Gardening – Winter Garden in the Desert

When we transitioned from the northeast to the southwest, it was a dramatic change on a number of levels. We left many of our friends and relatives behind and there was a huge void in our lives because of this.

While most noticeable, friends and family were not our only loss. We also lost our gardens and plants that we relied on for our three seasons of flower-filled joy. There are a number of plants we grew easily in the Northeast (Hunterdon County, New Jersey) such as hostas, astilbes, hydrangeas, morning glories, dahlias, etc. that either struggle in the Sonoran Desert or just downright die.

We have learned, of course, that there are trade offs. We have come to love gazanias which grace us with their bouquet of striking colors throughout the year and we are likewise able to grow geraniums in the spring through early summer and then again from late fall through the winter and spring if we avoid a hard freeze.

Here are some of our gazanias growing strong in January when football on television shows snowstorms in the northeast.





It is a bit unusual to have the alyssum (above) so full and lush this time of year, but we nursed them along. It is so delightful to experience that honey-like smell during a winter’s afternoon.

We have had a couple of light frosts which leave our gardens looking funky when festooned with frost cloths. These are only temporary for a day or two and then they are removed and kept at the ready should we need them again. We haven’t had a significant frost in quite a few years. Last year there were no frost days in our particular area, but we stood ready to take action if necessary!



Our mid-fall planting of geraniums on either side of our front door are still doing well.



In a previous photo, we took a peek at the alyssum currently in bloom, but what wasn’t obvious was their potted companions; pink geraniums.



They really make a great team especially during those chilly winter days when we are glad to be reminded of the inevitable spring.



Here is wider view of the “companions” putting on quite a performance.



It isn’t always fun having these delicate plants “out-of-season.” In the middle of the covered array below are the same plants pictured above during one of our light frost days.



Another geranium giving us significant winter color is a pink trailer situated between two very large pots of twisted myrtle creating a floral exclamation point.



Whenever we pine for our morning glories and dahlias under the blazing 110 degree heat we recall these winter scenes and we are grateful and happy!

NOTE – Fresh plantings of gazanias and alyssum will continue to do fairly well through the summer with ample water and some shade. The geraniums struggle through the heat and are often treated as annuals.



If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section and I will answer to the best of my ability.

 

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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 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Photography Video: Tag Responsibly or Don’t Tag


To Tag or Not to Tag. That may be the Question.

Photo Via Petapixel

If you follow my posts on this blog, you probably noticed that I do a fair amount of hiking. We generally visit two national parks or national park-like areas each year. At each location we spend between one or two weeks.

Prior to our trip, we plan the trails and vistas we would like to see. There are often sights that are iconic and of course we like to visit them and take some photographs for our collection. Often, however, we are way off the beaten path when we see some stunning and perhaps more pristine areas.

I have often discussed the idea of keeping these areas as natural as possible with as little human impact as feasible. After all, this is the home of the native flora and fauna.

The negative aspects of tagging photographs with exact geographic locations has been debated for a number of years. The video below – created by Jackson Hole, Wyoming – highlights the seriousness of this problem.

Personally, I don’t use specific tags with my photographs. I may include a general location such as the name of the National Park, City or State, but that is all.

What are your thoughts.


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See more photography posts HERE and visit Jeff’s Instagram site HERE


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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 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



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.

 

Read more gardening posts HERE


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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



Hiking: Yellow-Throated Gilia, Sequoia National Park, CA

One of the reasons I enjoy hiking is that it offers opportunities for interesting discoveries; some anticipated and others serendipitous. We were hiking along the Crescent Meadow Loop Trail in Sequoia National Park nearly a year ago when we came across a patch of wildflowers tucked away in a wooded area…


Yellow-Throated Gilia wildflower

It was hard to believe that these were real. The colors were so vibrant and unusual in combination. It was an amazing sight. The next day we were on the Sunset Point Trail and there was a large swath of these wildflowers covering the entire hillside.


Yellow-Throated Gilia wildflower
Love those standouts adding their all white accents in the middle of the patch!

 
Nature is the art of God.” – Dante Alighieri

Read more about Yellow-Throated Gilia HERE

 

Read more JBRish.com posts:

Hiking/Exploring HERE, Nature HERE, Photography HERE


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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



Milkweed – The Beauty of A Seed

As I may have mentioned on the pages of this blog in prior posts, I volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ. It is a wonderful place to experience desert flora from the Sonoran Desert and other arid regions of the world.

Whenever I work with the various dried seed pods, I am aware of the miracle of nature they represent. That a large flower can grow from the tiniest of seeds is a marvel. Not only that, but many seeds have a beauty of their own.

I recently had the opportunity to work with milkweed seed pods (Asclepias erosa). When I opened the first seed pod, this is what I saw.

milkweed seed pod

** NOTE ** These seed pods were not as dry as they would be in nature, but they had opened on their own and the seeds were removed and dried for storage.

Milkweed plays a key role in the health and welfare of the Monarch Butterfly. You can read more about that HERE. I am writing this post to show the form, function and beauty of the milkweed seed pod.

I was struck by the symmetry of the seeds and how they were aligned in a very particular pattern. In addition to the symmetry, I appreciated the rich colors displayed.

Here is the main seed structure removed from the pod. Notice how some seeds are separated from the main cluster. They fell off readily and easily separated.

symmetry along the main seed stem

As they were separated, they reminded me of tadpoles with their pearly white, almost silky tails flowing easily behind them.

silky white tails on the seeds

As they began to dry, however, they opened up on their own accord to form the fluffy wing-like structures we have come to know.

seed tails beginning to dry and fluff

In no time at all, there was a table full of the “wings.”

The tails dried to form wings

If all the seeds are removed carefully, as I learned after working with several of the pods, the backbone of the pod, so-to-speak, remains attached. It too has a wonderful symmetry and structure.

The remaining spine of the seed pod

Perhaps the picture below better demonstrates the architecture of this botanical backbone and the pointed tips which probably help to secure the seeds until, in a natural setting, they are dry enough to float away on their own.

The structure of the spine helps to retain the seeds until they are ready to fly away

The empty seed pod was slightly sticky and offered a relatively cushioned home for the seeds to await their release.

Empty pod

The two pictures below show milkweed in its natural growing habitat. Both pictures are used courtesy of The New Hampshire Chapter of The Appalachian Mountain Club  

The first picture shows how similar the seeds look while clinging to the pod in the wild.

The second photograph provides a glimpse of how the seeds float away on the wind hoping to find a hospital place to root and grow.

Seeds clinging to the pod in nature

Seeds poised to fly away on their wings with the first gust of wind

You can find more JBRish posts about plants and gardening HERE.