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Spectacular, Sustainable Meadow Gardens

Chanticleer’s Gravel Garden contains many dry meadow plantings. (Image by Jessie Keith)
Nature favors carefree meadow gardens, and once established, they’re effortless—allowing gardeners to simply sit back and enjoy. Their airy flowers and grasses blow in the wind, creating ambiance and habitat for a suite of welcome pollinators and wildlife. And, their untamed nature does not mean they have to be untidy. Well-placed meadow plantings defined by mowed edges or pathways can be garden […]

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Little Aloe World: Discover Dwarf Aloes

Dense and colorful, Aloe juvenna (foreground) makes a great rockery subject or potted specimen.
While we ogle big fancy aloes blooming in frost-free gardens, their sensitivity to cold winters limits their cultivation elsewhere. The plants in the same genus as Aloe vera, the popular Arabian species used for skin care, rarely survive the winters of sub-tropical zones. For everyone who cannot grow succulents outdoors year round, like we do in coastal California, welcome to […]

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Hummingbird Flowers for Hot, Dry Gardens

A female ruby-throated hummingbird feeds on littleleaf sage.
All red flowers draw hummingbirds, and tubular red-flowers make hummers go crazy. The birds recognize familiar species that have co-evolved with them for eons for pollination, with flowers held in such a way that hummers can hover and feed freely during extended nectar flows. Many hummingbird-pollinated species originate in hot dry parts of the American Southwest and Mexico. These are the plants hummers fight over, guard jealously, […]

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Tough Garden Yuccas      

Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa) is an adaptable, bold landscape plant!
“This flower was made for the moon, as the Heliotrope is for the sun…and refuses to display her beauty in any other light.”  This lovely Victorian quote, taken from the 1878 edition of Vicks Monthly Magazine, set off a fad for yucca plants.  Though they flower in the sun, their blossoms become fragrant at dusk, […]

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Sunflowers for Bees, Song Birds, and Garden Splendor

Honeybees and native bees rely on sunflowers for pollen and nectar.
Annual sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are pure floral gold. Their immense blooms have an almost storybook quality. They track the sun, creating a glowing warm basin of golden pollen and sweet nectar to draw bees and butterflies. Abundant oil-rich seed heads follow, feeding both wildlife and humans. For Native Americans, sunflowers symbolized courage and were cultivated as […]

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Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies

Monarch on tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). (Image by Jessie Keith)
Over the last several years, I have become more aware of growing plants in my garden that are friendly to birds, bees, and butterflies. Plants to attract butterflies, especially monarch butterflies, are especially of interest. At one time, monarch butterflies were often seen here in the Pacific Northwest, but not anymore. Dwindling habitat and food sources have resulted in […]

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Connect through Curbside Community Gardening

This street-side strip went from sad lawn to glorious garden, and it inspired a neighborhood.
Gardening is contagious!  I don’t mean that in a bad way, but in the way that it spreads from one person to another.  Whether in a residential neighborhood, a condominium with a patio, an apartment with a balcony, or a community garden, people delight in talking about their gardens.  There is something […]

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5 Big, Beautiful Wildflowers for Dry Western Gardens

This relative of hollyhock loves growing along the dry edges of cactus and succulent gardens.
The American Southwest is rich in wildflowers, and a few have proved to be exceptional choices for arid gardens.  When wildflowers perform well and are beautiful, they are ideal candidates for home landscapes filled with existing drought resistant plants.  They also make exceptional problem solvers in desert gardens of cacti, succulents, and rocks where many […]

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5 Sustainable Ways Your Garden Can Help the Earth

IMG_0757Creating a Certified Wildlife Garden is one of many ways to garden sustainably.
By default, gardens help the Earth by providing vital green space, but there are smart ways to boost a garden’s overall value—environmentally, socially, and economically. Some steps are small. For example, growing your own food organically takes little effort and offers big rewards with fresh, low-cost produce. Composting your own food scraps […]

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Salvias for Fall-Migrating Hummingbirds

habitSalvia greggii (autumn sage) (photo by Maureen Gilmer)
Hummingbirds rely on the nectar of many fall-blooming salvias to assist in their late-season migration. The striking beauty, bright colors, and architectural statures of these plants also make them great for the garden. Most cultivated salvias are from Mexico and the Southwest United States, which is why pollinators migrating south are attracted to them. Their relationship is […]

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