Rosemary and Ruellia

Trailing Rosemary
     There has been a lot of complaining about the heat on many garden blogs I have visited in the last few weeks.  Now it's my turn to complain.  It was 113 F yesterday and 111 F today!  It is supposed to be over 110 F (45 C) for the next six days.  We are getting to the time of year where it doesn't go below 85 F at night, and soon won't go below 90 F at night.  And when the wind blows at 110 F it's like a blast furnace.  Get me outta here!  My trips to the flower garden are short-lived and limited to early morning or evening.  But the plants that love the heat seem unfazed.

Rosemary blossoms
There are several trailing or creeping rosemary plants in the front yard.  These trailing varieties of rosemary are widely grown here as an ornamental plant or ground cover.  Most of the ones I've seen here are 6 to 12 inches in height and spread to about 3 feet.  Native to the Mediterranean region, they grow easily in our poor soil, are drought resistant, and can tolerate our blazing heat.  Although I don't know the variety, mine have light blue flowers.  The plants survived the couple of freezes we had here, and I understand some cultivars are winter hardy to zone 6 or possibly 5.


dwarf Katie ruellia

 Several dwarf Katie ruellia plants are scattered in my back yard.  I was not familiar with this plant until we moved here.  Although I don't particularly like the standard 3 foot ruellia, these plants are low-growing perennials with lovely purplish blue flowers.  Each blossom lasts only one day, but there is a succession of new blooms over a long period.  In full sun they bloom prolifically spring through fall.  They form neat, round mounds and have sword-like leaves.  I have read that ruellia self sows and can become an aggressive, invasive grower.  The dwarf variety doesn't seem to present this problem.  Since our soil is not rich and moist I have not noticed this occurring in the standard variety that grows around the neighborhood.  The flowers provide a nice blue contrast to all the yellow perennials in the yard.

Ruellia blossoms

A True Rock Garden

     During the busy spring gardening period, I was spending lots of time planning, and pulling out old plants.  Then there was the purchasing and putting in of new plants.  There was seed planting and fertilizing.  I finished the pruning that did not get done in the fall or winter.  I photographed the changing landscape of my yard with each wave of flowering.  Amid all this hustle and bustle, my husband announced to me, "I put in my rock garden."
     "What?" I said to this non-gardener.  How could I have missed him putting in a garden?  "Where?" I asked.
     "On the side of the house," he answered.  I followed him out to the side of the house I rarely visit, and there was a collection of large rocks he had arranged on the rock mulch.  The cluster of rocks stretched along the edge of the house and gave its plainness "some definition," he said.  I had a good chuckle along with him.  His goofy humor is always uplifting.  That's part of what makes him a great Dad.  Happy Father's Day to all dads.

My Husband's Rock Garden

The Heat Is On

Bougainvillea Bush
     Well, our brief "cool spell" of mid to upper 90's is gone.  Triple-digit heat will now be with us everyday for the next 120 days. Yes, that's one thing I did not know before our move here.  On average it is over 100 degrees F for 120 days.  The heat can climb to 120 degrees, but most of the time it is 108 to 115 degrees F.  There are several other things I did not know about living in the desert.  The merchants put pot holders on their door handles because they get so hot you can't touch them.  Ditto for steering wheels.  We cover our car seats with towels because the leather/vinyl is scorching hot.  There is no such thing as a cold shower in the summer here.  Water heaters are turned off because the temperature of the water coming out of the cold faucet is 105 degrees F unless you spend a thousand for a chiller.  We use a lot of ice.  Neighborhoods are like ghost towns in the summer because no one goes outside.  You can go for months without seeing your neighbors.  In the middle of summer it never goes below 90 degrees F at night, so forget about exercising out doors.  The thing I dislike the most is keeping all the blinds closed all summer to keep out the heat so the A/C bill is not $600 a month.  You come to hate the sun, and wake up thinking, "Oh, no.  Not another sunny day!"

Bougainvillea Blossom
     But despite the heat, some flowers will bloom all summer here.  I went to Lowe's today and bought celosia and vinca, two reliable through-the-summer bloomers.  I pulled out all my dead pansies and scraggly petunias and will start planting tomorrow.  We do have several bougainvillea bushes trellised against our backyard walls that blossom all summer, as well as the lantana plants scattered throughout the yard.  I am told that lisianthus will also bloom all summer.  I am waiting to see how long my zinnias and cosmos hold up.  The colors of my dwarf zinnias seem to be fading in the sun.  A lot of things get bleached in the strong sunlight here.


White Vinca

Graceful Grasses

Purple Fountain Grass
     In my backyard, my sanctuary here in the desert, I wanted some bushes with height.  I also wanted to introduce some color and distinct shapes that contrasted with the other bushes in the yard.  I finally settled on two ornamental grasses that have a flowing form and soft structure: Purple Fountain grass and Deer grass.  I have several of each.

     The burgundy-toned Purple Fountain grass is heat-tolerant, low maintenance, pest and disease free.  It is considered a perennial in zones 9 (my zone) and ten.  It turns brown in the fall.  My husband cut them down to about 8 inches last winter, and they have all grown back to about 4 feet tall.  The feathery seed heads at the end of the stalks are very showy spring through fall.

Purple Fountain Grass seed heads
The Deer grass forms a dense, green clump at the base out of which arise several white, spike-like flower stalks.  Most of these flower/seed stalks stand straight up, while the stalks of the fountain grass arch over.  Deer grass is a perennial bunch grass that is drought-tolerant and low maintenance.  The Deer grass is supposed to grow to about 4 feet tall.  Mine are a year old and have grown to about 31/2 feet tall.  The Deer grass did not turn brown in the fall, and I did not prune it.  I have done nothing to the Deer grass since it has been planted.  These two grasses are lovely and graceful when they sway in the breeze.  It is soothing to watch their movement.  They soften and temper the look of the hard rock covering on the yard.  They are my most favorite plants in the yard.

Deer Grass

Deer Grass seed stalks