save it.  It wasn't getting enough afternoon sun on one side and it began to dry up on one half of the tree.  I moved it to full sun at a group home that needed some landscaping done and it loves the location.  Sandy and hot soil.  The ground we have at El Presidio is mostly clay and most of the plants receive some bit of shade during the day.  I tried two types of Junipers and a Cypress tree and there just wasn't enough sun.  They do need water to get established but once established, DO NOT OVERWATER.  This plant gets large and has a nice blue hue to it.  It is now located on the East side of town and has grown several inches.  You'll see more of these located in the Foothills of Tucson, around the town of Catalina, near the Biosphere and again on the East Side of town around the Pantano/Speedway area.  This part of town was heavily planted with pines, junipers and CYPRESS!!  The key word is HOT SUN on all sides.  I'm not sure I would plant this again(even if I had the space) as it also seems to suffer from a webbing parasite that can totally kill the plant. For me, this is a tricky plant and not worth the effort. I've seen it grown here for years and then I'll watch as a plant totally collapses and turns brown making business and homeowners start over again. The better choice would be to plant a native to Arizona known as the Arizona Cypress which has a similiar habit(it does get larger and wider) and has a blue hue. Here is some background.....

Wichita Blue Juniper pic courtesy of Fast Growing Trees Nursery
This Juniper retains its color year round giving you an attractive plant in the dull winter months.
Wichita Blue Juniper is an excellent specimen plant. It retains its color throughout the year no matter where you live in the country. Zones 3-9...Tucson being Zone 9. The dusty-blue color is a standout and makes a great addition to your landscape. This large pyramidal formed juniper is a great plant for windbreaks, screens and privacy hedges, or it can make a great accent plant anywhere in your garden. Virtually maintenance-free, this juniper never requires pruning or staking up. A strong vigorous grower, Wichita Blue Juniper will grow 12"-18" per year. It reaches a mature height of 15 feet within its first 10 years. It is recommended that you place your juniper in an area that is well drained and receives full sun. Add some organic matter to your hole when planting, such as peat moss. Mature Height: 10-15 ft.  Mature Width: 4-6 ft.  Sunlight: Full - Partial Soil Conditions: Slightly Adaptable(make sure that the ground is not hard around the rootball) Drought Tolerance: Great
Until tomorrow......