Most people who live in Southern New Mexico say that October is their favorite month. Blue skies, moderate temperatures, and almost no wind work together to bestow one beautiful day after another. I have begun adding violas to the pots of annuals that will die after the first hard frost. The violas should survive the winter. Even if we are lucky enough to get some snow, they will keep blooming.
The berries on my holly tree have turned orange. My summer watering paid off this year, so I didn’t lose the green berries during the hot weather as I did the previous year. Soon the berries will turn fiery red and remain on the branches until next spring.
In December and January it will be too cold to sit out in the courtyard. The lantanas and other deciduous plants will be dormant, but the color of the viola blossoms and holly berries will still cheer me when I look out from my library window or hurry through the courtyard with Emerson the Dog on the way to our morning walk.
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.
Here we are again in the dog days of summer. The soil in our neighborhood is sandy with a hardpan of clay beneath the surface — a real challenge for my gardening aspirations. However, over time I have learned that some plants do well and even thrive here. While other plants are looking a little sad, the potted Lantana (pictured above) is the star of our courtyard. When it goes dormant in winter, I will transplant it into the ground.
The varieties pictured below are gracing the front yards of our neighbors on the block.
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.