The longer I garden the more I appreciate tough plants. Between the hot, dry summers and cold winters finding plants that can flourish in Santa Fe is tough. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is another tough native (across much of the U.S.) perennial that has thrived in our garden. This example has grown slowly but steadily since it was planted a few years ago. I have another seed packet that I'll plant later this fall to provide more orange blooms for color in the garden and food for the pollinators.
As much as I love the herbs and native flowers in our garden I love the food we grow even more. This season we planted four Shishito Chile Pepper starts from a local nursery and they have been bearing quite well so far. We've harvested a few dozen peppers and have several more dozen peppers almost ready to pick. Shishito peppers are quite mild and with a little pan searing and salt make a great appetizer.
Lavender (genus Lavandula) is member of the mint family that grows across the 'Old World'. Lavender is used in medicine, foods, for decoration and its scent. We've found Lavender relatively easy to grow in our arid climate with only occasional watering, mostly when in bloom. Our bees also love lavender and were ardent in pursuit of pollen and nectar.
This Sunday I took the Home Grown New Mexico Kitchen Garden & Coop Tour. Since I took the tour by bike I decided to call it the Tour des Jardins et les Coops. The tour was an easy loop of less than 20 miles and great way to spend a morning in Santa Fe. I was very impressed by the garden landscapes created by these generous and welcoming Santa Feans. I learned quite a bit from the gardens and I've been inspired to continue expanding our little garden.
Firewheel, a.k.a. Blanket Flower, is a short-lived perennial or flowering plant native to most of the United States including the Southwest. This example has spread from the original one we planted a few years ago. This Gaillardia has only needed occasional watering to provide summer blooms.
One of the first things I did after moving in to our house over 10 years ago was plant a small bed of culinary herbs by the front door. Some of these perennial herbs have thrived, while others didn't. Two thyme plants have survived in this planter and grown bigger after some of their competition was frozen two winters ago. These small and subtle herbs bloomed with small and subtle white flowers this spring.
Here's another small but hardy perennial native growing in our front yard. You won't find Sulphur-flower Buckwheat in your morning pancakes (the food crop Buckwheat is another genus) but it is native to the western U.S. While it's not indigenous to New Mexico several varieties grow in Arizona, Utah and Colorado. The little plant in our front yard decided this was a good year to display it's namesake blooms.