Springtime at Red Hills Desert Garden, part 2

I squeezed in a visit to Utah’s Red Hills Desert Garden during our big RV trip, and it dazzled with colorful desert flowers. Here’s part 2.… Read More The post Springtime at Red Hills Desert Garden, part 2 appeared first on Digging. June 29, 2023 I squeezed in a visit to St. George, Utah’s Red Hills Desert Garden during our big RV trip, and this is part 2 of my coverage. (Click here for part 1.) In late April, the waterwise public garden dazzled with colorful desert flowers, and I wandered for a couple of hours taking photos. Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) reigns as one of my favorite dry-climate plants, with flowers ranging from orange to pink to white. This peach one is especially beautiful against the garden’s rosy red rock. Many of the desert trees were just leafing out, and their bright green leaves added to the freshness of a garden in bloom. I wasn’t familiar with purple rock rose (Cistus x purpureus), but a smattering of violet, crape-petaled flowers stood out against narrow green leaves. Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) tipped with slender yellow flowerbuds I think this is firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii), ablaze with red, pennant-like blossoms. Perky Sue (Hymenoxys acaulis), a close relative of Central Texas native four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa) Mexican grass tree (Dasylirion longissimum) underplanted with purple ice plant Orange globemallow glowing against those terracotta rocks Several shade structures offer relief from the intense desert sun. This one contains a plaque that reads, “Desert landscapes use 77 percent less water than turf.” When your city’s water supply is threatened by drought and population growth, such statistics should make converts out of even the staunchest lawn lover. Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and lavender make a purple-licious, fragrant combo. I was surprised to see Austin’s signature native tree growing in Utah — and flowering so late! In Austin they bloom in early to mid-March. ‘Goodwin Creek Gray’ lavender harmonizes with a red boulder. The powder-puff flowers of pink fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla) adorn pale-gray branches. More firecracker penstemon and Perky Sue Curly filaments add light-catching texture to a yucca’s leaves. Hello, bison! Superb penstemon (Penstemon superbus) looks superb against the toothy, sun-rayed leaves of Texas sotol (Dasylirion texanum). More glowing penstemon with Perky Sue And more! Perky Sue’s cheerful yellow daisy flowers and gray-green foliage Globemallow, penstemon, and Perky Sue make a gorgeous display against red rock. More globemallow — divine! Giant hesperaloe and Perky Sue A bristle-headed Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) makes an eye-catching focal point. Green-trunked palo verde and penstemon add color to a curving path. Variegated American agave (Agave americana var. marginata), one of my old favorites before Snowpocalypse 2021 took them out across Central Texas. I’m happy to see big octopus-armed ones growing here. Penstemon shadow play Honeybee on a coyote willow (Salix exigua) flower. This riparian shrub grows alongside the garden’s stream. The cutest little Texas mountain laurel with penstemon towering over it Bush morning glory (Convolvulus cneorum) with moonflower-like blossoms I’m a sucker for oddball prickly pear varieties like cow’s tongue and dinner plate. This one, cinnamon bunny ears prickly pear (Opuntia microdasys ‘Rufa Spina’), wowed me with its brown polka dots and cute brown leaf pads. What an adorable and cuddly plant, right? Nope. Its brown glochids (clusters of tiny, hair-like spines) will porcupine you if you pet it. But I sure do admire its beauty from afar. And paired with claret cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) in orange-red flower, it’s even better! In addition to its beautiful plants, Red Hill Desert Garden boasts a winding stream and a replica slot canyon with built-in aquarium for viewing “some of the rarest fish species on earth,” freshwater fish native to Utah’s Virgin River. We didn’t spot any fish in the murky water, but we did enjoy a stroll through the manmade slot canyon, which offered some shade as the sun rose higher. I’m so glad we were able to visit this lovely public garden, whose mission is to encourage water conservation by showing how beautiful desert-wise landscaping can be. Lucky residents of St. George to have this garden to visit and learn from, and so close to Zion National Park too. Up next: The vast open spaces of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. For a look back at Part 1 of my visit to Red Hills Desert Garden, click here. I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox! __________________________ Digging Deeper Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. Season 7 starts in August. Stay tuned for the lineup! All material © 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. The post Springtime at Red Hills Desert Garden, part 2 appeared first on Digging.

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