Many of my posts from our recent Southwest trip showed plants growing in their natural environments. Soon I will have more detailed posts about my visit to B&B Cactus Farm in Tucson, AZ and Santa Fe Greenhouses in Santa Fe, NM. Today I want to show you some of the most interesting plantings I encountered in public spaces, at motels and in front of restaurants. Predictably, most of them feature drought-tolerant succulents and perennials, but I also saw a surprising number of annuals in containers.
The photos that follow were taken in many different places. I’ve arranged them by plant group, not geographical location.
One plant followed us from the California desert south to Tucson, Arizona and then resurfaced in Moab, Utah: Caesalpinia pulcherrima, commonly called “pride of Barbados” or “Mexican bird of paradise.” This beautiful shrub with feathery leaves and complex flowers is extremely heat tolerant and was in full bloom everywhere we encountered it. I’ve seen specimens at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA, but in our area it’s virtually unknown. I was wondering why, until I read that it doesn’t do well in clay soils. This shrub is so stunning that we are considering replacing our Mexican bush sage with it after thoroughly amending our native clay soil.
Caesalpinia pulcherrima at a golf course in Needles, CA (don’t get me started on water-hungry golf courses in the desert)
Caesalpinia pulcherrima at a motel in Needles, CA