Our monsoon season is going well and my plants are happy! It's amazing what a little rain will do that well water just doesn't seem to accomplish. It has been cooler as well, topping out in the 80s during the day and this morning at 5 am (yep-I even get up early on Saturday) it was 57 degrees. In August. This is one of the things I love about the high desert.
I splurged with a knockout rose and two hardy hibiscus, but I decided that the rest of the perennials I put in will have to be something that will naturalize here and require minimum watering. I am a firm believer in lots of mulch...not gravel. Gravel gets too hot in the courtyard and I want something that will break down and enrich this very sandy, slightly alkaline soil. So I use lots of compost and bark mulch.
One of the plants recommended for this environment is catmint. I went to a local nursery because they have the best selection of plants that will do well here. The big box stores aren't always reliable on that count. I decided on the Six Hills Giant Catmint, one for each side of my lilac. $8 for a gallon size-not too bad. I have read that it is a sterile hybrid, which means no seeds. I'm disappointed about that, but not enough to change my mind about planting it.
I got them planted this morning. I trimmed off the flowers to reduce the stress--blooming while being transplanted can be a little too much for some plants. I will probably keep the buds pinched off for the remainder of this summer so it's energy will go to roots. I added about an inch of mushroom compost and dug it in good before planting. I had composted the entire bed before mulching, so added just a little extra as I planted. They were root bound, so I loosened up the roots with my fingers before planting them. Now it is just wait and see how they do.
On a whim, I grabbed a handful of Anasazi beans from the pantry when I was planting my asparagus beans. Anasazi beans have been grown for centuries by some of the tribes in this area and are very popular here in northern New Mexico. They taste similar to pinto beans but cook more quickly at this high altitude.
Many plants struggle with the intense sun and very low moisture, often with humidity less than 10%, here at 7,000 feet in the high desert. Gardening can be a real challenge. The Anasazi beans are on the left end of the trellis and the asparagus beans are about the middle. They were planted the same time and have received the same care. The Anasazi beans were up in about 5-7 days. I will definitely stick with Anasazi beans for next year's garden, assuming they produce as well as they grow. We'll see!
,My birthday was last week and I told my dear husband all I wanted was to spend the day at the botanical garden in Albuquerque. He obliged me and we set off Saturday morning for our day at the Garden.
It was cloudy and spitting rain and snow (in the middle of April!) when we left home, about an hour from Albuquerque. We crossed our fingers and headed out and by the time we arrived, the rain had stopped. It was cloudy and cool but only misted a little a couple of times, so it turned out to be a nice day.
It was half price weekend so parking was awful. We ended up around behind the aquarium in the overflow parking. The aquarium and gardens are side by side, so it wasn't much of a walk to get around the aquarium to the front. The front courtyard has a bike rack, gift shop, restrooms, snack bar, stroller rental and a place for pets to hang out because they are not allowed inside. We got there at 10 a.m. and the bathrooms were already a pit. That was a little disgusting. But it was a really busy day and the place was packed, so maybe that was not the norm.
The front entrance had a yellow Lady Banks rose on each side and it was in full bloom. Just glorious! The gardens certainly didn't disappoint and we will definitely return to see it again. Once inside, we stopped in the High Desert Rose Garden to get a snack and sit a spell. Restrooms there were much cleaner and far less busy. We walked 3+ miles and I'm sure missed a few trails, but we saw most of it. We saw everything from bromeliads and fuchsia in the tropical conservatory to and old fashioned farm complete with livestock and an area that was completely natural with walking trails all through it. I think most of it could be accessed with a stroller or wheel chair. There is also a small train you can ride and see a good bit of it, but we chose to walk. There is even a section for children, with a Bugarium and a butterfly garden. The butterfly garden was not open--still a little too early for the high desert-- but the Bugarium and the Children's Fantasy Garden were great fun.
I took over a hundred photos and shot a couple of short videos. I've divided them up according to what area of the garden they were in to make it a little easier to view. Enjoy!
The Children's Garden
The Conservatories-Tropical and Desert
The Japanese Garden
The Rest of the Garden
I am a seed saver. I can't help myself. I know I don't need all those plants and will be scrambling to find a place for them but I love the challenge of gathering seeds and then seeing if I can get them to sprout.
I frequently walk on my lunch hour at work. My walking buddy happens to be a gardener as well, so last fall we started gathering seeds we saw along the roads as we walked. I want to plant native seeds around the outside of our yard fence and need to re-seed an area that had been a dog yard.
Seed capsules generally split once they mature and dry, so you have to get them at just the right time. The seeds must be fully ripe, but still have enough in the capsule that you have something to plant. I carried snack size baggies in a fannie pack with a Sharpie for labeling. Each evening I brought my little treasures home and put them in the second fridge we have in our garage. In general, you have to simulate winter in order for seeds to break dormancy and sprout. I left mine in the fridge through winter. I pulled them out a week ago and planted them in a store bought seed starting mix in small peat cups. I use a spray bottle to water and keep the soil moist but not soggy. My guest bath, which has a skylight, is my seed starting greenhouse, at least until I can get my small greenhouse set up in a south window.
Joy, joy! I have seeds sprouting. So far I have a wild penstemon, potentilla, salsify, fern bush, and Apache plume.
i went to a spring garden fair yesterday and succumbed to garden impulse buying. First was this gorgeous black petunia. It is reLly dark purple but the color was so stunning I had to have it
The next impulse buy was two tiny little succulents. The coin in the picture is a quarter for comparison. I have four old wooden salad bowls I've been saving for a project and this was it!
I drilled a quarter inch hole in the bottom of each bowl and added about a half inch of pea gravel. I put just a bare1/2" of cactus potting medium over the gravel, then placed the root ball of the little succulent on top. I filled in carefully with more cactus medium just to cover the root ball. I watered it very carefully, just dripping a little at a time and making sure it drained quickly. I then added more gravel on top of the soil as mulch and to protect the plant from splashing soil when I water. I set the bowl in a 4" drip tray with about 1/2" to 3/4" of gravel in the bottom to further insure good drainage.
They now have a new home on my sofa table in our very bright passive solar living room. I just need two more for the other two salad bowls. And then maybe some trailing succulents for a hanging basket...I think I may have a new gardening addiction.
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1982 and have been gluten free ever since. I went dairy free two years ago. I share recipes, DIY projects and crafts, gardening tips, life philosophies and thoughts on this blog. This is just my story. In no way should it be taken as medical advice because every individual is different. There are also a few affiliate links for products I use and recommend. I make a tiny amount of money if you buy something and it in no way changes the price you pay.
Amazon Affiliate Disclosure. Neenie Makes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.