As we set another dubious summer milestone of tying the record for the highest number of days over 110° (27 so far) I noticed the last of the Drosanthemum hispidum in my garden was beyond help, so I pulled it up this evening. This groundcover is supposedly able to take full sun in Phoenix, but perhaps 110° is asking too much. The photo shows one plant in all its glory in May. It continued to bloom until mid-June, and then it struggled along before finally drying up completely this week. The others dried up in July.
The Drosanthemum genus contains about 100 species and comes from South Africa. The D. hispidum, called Rosea Ice Plant in this region, is also known as Desert Ice Plant, or Hairy Dewflower. It is used as erosion control on slopes in some regions, but it needs regular water in the summer, so it’s not often seen in that role in the Phoenix area.
The leaves are succulent and have projections that look like tiny glass beads. These glitter in the sun, just like ice crystals. The flowers are usually lavender to purple, but I’ve seen some that are closer to fuchsia in color. The D. hispidum in my garden were all close to four feet in diameter. When in full bloom, they were spectacular, especially in the morning when the slant of the sun caught the shimmer of the leaves.
Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise.
~ Henry Mitchell