Posted in 1 Garden

Last Tour of my Garden

Well, my home is under contract, having passed through over every hurdle just fine:  home inspection, appraisal, and everything else, and we’re set to close in less than two weeks.

It is with mixed feelings that I post these last photos of a place I’ve loved and which has blessed me immensely – my yard:

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Right outside the kitchen door, in the corner between the house and the rainwater harvesting tank is a planter with a coral bell tucked into the corner (it likes shade) and some gorgeous orange striped tiger lilies, now past their bloom – not always photographed, as so much happens in the garden.  
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Along the north side, heading west from the back door, begins the garden terraces against the hill-cut granite:  marjoram, now in flower (I harvested it earlier) and salvia surrounding the base of the small cherry tree.  More marjoram has planted it self in the swale below.
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Below the salvia is a garden sage.  Beside the salvia are chives with tiny white flower buds on their stalks and the yellow four-o’clocks on the left.  In front of them is trailing thyme, and below in the swale are peppermint and spearmint.  Behind the chives is a small fig tree, which was recommended to me to be planted in a large pot and carried into the sunroom last winter; I didn’t, and it froze back but has sprouted again from the root, so I’ve recommended to the new owners that they transplant it into a pot this year – which Lloyd Kreutzer, the “fig man” of New Mexico who sold it to me says will be the best way to get the most fruit – three yearly crops on this variety!!
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Next to the four-o’clocks is the almond tree with more thyme and four-o’clocks in the basin.  Below are yellow chocolate flowers, which give off a lovely chocolate aroma morning and evening; during the day they close up.  On the far left is another garden sage.
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For full disclosure, this is a section of the terrace that has grown wonderful tomatoes but not much else – the hillside slopes more gradually here, so there’s not as much soil as in other parts of the garden.  On the highest terrace is another salvia, this one pink, along with natives which have chosen this rocky place to rehabilitate.  in the lower terrace (barely) and the swale below are desert primroses, which open up early and late each day with stalks of yellow blooms which produce new flowers every day.
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The far west end of the terraces has a fountain of Mother Mary, with a small waterfall descending to a pond below with an osha plant – a powerful healing herb.
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Turning south, beneath the cottonwood bench are columbines at the base of the apricot tree and a local version of the Virginia creeper.  (All the trees have been discussed frequently on this site, so I’m focusing on the small things on this post.)
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Little to see here, too busy to plant much this season.  The small green thing is a wonderful gift from a friend:  a lemon verbena, lovely for summer tea – now that it’s raining, it’ll grow big!
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Traveling back eastward along the southern fence, we have the trumpet vine with showy orange flowers – stunning when it’s loaded, and a great attractor of hummingbirds.  On the grown below are more chocolate flowers, and the rosemary dominates the corner.  I think of her as the Queen of the Garden, because she was one of the only living things on this property when I moved in, and she needed to be moved – which was done with a bulldozer!  And she thrived and grew twice the size!
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Behind and to the east of the rosemary are two dwarf peach trees espaliered against the wooden fence in another swale.
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Further east along the southern fence approaching the front gate from the side yard, are a red flame grape vine and tea roses overhead, with irises below, currently overwhelmed by morning glories.  Even though some people ruthlessly remove them, I remember how they blanketed an entire acre along Rock Creek where I used to live – and I love them, so I limit them, but don’t remove them.
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Turning to face north, we have another two grape vines on the far left, and a wild tangle of morning glories, evening primrose, lavender, hyssop (with the pale spikes), catnip (low with white flowers on right), and more four-o’clocks in front of another cherry tree.  Also scattered in there are some irises, a lone volunteer sunflower, and more.
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Moving east along the north side of the front yard are the same four-o’clocks, catnip and yarrow.  Roses are against the house, with some local, unknown (to me) flowering weeds I allow.  Further right is a succulent ground cover and another salvia.
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Further east, in the corner of the front yard is another salvia, four-o’clocks, columbines, catnip, and in the front right bed irises engulfed temporarily in morning glories, protecting them from the sun which sometimes bleaches their leaves.  Earlier posts show the irises are spectacular – a gorgeous orange sherbet color that brings many requests for trades!  In the back is the elderberry, and beside it a water tank that attracts the birds..
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Turning to look south again, we see the bed for the native mesquite tree.  At its base are irises, the succulent ground cover, and behind them a small black current near the base of a native drought-resistant bush (actually a whole row of natives I’ve forgotten the names of, except for a few:  lemonade berry, red-leaf photivia, shin dagger, and fairy duster).
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East of the last are more of those unknown natives, and at the end a red bud – a gorgeous tree which leafs out pink-red in the early spring.
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Further east, in the private yard in front of the studio are three beds, two ready for the new owners to plant, but with four-o’clocks and a single evening primrose leading the way.  In the largest garden are a few natives, including fairy duster and artemesia, along with two desert willows, one blooming pink, and the other blooming wine.
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Outside, in front of the cedar fence, in front of the studio yard on the far east, is a small yucca, transplanted from a more difficult site.

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In front of the fence are three more salvias along with native plants and irises from the other side peeking through.

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Walking back toward the front gate is another tiny bed with a purple flower-spiked plant I can’t remember, along with some contrasting pale orange irises.  To the right, is two more tiny yuccas beside the protective stones, future sentries beside the front gate – matching the other future yucca sentries near the front corners of the lot.
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Further west is a mixed bed of drought-resistant plants, mostly natives, including irises of both pale orange and deep purple.  The blue-green euphorbia in the back sprouts yellow leaves in the spring that look like flowers and cause neighbors and drivers-by to ask what they are.  And the iris color combination is an annual delight.
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The far south-west corner is what a Permaculture designer would call Zone 6 – the place we do nothing to – to allow Nature to teach us.  Year by year, different local “weeds” come up, providing us with tall white prickle poppies (one left on the right), coyote gourds (large pale blue-green leaves on trailing vines toward the back), globe mallow, prickly pear, pencil cholla, and much more.  At the back is yellow-green cane – a nice craft or building material, and another lemonade  berry.  There used to be purple thistle, a favorite of goldfinches, but the city mowed them so many years in a row that I haven’t seen them back in awhile – but hopefully again.  The city quit mowing as they used to (which always distressed me when they took down the goldfinches’ favorite thistle) and then issued me a ticket two years ago (!), requiring that I destroy this little patch of native plants when they turned brown.  I acceded, allowing the seeds to replant themselves, enjoying each spring what new arrived.  I’ve tried to plant this corner with a few less-weedy items, but because it’s outside the fence, I decided it was best to let it be wild.
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I used to have a lot more sunflowers – and know that their job is to fix nitrogen in the soil – so the fact that there are fewer now – maybe it means they’ve done their job.  Only two in the yard this year.  Notice the hummingbird above?  I do NOT use hummingbird feeders.  With the salvia and trumpet vine in particular, and other vegetation for thick cover, a few varieties of hummingbirds make frequent use of this yard and nest nearby.  This spring I’ve also seen pairs of thrashers (one pair is ready to fledge babies soon – and there’s a video I caught of a fledgling taking its first flight last year, somewhere on this site), and pairs of phainopepla and some wren species I couldn’t quite identify, and many more.
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A close up of the four-o’clocks, so beautiful I just keep taking photographs!  The catnip is flowing below.  I used to be so practical that the only gardening I did was of vegetables – but I have learned the real value of flowers – beyond words.  And when I realized how many very practical medicinal herbs also have delightful flowers (catnip, yarrow, hyssop, chives, and more, totaling at least a dozen in this yard), I knew I’d found my favorite sort of gardening – especially in the desert.
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And a close-up of the purple salvia, with two “albino” blooms!

Every month is so different!  When the irises reigned, I thought it was the “most beautiful” season, and yet every month for three seasons brings a new delight.

This photo tour I created for the new buyers, Patricia and Mark.  May these plants be the blessing for them that they have been for me for the past ten years.  I will miss them.  But I’m happy to imagine new owners and their daughter and granddaughter here, delighted by the Life, healing, beauty, and inspiration these plants and birds so faithfully bring.

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Artist, author, and speaker.

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