One of my most favorite flower scents is the Gardenia. I have tried a few times to grow them and it has not worked out. This year one of the gardenias I still had from last year attempts managed to hang on. It even gave me a single heavenly blossom. Oh, how that one blossom filled my courtyard with the creamy gardenia fragrance. Yet the plant looked horrible!

I thought about it and decided it must be the silly container I have it in. Its just really silly, I was going for aesthetics and not practicality. Its a low soup shaped bowl / container. I do not think my poor Gardenia had room for its roots. While wandering around Walmart’s gardening center I found a really cool tall pot. (From one extreme to the next.) The color matched the pot I have my cherry willow in so I decided to get it for my gardenia. I also liked that since this pot is about 30 inches tall it makes it much easier to smell the future Gardenia blossoms. I think the Gardenia will be doing much better. It has a parade of new leaves already!



July 9, 2012 update

Patio Peach Tree

I have a patio peach tree that is designed to stay small and can be grown in a container. My patio peach has many peaches on it this year. However, it is not doing too well. The leaves have lost some color and hang more limp than they should on a peach tree. In comparison to the peach I rescued from Walmart, the leaves and vibrance are not matched. I decided that maybe something is wrong with the container.

Two nights ago, I removed my patio peach from its container and flipped it over to inspect the drainage hole. Although there are holes, it does not appear that the water has been adequately draining. To remedy the situation I pulled out my drill and made larger holes at the bottom. I also removed the soil front the container and replaced it will potting soil from all my old plant hanging baskets. Next I used a hand rake to poke holes all around the root ball of the patio peach. Some areas were very hard and compact. I hope that it will recover with the improvements.

The leaves were not falling off yet and it has lost very minimum amount fruit. Most of the peaches are still hanging on and seem to be receiving enough water since none of them have shriveled up. I am also going to take some time tonight to give the tree some Peter’s plant food. I will use this post to track its progress.

Here is an update on my peach tree. This is about ten days later. I know , I know, I am not sure whether to laugh, cry or just sigh. I am hoping that once the ripe fruit is gone along with the damaged leaves, the tree will grow new leaves. The stems are still green and it is still taking in water. Since the peaches are not withered the tree is still sending water to them. I am planning on setting the tree out in direct sunlight as well.

My Trumpet Vine!!!!

Trumpet Vines are also called hummingbird vines. In some parts of the country they are considered and well known as invasive pests. As a gardener in the dry desert southwest I search out these invasive plants in my local nurseries because they have genes fit for survival in the hot dry desert.

I saw a picture of an amazing trumpet vine online that had engulfed a light pole. I saw images of the gorgeous trumpet flowers and its quick growth inspired me to have one. It can be grown over arbors and even as ground cover.


I bought mine last year at Lowe’s and I have been so happy with it. In just one year it has wrapped itself (with help) around a square column in the front of my home. It grew the fastest on days where El Paso registered over 100 degrees. This year not only do I have amazing green compound leaves as foliage, but the trumpet flowers have also bloomed. (Last year I only had one cluster of blooms.) They are a very vibrant melony red color. I saw a humming bird come for a visit two days ago and a brilliant orange butterfly this morning!

I hope that it grows over my tile roof this year. I have a pigeon problem and since they do not like plants but love manmade structures, maybe this vine will choke them out. I do have to routinely tie the vine back and secure it here and there to help it out. It grows super fast. I will warn you that you should wear longer sleeves and gloves if you are a very sensitive person. Trumpet vines can cause a mild irritation which is why they are also known as the cow itch vine. (I hope pigeons can feel it.) I always feel a very mild irritation after working with it. I would also like to warn you that sometimes it shoots out. I nearly got poked in the eye going to work this past week.

Here is a photo of my trumpet vine, please excuse the crazy long piece of white rope, I am attempting to train it unto my roof.

I have gifted my mom with a trumpet vine who like how fast it grew. I have since purchased three more for my own garden. Now there are two trumpet vines in my courtyard and two in my backyard. One is in the ground, I am still trying to figure out where to place the last one. I hope they cover my rock walls. I can appreciate the rock wall versus other options but I do not like feeling squared in by them and the heat they give off at night is unpleasant.

Here is a May 2015 updated photo of my monster trumpet vine. 


My Chitalpa

I finally purchased a Chitalpa. I nearly bought a very expensive one. I am so glad I wander through the Lowe’s nursery on a regular basis. I found a tall multi-trunked Chitalpa tree for only $68.00. The trunks are quite thick and it is about 6 feet tall. This particular Chitalpa also has larger leaves than most I have seen. I hope they stay large as the tree matures. Behind the Chitalpa near the rock wall I have a small peach tree I rescued from the Wal-mart gardening center for only $3.00 about two years ago. It has nearly been dug out by one of my dogs, however it is doing great. It has some large sized peaches. I will have to make a blog post about it as well. Once I planted the Chitalpa tree in the left side of my backyard yard, I felt a sense of completion, as far has plants go. Now I only have to wait for these trees and plants to mature. As for the rest of the yard well . . . .  I will discuss it my natural pool posts.

Chitalpa May 2015 


My Mimosa

I have a Mimosa tree that I purchased last year. I bought it because I love how the Mimosa flower smells. It has more of a perfume aroma than a flower scent. From research about them they are supposed to grow pretty fast. They have compound leaves which close in the evening. The flowers look like pink puff balls. My mimosa had an injury due to the winds, it did not die however some of the branches did not leaf out this spring. I am not sure if I should go ahead and cut those branches off or not. Here is a picture. If you have any advice it is welcome.

In fall of 2014 I decided to go ahead and copice my mimosa. Now we are in March 2015 and I would like to share with you the results. As you can see it worked out great my mimosa is coming back it already has about the same amount of growth that it had when I first cut it all off. I am confident that over the course of the 2015 growing season my Mimosa will probably be bigger than if I had not copied my tree. I did not copice it down to the ground. Only below the scar from wind damage. 



Trees in Containers

Lately I have become obsessed with planting trees in container and keeping them in container. This is a way I fill in my garden with more vertical interest and I really like the way large pots look dispersed about a garden. Another advantage is that the roots are contained. I have some places where roots can possibly become a problem but by having the trees in container I avoid that hassle. My courtyard is an area where I need to plant trees in containers for space and foundation reasons and limitations.

I did a lot of researching online before potting my own trees. I have found out that rooftop gardens have a lot of potted trees and they are kept that way. I found some images of impressive roof top gardens with some impressive sized trees in what looked like small pots. I also observed this when I went to a new nursery here in El Paso. The large trees hade small pots by comparison. The owner told me he starts them in the ground then plants the trees into pots. Little by little the trees are transplanted into larger pots.   Some trees grow out of their container but you can take steps to keep them in the container you have choosen. You can remove the container every so often and clip the roots back. You can also clip back the crown. I currently have a patio peach tree, which obviously is a container plant. I am also experimenting with two pink flowering Cherry Willows and a Bradford Pear. The Bradford Pear was supposed to go into the ground. However I love the way it looks in my courtyard amongst the two cherry willows. So I will pick another tree for where I was going to plant this one. I need to pick a container for the Bradford Pear. The two cherry willows are in pots because I want them in my courtyard but I cannot plant them into the ground due to my house.  I have also seen an illustration of a cherry willow being added to a rooftop garden. It was a huge tree with a small root ball so I am pretty confident this will work out just fine. Once the trees get larger I hope the effect will be breathtaking. Another venture I will be trying out is keeping palms in pots. Palms do not like me too much and although you can see them all over El Paso, this really is not the climate for them as our winters are too cold and our air is too dry. Yet people plant them anyway. I am thinking of trying a Chinese fan palm in a pot, I like the way they look with the many leaves and I can move it inside if needed in the winter months.

As far as pots go, I have some gorgeous pots made of plastic but look like cermanic. They can be found in a variety of colors and sizes. I have choosen the largest pots in red.

El Paso’s Cold Snap of February 2011

This year, 2011, in early February El Paso experienced a cold snap which drove out temperatures down into the single digits and below zero at night.  As a result many plants in the area severely suffered. Palm trees lost all of their leaves; many Mexican elders and Palo Verde are only coming back up from the roots. I have seen quite a few Mesquite die including my own, although some have simply been incredibly slow to resprout. Some palms have grown leaves again while others are being removed by home owners. I also lost two pyracantha vines completely and the other two are coming back up from the root. I had a beautiful four year old star jasmine growing around one of the posts of my patio, I thought it had completely died but it did eventually start coming back from the roots, as did one I had just planted the previous summer. Nearly every oleander in the area froze down to the roots so they are all coming up from the ground as well. It was a lot of botanical devastation. I am sure local nurseries, gardeners and outdoor contractors are experiencing a boost in business. There is a new plant nursery close to my home which has large trees for sale. They are costly but their sizes are impressive and you can quickly achieve a mature look in your garden. Since my son is so heartbroken over the loss of the mesquite he spent hours climbing in, I am seriously thinking about buying a larger tree so he can start climbing again sooner than later. It was a place of comfort for him. For me it will be well worth the money spent and the tree I have my eye on is a marvelous specimen.

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