Monday, June 18, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

I brought our daughter and granddaughters (E.L.K.) back to Albuquerque to get out of some of the Arizona heat for a few weeks.  Very understanding SiL (son-in-law) is great about letting us have them for a long time and will join us for a few days in July.  So I took some pictures of some of my favorite plants to share with you for inspiration while I am busy adjusting to the chaos.

Whirling Butterflies
This is gaura also known as apple-blossom grass or my favorite name whirling butterfliesThis is a perennial, which means it will come back year after year, and comes in several colors now.  White, light pink through dark pink.  It blooms continually spring through late summer.  Its light and airy which allows other plants to be put in around it.  In this picture I have some purple drumstick allium coming up through the gaura.   Once established it handles our dry hot weather really well.

Check the variety you are interested in to find out how tall it grows.  Whirling butterflies will often reseed itself and it's best to move it when small since it later develops a tap root which makes transplanting difficult.  Don't cut it down in the fall but let it winter over all messy and scraggly - this will protect the crown.  Clean it up in the spring and it will be ready to grow again.

Coral Bells

One plant variety that gives a cottage feel to the garden is heuchera also known as coral bells.  There are lots of varieties and they are mainly planted for the leaf colors and shapes.  I have some in my garden that came from my Mom's garden in Utah.  They are slow growers but can be divided and are also perennials.  I like the little flower stalks with their bell-like flowers and so do hummingbirds. 
Some of the varieties have really cool foliage and the blooms are rather boring.  Always read the label to see what you are getting.  Although mainly a shade to partial shade plant there are plenty of types that do well in the sun.  I have a number of them in my sunniest beds.  They like to be mulched well in the winter time and sometimes have to be replanted in the spring because they have a tendency to grow up out of the soil. 
Autumn Joy Sedum

This is an easy plant to have around:  Autumn Joy SedumTechnically it's not a sedum according to the botanists, but we call it that anywayAutumn Joy has a fun shape and is perennial also.  Pinch it back from late spring until July 24 and it will gladly give you tons of blooms in the fall. The blooms start out looking like broccoli and then become dusty-red darkening into a bronze in the fall.  I leave the heads on all winter and the birds enjoy picking them in the winter.  There are a lot of sedums to choose from and they can all be propagated by cutting off a stem with several leaves and sticking it in the ground - easy peasy.  In fact, one year my Mom had tons of them growing in her compost pile where she had tossed away some cuttings earlier in the year!

Chocolate Flower
Here's a fun addition to a desert garden:  Chocolate Flower (berlandiera).  Yep it really does smell like Hershey's chocolate bars - especially in the morning.  It's very xeric when established and if you collect the seeds or let them go you can multiply the fun.  It dies away almost completely in the winter but comes back reliably in the spring.  Beneficial insects love this plant and we want to encourage them in the garden.

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