Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Friday, November 9, 2012

This week in the garden - #37

What a lovely week this has been. Bright yellow sunshine accompanied by cool, pleasant temperatures. What could be better?

Much of my week has been spent coming down from the mountain, so to speak, processing what I saw and experienced during our vacation - and processing photographs. Oh, my, we took soooo many pictures during the trip!

I still haven't finished with all of them but one thing that leaps out at me from the pictures is the desert foliage. Big Bend National Park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert and encompasses the Chisos Mountains and a few other lesser mountain ranges. The colors there are muted and the foliage is very different from what we see here in humid Southeast Texas. I found it very attractive and as I processed the photos, I thought about ways that I might translate some of that muted beauty to my own garden. Here are some of the pictures that are an inspiration to me.

I just like the look of this soft grayish cottony-looking foliage against the hard rock of the mountain.

More soft, muted colors.

Yellow was the dominant color of fall flowers in the desert. I love the look of these little flowers that have found a way to seed themselves among the gravel and small pebbles of the desert floor below the Chisos Mountains.

Grayed colors are a way of dealing with the intense sunlight of the desert.

Do you recognize this plant? That's right - it's Tecoma stans. This tough plant that flourishes in my garden also flourishes in the middle of the desert, although the plants there are much smaller than mine. But they were attracting bees and flies just like they do in my yard.

Here's another flower that looked and smelled very familiar to me. The scent is very similar to the almond verbena which I grow and I think the plant must be related, although the leaves of this plant are much smaller and the plant itself is smaller. Several of these small shrubs grew along the trails that we walked in the Chisos Mountains.

I don't know the name of this ground cover with the tiny purple flowers, but it was flourishing in the dry, dry desert.

 Most of the plants in the desert feature spines or thorns as an adaptation for preserving moisture. Iconic among these plants is the prickly pear.

Another tiny yellow flower blooming among the rocks.

You can certainly see why it is called prickly. Those spines are wicked!

A softer version of yellow. This plant was similar to the Texas sage that grows in my garden, although the flower color is different.

You can just see a ghostly moon setting at mid-day behind the limbs of the ocotillo, another iconic plant of this region. I do like the sculptural look.

This rather lush-looking flower looked almost out of place in this harsh environment.

In certain parts of the desert and the mountainsides, the sotol, a member of the lily family, is the dominant plant. The tough flower spikes of this plant, two of which you see here, are often used to make walking sticks or other sturdy implements. Again, the thing I love about this plant is its sculptural quality and the soft gray-green of its spiky foliage. Plus, that flower spike is really dramatic.

I love the look of rocks in the desert and I'll be trying to find more ways to incorporate rocks into my garden. I love the sculptural look of the rocks and the plants and I would like to be able to translate that in some way into my humidity-ridden domain. And the soft, restful colors are very pleasing to me. Maybe I can include more of that here.

I think we all have much to learn from the desert, a place which blooms and flourishes with a very minimal amount of water. Plants and animals there find ways of conserving water and we, in our changed world with decreasing rainfall, need to learn their lessons.


  1. What a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I have more than 400 pictures but I promise not to inflict them all on you!