Joshua Tree, CA(Zone 8b)

Dave , Your like a Genie in a Bottle!!!
Made my day!!!
Well. Now. Some of our deserts have different soils, and conditions. I will start by telling you about mine.
3500 foot elevation puts me into a zone 8B, rough sandy soil. 30% humidity is normal, it gets to 15 %. Low temps are 20-30's and Highs in Aug/Sept is 110 + . I really cant winter garden. It is to cold. We need really tough plants.
A list of Xeriscaping Plants: Achilea/Yarrow comes in all colors . Some like a little more water than others. Coreopsis, the pink likes wet feet! dont get that one. Penstemon, all colors.Scabiosa/Pincushion. Iris, Roses. Do great in the desert. Desert Primrose, is an excellent plant.
Lantana,Verbenia, all lavendars do great. Now I have named Med/Low water plants so far. But you can grow these in the garden easily, with care.
You have to plan Zones: Oasis Zone for roses, and perennials, annual. More water intensive plants should be close to the house.I put grey water on these, I have septic so I can not use bleach. I put my washer water on the the Oasis Zone. I have a pool hose, hooked up the the washer. and Voila! recylcled water! I do 10 loads a week. You should plant drought resistant trees to the west, as a windbreak too to create a microclimate, for your house and garden. Start this, the sooner the better. Eucalyptus,Mesquite, Palo Verde. Tamarisk, Smoke tree, Olive. Then there is your Medium water zone:
I have 2 olive trees,My native Primrose, Iris, Native Datura, Desert Willow tree, My native Copper Globemallow, Dusty Miller, Lambs Ears. Creeping Thyme.
You know desert natives can be highly allergenic. I encourage you to plant a native Garden. But put it on the outer spots of you property. These plants need water the first year or 2 to get established.Except for trees. More time until established. After that ,these areas could be almost care free. Except for damage control and supplemental water. Imagine what a wildflower could look like with your care! I have Agave, Cactus, natives. in these areas. This is the main gardening skill I am trying to aquire. Xeriscaping. It is exciting because once you get into it, you realize how much you can really do! There are natives in your area that you have never seen I guarantee it! Collect seed with permission. Do not Dig up plants, You can get into trouble. I put a knee hi and a twistee on the end of a flower head. And go back for seed. Too Easy.
Go to Plants of the Souhthwest http://www.plantsofthesouthwest.com they have very reasonably priced seed. I keep this catalogue as a reference . It tells me how to treat the like kind of seed I have in my area. Cold stratification. Nicking soaking, sometimes burning.
And as Mary E said another one is High Country Gardens http://www.highcountrygardens.com is another valuable source.
I am writing a novel here. Let hear some of your experiences with the desert gardening. I find most dont attempt it more than once here they put out the veggie plants out unprotected by mulch,in unammended soil and open to the animals to eat. Water during the hottest time of the day. Get their first water bill, scream! And never attempt it again. And tell me I am crazy , its too hard!

(Zone 9a)

Well lookee here! Dave, you are incredible! Thank you and thank you again. I must admit I was still lurking over 'yonder' because I missed this type of forum.

OK Michele, my turn. Although I don't desert garden, I am, of necessity, learning to xeriscape using as many native plants as I can find. Not only is it easier on me (not trying to water everything when we don't have rain for 60 days!) but it also helps conserve 1 of the top 2 precious commodities (the other being AIR).

My climate is much like Michele's but I am growing in clay soil, which in the hot, dry summer turns into concrete.

When I first began to research xeriscape/native gardening, I had pictures of dull, sparse plantings. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Xeriscape gardens can be absolutely breathtaking, when done well. My technique is by experimentation...I try something new, if it grows well, I plant more. So, my gardens consist of local natives as well as drought tolerant plants from other locales, such as Michelle's. The result, someday, will be low maintenance gardens bursting with color and fragrance that will not only benefit us, but wildlife and the environment as well.

This message was edited Monday, Apr 16th 4:43 PM

Thousand Oaks, CA

I have to admit, though I am in love with tropical plants, the xeriscaped areas of the yard, full of Aloes, cacti, Agave, cycads, Dasylirion, Kalanchoes and Euphorbias (etc etc etc) ALWAYS look good... the tropical areas always take a hit in the winter, and don't really look good again until mid summer. Have often been tempted to flatten it all and make it all a desert landscape. That stuff looks so interesting and is so durable here in So Cal.

Lake Toxaway, NC(Zone 7a)

I think butterfly weed could do great in the desert. Even though they grow here in the moister east, they like steep roadbanks where it drains rapidly and is the first area to dry out

Silver Springs, NV(Zone 6b)

Michelle5000, you mentioned a desert willow. How similar is this to Australian willow? I was given a rooting of one and warned it needs water; by now it has lots of roots in its youghurt container of water, but I haven't quite figured out where to put it--obviously nowhere near my septic tank! Currently thinking near the street and gravel driveway, since the land slopes downward there and I have some other plantings (inherited lilacs, my little tree seedling nursery, some potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, etc.) which get watered more than once or twice a month. Plus there are no power lines there!
What season did you plant your desert willow in? Did it need any sheltering from midday sun and afternoon winds the first few days after transplanting?
There's one homesite in my little town that has an immense willow (don't know what kind, but it definitely is a weeper) that has a built in ground pond--really pretty. I don't plan to duplicate this, but if the Australian willow grows, some nondrought year after mortgage is paid off, I might get a small kiddy wading pool or half barrel or have a welder cut an old no longer working water heater in half and do a temporary Asian water garden by my willow--only way to get fresh water chestnuts is either import them oneself from out of state, or grow them.
Agree with you on grey water. Have a lot of volunteered itself grass by clothesline trees due to final wringing out of handwashing there, and nongreasy dish rinse water gets used on other bushes and trees--except in winter if steps are icy!
Have you tried plastic tents or bottom cut out water/milk plastic jugs in winter, or does your ground freeze? (My Chinese cabbage, turnip greens, kohlrabi and Swiss chard overwintered and produced through March/early April that way; local elevation is maybe 1000' higher than yours, winter temps usually a minimum of low teens/twenties here, but ground usually doesn't freeze, though it frosts well.)

Joshua Tree, CA(Zone 8b)

Tashak , Sorry , I didnt realize this post was here . To answer your question. I would protect a small tree. It likes well drained soil. We have simular temps. I dug up my tree from a wash at almost your elevation. I would keep it watered regularly until established. Spring would be a good time to plant it. After this tree is about a year old. It like deep infrequent watering. It is a scrubby tree. The attractive element is the orchid like flowers it gets. A thick layer of mulch(at least 2 inches) is a good thing in the winter , it will protect it from the mild frost you get.
And if it does well. I have a purple flowered variety Desert Willow seed. It is a drought resistant tree once mature. Digging in a hole about a foot deeper than ground level and a good amount of mulch will provide the protection you will need. Good luck. So glad to see you in the Xeriscaping Forum. Keep the posts coming. I need to learn from someone like you. HI Desert.

This message was edited Friday, Aug 17th 1:27 AM

Joshua Tree, CA(Zone 8b)

Sis, Hi so I take it your not in the desert ,but practicing Xeriscaping techniques. Where I am , no traffic. I am out a ways from civilization. 3 hours from the coast. 2 hours to the Colorado River. Out there! Well, I like the creek bed idea. Ive seen it before. There never was a lawn here, nor will ever be. Just cant afford the rock at the moment. The first thing I did when we bought the property, was to get the trees going. Microclimates.I figure as the years go by I will be able to grow more and more varieties. I just planted some assorted thymes. I have been given the advice to plant it in full sun. Here, NOT! The one in the at least partial shade, and that I buried a little too deep , is the only one that made it. But a good plant maybe for your dry shade. Here also all varieties of Rosemary do GREAT! I have a creeping thyme, Irene, and an upright variety, and a common kind. All flourish. Some people make hedges of it. As I tell you this , I realize I should post a picture of the enormous untended bushes of rosemary that is in between my house and my neighbors. We have no clay, just rough sand. Very little organic matter. Very alkaline. You are very new member, may I extend a warm welcome to Daves Garden. The BEST Gardening site EVER!!!!

This message was edited Friday, Aug 17th 1:28 AM

Joshua Tree, CA(Zone 8b)

Sis , I can see the lit up trees at the Joshua Tree memorial park from my house at night!I am on the south side of the highway, up against the back of the JT Nat'l Park. Now there is a pretty good nursery right across the street , from it. Hannas nursery,carries the most native plants , in the area. I am glad I am not as far out as I have to have water hauled. I have been there though before we bought our house , on a paved road.

Silver Springs, NV(Zone 6b)

Thanks for info on Desert Willow. It may be too late--I already put it in the temporary tree farm where it gets some shade from the long-established inherited lilacs. Guess I can dig it up if necessary.
Buddleia sounds like a possibility for next year--I do like stuff that isn't upset by the wind. (Seldom can water with hose at night, as wind usually is over 15-20 mph until ten pm or so, and I can just see myself dragging the hose and myself , stumbling over the rocks etc. in the dark when the moon isn't helping with light.)
Speaking of rocks, the person-made creek/pool sounds like a winner. I have enough rocks on the place, though doubt they are river rocks. But how does one prevent mosquitoes without using a water pump? (Those non-desk top pumps and solar power sources seem a bit expensive.)
Got tired of seeing the little newest set of rhubarb seedlings pleading for more root room in their flat, so they now have their own little rhubarb farm seedling plot in a basin, covered with straw above them for sunshade. May do an old sheet tied on sticks over their heads if they start growing through their straw roof shelter, which it looks as though they will.
Think I'll put some pumpkins in the bottom of the large basin with the three grape terraces, one of which just got its own thriftstore yarn on sticks trellis yesterday. May as well put the space and water to use, and don't have any clover for cover crop. Should be time for them to grow according to the packet.
Speaking of time, a moment of panic yesterday when I looked at seed packets and realized it was time to start midsummer seeds that need a month or so before they should be transplanted 4-6 weeks before first frost--may well need to do more shade cover straw and old sheets etc. if they are to survive Aug. sun.
Dratted elm volunteer seedlings are popping up in all my watered plots, and flies keep trying to get in the house when I leave the trailer door open to catch the breeze. Time to get fly paper, and hopefully a screen door if I can figure out how to affix it.

This message was edited Friday, Aug 17th 1:29 AM

Silver Springs, NV(Zone 6b)

Sis, thanks for the Mosquito Dunk recommendation.
Haven't seen any scorpions here, but shake out my shoes or boots anyway before wearing, just in case of spiders. I remember scorpions in NM and TX and AZ.

This message was edited Friday, Aug 17th 1:29 AM

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