Desert Gardening Again


     I can't believe it has been a year and a half since I have written in this garden blog.  Life happens.  There was a confusing and convoluted estate that had to be taken care of when my Dad passed away, then a move across the country to the Arizona desert again.  Hopefully I will have more frequent posts going forward.

Winter backyard garden

     This is a photo of my backyard garden I planted a few weeks ago for the winter here in Arizona.:  mostly petunias and pansies, with some leftover fall zinnias and marigolds that will eventually be replaced.

Winter backyard garden November 2017

     This was the just planted winter garden last November 2017.  We had just moved in three weeks before.

     I will show what else is growing in my backyard in upcoming posts.  I will end with a photo of a Green Feathery Senna bush that bloomed this past spring in the back yard, then died in the summer for some unknown reason.  It was my most favorite shrub in the entire yard.

Green feathery senna

     Beautiful, don't you think?

An Early Spring

     Although we have had some cold spells in January and February, for the most part those months have had above normal temperatures.  In fact, weather reports say we have had the warmest February on record in our area.  And although we have had an inch or two of snow a couple of times, we have escaped any big snow storms like we had in 2014 and 2015.  The antumnalis cherry tree in our front yard, pictured above, has bloomed in November as it usually does, but also had some blooms around January 5, and is now in full spring bloom as this photo of February 24 shows.  This is a month earlier than it usually blooms.

     I started noticing the trees budding the first week of February.  I thought I was seeing things that weren't really there.  But each day, as I walked the dog, I looked again, and the trees were definitely budding.  Also in February while walking the dog, I noticed many other plants blooming:  daffodils, blue periwinkle, violets, forsythia.  The following photos show what's happening in my yard this early spring.

I saw the first hellebore blooms around February 2 at the side of the house by the wooded floodplain.

The full spread of hellebore plants in that area were in full bloom three weeks later on February 24.

The jonquils in the side garden were emerging on February 2.

Three weeks later on February 24 they were blooming.

I was surprised to see that the clematis vine showed showed some budding on February 2 also.

This is a photo of the clematis buds three weeks later on February 24.

The hyacinths in the front of the house garden were emerging February 2.

Here's what they looked like three weeks later on February 24.

In the back yard garden, the daffodils were just starting to show buds on February 24.

One week later I noticed the first daffodil blooms on March 3.

Other bits of green I saw emerging in the back yard garden were several brunnera plants on February 24.

     All the plants seem to be emerging and blooming at least a month earlier than normal. which I don't mind.  I live for spring and summer each year, but this does portend significant changes that affect the whole ecosystem.

Late Fall Blooms


     Here it is Christmas Eve!  I am finally finished preparing our household for Christmas.  All the gifts are wrapped, and the cranberry sauce is made.  I have some time before the rest of the family arrives for Christmas Eve services and dinner. 
      I have been wanting to  post what was blooming in late fall in my gardens.  This zinnia was one of many I planted from seed around the side garden.  This photo was taken October 2.

     This is the last rose of summer.  It is a Graham Thomas rose bush in the side garden.  This was taken in mid October.

hardy cyclamen

     There are three patches of this hardy cyclamen in the back yard garden.  They will bloom through November.  I chose this plant because I wanted something in bloom almost every month of the year, and this plant was one of the few that would be blooming in November.  This photo was taken on October 23.

black cohosh

     This is the one black cohosh out of four that I planted that bloomed.  It only got to about three feet tall.  The plants were on the hill in the back yard and probably did not get enough water or sun.  I did not find that it had a bad odor that were in some descriptions I read.

oak leaf hydrangea

     This oak leaf hydrangea has been in the garden for years, but we pulled it out last fall and put in a leather leaf viburnum which is out of this photo but just behind these plants.  I noticed these little green things emerging this summer, and when they got big enough we could finally identify them!  I will let them go and see how long it takes for them to reach a decent size. 

front of house garden

     I have been meaning to post about the front of the house garden.  Here is what it looked like on March 9 of this year.  Those are Japanese yew plum bushes that fit well in the narrow space between the walk and the porch.

front of house garden
      This is what the garden looked like in full bloom on September 9.  I planted zinnias from seed and put in red vinca from the garden center as well as a mum in the far right corner.

     Merry Christmas to all and peace, health and happiness in the New Year.

The Side Perennial Garden

Side Perennial Garden early spring


     This year has just flown by and here it is November, and I have not posted about what I call the side perennial garden.  I have included photos of this garden from spring through fall in this post.  This garden has been a problem for me.  There were so many plants I was going to pull and put in something new, but I never did that.  I just couldn't decide what replacements I wanted.  So I just left it to bloom although I am not happy with it.  And then a rabbit did a lot of damage to it in the spring, chewing on the perennials as they came up and killing the cosmos I planted from seed. This photo was taken March 9.

Here is a photo of the back of the garden taken on March 9.

A photo of the jonquils blooming taken on March 12

Front of garden June 1.

          In this photo there are two rose bushes, midnight salvia, black-eyed Susans and phlox David  behind the pink rose bush, and yellow loosestrife is in front of the lattice fence my husband put around the A/C unit.

This is a close-up of the yellow loosestrife  taken June 1.

Back of perennial garden June 1.

     In the back of the garden behind the A/C unit are bergenia plants along the front with  pink astilbe right behind them.  Behind the astilbe there are two rose bushes, phlox David and hardy begonia emerging, and back in the corner some ferns I took from the wooded flood plain next to the house and planted here.

Front of Garden August 7.

     In August the black-eyed Susan plants and phlox David are in full bloom, as well as yellow coneflowers.  I added some blanket flowers in the front, and you can see zinnias emerging in front of the black-eyed Susans.

Back of garden Augsust 7.

     In the back of the garden, the astilbes are done, the phlox in the top corner is blooming and the hardy begonia will be blooming soon.

Hardy begonias

     The hardy begonias are finally in bloom in the back of the perennial garden.  The phlox is still blooming but the ferns are dying off.  In the next post I will share some late fall blooms and what bloomed along the front of the house this summer.

Fall Blooms

     I have several plants blooming now that we are getting into the fall season.  A lot of the plants that are blooming are in my backyard garden.  I have five loriope plants at each end of my long backyard garden.

hardy cyclamen
     There are two areas in the backyard garden where hardy cyclamen were planted years ago, and they still come up.

black cohosh
     I planted five black cohosh at intervals along the backyard fence, and this is one of two that has a bud.  This bud has been sitting there for a couple of weeks.  None of the black cohosh plants seem to be doing well.  They are not happy in this location. I don't know whether this flower spike is going to grow taller (they can get up to eight feet tall) or open.

white encore azalea
     This is the only encore azalea that has fall blooms on it.  There are four more encore azaleas in the yard that look full and lush but have no buds.  This rather skimpy looking one is the only one flowering.

hardy begonia
       There are several hardy begonia plants in the side perennial garden and this is one of them.  There are also hardy begonia plants at each end of the backyard garden.

       I planted two gaillardia plants in the side garden to fill in some bare spots.  With their fall colors, they brighten any garden area.

Japanese anemone
     There was a large stand of Japanese anemones in the backyard garden years ago.  I was surprised to find that there were two clumps left hidden beneath the nandina bushes.  I have mums and other flowers blooming along the front of the house and in the perennial garden.  I hope to post photos of them next.

Vacation Blooms

Hosta Fragrant Blue

  When I returned from summer vacation, I checked the yard and only a few plants had bloomed.  Hosta Fragrant Blue had spikes of white flowers.  I was anxious to find out if I could detect a fragance, as some information I had read said these hostas have little to no fragrance.  Alas, I could detect no fragrance.

Maybe conditions have to be perfect for the fragrance to develop.  I know it was extremely hot here while we were gone, in the upper 90's to 100 probably with heat indexes that were in the 100's.  Since we have been back, it has been in the upper 90's to 100 with heat indexes up to 110 a few days.  I have noticed a lot of dead bugs (bees, locusts, flies) on the ground when I walk the dog, and I wonder if the heat has done them in.

Heuchera Caramel

      Another plant that was flowering when we returned and still is flowering is Heuchera Caramel.  It has the tiniest white flowers.  I thought the flowers would be a little larger.  The heuchera has lost a lot of its' caramel color throughout the season, but the underside of the leaves still have some caramel to light maroon color.


     In the woodland garden I noticed that one of the five ligularias had bloomed.  I thought these plants were ligularia "rocket" variety, but this bloom is not a spike four feet tall.  The bloom is no taller than the plant itself.  None of the other ones have bloomed, so they may not be in the ideal place.  I may try to dig them up and put them in the side perennial garden.

clematis vine
     In the side perennial garden, which I have not had a post about yet, is a clematis vine growing on lattice panels around the A/C unit.  When we put the lattice panels up in early spring, this side perennial garden was a total mess, overgrown with weeds, lots of leaves and debris.  My son and I cleaned it out, my husband put up the panels, and then we just waited to see what was going to come up there in the spring and summer.  I had planted a clematis vine there years ago , and it did show up this spring!  Lots of other perennials have come up also, some of which I had forgotten I planted.  The garden is somewhat of a mess, with perennials in odd places here and there, where they don't really fit and weren't originally planted in those spaces.  I will post about the perennial garden next and what I am pulling this fall and what is staying.

     As a reminder that fall is soon coming, I saw the first acorns from the oaks fall in the yard this week.  I hate to see fall come, but it is supposed to be a fairly warm autumn, so maybe it will seem like the continuation of summer.

The Woodland Garden

Forested Flood Plain
     On one side of our house is a forested flood plain in which much wildlife passes through, eats, rests, and plays.  We regularly see deer, foxes, squirrels, chipmunks, field mice.  Our property goes several yards into these woods.  Years ago I planted a garden at the edge of these woods which I call the woodland garden.  When we moved back into this house last winter, I was amazed that most of what was planted was still there although neglected and covered with leaves, tree branches and debris.  Here are some photos of what is there.

     Years ago I planted about 10 hellebores, and now there is a large stand of them next to the fence that runs along the side of the yard.  There are some white and some pink-flowered ones, but the white ones far outnumber the pink-flowered ones.

Ligularia "rocket"

     Behind the stand of hellebores are about five Ligularia "rocket" plants.  Their leaves are striking and provide interest, and stalks of yellow flowers rise up to four feet tall in midsummer.  I am anxious to see if they still flower.


     One of the groundcovers that was planted at the edge of the woods was ajuga.  Some of it has spread into the woods.  These were uncovered after removing lots of leaves and debris this spring.

Vinca minor

     Another groundcover that was planted years ago was vinca minor which has pretty blue flowers in the spring.  This was originally planted around a tree and it has spread into the woods.

Lily of the Valley

     A gardening friend gave me some lily of the valley plants years ago, and they have spread around the tree which sits just at the edge of the woods.

Summersweet shrubs
      On the side of the house next to the woods, we have a small amount of yard.  There were bushes here before, but the previous owners took them all out and did not plant anything here.  I planted five Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) bushes.  There are two Summersweet "Hummingbird" bushes near the deck railing which produce white flowers in late summer.  The three shrubs in front are Summersweet "Ruby Spice" which have rosy pink flowers.  The flowers have a wonderful fragrance, hence the name, and in the fall the leaves turn a striking yellow.  They do well in sun to part sun and are generally pest and disease free.

     This will be the last blog for a few weeks as our family is taking a much needed vacation.