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Potted Desert Garden

14 Apr 2015
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A substantial number of people who have moved to the desert ask me about the difficulties of growing flowers in the desert in the summer. No, check that: They tell me that you cannot grow flowers in the desert in the summer. I admit it can be a challenge. However, with enough water, some afternoon shade and the right flowers, you can have an abundant summer garden. The pots pictured in this column obviously include mature plantings. They were started from 4-inch plants purchased from the nursery and are the direct result of daily watering, biweekly fertilizing and careful grooming. The pots at this desert home are on a dedicated drip line and got off to a good start before the summer really started heating up. This home is at a higher elevation than the Palm Springs desert floor, so a few of these plants may not make it all…
07 Apr 2015
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Baby boomers like me want immediate gratification in everything we do—including our gardens. As gardeners, it goes without saying that we enjoy communing with nature. Even if you don’t personally create the landscape, there is a reason you want a garden in your life, right? And if you don’t have a garden yet at your desert home … think about it. What could be easier than simply adding a few pots? The beauty of container gardening is that you can add one pot at a time—making for easy instant gratification. Place one by a chair … and relax for a while. I’ll bet that as you enjoy your accomplishment, you will quickly start thinking about what to add next. Even a small outdoor area can be converted into a serene spot. Look at the picture above: Using existing pots and an existing St. Francis statue, this condominium owner turned a…
31 Mar 2015
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Tomorow is April Fool’s day. I hate having pranks played on me; here are some to look out for—or, perhaps play on someone (just not me!), if you’re a prankster yourself: Visiting a neighbor’s home? Be sure to throw something into the entryway to make sure the sprinkler is not set up to turn on when it detects motion. Watch out for stray “For Sale” signs in your front yard! If anyone brings you a caramel apple, cut into it before sinking in your teeth—because it’s an April Fool’s trick to substitute an onion. Watch out for fake flower tricksters! Before you fawn over a friend’s garden, or look in amazement over gorgeous flowers that have suddenly appeared in your garden, remember what day it is! Marylee Pangman is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the desert’s potted garden…
24 Mar 2015
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Continuing on our theme this month of seasonal changes in our desert potted gardens: This week, we’ll visit one home’s entryway, and talk about design. These pots are in the full morning sun and will get an afternoon siesta, as the front of the house is facing east. Let’s study these pots over several years of plantings—largely during the summer season. One year, we planted just two colors, as you can see in the photo above: a tree form of a daisy bush, and an underplanting of red/coral geraniums. (Just how many shades of red are there?) The tree canopy will grow significantly, but the colors will remain true. Next, as you can see in the first photo below, we have a bountiful bouquet—yet it remains simple, with pale pink vinca, yellow marigolds (which will only last until it is hot) and purple salvia. If you want to keep the…
17 Mar 2015
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Feast your eyes on this potted winter garden in the desert, pictured above. A warm February really made the colors shine in this Mexican wide-urn pot. The combination of deep pink petunias, blue pansies and yellow violas is framed with fragrant white alyssum. The center butterfly iris will stay in the pot year-round, providing height and stature throughout the seasons. The next photo of the same planting, below, shows how aggressive the alyssum can be, as it takes over the entire rim of the pot. The petunias are strong in their efforts to blast through the bed of white. In the back of the pot, it’s easy to miss the addition of snapdragons to add tall color. Now that it has warmed up, they will soon burst open with another deep rose color. In the next picture: Switching to early summer, the winter flowers have petered out, but you can…