Early Summer Favorites

caesalpinia pulcherrima

This post began life as my Ten Favorites for June with Chloris at The Blooming Garden. Unfortunately, for days I found it impossible to get into my website for editing.  I still can't access it from my laptop.  Bandwidth seems to be the culprit, as host Jimdo has checked the site from their end and finds no problems.  I could make some remarks about the folly of ending net neutrality, but perhaps better not...  Out here in rural Arizona, we never have quite enough internet signal anyway, so it's quite a headache to suddenly have even less.  However, I didn't write this post to complain but to celebrate flowers!


So here are some wonderful flowers from the month of June, which is the heart of summer in the garden.  As we move into July, we can hope for some rain; but the flowers of June must brave the absence of any moisture save that supplied by a slow garden hose.  They're a wonderful lot!


Colors range from very bright...

hamelia patens
Hamelia patens
lagerstroemia indica dynamite
Lagerstroemia indica 'Dynamite'
cuphea ignea vermillionaire
Cuphea ignea 'Vermillionaire'
russelia equisetiformis big red
Russelia equisetiformis 'Big Red'

...to soft and delicate.  Catharanthus roseus comes in a wide range of red and purple tones.  Over the past few years I've planted mostly the simple purple ones, a variety of bright pinks, and white with a red eye.  They are the classic bedding stuff one gets at garden centers.  Now they have had to time to seed themselves around a little, I am quite happy with the additional colors showing up - often much more elegant, I think.

catharanthus roseus
A particularly soft-hued seedling of Catharanthus roseus: white brushed with pink

Just in time for the end of June, we saw a first flush of bloom on Leucophyllum frutescens - not only in my garden but around town as well.  Any particular flush is brief, rarely more than a few days, and I missed photographing this at its height.  But I certainly enjoyed it - one of my favorite desert shrubs in bloom or out.

leucophyllum frutescens
Leucophyllum frutescens, probably 'Green Cloud'

A couple of June plants are particularly approved by the bees.  Perovskia is quite the bee magnet.  Mine admittedly is not very lush at present, but that wasn't stopping the little creatures.

perovskia atriplicifolia
Perovskia atriplicifolia


caesalpinia pulcherrima with bee
Caesalpinia pulcherrima

...among the most determined summer bloomers are the above Caesalpinia pulcherrima and lantana (below).  I tried not cutting the Caesalpinia back hard this spring, and merely pruned out the winter dieback, which wasn't much.  So far results are satisfactory, with full flowering beginning noticeably earlier than last year, though this was probably also due to our early heatwave.  With this treatment it will be a much taller shrub, as well as leggier, by the end of the season, so I've not decided whether I want to cut hard or lightly next spring.


I have been identifying my red-flowered lantana as 'Denver Red', but David C. of It's a Dry Heat has kindly put me on track that it is probably 'Dallas Red'.  Please don't tell the Chambers of Commerce... ;-)  I confess to not keeping proper notes on lantanas!  


They are invaluable here for summer color, despite the need for a periodic hard trim to keep them in bounds - at any rate in areas where other plants are getting water!  Foliage will die back in summer if it is left unwatered in this climate, and again when temperatures drop near freezing. It becomes rather a mess at those times, but they do offer a respite to its tendency to spread.  Otherwise it would be taking over the landscape.  It is a serious invasive in regions with a little more water and no frost.  Here it is merely very, very tough.  Therefore very useful!

lantana dallas red
Lantana camara 'Dallas Red'

And finally it is time to celebrate the lush plumes of Pennisetum setaceum rubrum, perhaps the most definitive midsummer arrival in the garden.  It will bloom now until cold weather sets in in earnest.  And that is a long time away...!

pennisetum rubrum
Pennisetum setaceum rubrum

On to July and the monsoon season!  There is a possibility of rain towards the end of the week - the sort shown as '20%' - not very convincing, I'd say, though they've spread that over several days.  In any case it looks like we will have some serious heat first, as tomorrow is forecast at 113 F/45 C.  Summer in the desert...

lantana dallas red

Weather Diary: Fair; High: 105 F (41 C)/Low: 82 F (28 F); Humidity: 9%-37%

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Comments: 12
  • #1

    Kris P (Wednesday, 04 July 2018 22:25)

    You've a lot of strong colors there, all beautiful! I still haven't acquired a Caesalpinia, even though I did finally find it at a price that didn't make my eyes pop out of my head. But it's a large plant and now I can't figure out where to put it! I hope some of your monsoonal rain comes our way. Best wishes!

  • #2

    Chloris (Thursday, 05 July 2018 01:47)

    Thank you so much for joining in with your June blooms Amy, it must be so frustrating preparing a post and being unable to post it. I love all your choices and I wish I could grow some of them. I have seen Russelia growing and it reminds me of fireworks. I have some Caesalpinia grown from seed but I can't get it to flower, what a wonderful bloom it is. Goodness, that's hot, can you go outside in it?

  • #3

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Thursday, 05 July 2018 15:58)

    Kris - Yes, we can all hope for rain! The Caesalpinia will want some space - I know how you feel about needing a little extra room as I have things jam-packed in the borders now... ;-)

  • #4

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Thursday, 05 July 2018 16:04)

    Chloris - Thanks so much for getting back to my very late post! It was quite frustrating as I had with difficulty uploaded the pictures and then... nothing! No way to get back in to finish. Ah well... So glad you've been able to get Caesalpinia started; it will probably want as much heat as it can possibly get in order to flower. It will flower here in full sun, which is more than many native plants will do! (They are wise.) One does adjust to the heat somewhat, and I must go out in it, not merely for the garden but also for my horses. I think they will like a good hose-down this afternoon... ;-)

  • #5

    Jane (Thursday, 05 July 2018 23:50)

    Hi Amy, I enjoyed seeing your collection of heat loving plants with their strong colours. I can grow quite a few of them here. Not the Caesalpinia though, it grows much further north. Lantana is a noxious weed here, which is a shame as it’s incredibly tough. I’ve grown Vinca too, but it keeps over at the first sign of frost. Your summer weather is a lot like ours: very hot with low humidity which makes it much more bearable, although 43.9 Cis the hottest we’ve had.

  • #6

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 06 July 2018 01:11)

    Jane - Yes, sometimes I'm surprised Lantana isn't a noxious weed here - only the extreme dryness and those winter nips keep it in bounds at all. As it is, I have to be careful not to let it overwhelm smaller plants. Curiously, I've just seen a couple of references to people growing Caeasalpinia beyond its accepted cold-hardiness, just letting it come back from the roots each year.
    The low humidity makes such a difference, doesn't it?! We did reach about 47.7 last summer at one point, but I think that was a bit unnecessary! ;-)

  • #7

    Loree / danger garden (Friday, 06 July 2018 10:37)

    Oh that Caesalpinia pulcherrima! I never tire of them...

    (hope your internet improves)

  • #8

    Diana Studer (Friday, 06 July 2018 17:09)

    Good to see bees enjoying your flowers.

  • #9

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 06 July 2018 23:42)

    Loree - Neither do I... ;-) Such a beautiful shrub from leaftip to full flower!

  • #10

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 06 July 2018 23:51)

    Diana - Yes, I'm happy to provide some extra food for the bees. I should write about our bees sometime! The ordinary little bees are very much a part of the garden, very vigorous - being 'Africanized' as it is called here - but fortunately not aggressive. And then there is an assortment of less common types, which I am no good at identifying but always glad to see...

  • #11

    David C. (Saturday, 07 July 2018 18:30)

    Ha ha - growing up mostly in Denver ("Little D"), I would still not leave out credit to sultry, Lantana-rich Dallas ("Big D")!

    I wouldn't blame anyone here if they tried Russelia with those blooms. After all, we do similarly with Caesalpinia pulchirrima, an asset compared to the weedy C. gilliesii. Bring on that monsoon...it's trying so hard here, but no rain yet. 92F so far today...that's cool to you.

  • #12

    Brian Skeys (Monday, 09 July 2018 12:56)

    We could do with some of your plants over here where we are experiencing, for us drought conditions, with temperatures of 30c. You probably consider that a cool day Amy. Our gardens and the plants are suffering due to a lack of rain for over four weeks.