Seedling Surprise

Thumbelina (dwarf) zinnia seedlings

     All the flower seeds I planted a month ago have emerged into neat rows of seedlings, except the blue dianthus.  Not one of those has shown up.  I am assuming they are going to be no shows.  One of my marigold seedlings has just bloomed.  I am anxious to see if my zinnia and cosmos will be able to survive the summer heat.

A week ago I happened to spot something that suddenly appeared at the edge of my garden that I did not plant.  At first I thought it was ice plant that perhaps blew over from my neighbor's yard.  I let it be to see what would come.  And lo and behold, a red portulaca flower appeared.  I did plant one portulaca last spring, but ripped the plant out in the fall after it had stopped blooming to replace it with a pansy.  Apparently it reseeded itself even though it is considered an annual.  I better check under that pansy to see if there are some seedlings growing under it.  The pansies are dying off now in the heat anyway.

surprise seedling
Portulaca (moss rose)

Pink Dawn, Green Stick

Pink Dawn Chitalpa blossoms
     These are descriptive, common names for two trees that grow in my yard.  Pink Dawn is a variety of Chitalpa tree.  I was not familiar with Chitalpa trees until I moved here a year ago.  It is a cross between a Catalpa tree and a Chilopsis (Desert Willow) tree.  My Pink Dawn Chitalpa  is just starting to blossom and will continue to blossom through the fall.  The flowers, a soft pink with a yellow throat, attract butterflies, bees and birds.  The tree has an open limb structure that gives it a lacy look, and it presents a graceful picture.  It is drought tolerant and cold tolerant to minus 15 degrees F, so it does well here in the desert.
Palo Verde blossoms

Palo Verde translated from Spanish means green stick.  The Palo Verde tree's trunk, limbs and branches are green.  My Palo Verde has been blooming for about two weeks.  It will be full of its lemony yellow flowers for a few more weeks.  These trees are breathtaking when grouped together along roadways or parking lots when they are in full bloom.  When their long, thin limbs move slowly and gently in a breeze, it seems like they are dancing to music.  Hummingbirds love to nest in this tree.  It is a most drought tolerant tree, that once established, needs no water.

Palo Verde tree

Chitalpa tree

Roses and Tomatoes

I bought three roses last weekend.  One is a red Mr. Lincoln rose, an old favorite of mine.  Another is the beautiful coral-colored Tropicana, and the third is a white rose called Honor.  Although I am not a rosarian, roses are one of my favorite flowers.  They are quite beautiful to me, and I love their shape and their fragrance.  I have wanted to plant roses since moving to the desert, but there are very few places that carry them around here, and the places that do, carry a very limited supply.  I don't know why, because roses should do well here without any spraying (I don't spray roses or anything else in my gardens).  No black spot or mold or mildew to bother them here, I understand.  Maybe they don't do well in the extreme summer heat unless they are shaded from some of the afternoon sun.  I have no shade at all in my yard, so we will see how they do.

Burpee Big Boy tomato
I received my tomato and pepper plants from Burpee the first week of April.  Burpee's Big Boy tomato is my all-time favorite tomato.  I have grown them from seed many times, but there's no place in the house I am living in now to grow seedlings.  I kept them in the garage for a day or two because it was so windy the entire week they arrived.  On the third day I put them out in a protected place so they could get some sun.  But the wind was blowing so furiously from all directions it seemed, and they ended up getting windburned.  I kept them in for two more days.  They were not looking good, and their leaves were dying off. I figured I had to plant them if they were going to survive.  And it was going to be hot in a few days.  So into my garden they went.  They still did not look great after four days.  So I fertilized them with my favorite natural fertilizer.  Fish emulsion.  After two days they perked up, and now all are growing new green leaves.  They have some catching up to do, and hopefully will produce tomatoes before the real heat arrives.                                                                                                                                                               

Garden Changes

Blue Cup Plant
     Over the last two weeks there have been many changes in my flower garden.  Probably because we have thirteen hours of daylight now, and the soil has finally warmed up.  My five blue cup flower plants are in full bloom.  Every inch of each plant is covered with violet blue flowers.   The strawflower and gazania plants are blanketed with blooms also.  I have never grown gazania before.  They seem to be self-sowing quite freely all over my garden.  As a matter of fact, they seem somewhat invasive. I thought I would try them as a cut flower.  They were not that good as a cut flower.  I had trouble getting the thick, white sticky sap off my hands.  You need just the right vase to accommodate them:  short with a wide opening at the neck.  They were finicky about opening in the house.   

Failing pansy
  There is decline in the garden also.  The 102 degree heat we had two weeks ago has taken a toll that has finally shown up.  The pansies are failing (one plant dead already).  The petunias are looking ragged especially in my patio pots.  It was 95 degrees the past two days, and that probably did not help either.  It is going to be in the upper 80's to 90 degrees most of the week, so I think the heat is here to stay.

Declining Petunia

Backyard Path at Night

Backyard Path Solar Lights
     One of the most pleasing things we did in the backyard was to install solar lights along the path.  They give definition to the yard at night, and they beckon you to walk in the dark.  I was out walking the path a week or so ago when it was so warm.  It was completely dark, but I could smell the intoxicating fragrance of the orange blossoms on the Arizona Sweet orange tree before I came upon it.  What a delightful surprise that interrupted my thoughts!  The blossoms are all gone now, but were visited by numerous bees, so we'll see what comes of that.  This is the first time I have had citrus trees and some of the leaves are yellowing.  I'll have to look that up and see what they need.

Winter Again?


One week ago it was 102 degrees here.  Today's high was 55 degrees with clouds and rain.  Tonight it is supposed to be 36 degrees.  Come on.  This is the desert southwest.  It is supposed to be mid 80's and sunny.  Anyway, the rhubarb chard in my vegetable garden isn't complaining.  It presents a bright and delightful picture to the eye, and it makes you gorgeous inside too, bringing vitamins and minerals for good health.

Summer Already?!

"Purple Robe" Cup Flower
     Some of the pansies took a hit from yesterday's 102 degree heat.  The petunias are looking a little ragged also.  Whew! April 1 is early for our first 100 degree day, although not a record.  My cup flowers are in full bloom.  The flowers die off in summer here, but the plant stays green all year.  The orange and grapefruit trees are full of blossoms and bees.  Nothing on the lime tree, but it is recovering from the freeze and covering itself with green leaves. I harvested lettuce for the first time from the vegetable garden yesterday.  I picked leaves off the sides of butter lettuce and red leaf lettuce so the plants will keep growing.  I have harvested radishes twice already.
Harvesting Lettuce
Orange Blossom