It’s been darn cold the last couple of nights so I pulled out all of the old sheets and covered the more sensitive plants out in the garden. Almost everything is okay into the 30s–even the high 20s–but there are a few things that prefer to never feel the nip of frost. In spite of the cold, there are a few things coming up in the garden including some nasturtiums. I also picked some peppers (bell and jalapeno) last week that were tasty in some homemade Pho.
I also decided to take regular photos in my garden so that I keep track of my progress. When it’s cold like this–or brutally hot in the summer–it’s easy to forget how things change from month to month in the garden.
January 1, 2013 photos
I have Bermuda grass in my front yard. I have mixed feelings about grass. Mostly, I see it as a boring looking plant that needs a lot of water and maintenance. So I went back and forth about overseeding this year. Eventually, it’s all going to come out. Unfortunately, when I had the yard blue staked over the summer, I learned that the utilities run through the middle of the front yard. That means, no trees out front. That put a damper in my xeriscaping plans.
Anyway, I decided to overseed because frankly, my house lacks curb appeal and it needs all the help it can get right now. I’m a about a week past the window for overseeding but it’s been warm enough so I decided to give it a shot–just another experiment in the experimental garden.
Every time I see a tree that’s way too big for its space–crowding other plantings, hugged up against a wall, blocking a walkway–I stop and wonder why someone put it there without noting its mature size. Then I remember what plants look like in those one-gallon nursery pots: they are so cute when they are small.
I am replanting a garden area between the pool and the grass in my backyard. Everything was dead when we moved in last January. Now there’s a hibiscus, a mandarin tree, artemesia, a cascalote tree, a totem pole cactus. Today, I planted a pink fairy duster, partridge breast aloe, medicinal aloe, two kalenchoes (kalanchoe aff marmorata and kalanchoe daigremontiana [I think]). I am working around the pool pump return pipes and the autofill pipe so it’s a little challenging. But this is where small offsets come in handy–less digging–as long as I keep the mature size in mind.
Which brings me to the point of my story. Last year I bought an unusual-looking opuntia called Eve’s Needle (austrocylindropuntia subulata). I love opuntias and most of the ones that I have are not gigantic plants making them easy to work into the landscape. I guess I didn’t read the label carefully. See, they are so cute when they are small. Well, today I decided to transplant it to a larger ceramic pot and decided to read the WHOLE label. Holy smokes, this is a TREE CACTUS. It grows to 12 feet tall and almost as wide!! Hopefully it gets there very, very slowly.
I made the mistake of saying this very same thing about a month ago only to be clobbered with record temps. There’s been a lot of plant death, boys and girls. Gardening in Arizona is tough business.
But now I think it’s true. The brutal edge is gone and plants are perking up. I am hopeful that some of my plants just look really, really bad and that they are not actually dead.
The yard is starting to look good–lots of good pots and some of the plants in the ground are doing well. My skyflower (duranta erecta) planted in a big pot on the front porch looks great–so does my red bird of paradise (which I thought was dead when we moved in back in January–there’s always hope).
I am finally going to get the dead citrus stumps removed and try to return the olive trees to a tree form with the help of an arborist. In a couple of weeks I hope to start planting again and give plants some time in the ground before our short winter.
Moving kills my desire to blog. I need to stop it. :-)
I have been gardening, however. There are quite a few new plants in the Mesa, AZ garden. One of my goals since moving in is to create more privacy and a sound buffer since we back to a fairly busy street. The road noise drove me crazy at first but it has lessened since everything leafed out. The sad casualties of a house left vacant for so long is that it stresses and kills the landscape. In this case, two fairly large citrus trees that provided both a buffer and shade. I have replacements now but, man! Are they small! I keep reminding myself to be patient–they will grow.