In "Gardens of Sand and Cactus
," Walt McDonald's subject watches his wife transform "this desert we call home into ... / wind chimes and swings, bird feeders in every tree." She salvages bone, rusted wire, stones, and broken salt blocks from the landscape and transforms them into "artwork" for her desert garden. Visiting my great aunt and uncle's farm near the canyon, I was amazed as a child by the pieces of wrought iron and rusted sheet metal dotting their land. They had a vegetable garden and lots of crepe myrtle bushes that bloomed pink from tiny green pods all summer, and castaway materials, including old farm equipment, broken pottery, and forgotten cinderblock made their outdoor space interesting and useful. To some people, such a garden, staccato with drought-happy plants and a lack of delicate blooms, wouldn't be a garden at all. But I have to disagree! There is beauty in such a pragmatic space - one that I slowly find myself trying to recreate in my own small garden.
This year, I planted bright purple celosia. An annual, it won't come back again next year, something I am rethinking as I try to make the most from a waterless, hot climate. The dusty miller, with its silvery leaves, and a hardy lantana did come back this spring, so I planted more of it. The best prize this spring? Two red yuccas
that I will plant this weekend in my front beds. Not a true yucca, hesperaloe parviflora
is actually in the lily family. Drought-resistant, it attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees with its salmon-colored blooming stalks and thrives in the heat. Other plants that go well with red yucca include Russian sage
, salvia, agastache, echinacea, allium
, and lavender
. I hope to slowly add these to my front gardens so that eventually I have a xeric
space that unobtrusively fits into this landscape. What do you wish you could add to your garden?