Posts in "Low Water Plants"

Torch Cactus: Beautiful Flowers Among Thorns

Torch cactus pink flower among a heavy thorn plant

Torch cactus flowers are breathtakingly beautiful and a shock to some people when they see them attached to the plant that bears them.

Sharp thorns protect the plant from animals, thirsty for the water encapsulated in the succulent body of the Trichocereus.

As an added bonus, the thorns provide shade, acting as a natural lath that filters the sun from the plant's exterior.

 

Amazing architecture and beauty…when in bloom.

When not in bloom, the Torch cactus looks menacing and  uninviting and is easily passed over by the gardener in search of pretty flowers.

 

The thick, cylindrical body of the Torch cactus grows to approximately 15"-inches tall by 12"-inches in diameter and has many offsets or "pups."

Multiple flowers emerge from along the top and body of the stem.

 

The torch cactus is a spiny plant with gorgeous flowers that emerge from the tops and sides of stem

 

Although the Trichocereus is drought tolerant when established, more consistent watering is needed for a new plant.

After one month, taper watering as needed when soil is dry to the touch.

Protect from frost and set is in a sunny spot where it can enjoy the spotlight and flower from spring and through the warmer weather!

 

Garden designer Shirley Bovshow explores the beauty of the high desert at Joshua Tree, California.

I've learned to appreciate the rugged beauty of cacti from my many visits to Joshua Tree, California.

The high desert holds an enormous attraction to me, especially when the plants are in bloom there.

 

Anyone love this plant or collect cacti or succulents?

Would love for you to share more information about it.

 

Aloha to My Mediterranean Garden…Hello Maui!!

Mediterranean garden design by Shirley Bovshow

I will miss my Mediterranean style garden when I vacation in Maui, Hawaii this week with my family, especially my pepper tree.

 


I’m hoping my tropical destination will help me forget how I am missing my beautiful “stone-ruin garden” that I wake up to every morning.

I created this vignette as an homage to the many ruin gardens my husband and I saw on our honeymoon in Italy many years ago.

Every morning we throw open the double doors in our bedroom and this is our view.

The sun rises behind the columns and illuminates the flight path of the hummingbirds as they hover and cross from plant to plant, enjoying their morning nectar.

What a way to start the day!


What fragrant tropical plant will enchant me as much as the familiar aroma of my Vitex, “chaste” tree and the welcoming musk of my ruby salvia greggii?

 


Will the fragrance of the white ginger lei around my neck remind me of the romantic apricot scented climbing roses that wrap around my stone columns back home?


I’m blessed to have created my version of Eden at home with its dry but  surprisingly colorful gardens that are appropriate for the the Mediterranean climate of Los Angeles.

I feel like I’m already on vacation everyday when I step outside my door.

This will be my first visit to Hawaii and I wonder if it will alter my image of Paradise.

 

Anyone come back a new gardener after visiting Hawaii?

Try “Kangaroo Paw” (Anigozanthus) For Romantic, Airy Hedge!

Anigozanthos red kangaroo paw

Kangaroo paws come in a rainbow of colors and in full and dwarf varieties.

The yellow "Kangaroo paw" plants provide an airy and translucent hedge that separates my private "master bedroom retreat garden" from the rest of the backyard.

My intention was to create a "portal" effect into the small grassy area without enclosing it with a dense and solid plant.

When the kangaroo paws are in bloom in my zone 10 (Sunset 18 planting zone) garden, from March until early December, the area is a virtual flight zone for hummingbirds!

 

Before photo of my "master bedroom retreat garden."

This area of my garden was the last and most difficult for me to design.

There were some issues to overcome.

My husband insisted on lawn and I resisted it.

The fence needed to be softened and I wanted something billowing that moves with the wind, like bamboo, my husband favored vines.

I envisioned a private, romantic garden area that was separated from the rest of the backyard but my husband didn't like the idea of closing off an area of the yard.

 

The compromise was solved with a clumping bamboo hedge in front of the fence and the Kangaroo paws that define the private garden without alienating it from the rest of the yard.

My husband got his lawn, all 250 square feet of it- I can live with that small amount.

My dog thanked me too.

 

A long shot of the garden retreat.

In retrospect, I'm glad I planted the lawn because it provides a nice, soft floor to walk on.

The lawn also offers the eye some rest from the riot of color and texture from the Mediterranean, Australian and native plants that bloom in a continuous cycle year-round.

I tucked in edible plants throughout the garden beds including potted citrus trees, potted strawberry guavas and an assortment of fragrant herbs too.

 

My husband and I sit in our Adirondack chairs, talk and eat.

The way to my husbands heart is through the fruit in our private Eden.

 

The kangaroo paws are the stars of this garden and give so much, while asking for so little care and water in return.

This is my kind of plant!

Read my post on caring for your Kangaroo paws for more information.

Living Succulent Tapestry Pillow in Under 5 Minutes

Shirley-Bovshow-Living-Succulent-Tapestry-Pillow is made with moss-filled outdoor pillows. A Shirley Bovshow original design!

 

This  "Living, Succulent Tapestry Pillow" was created by Shirley Bovshow in less than five minutes!

 

I'm making a living succulent tapestry pillow for my presentation at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival!

It's part of my "10-Ways to Incorporate Art in Your Garden," presentation and is an affordable and easy garden craft to make.

 

Watch us make the succulent pillow on my web series, "Way to Grow" on the Digs channel on YouTube.

 

It is a Shirley original, as far as I know, (a vision came to me for it while watching Citizen Kane).

Inspiration comes from the most unlikely places!

This pillow is so easy to make that you will feel guilty accepting compliments for it.

Here we go.

 

Materials for Living Succulent Tapestry Pillow

Outdoor pillow in solid color- avoid prints if you want your plants to be the focal point.

1 large bag of  sphagnum moss (moistened)

3 small succulent cuttings or 3"-inch potted plants

Panty hose

A sense of style

Xacto knife

 

Directions

  1. Open the seam of pillow on one side and remove all the stuffing.
  2. Stuff the pillow with moist sphagnum moss
  3. Position your succulents where you would like them. (Groups of three or more look nice)
  4. Remove the succulent from the pot, remove half of the soil and wrap pantyhose around root ball to keep intact. 
  5. Cut slits where you want to place your succulents and gently insert the plants. 

 

 Open an area in the moss and insert succulent root so that  it's not free-floating in a sea of moss.

You may want to add a "fringe" effect  to the pillow by using  a trailing plant such as fishtail senecio.

If you like a true pillow look, you can add Velcro to close the pillow. 

Or, leave it open and crown the pillow with a focal point plant like a small aeonium or echeveria.

You are done and ready to receive your praise!

 

Place your living succulent tapestry pillow on an outdoor bench or other water-safe surface in a part shade area.

Don't subject your pillows to harsh sunlight.

Water by misting roots once a week and less frequently in the winter time.

Cold winter gardeners can over-winter their succulent pillows indoors and place on a pebble tray.

 

living-pillow.jpg

Succulent pillows can last for a few years although you may want to plant the cuttings in the garden once they get bigger.

Enjoy the compliments!

“Checkerboard” Santolina Garden Bed!

before.jpg
Newly planted "checkerboard" Santolina bed
 
 
 
 
 
img_1330.jpg

One Year Later:"My, has that Santolina grown!"

 
 
 
The newly planted Santolinas (Lavender Cotton) were petite 1-gallon plants two years ago, but look at them now!
 
The "checkerboard" planting scheme was one that we highlighted on the  garden makeover show, "Garden Police," that I co-hosted for Discovery.
 
 

These Mediterranean natives do well in Sunset zones 2-24 and grow about 2 feet tall and three feet wide as you can see in the second photo.

I'm glad we gave them plenty of room to grow because the Santolinas filled in beautifully and have a soft "frothy" and airy look now.
 
 

Both the gray and  green Santolina incana sport bright yellow flower heads.  

To keep Santolina from becoming too woody, cut it back yearly before spring growth begins.
 

Enjoy the scent and don't be afraid to experiment with whimsical patterns like this checkerboard design!


Pruning and Maintaining “Kangaroo Paws” (Anigozanthos)

orange kangaroo paws

Pruning and maintaing Kangaroo paws, (Anigozanthos) is worth the effort because it is very simple to do and greatly improves the look and health of your plant.

 

kangaroo paw

Anigozanthos flavidus.

 

The native western Australian plant, "Kangaroo paws," ( Anigozanthos) seem to be everywhere these days.

I see the evergreen, dark green clumps with striking tubular flowers in red, purple, green, orange and yellow displayed in pots, in garden beds and used in all kinds of landscape designs from tropical to contemporary.

Kangaroo paws are in my garden too.

 

Gardeners with sympathetic gardening zones that are dry, hot and mediterranean-like have discovered the almost-never-ending, vigourous performer contributes ceaseless color to the garden bed.

So when a client calls me and tells me their Kangaroo paw is "dead," I don't worry, its usually just time for some careful grooming and pruning!

 

 

dead-flower-closeup.jpg

Dried Kangaroo Paw flower stalks

While the dried flower stalks of the Kangaroo Paw look great in dry flower arrangements, I can understand the dismay my clients feel when they see formerly robust and vivid flowers turn pale and lifeless looking.

No big deal- just follow the flower stalk to the base where it emergences from the foliage clump and snip it off.

New flower stalks will be encouraged to grow and soon new flowers will emerge to replace the old.

Remove any brown or ugly foliage straps while you are at it so that the newly pruned Kangaroo Paw looks neat and green.

 

dry-foliage OF KANGAROO PAQ.jpg

Remove the dry, brown strappy foliage

It never ceases to amaze me how many people "trim" brown tips from otherwise green strappy foliage, as if it will grow in where it was cut.

Remove the entire strap from the bottom!

Trimmed straps look terrible and they will stay ugly until the foliage dies back.

Don't do it!

 

After I trimmed the dead flower stalks and cleaned out the ugly foliage, I noticed new flower stalks waiting for their turn in the sun.

With the which the extrenous foliage and dead flowers gone they should get plenty of light!

 

rejuvenated-kangaroo-paw.jpg

New flower stalks are already emerging!

Keep your Kangaroo paws moist (but not damp) during the new flowering period so that severe dryness will not prompt them to dormancy.

Once the flowers get some height on them, cut the watering back and only water when the soil around the root ball feels dry.

 

Kangaroo paws appreciate well draining soil, lots of sunshine and they are not good swimmers- so go light on the water.

Kangaroo paws will reward you for your efforts with show-stopping blooms that will have your neighbors asking, "What plant is that?"

 

I especially like to plant Kangaroo paws as an airy and translucent hedge. 

Take a look at it in my yard.

 

*See more garden projects, before and after landscape photos and the latest in garden design with regular visits to Shirley Bovshow™s EdenMaker™s Blog!