Shadow and Light

Although not much is blooming at the moment, the shady side of the courtyard is looking rather nice.

The sunny side, where we recently created a new border, is looking bare. (See below.) The blossoms have fallen off the new Lantana plants, although some buds are forming. I am hoping the plants will put down good roots over the winter and spread out nicely next spring. In October, I will pot up some violas and kale plants to fill in the spaces over the winter.

The evergreen holly tree in the corner has only been in the ground for two seasons. It grows very slowly, but it is covered with green berries that will soon turn red and remain on the branches throughout the winter.

I am still experimenting with Pelargonium cuttings. In the summer heat, my cuttings from the Pelargonium graveolens (Rose Geranium) rooted well in moist soil. Even though they are related, all my efforts with Pelargonium citrosum (Citronella) utterly failed. Undaunted, I took some cuttings again this morning. Perhaps they will root in water during the cooler weather. The fragrance in my studio after I brought in the cuttings was intoxicating.

Citronella (left) and Rose Geranium (right)

June Garden

Desert Bird of Paradise

The showy blooms of spring have passed, and the garden is settling down for the long hot summer. However, there is still some color to delight me, especially in the Desert Bird of Paradise shrubs.

In the courtyard, I planted some different annuals this year, since many of my usual choices were not available. The Zinnias began to look shabby as the days grew hotter, but they are doing better now under the Vitex tree. In this climate, many plants that like full sun actually do better in filtered shade. The Moss Roses, however, seem to be natural sun-bathers, even in Southern New Mexico.

Indoors, my plant nursery from cuttings is showing mixed results. Again, the dry heat seems to be a problem. The Mint, Rose Geranium, and Citronella are promising. Not so sure about the Salvia and Lantana. All of the cuttings seem to do better in water than in soil, but it takes longer for the roots to form.

On the back patio, my herb garden seems to do well in the morning sun.

If all else fails, I will still have my triennial Petunia to comfort me. It grows so fast and so profusely that I will have to cut it back several times this summer.

Scented Geraniums

Rose-scented geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

A few years ago, I discovered scented geraniums (technically pelargoniums). My favorite is the rose-scented specimen pictured above. This is the variety generally used to make geranium-scented essence oils. In mid-summer it will bloom with tiny pink flowers. The plants are difficult to keep alive during winter, so I always look for one to buy in early summer. I love to brush the leaves and take away the scent on my fingers. Once again, the Master Gardener has delighted me.

The citronella variety looks much like the rose geranium, and it’s supposed to keep the mosquitos away, so I bought one of those as well. This week I had a chance to test it. After our recent deluge, there was a lot of standing water in the drainage ponds, so the mosquitos had a chance to hatch in mass. Yesterday, I took my prayer book into the garden and placed the citronella plant at my feet. Within minutes I had four bites. I could almost hear the little monsters laughing at the citronella plant.