This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

September 11, 2017

Uplighting your garden with floodlights

When I first started my garden, over twenty years ago, I made a visit to the fanciest resort in town, just to see how they did their lighting in the garden. And that's when I discovered the beauty of uplighting. And it really is an art form. Done correctly, it's wonderful, done wrong it's awful.

The lights I have are LED floodlights, 20 watt equivalent (205 lumens). They're on a low-voltage line that runs all of the way around the garden. They're pointed at the plants, and a fair amount of light "bounces back" which helps to give a gentle illumination to the yard. There's no need for direct lighting. In the photo at the top of this post, it looks as if you couldn't see your feet, but in reality, you can easily. I guess the photo just added a lot of contrast!

Twenty watts (205 lumens) is very bright, so you want to be careful where you aim these lights. I have a nice six-foot high block wall around my garden, so the light stops there, and bounces back. If I had a fence with holes in it, I wouldn't do this, as the light would be blasting into my neighbor's yard. These tiny lights are about as bright as the high beams of cars, so it's wise to watch where you're pointing them.

I installed these last spring and haven't seen much of them, as it's been summer and I usually go to bed fairly early. But now that the days are getting shorter, I'll be using them more. The evenings here in Arizona and wonderful all winter, and my garden will look like a luxury resort. Now all I need is to be sipping a gin-and-tonic!

August 22, 2017

The best hot weather flower for Phoenix, Arizona - Moss Roses

It gets hot in Phoenix. Not mildly hot, but terribly, ridiculously, insanely hot. I mean "fry an egg on the dashboard of your car" hot. 90+ degrees at midnight. Hot hot hot hot. So, you can buy flowers to plant in your garden that garden centers carry, but mostly all they're gonna do is die no matter how careful you are with this, or how much water you give them.

You have two choices in the summer, no flowers or Moss Roses. This year I went with the second option, and they look great. I planted them just as summer was starting to heat up (which is like being inside of an oven), and made sure that my automatic watering system watered them every day for fifteen minutes.

They started as tiny plants from a six-pack and now look at them! They love the heat, and will only fade away as the weather cools off. The clump pictured above was just about an inch across when planted, and is now over a foot wide. And it requires no maintenance at all. Just look at it.

And the colors of the bloom aren't enhanced by Photoshop, they really do look like that in real life. In fact, even better.

So, if you're reading this just as summer is coming on, do yourself a favor and skip the petunias. Get moss roses. They'll make the summer heat just a little bit more bearable, by making your garden beautiful.