Firewitch dianthus is blooming and scenting the garden


Imagine a strong, clove-like fragrance.


That’s what I’m enjoying every time I step onto the deck thanks to my magenta ‘Firewitch’ dianthus. I’ve paired it with spineless prickly pear and a squid agave pup for fun color and form. Excuse me while I go take another sniff.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Better late than never planting


Like a faithful Labrador, this Yucca desmetiana ‘Blue Boy’ patiently sat for 8 months in its 4-inch nursery pot on a table in my back yard, waiting for its forever home. Well, maybe not forever, as this purple-tinged yucca can grow to 6 feet tall. But certainly a better temporary home than a flimsy, plastic nursery pot.

I bought it at the fabulous Annie’s Annuals & Perennials during last summer’s Garden Bloggers Fling in San Francisco, but not because I saw it and just had to have it. No, I bought it because I saw one of my favorite bloggers, Denise of A Growing Obsession, carrying one around and thought, “Oh, if Denise wants it, it must be good!” And I promptly hunted down one of my own, stuffed it in my suitcase for the flight home, and then basically ignored it. Poor thing. It does look quite nice now in this glazed, red pot, doesn’t it?


The gnome thinks so. Come to think of it, he’s a California purchase too, from Potted garden shop in Los Angeles.


While I was potting, I finally got around to planting up this concrete wall planter I bought at local shop Mockingbird Domestics last fall.


I put a crested euphorbia in it. I’ve never grown this plant before and hope it won’t melt away in the summer.


The spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis) is just starting to bloom, after being set back during our late ice storm. It’s so nice to see a few flowers in the garden at last to herald spring’s arrival.


But the best flower show in my garden right now is in the skinny side garden, where the four-nerve daisies (Tetraneuris scaposa) are amped up by the yellows in the ‘Bright Edge’ yuccas, Mexican feathergrass, and gopher plants.


These cheery natives used to be in the front garden, but the deer found them tasty, so I transplanted them behind the fence, amid the rocks lining the hillside path.


They thrive in the sun and reflected heat.


Little cups of sunshine


Although it may seem a throwaway space, it’s always worth planting up the side yard.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Side-yard garden, pruned, green, and ready for spring


I’ve taken to strolling the garden each evening to look for the earliest signs of spring. This section of the garden, the hillside path leading from the front yard to the back, is going on five years old, and it’s finally achieved some structure thanks to maturing Yucca rostrata (center), ‘Will Fleming’ yaupon (columnar tree at right), and Arizona cypress (barely visible at left). Since this is a less-tended, less-watered, pass-through garden, I’ve planted it up with tough grasses, yuccas, hardy euphorbia, and cactus.


Stepping back, here’s a longer view, standing at the gate into the back garden. The path curves around the house and takes you to the stock-tank pond circle.


Isn’t it fun to look at “before” pictures to see how much has changed? Wow, look how much the Arizona cypress has grown in 5 years! When we moved in, the side yard was an unused stretch of patchy, thirsty grass. The privacy fence actually stopped at the corner of the house, just visible on the right. One of the first changes I made was to push the fence up toward the front of the house, effectively increasing the size of the back yard. I also ripped out a line of window-blocking, overgrown abelias along the side of the house. By the time I took this photo, only the stumps remained (at right), and I was already planting, even before I’d installed the gravel path.


Here’s my earliest picture of this space: an abelia thicket blocking the windows. Nowadays I enjoy a view of the side garden through those windows.


And under the windows is a xeric garden filled with native and adapted plants that require almost zero maintenance: gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida), ‘Bright Edge’ yucca, four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa), spineless prickly pear (Opuntia), Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima), and Agave lophantha (potted).

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.