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Growing Carrion Flower: Nature’s Flycatcher


Just imagine if you could grow a drought-tolerant plant that may actually reduce fly populations. One group of South African succulents, carrion flowers (Stapelia spp.), does just that. Unique carrion flowers have evolved very exotic starfish-like blossoms that kill the most ubiquitous insect in Africa: the fly. But death does not come until these insects have first pollinated the blooms. Prey are always prevalent […]

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Gravelscape and Green your Front Yard

Gravel can make architectural plants stand out like sculpture. (Image by Maureen Gilmer)
Nowhere are water-needy lawns disappearing as fast as in arid southern California and the American Southwest. This is the proving ground for a lot of alternatives to traditional turfgrass. A big problem is always the front yard, where your property value is rooted in curb appeal. What you do there will have a […]

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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, […]

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Fight Fires with Garden Flowers

This garden features the best drought-resistant, low-fuel-volume flowers for firescapes. (Maureen Gilmer)
You can fight fires with flowers. When landscaping around high-fire-hazard homes, the key is to think about minimizing fire fuel volume, or the amount of burnable material plants provide to oncoming fire. For example, a pine tree has a huge fuel mass, but a sage plant, with it’s lovely lavender-blue flowers, has negligible fuel mass.
To […]

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String of Pearls: Living Beads for Hanging Baskets

String of pearls is delicate yet tough, low maintenance and incredibly rewarding.
They are living jewelry no woman can resist, the most coveted house plant, string of pearls. This tender succulent is feminine looking, delicate yet tough, low maintenance and incredibly rewarding. There are two species that can transform traditional or modern spaces, indoors or out. Hang them like living necklaces to bring awe to your home.
Origins
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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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Get an Edge on Porous Paving

Short, dense perennials are the ultimate edge plants to tidy up after repairs to eroding edges.
Artists learn early on that the most important parts of a line are the beginning and end points.  The quality of the start and end define the line’s value. No matter how light the line weight is between the two points, the line continuum will stay intact because the viewer will naturally […]

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Cultivate Beneficial Insects in the Garden

Ladybug adults and larvae (orange and black) waging war on black aphids!
 
Your garden is a battlefield with more life and death drama than the Serengeti during wildlife migrations.  Among your beautiful plants and flowers there is that age-old war playing out every day as the insect world fights over who eats what.  Some insects are pests that eat your plants – they are garden prey.  Other […]

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Plant a Cactus Fruit Garden

Prickly pear fruits are tangy and often deep red. (Opuntia ficus-indica shown)
Cactus fruit are a forgotten staple of hot climates where they ripen quickly with a very high sugar content.  Fruits are cooked down into syrups, squeezed into icy drinks, made into jam, or eaten fresh after peeling.  These native fruits of the American Southwest and Mexico are both a staple and a survival food, depending […]

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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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