Desert gardens and shade. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a balance between the sun loving plants receiving too much shade from the canopy of trees. So I had this idea. I love how people from Wisconsin place Hostas around the base of their trees for a little eye candy punch.
Hosta love at the Green Bay Botanical Garden entrance
So I shot this pic from the Green Bay Botanical Gardens in June to spice it up with some desert garden thinking. We do have plants here that can resemble this pattern and shape. For new people who move to the desert from the East coast, they miss their Hostas and other shade loving plants that act as low shrubs or groundcover. Instead of wasting your money on something that will need constant watering and shade, why not think about planting something from the Aloe family? You could plant a billion types of Hostas back home and you can plant the same amount from the Aloe group here in Tucson:) So I took off for the Tucson Botanical Gardens in the heat of the summer to show you examples of what I'm writing about today. If you're looking to achieve a similiar feel(but not exactly the same), might I suggest this wonderful plant. Here are a few samples of this "clumping" plant beneath your desert trees.
Many people who first arrive to the desert confuse Aloe and Agave (and I do admit I was one of them back in the 90's....so don't be embarrassed, we all do it:) Botanical gurus still have nerdy discussions about Sotol and Agave. But that's a whole other topic. You just need to know that both make nice alcoholic drinks:) Landscaping between WI and AZ is quite different. Many of the plants were alien to me. The differences between Aloe and Agave? Well there are quite a few actually. Agave are mainly quite large and take a lot of sun with little water once established. Some Aloes, on the other hand, need a bit more shade. There are a few varieties that can handle full sun, but most like shade out of the direct sunlight. And they can handle a tad more water but NEVER let them sit in water. Most Aloe varieties are smaller in size and make great plants for groundcover. Put some rock mulch around the space and you've got a snazzy desert look. Check out how the blue rocks were used with this Aloe variety below. Incredible! I have Aloe growing around the property at El Presidio. Someone apparently figured this out because I will find occassional leaves cut off around the base. The sap from most Aloe plants acts as a very soothing treatment for sunburn(which during this time of year we have plenty of:)
Or maybe they were attacked by one of our huge lizards here.
However, I couldn't find a body nor would I stay around long enough to do more investigation;) For more great ideas on gardening or landscaping in your own areas, visit your local botanical gardens. More tomorrow....