Monday, July 27, 2009

Roses in a Desert Garden

Well, this blog has been semi-abandoned for some time. I've had physical problems (broken wrist), computer problems (still unresolved - I'm writing this on on old clunker), irrigation problems, and camera problems...

But I was cleaning house and came across my notes on my rose garden and wanted to capture them somewhere accessible.

My goal was to have a lot of easy to grow, scented roses in a bed that draws the eye from inside the house. I dedicated the middle bed to flowers.

I chose the roses by researching scented roses that grow well in extreme heat (the blast furnace). The info provide by Tucson Rosarians at was helpful as well as that from the Arizona West Valley Rose Society
Unfortunately the West Valley site no longer has the fragrant rose list posted. I made a list of roses that I'd like to try and went off to Baker's Nursery to see what was available. Fortunately this was just after the bareroot roses had arrived at Baker so there was a wide variety available.

I planted a tall standard Double Delight rose tree in the middle of the bed.
  • Double Delight has long been my favorite rose. It has been a little difficult to dead head this rose since it is almost out of reach. Creamy white in the center, red outside. Wonderful strong scent.

Left to Right (as seen from the house) in the back of the bed:

  • Mr. Lincoln - beautiful clear red, heavily scented. It is a little stingy with blooms.
  • Jardins de Bagatelle - pale pink, blooms in clusters. Lovely scent. Often looks a bit ragged in the heat.
  • Lemon Zest - lots of small yellow blooms that turn anunattractive brown and hang on the plant. To me the scent is very faint. I may remove this one.
  • New Zealand - Pink, undistinquished. Mildly scented (to me).

Right to Left (as seen from the house) in the front of the bed:
  • California Dreamin' - This is like a Double Delight but with more vivid colorong - and not nearly as attractive. Light scent. Not a good choice. This rose is a new variety taht was recommended by Sunset Magazine. I will definitely remove this one.
  • Grenada - This was a surprise to me. I was not sure I'd like it as the description sounded garish. It is multi-colored. Each petal is gold inside, pink and peach in the middle and red on the edges. Not only to I find it beautiful, I also love the scent. I may plant more of this variety.
  • Child's Play - This is a miniature rose and I beieve it is the only scented miniature rose. Lots of small white bloooms with pink edges. I find that the scent is very faint. It might be nice in a border. I'll probably remove or at least move this one.
  • Secret - Another bi-color rose. Secret is wite with delicate pink edges, almost picotee in effect. Lovely scent. Bloomed first.
  • Scentimental - A striped rose - deep red with white stripes and splashes. Very attractive but the scent is rather faint. This is a floribunda rosa and the bush is bigger than the rest.
I have another Double Delight in a large pot in a partially shaded area just out my back door. In front of the house I have a new Don Juan, a nicely scented red rose. It's supposed to be a climber but has not had time to put on length yet. In the front courtyard we have two Lady Bank's roses, loosely trained in an arch over a window. These are about seven years old and now have tons of fragrant white bloom in late March. It is once blooming but very easy to grow and looks magnificent when it does bloom.

In addition to the rose, I also planted sweet allysum and deep purple pansies which shaded the soil and made for drammatic contrasts. So far the roses have been very healthy and shrugged off an early case of mildew. They did attract a lot of ants. A month or so ago I stopped fertilizing and dead-heading them and plan to resume in late August. However I do have neightbrs with beautiful roses all summer so it's possible. I just don't enjoy spending time outdoors in the hottest weather.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What to do in a Desert Garden in July?

There are tips on what to do in the desert garden this month from the
University of Arizona College of Agriculture Maricopa County Extension
There's also a lot of other helpful information and FAQ's on that website.
Another site of interest on what to do in the garden here in the low
desert is John Chapman's site.

Climate Information for July
in Phoenix, Arizona

    Average: 0.9 inches
    Record: 6.5 inches (1911)
Temperature (degrees F):
    Average High: 105.9 degrees
    Lowest High: 79 degrees (1911)
    Record High: 121 degrees (1995)

    Average Low: 81 degrees
    Highest Low: 93 degrees (1989)
    Record Low: 63 degrees (1912)

Note: Rainfall and temperatures vary widely within the valley depending upon elevation and microclimate.

To Do List . . .

    Plant Bermuda lawns during the active growing season, May through August

    Fertilize Bermuda grass lawns each month beginning late April or early May with 1/2 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

    Apply six ounces of Iron per 1,000 square feet per month.

    Apply one inch of water per week to Bermuda lawns

    Once every two or three years dethatch Bermuda lawns if necessary. Only dethatch during the active growing season, May through August. This enables the turf to quickly recover.


    Plant Seeds
      Beans (Pinto& Snap), Corn, Armenian Cucumbers, Melons (Cantaloupe, Muskmelon), Pumpkins, Winter Squash, Sunflowers

    Plant Transplants

      Peppers, Tomatoes

    Place shade cloth over tomatoes.


    Cut back on fertilizing established roses to encourage plants to slow down for the hot summer

    Water deeply as temperatures climb

    Hose off plants in the early morning to increase humidity and control spider mites

Fruit and Nut Trees

    Pick early-maturing deciduous fruit varieties, which are particularly prone to bird damage, before full maturity. Ripened at room temperature to lessen the bird peck loss.

    Cover fruit trees to protect from birds

    Apply nitrogen and zinc to pecan trees to produce normal size leaf growth and to enhance kernel development. Pecans also need more water than most other shade trees.

Landscape Plants

    Increase water application as the weather warms. June is the driest month. Pay attention to irrigation needs of plants.

    Apply mulch to the ground around heat sensitive plants keep the roots cooler and prevent evaporation.

    Apply chelated iron to bottle brush, pyracantha, silk oak, and other plants with iron deficiency symptoms.

    Prune palms when flower spathes show or delay pruning until after the palm has finished flowering to prevent infestation of Palm Flower caterpillars. If palms are pruned in the spring, leave the top five rows of peels so the caterpillars have a place to hide.

    Cut off spent blooms to stimulate rebloom

    Native and imported heat tolerant plants can be planted right through the summer months. They will need to be watered on a regular basis until fall.

    Transplant palms in the heat of the summer for best results

    Protect newly transplanted trees from heavy winds and dust storms by staking carefully

Don't List . . .

    Do not expose citrus and other sun sensitive plants to sunburn by pruning during the summer

Frequently Asked Questions
Damage is Noticed on the Fruit

    Tomato Bloom Drop and failure to set fruit
      Hot air and dry temperatures cause the blooms to drop off and the pollen to dry up. The pollen of many vegetables, including tomatoes is not viable once the temperatures get over 90 degrees. Provide shade. Nurse the plants through the summer and they will begin producing again in the fall. Or pull them out and plant new ones in the late summer for fall production.

    Tomatoes have a large soft rot at the blossom end of the fruit

    Vegetables are not setting fruit

      Many of our helpful European honey bees have been annihilated by people trying to protect themselves from Africanized honey bees. In addition, many bees have been killed by mites. As a result they are not available to assist with pollination. Squash, melons, cucumbers and other vegetables that have separate male and female flowers will benefit from hand pollination. Early in the morning use a cotton swab to take pollen from the male flower and place it female flower.

Damage is Noticed on the Leaves

Damage is Noticed on the Stem or Trunk

Damage is Noticed on the Roots

Cultural / Environmental Questions
    Tomato Bloom Drop and failure to set fruit
      Hot air and dry temperatures cause the blooms to drop off and the pollen to dry up. The pollen of many vegetables, including tomatoes is not viable once the temperatures get over 90 degrees. Provide shade. Nurse the plants through the summer and they will begin producing again in the fall. Or pull them out and plant new ones in the late summer for fall production.

    Tomatoes have a large soft rot at the blossom end of the fruit

    Leaves are abnormally yellow but the veins are still green

    Leaf Drop

      Seasonal Leaf drop is normal intensified by hot, dry weather

    Pines are dying back from the tips

      This is a probably a physiological response. Check the soil near the trunk. Those with circling roots exhibit the worst symptoms.

Insect/Pest Questions

Disease Questions There is a gray or white powdery substance on plants

Seedlings and bedding plants wilt and die suddenly

Leaves, twigs (and in advanced stages, branches) of pears and pyracantha are dying back from the tips with a scorched appearance

There are brown balls/galls on the stems of oleander

Dry, thin bark cracks and splits to reveal black, powdery spores. Foliage above the wound is sparse and leaves may be small. Eventually branches die back to the canker.

Saguaro cactus has large black patches that are oozing and smell terrible

Whole tree, or significant portion of plant died suddenly, the leaves turned brown but did not fall off.