Shady Way Gardens Bits and Briefs November 2004


At last. After some real rains here in late October the ground should be more digger friendly, and itís cool out to boot!  Plants installed now wonít reward you with much new growth Ďtil spring, but their roots  will get a head start into the ground before the heat sets in again. Also, new planting guidelines suggest that you need to dig planting holes only as deep as the rootball and about twice as wide. Since all plants like good drainage,  and if youíre in doubt about yours, fill the hole with water and wait. If the water hasnít drained down after a few hours, youíve got a problem. Youíll have to dig deeper and hopefully hit a better draining layer or try a different location.


As we go into late fall and winter, we enter a tricky time for the care of
Desert Roses (Adenium sp.) and Madagascar Palms (Pachypodium sp.)Both of these plants do their growing during warm weather and go partially or completely dormant as cold weather approaches.  When night
temperatures drop down to 50 F or so it is time to drastically reduce water application to these plants.  They will tell you themselves when they are preparing for their winter rest by forming and dropping yellow leaves, even though the soil is damp. Donít mistake this event for a need for more water!  Desert Roses  are especially sensitive  and prone to rot if kept wet during cold weather.  Some go dormant earlier and to a greater degree than others.  Plants may lose their leaves completely or keep a few at the tips, but all cease new growth with cool temperatures and definitely need protection from frost.  Move them to the warmest, driest, brightest

area possible inside or outside. About once a month ( or less if soil re-mains damp) give them a watering.


Yes , we finally have the much sought after White Sage (Salvia apiana).
Why is it sought after? Because this pungent herb, well known among people into natural healing etc., has had a myriad of uses among native
as well as more modern folk.  White Sage, sometimes called Bee Sage
Sacred Sage, is native to Southern California where it grows on rocky slopes and desert hillsides.  It can grow to 4 or 5 feet tall with long stalks
bearing whitish flowers which bees love.  The stiff leaves become almost
white and are very aromatic (overpowering to some!).  Native
Americans used the seeds and leaves in cooking, teas, and healing remedies and burned the leaves in sweat lodges.  The smudge stick, a wand of bundled , dried leaves  that is lit and allowed to smolder, was used in cleansing rituals. Smudge sticks are still popular today.  The theory is that as the smoke wafts  around people, objects, or places  it picks up negative energy and deposits it elsewhere to become positive energy.  The harvesting of wild plants for use in smudge sticks has unfortunately had a negative impact on some native populations.

Growing White Sage here in the desert is challenging but it can be done. The plants need excellent drainage and protection from the afternoon sun in summer. A real bugaboo is how much to water in summer.  Too much too often may lead to root rot and plant death; not enough and not often enough will lead to drying up and plant death. Your best bet is to plant them as soon as possible while the weather is cool so that a good root system will develop before summer.  Watch plants and hose water deeply and just often enough to keep plants from wilting. To see plants in the ground visit the Nature Trail and Baja area at the Desert Botanical Gardens.


Cool weather is the time for leafy things like Lettuce, Spinach, Bok Choy, Arugula,  Mustard Greens, Collards etc.. We especially like
Swiss Chard.  The brightly colored stems of  the Bright Lights  variety  are chock full of those natural vitamins.   A colored pot full of these veggies will brighten up a sunny winter spot.  They can stand quite a bit of cold and will produce their delicious leaves into hot weather. We recommend keeping them out of rabbit reach in a stand or tall container.

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Web Comments November 09, 2004 © Shady Way Nursery 2004