The Southwest isn't wet in the best of times and during a drought, like Right Now, it is downright parched. How do you keep a garden growing when the rain doesn't fall? We have to irrigate, but how can we irrigate effectively with scarce water? Drip irrigation is one modern answer, but ancient people had a simpler version of the same idea.
Once again the natives in our garden shine despite the drought. This Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) has grown steadily, if slowly, in a far corner of the yard. It has bloomed for the first time this spring, bringing an unexpected splash of bright yellow. I wish I could take credit for the flowers, but this perennial has grown and thrived with only infrequent watering. I'm hopeful that there will be a few currants to eat come the fall.
Once again this summer I looked into the garden and saw new flowers on plant that hadn't bloomed before. Despite the ongoing drought the Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium) that we planted a few years ago decided to blossom. Scores of small, white, rose-like flowers with yellow centers popped up between the lacy foliage. Here is one more native plant that has thrived in our arid Southwestern climate with little to no attention.
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.
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.