GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2009 show37
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Show #37/1711
Gardening With Less Than 10 Inches Of Rain


Local Plants - Ocotillo
JOE AND KIRK START WITH SOME OF THE MORE POPULAR LOCAL PLANTS. The Ocotillo Fouquieria splendens has tremendous adaptive strategies for surviving in the low desert. The area has just gone through an incredibly dry spell, they had less than 3/4 inch of rain over 20 months. But this plant has benefited from the rains earlier this winter. It stores energy in the stems, then as it dries out the leaves fall away, moisture is saved by the plant and it has the capability to do this 6 or 7 times a year. It has a really shallow, wide spreading root system that takes advantage of any light rains and instantly absorbs any moisture and holds onto it.

Click here for more info

Jojoba
THE NEXT PLANT IS MOST LIKELY RECOGNIZED BY ITS COMMON NAME, JOJOBA. Most probably use Jojoba Simmondsia chinensis in cosmetics or shampoos because of the oils in the plant. The fruits are just starting to form. There are male and female plants. A male provides the pollen; the female, flowers and forms fruits. It has adaptive and interesting strategies. The leaves are held vertically to the sun and the leaves will actually turn in relationship to temperature and depending if the leaf wants more or less sun exposure. It also has a thick leaf which helps reduce transpiration. In addition it's a grey green color which helps reflect some of the sun's light, so it doesn't heat up as much.

Click here for more info

Smoke Tree
IT'S CALLED THE SMOKE TREE, Psorothamnus spinosus. From a distance it looks like a puff of smoke rising from the desert sands. It has some leaves yet they're insignificant. Many desert plants have a reduced leaf surface because that is a huge water saving measure. But this plant can shed its leaves if it dries out and then conduct photosynthesis through the chlorophyll in the bark. It is located in a wash which is prone to flash flooding. When they do get rain it can really come through here. Its deep tap root will anchor the plant keeping it in place and also tap some of the moisture in the deeper layers.

Click here for more info

Palm Garden
THE NEXT LOCATION IS SHADY, IT'S IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PALM GARDEN. It is one of the taxonomic gardens, an assemblage of similar plants. Here they have over 40 different species of Palms. The Bismarkia Palm Bismarkia noblis has grey foliage.

Click here for more info

Date Palm
Another is the DATE PALM PHOENIX DACTYLIFERA, a tree very important to the Coachella Valley. Starting in the 1890's cultivars of Palm trees were brought here from the Middle East to see which would grow and prosper in this climate. In the 1920's they started harvesting the first crops of dates and today 95% of the country's date production comes from the Coachella Valley. It's a fairly labor intensive procedure to get a crop of dates to the market. Beginning in February or March the pollen is harvested, a month later the Dates are hand pollinated to ensure a bigger crop. Then the guy working the Palm tree goes back up and hand thins certain types of Dates to get bigger Dates. The meduals, the Cadillac of dates, is the one where the hand thinning occurs. Then they're bagged, tied off to the other leaf petals to make sure there is support for the crop, then the harvest starts in September and depending on the variety harvest can go through November, even December. This means there are male and female trees that are brought together in the pollination process. The pollen is collected, then using a powder duster the female will be pollinated.

Click here for more info

African Acacia Tree
Joe now sees how the zoo part comes into play. They're lucky here because this is fairly frost free thus can use mostly African native plants to provide the backdrop and the setting for African animals, like the Zebra, the Cheetahs, Arabian Orecks, African Wild Dogs and Giraffes. They have an impressive collection of animals, but they also have an impressive collection of plants. THE GUYS START WITH AN ACACIA TREE. This is the quintessential African tree. Nothing gives one the feeling of being in Africa like the Flat Top Acacia or one of the other 35 species on this property. One of the most unique is the Knob Thorn Acacia nigrescens. The thorns at the base of the tree are unusual. It is the only African Acacia to have big spikes on the trunk. They're a defense mechanism and help to deter browsers. Acacias are heavily browsed because their foliage is nutritious. Animals know that and flock to them. Animals will leave thornless trees alone and risk injury to browse this very spiky, thorny Acacia. The thorns don't deter browsing entirely but they do slow the rate of consumption, thus buying the tree time. They also have thorns higher up. This tree has little thorns on its branches which also are effective at slowing browsing. If the thorns don't work the Acacias have little nectaries on their leaf petals.

Click here for more info

Boojum Tree
It's a fantasy land located about 300 miles south of the US border in an area called Catavenia. It has tremendous boulders and very unusual plants. Many of those plants are found here. ONE IS CALLED THE UPSIDE DOWN CARROT TREE or Boojum Fouquieria columnaris. The shape does look like a carrot planted upside down with the branches representing the roots along the stem. This tree grows mostly in the central portion of Baja, California. There is also a disjunct population on the western coast of Senora. As a way to conserve water the tree sheds its leaves during the hottest time of year. It is a winter grower and is fully leafed out because of the recent rains and because this is its growth time. Fall through spring it responds but 2 -3 inches of growth per year would be good. This tree is a 14 footer, the tallest on record is 80 feet. They can be straight, can go up and loop around or they can branch. It's a fantastic plant.

Click here for more info

Cardon Cactus
The Saguaro cactus is similar to those we've seen in Western movies but this is different. THE CARDON PACHYCEREUS PRINGLEI IS ONE OF THE MOST MASSIVE CACTI IN THE WORLD. It tends to branch lower on the stem than the Saguaro, the color of the skin is more blue green, versus the yellow of the Saguaro. It has fewer ribs than the Saguaro. The ribs will expand as it becomes more hydrated similar to an accordion. When it fills with water the pleats will fill out, then shrink back as the plants dries out. This reduces the area available for solar radiation.
Click here for more info

Desert Plants
THE ELEPHANT TREE Bursera microphylla will only grow as far north as Martina's Canyon which is several miles from Palm Springs and Palm Desert. These make great landscape plants but also make great container plants or bonsai plants where they can be kept indefinitely. It has an unusual shape, thus is ideal for bonsai.

For more information about this plant visit: The Living Desert

HERE THEY FEATURE BUTTERFLIES FOUND IN NORTH AMERICA, thus all butterflies in this area could be found in our viewers gardens. Kirk likes the fact they've used plants that otherwise wouldn't fit the other themes on the grounds or that wouldn't survive on the grounds either because of their resident animal populations or because the climate is too harsh. This area has been very positive for the visitors. It's a wonderful way for visitors to come in, get ideas that they can take back home and implement. By design the plants in here are nectar plants as opposed to larval or host plants, because they don't want to create a breeding environment. If building a butterfly garden you would want to provide larval plants, just accept that they will get chewed up.

For information about creating a butterfly habitat: Click Here


Click here for more info

LINKS:

The Living Desert

Agua Caliente Spa Resort - Palm Springs

Agua Caliente Band Of Cahuilla Indians

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

Garden Smart Plant List



Complete transcript of the show.


Garden Smart visits the desert, The Living Desert and Zoo in Palm Desert, California. They showcase plants and animals found in deserts around the world.
Terrie Correll visits with Joe. Terrie is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The Living Desert. The Living Desert is unique because they're the only zoo and botanical garden that totally focuses on desert eco systems in the world. Their mission is desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation. And they have a lot to appreciate. They bring together animal displays and formal gardens. These highlight many different deserts in North America and in Africa, focusing on different regions on the continents or different ecological zones. For instance, in North America they have Joshua trees in their Mojave garden and they have Blue Palms in their Baja garden. There is a lot to see here. Over 2,500 plant species and tens of thousands of specimens.
In addition to the desert gardens of the world they also have several educational gardens. They have a Hummingbird garden, a butterfly garden, and a demonstration garden and they have a Cahuilla Indian exhibit garden and display. All provide landscape ideas.
When here one can easily forget they're in a zoo. One can enjoy the animals all while becoming emersed in the wonderful plants. For example in the giraffe exhibit they have wonderful grasses in a Savannah setting, then the view behind that is the Santa Rosa Mountains. One can come and enjoy the total experience. One of the benefits of The Living Desert is that one doesn't need to travel the world to experience the gardens of the world. To lead the tour today is Garden Collection Manager, Kirk Anderson.
Kirk grew up not far from here on the beaches of Southern California. He spent some time at a ski resort in Utah but got tired of the long, cold winters. He was ready for a change and ended up in the low desert. He had been interested in horticulture throughout his whole life, renewed that passion, took some horticulture classes, applied for a job here on the grounds crew, got the job, parlayed that into managing the nursery in the propagation department for several years, then did special projects and is now managing the collection. He has been working here for now 21 and 1/2 years. Kirk especially likes the blend of natural history and ornamental horticulture. They blend two of his passions. He enjoys this job and can't imagine doing anything else.
JOE AND KIRK START WITH SOME OF THE MORE POPULAR LOCAL PLANTS. The Ocotillo Fouquieria splendens has tremendous adaptive strategies for surviving in the low desert. The area has just gone through an incredibly dry spell, they had less than 3/4 inch of rain over 20 months. But this plant has benefited from the rains earlier this winter. It stores energy in the stems, then as it dries out the leaves fall away, moisture is saved by the plant and it has the capability to do this 6 or 7 times a year. It has a really shallow, wide spreading root system that takes advantage of any light rains and instantly absorbs any moisture and holds onto it. It is currently in full bloom and has bright red tubular flowers which are a wonderful attractor for pollinators. There currently are carpenter bees trying to steal its nectar but as well it is a very important plant for the Hummingbirds that come through here.
Top


THE NEXT PLANT IS MOST LIKELY RECOGNIZED BY ITS COMMON NAME, JOJOBA. Most probably use Jojoba Simmondsia chinensis in cosmetics or shampoos because of the oils in the plant. The fruits are just starting to form. There are male and female plants. A male provides the pollen; the female, flowers and forms fruits. It has adaptive and interesting strategies. The leaves are held vertically to the sun and the leaves will actually turn in relationship to temperature and depending if the leaf wants more or less sun exposure. It also has a thick leaf which helps reduce transpiration. In addition it's a grey green color which helps reflect some of the sun's light, so it doesn't heat up as much.
Top


The next tree has an appropriate name. IT'S CALLED THE SMOKE TREE, Psorothamnus spinosus. From a distance it looks like a puff of smoke rising from the desert sands. It has some leaves yet they're insignificant. Many desert plants have a reduced leaf surface because that is a huge water saving measure. But this plant can shed its leaves if it dries out and then conduct photosynthesis through the chlorophyll in the bark. It is located in a wash which is prone to flash flooding. When they do get rain it can really come through here. Its deep tap root will anchor the plant keeping it in place and also tap some of the moisture in the deeper layers.
Top


Joe has seen some great local native plants but now wants to view some more exotic varieties. THE NEXT LOCATION IS SHADY, IT'S IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PALM GARDEN. It is one of the taxonomic gardens, an assemblage of similar plants. Here they have over 40 different species of Palms. The Bismarkia Palm Bismarkia noblis has grey foliage. Another is native to Madagascar, the central grasslands. It is one of 170 Palms native to Madagascar and 165 of those are only found in Madagascar. This is becoming more popular in the landscape because of its grey green frond. It makes a striking accent in the garden.
Top


Another is the DATE PALM PHOENIX DACTYLIFERA, a tree very important to the Coachella Valley. Starting in the 1890's cultivars of Palm trees were brought here from the Middle East to see which would grow and prosper in this climate. In the 1920's they started harvesting the first crops of dates and today 95% of the country's date production comes from the Coachella Valley. It's a fairly labor intensive procedure to get a crop of dates to the market. Beginning in February or March the pollen is harvested, a month later the Dates are hand pollinated to ensure a bigger crop. Then the guy working the Palm tree goes back up and hand thins certain types of Dates to get bigger Dates. The meduals, the Cadillac of dates, is the one where the hand thinning occurs. Then they're bagged, tied off to the other leaf petals to make sure there is support for the crop, then the harvest starts in September and depending on the variety harvest can go through November, even December. This means there are male and female trees that are brought together in the pollination process. The pollen is collected, then using a powder duster the female will be pollinated. These trees are typically productive until about 70 years of age, after that their production declines. But these trees are wonderful in a landscape so many ranchers or growers will then sell them to the landscape industry making money from the sale. They start over with new shoots, new pups are taken off the base of the plant, planted out and production will then start within approximately 7 years.
Top


Joe now sees how the zoo part comes into play. They're lucky here because this is fairly frost free thus can use mostly African native plants to provide the backdrop and the setting for African animals, like the Zebra, the Cheetahs, Arabian Orecks, African Wild Dogs and Giraffes. They have an impressive collection of animals, but they also have an impressive collection of plants. THE GUYS START WITH AN ACACIA TREE. This is the quintessential African tree. Nothing gives one the feeling of being in Africa like the Flat Top Acacia or one of the other 35 species on this property. One of the most unique is the Knob Thorn Acacia nigrescens. The thorns at the base of the tree are unusual. It is the only African Acacia to have big spikes on the trunk. They're a defense mechanism and help to deter browsers. Acacias are heavily browsed because their foliage is nutritious. Animals know that and flock to them. Animals will leave thornless trees alone and risk injury to browse this very spiky, thorny Acacia. The thorns don't deter browsing entirely but they do slow the rate of consumption, thus buying the tree time. They also have thorns higher up. This tree has little thorns on its branches which also are effective at slowing browsing. If the thorns don't work the Acacias have little nectaries on their leaf petals. These are little spots that produce nectar and provide ants, that live in the tree, a food source. In return for the food and board they receive the ants will swarm any intruder to the tree, be it plant of animal.
They next discuss a Fever tree, acacia xanthophloea. This tree grows in wet areas and early explorers thought that fever was caused by the tree rather than the mosquitoes associated with wet areas. These too have vicious thorns which may grow up to 4 inches long. The color of the bark is unique and would make a great specimen in the landscape.
Top


The next area is similar to Madagascar, and is an incredible land of all plant shapes and forms. It's a fantasy land located about 300 miles south of the US border in an area called Catavenia. It has tremendous boulders and very unusual plants. Many of those plants are found here. ONE IS CALLED THE UPSIDE DOWN CARROT TREE or Boojum Fouquieria columnaris. The shape does look like a carrot planted upside down with the branches representing the roots along the stem. This tree grows mostly in the central portion of Baja, California. There is also a disjunct population on the western coast of Senora. As a way to conserve water the tree sheds its leaves during the hottest time of year. It is a winter grower and is fully leafed out because of the recent rains and because this is its growth time. Fall through spring it responds but 2 -3 inches of growth per year would be good. This tree is a 14 footer, the tallest on record is 80 feet. They can be straight, can go up and loop around or they can branch. It's a fantastic plant. Like many desert plants its developed an adaptive strategy. It has green bark with chlorophyl and will loose its leaves when very hot, both of which allow it to continue energy production while leafless. Again, leaves are the biggest plant water waster.
Top


The Saguaro cactus is similar to those we've seen in Western movies but this is different. THE CARDON PACHYCEREUS PRINGLEI IS ONE OF THE MOST MASSIVE CACTI IN THE WORLD. It tends to branch lower on the stem than the Saguaro, the color of the skin is more blue green, versus the yellow of the Saguaro. It has fewer ribs than the Saguaro. The ribs will expand as it becomes more hydrated similar to an accordion. When it fills with water the pleats will fill out, then shrink back as the plants dries out. This reduces the area available for solar radiation.
Top


THE ELEPHANT TREE Bursera microphylla will only grow as far north as Martina's Canyon which is several miles from Palm Springs and Palm Desert. These make great landscape plants but also make great container plants or bonsai plants where they can be kept indefinitely. It has an unusual shape, thus is ideal for bonsai.
Although we've seen a lot of beautiful and unusual plants many don't grow all across the country. Joe and Kirk next visit a butterfly garden that can be used for ideas to create a habitat that will help attract butterflies no matter where one lives. HERE THEY FEATURE BUTTERFLIES FOUND IN NORTH AMERICA, thus all butterflies in this area could be found in our viewers gardens. Kirk likes the fact they've used plants that otherwise wouldn't fit the other themes on the grounds or that wouldn't survive on the grounds either because of their resident animal populations or because the climate is too harsh. This area has been very positive for the visitors. It's a wonderful way for visitors to come in, get ideas that they can take back home and implement. By design the plants in here are nectar plants as opposed to larval or host plants, because they don't want to create a breeding environment. If building a butterfly garden you would want to provide larval plants, just accept that they will get chewed up. That's what happens, when growing butterflies one first starts with caterpillars and caterpillars eat plants, that's part of the whole cycle. But they rarely destroy the entire plant.
These host plants aren't from a specific region like other gardens here. These thrive here because they're under 50% shade cloth. Blue Hibiscus alyogne huegelli is beautiful, they also have Cardinal Monkey flower Mimulus cardinalis, as well as Marguerite Daisies Chrysanthemum frutescens, the light pink Salvia 'Peaches and Cream' is stunning as is the Lavender Lavendula. The Lavandula x intermedia 'Fred Boutin' has a long blooming season and is a popular plant in this area.

For more information about this plant visit: The Living Desert

For information about creating a butterfly habitat: Click Here

Joe makes the point that many viewers across the country may not be able to see how this show applies to them. What is Kirk's take on that thought? Kirk feels everybody can plant natives. No matter where one lives, contact your native plant society, find out what plants are best for drawing butterflies or birds to your yard, as an example. One doesn't need all natives, just plant one or two natives. If you like Monarch butterflies, plant a Butterfly weed, it will draw that butterfly to your yard. Planting natives is going to help bridge the ever widening gap between open natural spaces and the developed areas. Natives support local fauna, natives are adapted to your climate, they will grow better and easier. With other plants you often need to worry about special requirements, like intensive watering, because they might have come from an area that was colder or hotter, wetter or drier. The bottom line is once established native plants require a lot less maintenance and particularly require less water, which is a diminishing resource all over the world. Bottom line the eco systems are maintained by diversity supported by those native plants and that's important no matter where one lives.
Well said Kirk. The Living Desert is a unique, interesting and informational garden.
Top



LINKS:

The Living Desert

Agua Caliente Spa Resort - Palm Springs

Agua Caliente Band Of Cahuilla Indians

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

Garden Smart Plant List

 
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