Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Frontal Greenery, Take Three


You may remember that it has been quite the struggle to keep our plants growing at this house. We’ve managed to kill almost every living thing that we’ve planted in our dirt.


I don’t know if it’s something that should be mentioned, but our example has just been stellar. All of those landscaping and gardening magazines keep asking for interviews. It can be a burden to be so good at killing plants, you know.

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When we did some more landscaping last fall, we bought what we thought were die-hard plants. I was tired of paying for things that never grew and then just gave up the ghost. So we got a Texas Sage for the corner of the front planting area. We were sure this would be hardy enough to handle both the winter and summer months. The nursery guy agreed that this sage wouldn’t let us down.


He let us down.


In fact, he didn’t grow even a tiny little bit. After we planted last fall, he lost most of his hair leaves. We thought it was just from planting stress, but we soon realized nothing was growing back. All of the other plants were doing well at this point (knock on wood), so we knew something was up.

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I am not a fan of dead plants. I know I keep killing them, so you would think it is something I like because I do it so well. I was anxious to get Deady out of there, and replace him with something (temporarily, at least) alive.


When we were at Home Depot on Saturday, I found a sale and a nice old lady who gave me great advice. We picked out the healthiest Bells of Fire on the lot, and Hubby and I brought it home. We decided to give it the weekend in its pot before we ended its life in our soil.


Monday afternoon, while Hubby was hard at work staining gate pieces inside the garage, I got to work with my gardening gloves and a shovel. Deady came out to make room for the new Fire. He looks great! And alive…


Towards the end of gardening season last year, we found a smoking deal for bags of mulch for 80% off. At about a dollar a bag, we decided to stock up.


Since I had lots of mulch available, I decided it was time to refresh the front planting area with a new coat of black mulch. I love the stark contrast between the green plants and the not-dusty-yet mulch.

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Since we began this little greenery project out front, only two of the originals still exist. This is a Barrel Cactus, which can get huge, and a Natal Plumb, which can also get big but takes a while. Lots of our neighbors have both of these guys, so we knew it was a safe bet to get something long-lasting.

They are still alive and growing, so that is a new one for us.


We also have an Elephants Food, to which I was always drawn in the store. Finally, we brought it home. It has done the best and has almost tripled in size since being planted last fall. I love the almost-red stems next to the bright green leaves. It almost feels like a succulent because the leaves are so thick. This thing is amazing. And not just because it is Christmas colors.

Now that I know it can survive our wrath, I want to buy more for pots in the backyard.


This little guy was quite a surprise. I didn’t think he would last long, but he is now one of my favorites. Maybe because it is named “Little John?” I love the bright red flowers that have blossomed several times since last fall. This guy almost looks tropical to me, and tropical is always a welcome guest here in the desert.


See how pretty the flowers can be? They almost look like caterpillars!


When we had too much space when planting last fall, I ran to Home Depot to buy a $3 cactus. We’ve had better luck with cacti, after all. Slightly more hardy (only slightly because we’ve killed cacti, too!). This little agave came home with me and was planted to fill a small gap. He’s pretty, but lethal. Very sharp, and he unfortunately collects all of the tree leaves that get shed. I still like him, though.


This Japanese Boxwood is really pretty, too. It is often used as a hedger, but I think we can make it a beautiful, round, controlled bush out front. We are letting things grow for now but will start to tame and trim probably later this year when they’ve been growing for about a year. That is, of course, if everything makes it to a year. He has thicker stems and has beautiful white and green leaves.


Last but certainly not least is our new guy, Bells of Fire. I just hope he lasts. I love the bright green with pops of yellow and orange in blossoms. I am just craving color everywhere! After a year of growth, we will start to guide him into becoming a round and gorgeous plant to first greet our guests.


Cross your green fingers with me that these will survive this time. We are going fake plants next time any of these die. I am hoping we never have to stoop that low, but I am also tired of buying plants that we eventually murder anyway.


  1. Well written!
    I am so glad to know that I am not the only one with some kind of gardening handicap. I admire your tenacity and faith. It looks like you will ultimately succeed and have a showcase yard.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Barbara. Welcome Aboard!


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