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)

Past, Present and Future

Last week I wrote about our white and lavender Crape Myrtle bushes that came into bloom after the monsoon rains began. This week the red variety has blossomed more profusely than it has in years, and the purple variety (pictured below) is just beginning to bloom.

I think the reason gardening is so good for the soul is that it’s mostly about the present and the future. The past is important, of course. It took eons for the soil to develop, and the nutrients from past fallen leaves have played their part. But when I’m in the garden, I don’t think about the past. That’s a good thing.

It’s the present blossoms that keep my attention, as well as the tender green shoots that promise future delight.

Lantana

Lantana Landmark Rose Glow

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.

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.