Fast and Floriferous: A blooming palette for desert flower borders

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Fast and Floriferous: A blooming palette for desert flower borders

(Photo: Maureen Gilmer/Special to The Desert Sun) Gertrude Jekyll would have loved our desert palette if she hadn’t been born in Victorian England. This “mother” of the color-centric English perennial border often utilized soft grays, cool colors and occasion hot plants to make the border pop. I was reminded of her when my friend showed me her beautiful patio edged with a border of true British density. Atop every plant were flowers, and above hovered hummingbirds and bees in droves. This is a subshrub border with larger plants than the traditional fussy perennials. It takes only a few to create a desert flower border of your own. The plants are proven to be well-adapted and perform well here. They are also well-prepared for occasional blast-furnace conditions or a frosty night that wipes out lesser perennials. When provided with regular moisture, many of these bloom continuously as they are not so tied to seasons. Flushes of flowers are more often initiated by rain events than particular times of year. Unlike the soft herbaceous perennials of temperate gardens, the weather here is too extreme for such soft plant parts, ill-equipped for the challenge. Arid zone plants adapt by producing a woody stem or trunk to support a large, shrubby size. When suffering drought, they lose all leaves and stems except the woody ones, which abide fully dormant until rains come. The valley floor brittlebush communities, now fully, barren are a perfect example. When they do finally receive water, the growth rate is phenomenal, as they flower quickly and densely to set seed before drought returns. In gardens, these plants are sheared into mounds and balls, but they fare much better when left natural. To control size and form, take your time to thin by hand at the new year before the spring growth begins. 6 big bloomers by flower color Texas Sage, Leucophyllum frutescens. Fuzzy gray foliage. Purple or blue flowers repeat bloom with rainfall. Many varieties to blend for a range of foliage from green to fuzzy white for a lot of subtle contrast among them Lions tail, Leonotus leonuris, wild dagga. Green aromatic foliage. Big upright form with showy orange whorled stalks on top for long, hot season bloom. Matilija poppy, Romneya coulteri. California native active from December to June, this plant dies back with the heat until winter rains return. In bloom up to five feet tall, then cut to the ground. Autumn sage, Salvia greggii. The hummingbird’s favorite flower in other hybrid bloom colors too on sprawling heavy-blooming mounds. Mexican sage, Salvia leucantha. Soft velvety stems and leaves, silver coloring topped with long, nodding blossoms suitable for cutting. Prefers shelter of bright shade and wind protection. Cleveland sage, Salvia clevelandii. A tough hot zone native with pungent sage oil and some of the finest deep blue blossoms for cutting. Brittlebush, Encelia farinosa. Native subshrub with silvered broad leaves make this plant the best source of bright yellow in the spring border. Another element that works nicely in […]