Beautiful exotic blooms welcome me home…

Back from a magical 6-day garden trip that covered Winterthur, Longwood, and Chanticleer gardens, visions of blooms danced in my head last night.

It’s always a little hard to come back to your own garden after seeing the grandeur of such vast and amazing gardens. Lucikly, I was greeted with stunning blooms on my Peruvian cereus this morning. Cereus repandus (formerly Cereus peruvianus) is a thorny cactus with a sculptural shape that blooms in spring-summer.

It’s native to the rocky outcroppings and savannas of South America. In the wild, it can grow up to 30 feet tall, but is well contained in pots (thank goodness).

I had two blooms last year, and only one the year before that after I bought it. Its showy blooms are normally followed by red fruit much like dragon fruit, though more round. We ate dragon fruit every day when we were in Thailand 3 years ago.

Sadly, I haven’t had any fruit develop after the flowers yet. Last year, we had heavy rains during the bloom and they simply fell off when they were done. There is no rain in the forecast for this week, if we do get some soon, you can be sure I will be bringing it under cover. I’m eager to try the fruit.

It goes into the greenhouse for the winter, because it’s only hardy in zones 9-11. This year, it would have been fine outside, since I never had a freeze, but I’m not taking any chances!

I shot these photos early this morning, just as the sun was beginning to shine and the blooms were still at their peak.

I’ll have to enjoy my photos for the rest of the day, however, as the blooms have already closed up and are starting to shrivel. They are one-night bloomers. I’m so glad I was home to see them – if we’d come back one day later, I would have missed these 3 beautiful blooms. Now I have two more to look forward to.

It’s great to be back home in my garden.

Greening up the garden on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

After several gifts of much-needed rain this spring, the garden is beaming with delight. (As are the weeds, but that’s another story.)

We barely saw winter this year, it made a few stops nearby, but never stayed long enough to qualify for a freeze at my house.

Having happily forgone dormancy, many plants in the garden are big and bursting with blooms well ahead of their traditional schedules. So here is a peek into my garden as I celebrate Garden Bloggers Bloom day, created by Carol of May Dreams Gardens

This tropical hibiscus was never expected to make it through the winter – I planted two them knowing I’d probably have to replace them this spring, but low and behold, they are happily blooming again.

Euphorbia ‘Ascot rainbow’ against the backdrop of native prairie verbena.

Jerusalem sage, Phlomis, getting cozy with some Salvia Greggii in the front bed.

New additions to my shade garden last year, I added both solid yellow and fruit cocktail shrimp plant to the palette.

Purple and fuchsia dominate the end of the front bed. The irises in the foreground are done already, but they were a lovely lavender.

Scuttelaria wrightii, purple skullcap, enjoyed our warm spring and is trailing out into the walkway.

I replanted Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’ again this year where I had some holes in the front bed. It makes a nice contrast agains the sculptural foxtail ferns.

A tidy, low, mounding shrub, Catmint ‘Walker’s Low,’ is one of my favorites.

The Salvia ‘Mexican limelight’ on the right and back of this photo is only sporting a few blooms right now, but soon it will create a nice contrast against the yellow Calylophus in the front.

The butterflies homed right in on this native butterfly weed — they knew I’d planted it just for them. (Along with dill, parsley, fennel and many other host/food plants.)

This explosion of four-nerve daisies came flying over from the bed on the other side of the driveway and clearly like where they landed!

More prairie verbena in driveway bed, set against the Lantana ‘horrida,’ — purple and orange is one of my go-to color combos.

Early spring and much-needed rains also mean an early pruning season in the garden. I’m not quite as excited about that result.

Here, the Jerusalem sage, Salvia greggii, Zexmenia, Mexican feather grass and Mexican honesuckle are getting just a little too neighborly for my taste. I’m gonna have to go break up the fight out there this week!

I’ve twice tried to plant Cardoon in this bed with no success. This year, voila! This plant, put in last summer, overwintered well and is rewarding me with blooms.

I love its color and its beautiful, exotic form.

The cardoon, related to the artichoke, is enjoyed frequently in Mediterranean cuisine. It is grown primarily for its thick stalks, which can be braised, stewed or deep-fried.

I’ve also grown artichokes many times in the past, but usually let the chokes bloom instead of eating them. They are just too pretty to eat, in my opinion.

I think I’ll try to cook a few of the stalks of this cardoon – just to see what it tastes like.

Most of my lantana is blooming throughout the garden. Purple trailing lantana is backed by Loropetalum ‘ever red’ in the front walkway bed.

I think this is Lantana ‘cherry sunrise’ on the side of the house. Unlike the native ‘horrida’ which can take over your garden – growing up to 6 feet wide and almost as tall – this cultivar is a very compact and orderly size of 2-3 feet wide.

The first of several rock roses began blooming this week. Pavonia lasiopetala is a tough native plant, but the deer find it tasty, so it has to live inside of the fence.

This daylily, ‘grape magic’ was ordered from Olallie Daylily Gardens when I created the daylily bed in 2008. It was advertised as an August bloomer. Just a tad early this year~!

This is Mexican flame vine, hard at work brightening up this section of fence.

These daylilies are not in the daylily bed, but out by the pool. I don’t know the cultivar, and they look a little washed out in this photo – they are a very deep, velvety maroon color.

Just down the way in the pool bed, this Pride of Barbados has also begun to bloom, well in advance of its traditional August arrival.

Last year’s addition to the pool bed was this Iochroma ‘royal queen.’

I didn’t realize how well it would do in this spot, so I’ll have to keep pruning it. I might have to get a few more to put in other spots in the bed now that I’ve seen how much they like it.

Clematis pitcheri is crawling with delicate little blooms.

Although I like the bright blue larkspur the best, the white and pale blue are the most prominent in the cutting garden this spring.

Leonotis leonurus, lion’s tail, ‘carefree beauty’ rose and Salvia ‘indigo spires’ are all blooming at once in the cutting garden.

Our recent rains have been good for these salvias. In times of drought, they really fade back.

Plenty of chow for pollinators in this garden!

I planted a few 4″ pots of Limonium sinuatum, (statice) in the garden last month. After all, a cutting garden needs some of this bouquet staple, doesn’t it?

The Echinacea reseed in this small spot and come back in droves, year after year.

Behind the pool, the transplanted Salvia ‘Amistad’ adapted very well and is bordered by yellow bulbine.

Behind our fence, the oleander I planted last year as a screen is doing its job. I will probably add a few more this year so we can start taking out some cedars.

The Loropetalum ‘ever red’ in the front bed makes a dramatic statement.

The Texas Yellow Star, or Lindheimera texana daisy, reseeded into my decomposed granite path and now towers above all of the other low-growers. It doesn’t really matter, though, because the bluebonnets and wine cups have already taken over the entire path, so the yellow star can be right at home.

We may be in for an early, hot summer, but I’m ok with that since I’ve enjoyed so many beautiful early blooms in the garden. What’s blooming in your garden today?

Beautiful, xeric plants in the Sonoran Desert Landscape

Against the backdrop of the rugged Santa Catalina Mountains, tough, structural plants dot the landscape of the Sonoran Desert.

The Garden Writers Association Symposium Tucson, Arizona, included several days of tours of local gardens — an excellent introduction to the unique beauty of the desert.

 This is the view from the lobby of the La Paloma Resort where the symposium was held.

 Cacti, yuccas,  hardy woody perennials and trees thrive in the desert, where the temperatures soar into the 100s throughout the summer, yet also dip below freezing in winter.

 These cool, columnar Mexican Fencepost cacti (Pachycereus marginatus) bring height to the flat desert expanse.

 This desert garden was full of nooks and crannies filled with smaller species of cacti and aloes.  With approximately 2,500 different species of cacti, and about 400 different kinds of aloes, there are plenty from which to choose.

 Pots and other garden art and decor provided strong bursts of color in many of the desert gardens we toured.

 This citrus grove at the Benedictine Order of the Sisters of Adoration was lush with fruit.  The trunks are painted white to help cool the trees.

There were some more tropical plants — like these palms — throughout the desert, though clearly they require much more water to survive the harsh climate.

The light on the mountains at dawn and dusk was stunning. Inspiring hues of coral and lavender wash over the horizon, enveloping the harsh landscape in a robe of gauzy color.