Coleus, geraniums and bacopa—oh my!

We all need respite from the heat—and I recently received one, thanks to my high school and college reunions.

Luckily for me, they happened on the same weekend, and I wound up splitting my time between two different towns in upstate New York. I visited some tourist spots—and checked out some flowering pots that we just happened to find. I found many of the same flowers that we grow in our desert gardens—although we tend to grow these plants in the winter and surrounding seasons rather than in the summer.

The upstate New York window box shown below is filled with petunias, bacopa plants, marigolds and, in the center back, some flax. This arrangement would do very well in the fall and early spring here in our low desert climate—but most of the plants would succumb to the summer heat. (You might be able to keep the bacopa going in the shade, with ample water.)

On a previous visit to New York state, I went to Niagara Falls for the first time in probably 40 years! It was in July, and the flower beds were filled with similar plants. What a different world I used to live in. However, I don’t miss the snow!

Think about your favorite gardens from “back home.” Have you been able to replicate them here in the desert? Feel free to share some of your photos by emailing me at

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 expert. She is available for digital consultations, and you can email her with comments and questions at Follow the Potted Desert at Get a free copy of Ten Top Tips to Desert Potted Garden Success by visiting