Skip to content

Mother nature as the landscaper

March 13, 2010

Sometimes I forget how amazing natural “landscapes” can be. All it takes to remind me is a road trip into the mountains or the desert .  While all of these scenes remain so striking in my memory, they unfortunately don’t unfold from my camera as vividly. My photography skills are not up to snuff. So many descriptions are coming out of my head and the pictures may not match the picture in my mind.

Mother nature plays with color and contrast beautifully.

Claret Cup Cactus, Moab Rim trail

Bright blue Penstemon, Great Basin National Park

Princes' Plume, Portal, Colrado River off Moab Rim trail

Mother nature doesn’t even worry about how a combo will look with the edges blurred. She combines this Juniper and buffalo berry for an interesting silver and green contrast.

Cathedral Valley, Silver Buffalo Berry and Juniper

I really enjoyed this wild rose dancing with a pinon pine. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to capture the full effect, but I remember thinking it was lovely.

Great Basin National Park campground

Rocks placement is another area that we gardeners wanting to mimic nature can have trouble with. I love the way she put these in place among these sages and colorful spring wildflowers. They seem to light up the scene.

Flat Pass trail near Moab, Utah

These rocks probably provide these wildflowers with an extra hospitable spot to get established in the harsh great basin.

Wildflowers and rock, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

On the Barrel Roll trail (so named for all the barrel cactus) in the Santa Clara River Preserve, examples abound for rocks and vegetation existing together harmoniously.

Small barrel cactus, Santa Clara River Preserve, near St. George, Utah

At the edge of this desert wash in the Santa clara river preserve, this snakeweed casts shadows on these textured rocks.

The afternoon sun shining on the golden vegetation of late winter complements these towers in the Cathedral Valley section of Capitol Reef National Park.

Mother nature is also not the least bit afraid to incorporate her version of a pond into her desert landscape. This was a welcome surprise on our trip through the Santa Clara River Preserve . If we hadn’t been racing the sun we would have stayed longer.

Simplicity and beauty is a combo I can never seem to accomplish. But in nature it’s commonplace

Blooming cactus

Cathedral valley

Townsendia (I think)

One of my favorite examples of simplicity is this scene from Chute Canyon in the San Rafael Swell. These trees have become established part way up this sandstone wall in a small ledge.

Happy Saturday

Wordless Wednesday: Reflection

March 10, 2010

Got Roses?

March 8, 2010

Recently I’ve seen posts in the blogosphere railing against roses, but I am an unashamed rose worshiper.   The conventional wisdom is that roses are demanding and must be sprayed for diseases and pests.    The problem with conventional wisdom is that it doesn’t apply everywhere.   There are roses for every climate.   I’ve only grown roses in my climate though, so my experience may not apply.  I must state a caveat that I’m not a master gardener nor an expert rosarian.  I can’t advise on sprays because I don’t need ’em!

Rose growing in Utah is actually pretty easy.  Because of our arid climate, roses do not suffer from disease much here.  Blackspot can occasionally appear but is very rare.  Compared to the defoliation reported by some people in the east, a couple of spots are hardly worth mentioning.   Some roses can mildew in the right conditions, but that seems to be more dependent on the variety of rose and not widespread throughout the garden.   A mildew magnet of a rose, can be promptly shown the shovel.   For example of my 80 or so roses, only two have been mildew messes.

Belle Story

I’m not particularly fond of hybrid teas, so you won’t see much of those in my garden.  I like roses packed with petals, or wide open singles or semi-doubles that show their gorgeous yellow stamens.  I  like my roses to have a nice shrub form that blooms all the way to the ground.

gorgeous but non-fragrant Pierre de Ronsard (Climbing Eden)

Now you may find some pests on your roses here. The most common is aphids. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen actual aphid damage. But they sure are ugly. You’ll usually find them on the buds early in the season. I always cringe when I read of people freaking out and running for some pesticide to kill aphids, because it’s just not necessary.  Some folks take delight in squishing them on the bud, but that grosses me out. If they’re bugging me (groan) I get the hose out and spray them off with a strong jet of water. Soon enough the ladybugs will arrive and chow down.

icky aphids

I’ve read that monoculture is pretty bad in all gardening, that a wide variety of plants will attract beneficial insects, and keep disease from being widespread. At my place, roses mingle happily with perennials and grasses. Variety seems to keep everything in balance.

Robert le Diable with columbine and Red Rocks penstemon

Now an ugly pest here are the thrips. They like to chew on light colored roses. To the naked eye they look like little slivers crawling around the rose bloom. They leave brown edges.
Thrips and the damage they caused on Crocus Rose

I will have to do a part two on roses, but I’ll leave you with some pretties.
This rose always makes me smile, my happy rose. It’s a great cut flower too, but no fragrance.

floribunda Betty Boop

Charles Darwin with clematis

The quartered blooms of Tradescant- red swirly goodness.


Happy Monday!

PS. Unless I stated that the rose isn’t fragrant in this post, it is fragrant.  More on fragrant roses another time.

Hoping for Spring

March 2, 2010

female house finch



male house finch

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. proverb

Wildflower Wednesday: Glorious Globemallow

February 24, 2010

For Wildflower Wednesday, I’d like to focus on globemallow, or cowboy’s delight.  Isn’t that a wonderful common name?  If we’re going to talk about native plants I might as well show some globemallow in a natural environment.  Plant geeks must stop their bike rides to check out interesting plants along the way.

sea of globemallow on the Gemini Bridges trail

The above picture was taken on the Gemini Bridges trail (click for climb-utah’s bridges photos) in Moab, Utah. If you’ve ever been to Moab (click for DiscoverMoab) and traveled this trail, you will recognize the Gooney Bird Rock which is right across the road from the sea of globemallow I photographed.

Gooney Bird Rock

I googled cowboy’s delight and found that it refers to sphaeralcea coccinea, a small globemallow that has volunteered in my garden.  It never makes a mass, just pops up here and there and I let them be.  I tried to transplant some once and they promptly croaked.

The globemallow most commonly sold in the nurseries around here are sphaeralcea munroana- Munro’s Globemallow and sphaeralcea grossulariifolia. As you can imagine I had to look up the spelling of those names. I love to look up native plants and to look at the distribution maps and photos.

sphaeralcea grossulariifolia with fragrant evening primrose oenothera caespitosa

On another road in Moab, to Hurrah Pass down in the bottoms there was a sight that lives on in my memory of masses of orange globemallows and white primroses at the base of a sheer cliff. The mix of orange and white inspired the planting in the above picture. My small garden doesn’t have grandeur but we make do with what we have.

Globemallow with 'Siskyou Blue' fescue and Rocky Mountain columbine

At Conservation Garden Park in the dry garden there are beautiful globemallows. This xeriscape is beautifully designed and full of inspiration. My home garden has so far to go. These photos were taken during the photography class mentioned in the Rainbow post. By the way, for Utahns, Conservation Garden Park has all of their Free Classes listed for the season. You can click on the link above, or Slow the Flow over in my sidebar.

Globemallows at Conservation Garden Park

Last here is something I purchased as cushion globemallow, sphaeralcea caespitosa which is not low and cushiony at all and is also indistinguishable from my grossulariifolia, which is in turn indistinguishable from munroana (at least to me). Maybe something fishy is going on at the nurseries.

Orange you glad you saw some globemallow today? Groan, yes I’m a dork. Thank you to Gail at Clay and Limestone, host of Wildflower Wednesday. I really enjoy participating.

Winter Light

February 21, 2010

This month’s theme is Winter Light for the Picture This contest and Gardening Gone Wild. The judge, Roger Foley of Foley Photo talked about how “winter sunlight can be bold and graphic in the way it falls on a garden” I was fixated on finding some of that. I had two problems when I went on my quest. First, this February we weren’t getting ANY snow. Secondly, I’ve realized over the month that I don’t have any trees really placed to have shadows fall in graphic lines in my yard. I’ve placed most of my trees to cast shade from the west in summer to have a respite from the heat. On Friday we finally got some snow that stuck. When I looked out the window yesterday day morning I saw my arbor casting graphic shade lines on the snow. I squealed and ran for the camera. I’ll tell you now though that it didn’t create the picture that I’m submitting for the contest. Enough blather, here is my submission first…

Winter Light- Snowdrop

Snowy Snowdrop

My family again help me pick the submission.   What I liked about it was how the snow was just beginning to melt.  Close up it looks like bubbles, and the ice had formed a little cage that reminded me of those sugar cages that expert bakers make.

I also really liked the photo below.   The sun lighting up the snow was showing up as blues and reds in my view finder.  I took a  ton of pictures but only one showed any colors.  The plant is salvia pachyphylla (sold with the common name mojave sage around here).    It’s a western native with beautiful purple blooms.   I loved this plant so much this year that I added 5 more.

salvia pachyphylla

The dogs came out when I went to the backyard. Henry paused on patrol right at the end of the graphic shade lines caused by the arbor. Henry patrols the perimeter looking for cats, birds, any invader. I’ve lost a few plants when we’ve altered the garden and he’s cut a new path. The rest of the pics can be clicked to enlarge.

Henry on patrol

Hershey bounded around wanting to play, but since I was taking photos, she keyed in on Henry.


Can you see the patrol trail?

Here’s the bucket handle again that made an appearance in my Jan Picture-This.

early morning moon pictures

Getting further from the garden, an early morning picture from the field down the street.

And much further from home, a picture in American Fork Canyon.

Thanks for checking out my search for winter light.
My sister just joined the blog with her first post today.  My contest entry has sadly pushed her post down the page.  I’d love it if while you’re visiting you could take a look.   Thanks for visiting our blog.