Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hen and Chicks

A couple of years ago, I placed some hens around my yard. This popular succulent, sempervivum, is an easy one to grow. It thrives in low or strong light and in cold or hot temperatures.

One of the hens that I planted in a very sunny location had lots of off-spring. The other day, I noticed one of the chicks blooming and some others getting ready to bloom.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Please NO Bedbugs

Coreopsis is such a pretty plant with a very peculiar name.

The name Coreopsis is derived from the Greek word koris, which means bedbug.
Another common name is tickseed. No ticks here, only the bees frequent these beauties.

Monday, September 2, 2013

When the Weeds are Sweet

One definition of a weed is a misplaced plant. While weeding this spring, I noticed a volunteer. Instead of pulling the plant or moving it to a different location, I left the plant alone. Last fall when I amended the soil for the citrus that I planted, I used some of my compost dirt. There must of been a seed in that compost just waiting for its chance to produce.

Well today, that volunteer rewarded me with its fruits, four to be exact. The fruit aren't very large, but they sure are sweet and juicy.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rose Cactus

I call this cactus, Rose. I don't know if this is the correct name for this cactus, but that is the name I'm using since it looks like a rose. When I first planted this cactus four years ago, I had no idea how large or quickly it would grow. I only knew that it would survive the hot sun of summer that pelts the back yard deck.

Today, Rose has not only grown and survived the heat of the summer, but has also surprised me with surviving the wet winters and cold nights of this region.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Helper

I'm always monitored by my special helper.

She frequently walks ahead of me anticipating my next stop in the garden.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Native to the hills and mountain regions of California, these hardy plants with their cute trumpet shape flowers are loved by hummingbirds and bees.

Penstemon is known as beardtongue because of the hairy stamen that hangs out of the tubular flower.

My pink and purple penstemons bloom all summer and into late fall. The bees and hummingbirds that frequent these beauties are always fun to watch.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Agapanthus, also know as Lily of the Nile, is not in the lily family. This plant is native of South Africa. Agapanthus is an easy-to-grow perennial that produces a globe of white to deep purple trumpet-shape flowers from summer through fall.

Each year around July 4th, my white and light blueish-purple Agapanthus bloom. I enjoy using them in a cut arrangement to decorate my dinning room table during the month of July since the globes remind me of fireworks. And the flowers also remind me of my summers in Japan watching the spectacular hanabi.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Whirling Butterflies

That is the common name of the Guara lindeimeri plant since the flowers have the appearance of dancing butterflies at the tips of the plant.

Guara loves full sun and tolerates drought. While other plants start to fade from the hot summer sun, Guara thrives on heat and drought. The 20 species of Guara that are native to the United States have a range of color from white to a deep magenta. This native Texas plant of the prairies is always rewarding with its pretty flowers that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies from spring to fall.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Simple Gift

In spring, there is always a rebirth in my garden. The parade of blossoms and colors from the different variety of drought tolerant perennials is a rewarding and uplifting feast.

Plants look so compact while waiting for the warm, sunny days to revive them. Each year, I'm surprised how quickly the transformation takes place in just a couple of weeks.

The first to bloom, Spanish lavender with it's rabbits ears florets, fades to brown, and then the English lavender takes the stage with other plants.

Perennials are so spiritually uplifting- a simple gift.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Also known as Devil in the Bush or Persian Jewel.

Nigella damascena is a pretty blue flower that I had never seen before until I purchased my home. I inherited this drought tolerant gem! Blue flowers are rare to find, and this one is a jewel with it's ferny, fennel foliage, fluffy straw-flower, and distinctive, balloon shape seed pod. Nigella seeds, known also as Black Cumin, are easily scattered around by the winds for self-sow. Although I totally neglect this plant, each spring this delicate looking plant surprises me by returning in abundance. My side yard becomes a field of blue and green for a  month, then the pretty blue fades into a sea of green with the seed pods taking on the appearance of buoys until the summer heat withers the plant into the ground.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Field of Flowers

This is just one small area of my yard that is in full bloom. The roses are carpet roses, which I love since they are so easy to maintain and are drought tolerant. They thrive on neglect.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bottlebrush And Bees

Callistemon which looks like a bottle brush is a hardy plant with very pretty flowers that attracts bees. I'm happy to see swarms of black bees and honey bees frequenting these trees to collect nectar since there are reports of a decline in the population of bees throughout the world. There are many folks that shy away from planting bottlebrush because of bees swarming the plants when in bloom. I'm not afraid of bees. I love these plants for the fact that bees enjoy the nectar from the bottlebrush, and bees are such captivating workers.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Roses and Worms

All of my rose bushes are in bloom. Here are just some of my favorites.

I like to feed my roses each spring with the dirt from my compost bin that is mainly made from vegetable and fruit food scraps. That bin is loaded with earthworms.

The earthworms love eating those food scraps. There must be thousands of worms munching away turning all the food scraps into healthy dirt just in that bin.

I have two compost bins, one for the food scraps and another for the yard cuttings and other yard waste. The one for the yard cuttings has less worms decomposing the waste right now. Once I start adding the fruit trees waste to that bin, the worms multiple quickly and the cuttings and fruit start to decompose more quickly.  Both bins provide me with excellent healthy soil for my plants. Worms are excellent creatures to have as a silent garden worker.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Never did I expect these tulips to survive ten years of total neglect and drought conditions. Not only have they bloomed each year, but they have slowly increase in numbers. I even dug into the soil to plant this fig tree last year, and other plants are now encroaching them. Surrounding the fig and tulips are sweet marjoram, oregano, and catnip. The fig tree grew that way last year. I will have to train it to grow more upright.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rabbit Ears

The bracts of the Spanish lavender resemble rabbit ears. I have two species of lavender that I grow in my garden, Spanish and English. The Spanish lavender is the first to bloom each year. The Spanish lavender isn't as fragrant as the English, but it is still very pretty.

A close-up of the rabbit ears.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I love the smell of wisteria in bloom. I inherited this plant when I purchased my home. The previous owner has numerous wisterias planted alone the fence. This plant was the only plant that was well established and thriving; so, I kept it. Back then, little did I know that wisteria are drought tolerant. Out of all my plants in the backyard, this one receives little attention from me or water; and yet, it still rewards me with beautiful blossoms and fragrances each spring.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Lawn Is Gone!

Yes, its gone! It's been gone since 2008. I simple got tired of mowing, fertilizing, dethatching, and watering the lawn. I really didn't (and still don't) see the point of spending hours working on a lawn to keep it green and free of weeds. A green lawn requires a tremendous amount of water. I live in an area that is a semi-desert climate in the summer; no water means the plants dry out quickly. Water prices were increasing (and still are), and I wasn't about to waste money and water by trying to keep a lawn green.

My massive project to create a drought tolerant yard started with me researching for possible ways of inexpensively converting a lawn into a flower garden for birds, butterflies, honeybees, and other insects to visit -and for me to enjoy.

I discovered that it could easily be done cheaply, and that I could do all the work myself. I read numerous articles from the internet of other folks' projects and read an extremely informative book, Lasagna Gardening.  I then set out collecting piles of newspapers and inquiring on free mulch from tree trimming services.

Early fall 2008, I mowed the lawn super short, almost to the dirt. I then piled wet newspapers and cardboard on top to smother that mess of a lawn. I was out to make sure not a blade of grass survived. I had a tree service dump a truck load of mulch onto my driveway. I had a massive pile of free mulch. I'm sure the neighbors were thinking that I had lost it and that I would never ever remove that huge pile. I busily worked for a week. The areas that I knew were going to be planted with rose bushes next spring were layered with a mound of good gardening soil before the newspapers and mulch were layered on top.

While winter's wet weather magically work the ground, I rested and eagerly awaited for spring by reading up on drought tolerant plants. By early spring 2009, almost all of the grass had turned to dirt, my garden was ready for some rose plants. The ground was almost ready, but not all the newspaper and cardboard had disintegrated. Even though some paper was still decomposing and smothering grass that first summer, I still planted drought tolerant plants in the areas that I had designated for flowers that first year.

The second fall, 2009, I planted some plugs of ground cover, dymondia margaretae aka silver carpet. And by the end of the second summer 2010, the ground cover which had filled in had the appearance of a lawn.

A lawn that I never have to mow!