Spring 2018 – What’s Growing in the Arizona Desert?

We have arrived at our spring planting season in the Phoenix, Arizona area even when other areas of the nation continue to be cold and perhaps stormy. I had an opportunity to visit the demonstration garden at the Maricopa County Extension Center which is maintained primarily by the Master Gardeners.

There were some interesting plants in full bloom and I wanted to share two of them with you. When I select a plant to grow, it is generally one that has impressive flowers. This can be small, numerous flowers or large, showy flower that are less in number.

I also like to have the flower-to-leaf ratio to be appropriate. I don’t want the leaves to overpower the flowers. The one exception to this would be a plant that has pretty or show leaves. One plant that comes to mind in this category is Milk Thistle. We have lots of critters in our neighborhood and they like many of the plants we enjoy so I need to be very selective.

Then there are some plants that people in our region select because they are unique.

One quite “different” plant at the demonstration garden is Lion’s Tail or Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus) – One look and it will be obvious how this flower received its name.

Lion's Tail or Wild Dagga

Here is a close up of the flower…

Lion's Tail or Wild Dagga - closeup

Lion’s Tail is reportedly a fast growing, drought tolerant plant!

You can read more about this unique plant in The San Francisco Gate article HERE. — scroll down.

Another unique and interesting plant is the Hyacinth Bean (Dolichos lablab or Lablab purpurea). This plant is grown as much for its purple seed pod as the plentiful light and dark pink flowers. If you have a place in your garden for a vine, this might be a very good choice.

Hyacinth Bean

Naturally if this is grown in our area, it must be heat tolerant, but the amazing thing is how well the vine tends to do even with the hight temperatures as long as it is given ample water.

Hyacinth Bean closeup

You can find more information about Hyacinth Bean HERE and HERE.


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©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com

Spring Buzz in the Sonoran Desert

In the Sonoran Desert spring is often like early summer in other locations in the United States with the temperatures often in the mid-70s to mid-80s. We often refer to this as the “sweet spot” since we don’t need heat or air conditioning for the most part. We do know what is ahead of us, but we enjoy this respite while it lasts.

Along with spring, we have some interesting developments. Our neighborhood has a number of horse stables and about two weeks ago, a young colt was born. Like many other babies, he can be very energetic one minute and flat out tired and sleeping the next.

Here is a short video of the youngster running around.

Today I passed the corral on the way home and the colt was nursing, but when I exited the car, he stopped. I decided to take a photo anyway.

The colt is on the left. The mother often stays rather far away, but was next to him this day.

The horse “next door” came over and I decided he needed to have his picture taken as well.

Another sign of spring is the plethora of bees we have on the few plants that are now blooming. We have a Mastic Tree (Pistacia lentiscus) that is loaded with very small flowers.

The morning I walked by the tree, the buzz was loud and persistent. I decided to record it, but it is only a shadow of the real sound as the iPhone has limitations. You can hear the bees in the sound clip below (raise the sound on your computer/device).

Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me and I couldn’t capture the mass of bees all over the tree. They were flitting about too quickly for iPhone capture.

A couple of days later, I was able to take my camera outside in the afternoon, but the bees were not as numerous. I did take a few snapshots anyway.

The bee is hard to see, but it is inside the red oval.

I was able to capture another view with the pollen sack showing although once again, it is hard to see.

The head of the bee is by the yellow arrow. The pollen sack is at the tip of the red arrow.

We have already begun our spring/summer gardening chores and we are looking forward to sharing some of our experiences with JBRish readers. I hope your weather is looking more spring-like!


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com

Spring Cactus Bloom in Arizona – The Claret Cup

We have had a wetter than usual winter and early spring and thus we are having a beautiful wildflower bloom. Our landscape cactus are showing their appreciation as well with a living bouquet for our enjoyment.

One of our courtyard features is a round planter that has hosted a Claret Cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) for more than ten years. At one time it had plenty of room, but as you can see below, it will need to be divided and replanted within a year or so.

Claret Cup Cactus

In years past, it wouldn’t have this many blooms open at once, but its stinginess vanished this year and we are being treated to a full orchestration of its floral beauty.

Upon closer inspection you can see the juggernaut of thorns it sports that will present quite a challenge when it comes time to move or transplant it. We have a long pair of tweezers or tongs that we use to remove spent blooms or any debris that gets caught amid the needles.

Claret Cup Cactus

In the photo below, the pollen can be seen on top of the stamens. While this adds color to the picture and pollen to the air, it also seems to attract woodpeckers. For some reason they like to eat the center of the flowers and my assumption is that it is because of the pollen. After inspecting where they have been, the pollen sacks are gone — who knew?

Claret Cup Cactus

You can read more about Claret Cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) by clicking HERE.

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