Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February Color

Rosmarinus officinalis ~ Rosemary



Honey bees are really attracted to the pale blue flowers of my Rosemary shrubs, and they arrived today to collect pollen from the flowers that opened yesterday. The flowers of have a fragrance just like the needles. The Latin word Rosmarinus means 'dew from the sea' and this shrub was so named because the flowers are supposed to resemble dew.


I've always loved the fragrance of Rosemary, and buy shampoo, soap and other products with the fragrance. I think it smells especially good when combined with mint or sage. I occasionally make an herbal tea from several sprigs of fresh rosemary. Many people use this tea to help a cold, but I just like it as a change from my regular herbal teas.





The top spines of this unidentified cactus are especially red in this specimen. I would guess it's a young Pachycereus pringlei, commonly called Mexican Giant Cactus or Cardon. If it is the genus and species that I suspect, I've placed it in an inappropriate place! The cactus started out as one of the small cactus specimens in a dish arrangement, and as dish became crowded, they became landscape plantings. This one is under the filtered shade of a Mesquite tree. If it turns out to be a Cardon, this thing can reach 40 feet tall!
I'm a fan of cactus dish gardens, especially when they are on sale. I can get five or six small cacti and succulents, as well as an nice pot, for far less than if I bought each separately. There are a couple of problems with this, though. The first is the "glue" the supplier uses to hold the gravel top dressing in place, probably to keep it from spilling in transit and in displays. When the time comes to dissemble the dish garden, the stuff must be carefully peeled off to free each cactus. It takes time and patience. The next problem is the mixing of cacti and succulents in the same pot. Many succulents take far more water than cactus and have different dormancy requirements, and root rot can occur to the cacti if watering for the succulent. The final and most irritating issue for me is the lack of identification of the contents. Most all of the unidentified cacti in my collection started out as one of the plants in a dish garden!




Simmondsia chinensis ~ Jojoba Plant



Jojoba is a dioecious plant found only in Arizona and California, and maybe the Sonoran Desert area of Mexico. These are the first flowers on my three year old Jojoba plant. The plants must experience a certain number of chilling hours before buds form on new growth. The buds open in response to late winter rains. The yellow clustered, insignificant flowers prove that this plant is male. A female plant would have single pale green flowers at each leaf node, rather than clusters. The female flowers look more like a seed pod.


Most people are familiar with Jojoba as an oil used in cosmetics. Early Native Americans in our region used the seeds as food, as a medicinal aid, and cooking oil, among other uses.

14 comments:

Yolanda Elizabet said...

I like rosemary a lot too and have rosemary scented bath oils, very relexing. I have several rosemaries in the garden and hopefully they will be in flower soon.

Thanks for the pic of your male Jojoba, I had not seen this plant before, neither the female nor the male one. Congrats on its first flowers, always a very special occasion!

Anne Fannie said...

Hi Aiyana
I love the smell of Rosemary plants! Mine have not started to bloom yet this year. I always enjoy visiting your Arizona garden. So much beauty.
~Ann

Claude said...

I also have a rosemary plant here, which blooms sporadically all winter. I always thought the individual blooms looked much like a small blue orchid... I planted mine with the agave and yuccas, since I thought I needed something green against all that gray. Here, you have to be careful with them, as the roots will rot. The tea is also supposed to be good for migraines, but the best use for the plant, IMO, is roast chicken.

The red spines on that cactus are very nice, and I've heard of jajoba oil, but have never seen the jojoba plant before.

Darla said...

I suppose my Rosemary would bloom if I would stop trimming it!

GardenJoy4Me said...

Aiyana .. such pretty pictures and I am so winter weary I appreciate seeing them so much !
I am such a fan of rosemary and grow lots every summer. I love it in a hand balm/salve from Bert's Bees products .. blended with lavender and other wonderful scents .. it truly helps energize or relax you .. which ever way you need to go at that moment ? LOL

perennialgardener said...

The blooms really are abundant on your Rosemary right now. I love the fragrance of this herb. Happy Bloomin' Tuesday Aiyana!

PC said...

Love your pictures and all the knowledge you share! It gives me hope for sunshine coming my way.
Paula from Idaho

Carla said...

Love your rosemary in bloom, the red on that cactus, and the color of the leaves on the Jojoba. I agree about dish gardens, they sure aren't made for the long term are they? I told that to hubby once and he said "so why do you keep buying them?" sigh, men...

playsdolls said...

I love Rosemary to the scent iso wonderful.I cook with it alot also.Hope I see blooms like that on my Rosemary.Your blooms are awesome as always.

Jean said...

Thank you for another informative post. The Rosemary shrub is wonderful!I'll have to look into keeping one alive here. Jean

Julie said...

That Cardon cactus is impressive!!! I have started leaving the gluey rocks on my arrangements...just this last one actually that has three succulents (no cactus). I have no idea how much water actually gets through...so we will just sort of see what happens!

Jon said...

Neat photo of the rosemary flowers! I totally agree with you about the fragrance of rosemary...I particularly like it in shampoo.

BTW, the soothing color of your blog's page background is just a perfect match for your theme and your region and shows off your crisp photos beautifully.

Jon at Mississippi Garden

Barbara said...

Rosemary belongs to my kitchen herbs too (we use it for several dishes as well as tea and bath fragrance). I think, however, this winter has killed my rosemary shrubs. It was too cold outside. The way of selling of cacti is exactly the same with sempervivum plants here. It's hard work and difficult to identify them later.

Gardenista said...

I loved the fabulous mounds of rosemary I saw when I went on my trip to Ajo Arizona recently. That's such a great-looking plant!