Articles (Posts)

Castor Plants Add Color to the Landscape

Castor for color, and because the critters don’t eat it! Castor is a large, colorful plant for warm season color in the Southwest. Indeed, it grows large enough for some shade too. What is Castor Castor (Ricinus communis) comes to us from eastern Africa and is now spread world-wide in tropical areas. Oil of the seeds was important in ancient Egypt, imported at great cost from the kingdom of Nubia. Any plant that could reap great profits was subject to “industrial sabotage” back in the day, which is how castor […]

Castor Plants – What’s in a Name?

Castor is used in many ways and not the least of which is as a pretty garden plant. But why is it called castor, and why is it called Ricinus? Nomenclature Nerd Shares Science Castor was first named Ricinus communis by the father of Botanical nomenclature, Carl Linnaeus. Take a look at the seeds. Carl sure did! The seed has markings and a bump at the end that resemble certain ticks, and the Latin word for tick is ricinus, so that is what he named the genus!   Meanwhile, over […]

Yucca Flowering and Nature

Yucca plants flower more than once in their lifetime, while Agave (century plants) flower once and then die.  But do yucca flower every year?  Plantsman extrodinaire Jan Emming is the author of this post on yucca flowers. (edited slightly.) Yucca Flower Cycles “Most yuccas skip anywhere from 2 to 4 years in between flowerings on individual heads. This is because yucca die just a little when they flower. Technically, the terminal growth points of yuccas die during the process of blooming.  Thus they need to develop new side shoots in […]

Tool Care for Safety – and for Years of Use

Safety and staying safe has been on our minds recently. Perhaps you are safe from virus at this point – but how about your garden tools – are they safe to use? (I’m not talking sanitized.)  Research by OSHA shows that most homeowner tools fail safety tests! Spend some time to make your gardening tools safer to use. Safety First Back in Journalism we learned that “fear sells.” I started my story with a call to action that included an element of fear. I don’t want to scare you, but […]

Create an Outdoor Office

It is easy to create an outdoor office work space, no matter how large or small your yard is.  It need not be elaborate. All you need is a wireless signal, a surface for your laptop and beverages, and some shade so you can easily view your screen. The Basics of an Outdoor Office This post is inspired by an article by garden writer friend C.L. Fornari. The original article appeared in The Garden Center Magazine. C.L states, “An outdoor office can be simple or elaborate. Basically, what most people […]

Five Gorgeous Groundcovers for the Southwest

Simply put, groundcovers cover the ground (well, duh!) and technically lawn is one type of groundcover. But most people in our region are looking for not-lawn, low-water, easy to take care of, safe for humans and pets, not bothered by hungry wildlife , pretty to look at – groundcovers. Why Plant Groundcovers? Groundcovers help the entire landscape when they are included in the yard. They soften the landscape composition, add color, perhaps movement, and often fragrant flowers. Since they cover the soil, they reduce overall soil temperature, help soil moisture […]