Sunday, July 12, 2009

Half-Way to Fall

Even in the depths of summer, I do have some greenery, but nothing much flowering. It's just too hot! This weekend I got rid of the last of my container vegetable garden, as well as all the struggling potted geraniums, creeping charlie, dwarf marigolds and half dead cacti. This year I've upped my irrigation schedule to every three days for the shrubs and groundcover. Last year, I followed the guidelines for this area, which called for every 7-21 days. I tried the shortest--7 days--and my plants just about fried. I have a desert adapted landscape for the most part, so I'm a bit surprised that I have to water so often to keep the plants from suffering from water stress. However, I don't feel too bad about the more frequent watering as we are behind on annual rainfall. I've had only 1.96 inches since January 1st--quite short of the expected amount by this time.

The suggested tree watering schedule works fine at once a month or every 5 weeks. The only exception is my Tipu Tree, which is still getting established. I water it every two weeks.

With temperatures in the 115 degree range, the leaves of the Mexican Bird of Paradise shrub fold inward to conserve moisture and reduce sun exposure. From a distance, the shrub appears to be wilted, but this is normal for these extreme summer days.

Tiger Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris)

This lizard has the longest tail I've ever seen! There is not enough contrast to really get the full effect, but its tail is about twice the length of its body. This one must have been an artful dodger all season to have avoided the roaming neighbor cat.

When walking around my garden, I noticed a couple of empty bird egg shells on the ground under a mesquite tree. When I looked up, I spotted this dove for the first time. I'm not sure if the eggs are from hatched babies, or just casualties of the wind. After seeing so many poorly constructed dove nests, this one appears to be a better built model.


Julie said...

It is always so great to see pics of your yard and plants! It is great to hear you tell about all of the different aspects of each thing. I can't believe ya'lls temperatures out there! We are in the high 90's...but nothing compared to your area! How can you take it...thank God for working a/c units, eh??? Looking so forward to fall also! At times I sort of get a feeling of it fastly approaching and am almost getting into a Halloweeny feel...strange, I know. Some evenings here it actually cools down and is pleasant to walk around in. Last night we thought we could have had a fire in the pit it was so cool and breezy!!! Good grief...I don't think so!!! LOL!
Everyone seems to be finding the cute doves nesting! I love seeing these pics! So sweet! Mine is still on the nest over top of my outdoor security light!

Claude said...

I am so jealous of your garden. The lack of a grass lawn, and the constant mowing and watering that goes with it, looks like heaven to me... if I tried it, the neighbors would go on a rampage. There's already one lady down the street who's convinced that my Optunia's are lurking about in hopes of attacking the neighborhood children.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Whew, 115 F is quyite hot and I find it amazing that your garden looks so green, considering you're gardening in a desert.

Watering every 3 days is not bad, that's what I did when we had a bit of a heatwave on our hands not all that long ago and I'm not in a desert, far from it. ;-)

Chris said...

I'm in Chandler, AZ. The heat yesterday was unbelievable. Looks to be the same today. I'm new to gardening and have adopted Mary Irish's advise from her by the month book. I'm seeing the same issues though, severe wilting, and have upped the duration instead of the frequency on my shrubs and other perennials. Guess I have to see what happens. Thanks for sharing all of your desert gardening knowledge!

Mary and Skip said...

Hey Aiyana....

Do you know what kind of lizard those are? I think they are eating all the whiteflies?

Whiteflies are usually thriving like crazy in my garden this time of year...this year there aren't very many at all. BUT there are a ton of these spotty lizards everywhere.

BTW, I posted a flowery pic for you on my blog.

Love, Mary L.

Julie said...

Hi Aiyana...I thought of you immediately to share what this one blogger has created in her side yard in San Diego! Check it out on her Monday post HERE! Hope you enjoy it...I told her about you as well!

Aiyana said...

Mary and Skip,
The lizard shown is a Spiny Desert Lizard (Sceloporus magisteris) and is the most common around here. I have a yard full of lizards--and I believe they do take care of a lot of insect pests.

betchai said...

i am glad Julie referred me to your site, I love your garden and you share a lot of information, I am learning a lot here. I live in San Diego, though we don't get as hot here, but it is also very ideal for desert landscaping since we are just too dry.

Mike said...

Hi - just a quick comment saying that I enjoy checking your blog. I live in Maricopa, AZ and have quite a number of the same species you do.

As for the lizard, I can say with certainty that it is not a Desert Spiny Lizard. The Desert Spiny is a bulkier lizard and has noticeable spines that come to a point on its head and back. The lizard you photographed might be a whiptail given it's long tail. The Tiger Whiptail is the most likely for your location. In the Phoenix metro, Ornate Tree Lizards and Common Side Blotched lizards are the most common, but the Desert Spiny and a handful of others do occasionally make an appearance.

Check out the Reptiles of AZ website for more info.

Aiyana said...

Thanks for the clarification. I agree that the Tiger Whiptail most closely matches the looks of this lizard. I have several different kind of lizards in my yard--but they all are very similar. Thanks for the reference site. I'll use it often!