1. Extreme drought tolerance. The irrigation system on the estate is taxed and new plantings do not receive irrigation so their growth has to rely on the yearly rains once established.
2. Perennials. If I go to all the trouble of growing a plant from seed and manage to get something I can transplant I want to come back year after year.
3. Nice flower displays. The goal is to create an inviting landscape. So nice flowers with a variety of colors makes for an area with lots of hummingbirds, butterflies, and native bees.
4. Unappetizing to mammals. Rabbits, Deer, and Javelina can do a number on plants especially during times of drought when there is little feed and mammals have destroyed a number of projects. Deer love Crepe Myrtle and have damaged several young pines I had ready for planting, rabbits love spineless Prickly Pear, and Javilena will dig up Red Yucca with a vengeance.
5. Germinates easily. Plant species that meet the above requirements must also germinate easily. I generally average a germination rate of about 0.0001% for many plants, so a species that germinates easily and grows rapidly is always a plus in my book. I have tried oaks a number of times, both germinating from seed as well as cloning, without success. I currently have a single oak that has sprouted in the pallet garden and hope it survives. One mechanism used to identify species that germinate easily is to look for volunteers. Plants like Lantana produce lots of seed and have volunteered in a number of places around the estate. Mexican Bird of Paradise is another easily germinated species. So I harvest the volunteers as well as seed for planting in other areas.
At the suggestion of the owners wife I constructed a pallet garden for seed collected from around the estate as well as some herbs and peppers. Because of the poor soil conditions, soil from the riverbed was transported and used for the planting beds. Planting garlic, hatch chilies, bell peppers, and a variety of collected seed like roses, things have started to sprout. Protection from rabbits is key to getting anything to grow. At the back of the garden are a series of buckets with spineless prickly pear, all eaten by rabbits, but within the protection of the pallet garden they are beginning to recover producing new pads.
|Pallet garden with 2 layers of rabbit protection. For sprouting seeds in a protected environment|
|Transplanted and recovering plants in individual buckets.|
|Transplanted Barrel Cactus in bloom.|
|Volunteer Mexican Bird of Paradise in the front garden.|