Backyard gardens with a touch of restful serenity

By WANDA CHURCH

Backyard gardens with a touch of restful serenityAre you moving into a new home or redoing an older yard, or just decided to do something with that vacant space you see out the back window? First consideration should be what you want and not what the books and magazines or TV shows says it should be.

Think about what you really enjoy and love. Do you like cooking out of doors and entertaining? Think about an outdoor kitchen. Maybe you just want a peaceful place to wind down and relax. Perhaps you like lots of colorful flowers and trees or a simple, clean-lined hardscaped area or some far-out specialized designs.

In the desert we are somewhat limited to what we can grow, but you can still manage to have a beautiful garden. Examples are a wildflower garden, moon garden, rock garden or meditation garden.

Or you can have a solar garden, (but not in the sense of generating power). You can have solar-lit dancing flowers, string lights, spheres, illuminated planters or stepping stones, etc.. Or how about a group of flickering pink flamingoes? The neighbors will love it!

A drought-tolerant native wildflower garden would seem a very logical choice. Many attractive, colorful plants grow well here and would be striking along a path of pavers or nestled around some large rocks or a boulder. Well-placed paved areas of circles or large squares of aggregate can create special emphasis for that one particular tree or shrub that you really like — such as a palo verde or Bradford pear. And don’t forget the cacti and succulents! They can truly enhance a bare spot.

California poppies have a gorgeous range of color and bloom from spring well into summer. Firecracker penstemon and Mojave marigold have exquisite and beautiful blossoms and desert dandelion will look wonderful in any garden. Coyote melons have bright blossoms as well as beautiful ornamental fruit. The Indian Wells Valley Water District ambassadors can help you with planning a native plant garden.

A moon garden will delight you while sitting outdoors relaxing in our long summer twilights. Those solar-lit items are ideal in a moon garden, in addition to pale colored or night blooming flowers and shrubs. Choose plants and shrubs for their fragrance as well as their white or light-colored blossoms and plant them in massed bunches for better visibility.

Plant both early and late bloomers to last through fall. White and pale-colored roses are perfect, along with native datura, or mums, snowdrops and phlox.

In a meditation garden the emphasis is on mood and perception. Green, blue and purple are soothing colors that are relaxing to the viewer. Our native lupine would work here. A small waterfall or stone fountain is a must for a peaceful sound.

A meditation maze can be constructed of various materials such as rocks, bricks, or concrete and could serve as a location for some of your blue and purple flowers. There are lots of patterns and sizes of mazes with instructions for building them.

This garden could easily be combined with elements of the moon garden.

Pick a new garden and just do it. Much of the enjoyment is in the building of it!

Story First Published: 2013-04-24