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Potted Desert Garden

18 Aug 2015
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This month, I have been talking about the upcoming “shoulder season” between summer and winter. This time period in other parts of the country is considered fall. Depending on our temperatures each year, we may or not have a fall. This is the time of year when our summer flowers are failing, but it’s too warm to grow winter flowers yet. As I’ve discussed previously, my go-to list of shoulder-season annuals includes: Alyssum Dianthus Dusty miller (complementary plant) Geraniums (best in morning sun only; no sun in summer) Marigolds Osteospermum Petunias Snapdragons When you get to the nursery in September or early October, there are a few other plants you might come across that will serve your decorative needs just fine until the temperatures mercifully drop below 70 degrees at night. The first is the Mexican blanket, or gaillardia, as pictured above. Actually a perennial, this plant may survive all…
11 Aug 2015
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As we approach “fall” here in the desert, the picture above may look familiar. I don’t need to tell you how challenging our summer is for any garden (except for perhaps gardens solely consisting of desert cactus). But true gardeners keeping trying—right? Of course, we should not be planting our winter pots in our Palm Springs gardens until late October. I can just hear you replying, “Oh my! I cannot wait until then!” Don’t give up yet, though. Remember, I am the person who continually says I expect to have color 365 days a year in my potted gardens! Here are a few tips on how to approach your pots if they look like those above: 1. See if you can find new growth (healthy green sprouts) coming from the center of the plant. If you do, prune the plants back to that new growth. However, you must provide shade…
04 Aug 2015
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Snowbirds will soon begin to return to the Coachella Valley. Once they arrive, they’ll be quickly reminded of their pre-summer departure, as they find empty pots around their home. One of the first items on the agenda after unpacking: Planning new gardens! We’ll soon enter one of those periods of time between winter and summer known in most regions as “fall.” The comfortable temperature months of September and April can try our patience as we seek out flowers to plant in our now-tired pots. Often, our selection is somewhat limited, considering it may not truly be time to plant yet. These are what I call the “shoulder seasons” of desert gardening. We should hold off on planting some things until nighttime temperatures reach levels that are just a bit cooler. Growers cannot push out plants that will succumb to the heat too early: We need night temps to get out…
07 Jul 2015
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California residents are dealing with unprecedented water restrictions due to our record-breaking drought. Those of us who garden have a choice: Either we can simply comply with these limitations, or we can morally commit to reacting in a way that will help our state achieve sustainability. I, for one, believe we must take control of our water usage. Water restrictions vary from agency to agency. Palm Springs’ Desert Water Agency, for example, restricts landscape irrigation to Monday, Wednesday and Friday during overnight hours. Fortunately, most desert landscape gardens do not need three days of water. (Please don’t get me started on grass in the desert. Artificial turf is beautiful, and lawns do not belong here.) Of course, container gardens offer flexibility regarding placement and size—and, therefore, water usage. Here are some tips to embrace sooner rather than later. (Although I am writing about pots, many of these tips can translate…
30 Jun 2015
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We all need respite from the heat—and I recently received one, thanks to my high school and college reunions. Luckily for me, they happened on the same weekend, and I wound up splitting my time between two different towns in upstate New York. I visited some tourist spots—and checked out some flowering pots that we just happened to find. I found many of the same flowers that we grow in our desert gardens—although we tend to grow these plants in the winter and surrounding seasons rather than in the summer. The upstate New York window box shown below is filled with petunias, bacopa plants, marigolds and, in the center back, some flax. This arrangement would do very well in the fall and early spring here in our low desert climate—but most of the plants would succumb to the summer heat. (You might be able to keep the bacopa going in…