It almost seems like spring here some days. They say we will go ten days without freezing temperatures so that will start some of the plants to wake up. I have seen some new growth around the goldfish pond and with some plants that grow among the rocks. I guess the rocks and maybe the water hold some of the day’s heat and thinks start a little earlier there.
Since I moved to this home place in the desert I’ve been a little unhappy with the way things look in the winter. Come May and the place will explode with flowers but this is early February and I get impatient. I decided to see if there might be a way to plant a few things that have a nice winter appeal even though they might be dormant. I took an afternoon walk through Albuquerque’s botanical garden — part of the BioPark system — to see w3hat looked nice on a February afternoon.
The garden has a number of special areas where certain plants are grouped together. I think most botanical gardens will have similar specialized areas. Albuquerque has a Spanish and a Mediterranean garden as well as a nice Japanese garden and a few desert and native plant areas. This picture is a view of the Mediterranean garden. I always liked Italian cypress trees ever since my first visit to Italy. That would be a good winter addition to my place if I managed to live to be 100. I have a small Italian cypress but it is only about two feet tall…need something that grows faster.
Here’s an idea…grass. There are dozens of varieties of ornamental grasses that would work if the rabbits didn’t eat them. Hmmm. Surely there is a variety of grass that the rabbits and jackrabbits would leave alone….right? I’m allergic to grass but that usually kicks in when I’m out cutting it with a lawn mower.
Maybe I need more Yucca and Cacti. I have about one and a third acres of desert and the previous owners systematically removed all the cacti and must of the yucca from the land because they had dogs and the first owner even had horses. I have been trying to reintroduce a few cactus plants but the rabbits seem to eat prickly pear so it gets damaged when there is a shortage of other rabbit food. The same is true with the almost invisible population of desert rats and mice.
The garden has a large area devoted to native plants and some special or uncommon desert plants. This picture is a Big Bend Purple Prickly Pear — I assume it grows in south Texas.
The prickly pear cactus goes nicely with yucca once they are both well established. They both bloom nicely during the warmer months.
There were a number of different varieties of yucca-like plants and agaves. I think these are a yucca variety.
I have some agave plants around the house but they were damaged by an extreme cold spell a few winters ago and have brown tips to their fleshy leaves. I don’t know much about agaves except that some varieties are used for making tequila. They make a nice statement among a rocky garden area.
There are some very large yucca-like “trees” that almost look like palm trees in some instances. My neighbor has one that is nearly as tall as his house but it is top-heavy and has to be supported to keep it from splitting.
There were also some other individual plants that take on a nice winter persona. One was a variety of interesting yarrow that turned to a rusty brown color in the winter that would be interesting — especially on those few snowy days. There was a small tree that I couldn’t find a label for but it reminded me of some varieties of Dogwood that have bright red twigs and branches. There also was a number of small shrubs that had colored berries that would add interest in the winter. Of course, I’d need the rabbits’ permission to bring these into the yard. Birds might enjoy the berries….that’s OK.
I thought the Japanese garden was very nice and I liked how they incorporated rocks and boulders among the plantings. I have a few large boulders that (with a small tractor or a small army) could be repositioned. I have a couple Bonsai trees and will be getting more so maybe a small Japanese or Zen garden would be nice in a corner of my courtyard.
They were having a small flower show in one of the conservatories.
I think I need a little more cow bell….
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