Add Creosote So Your Patch of Desert Smells Like Rain

You can easily add a fragrant – low-water creosote bush to your landscape or garden now – in the summer months. Fragrant Memories of Summer As a kid, summer, and freedom from school, was magical. Best of all was when the monsoon rains started and the desert near our home responded with summer growth and flowers (and mud to play in). The grace note woven inexorably through my memories is the fragrance of rain-soaked creosote bushes. It wafted through our lives and signified the joy and freedom of summer. I […]

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 […]

Rest in Peace Father Kino

Three hundred and ten years ago this week Father Kino died, on March 15, 1711. We remember Padre Kino 310 years later because he was so far ahead of his time. He fought against slavery and racism (radical notions for his time), and worked tirelessly for all humans to be treated with dignity and respect. Padre Kino Was Ahead of His Time I write of Father Kino on a gardening site because his humane treatment of people included respecting the uses of plants by Native peoples.  These uses would have […]

Beautiful Brittlebush – for Your Southwestern Landscape

Brittlebush is not only beautiful to behold – it is beautiful for many aspects of a sustainable Sonoran desert habitat. Brittlebush provides food for foraging pollinators, a shady spot to start saguaro life, a sheltered spot for wildlife to rest, and a safe corner of the world to build a little lizard den under. Brilliant Brittlebush Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) is one of the most common and conspicuous wildflowers in the Sonoran Desert; seasonally providing a glowing golden-yellow cloak for the desert. And yes, the wood is brittle, hence the name. […]

You Can Grow Epazote Effortlessly

Epazote is an effortless ‘erb that loves our Southwestern summer heat. And it’s not too late to plant some now. Why Grow Epazote? This is an herb you need if you ever cook beans. When added to beans as they cook, epazote has the almost magical ability to help predigest” beans.  This causes them to lose their ability to cause – ahem – digestive gas production. In other words, epazote is an all natural “Bean-o.” Epazote doesn’t take much work on your part. All you need is about 10 leaves […]