Colorful Winter Gardens

It may be winter, but not all gardens are covered in snow. Enjoy these colorful Southwestern winter gardens.

While winter can be a dreary time for many gardeners, for those of us who are fortunate enough to live in areas that experience mild winters, we get to enjoy color in our winter gardens.

Today, I’d like to share with you some of the winter beauty that I see everyday where I live in the desert Southwest.

Colorful Southwestern Winter Landscape

It’s hard to believe that this photo was taken in February with the vibrant yellow and red flowering shrubs decorating the winter landscape.  Red-flowering Valentine bush (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’) begins blooming in January and doesn’t quit until mid spring.  The fragrant, yellow blossoms of feathery cassia (Senna artemisioides) perfume the air in winter and spring.

Southwestern Winter Landscape 2

On a overcast February day, the winter landscape was showing some of its colors.  A stately saguaro cactus is surrounded by the pink feather duster flowers of pink fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla) and the yellow feathery cassia.

Winter Southwestern Landscape

The wispy branches of a blue palo verde tree (Parkinsonia florida) with its green trunk will wait until spring to burst into yellow blooms, but the landscape still has colorful purple trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis), spiky desert spoon (Dasyilirion wheeleri) and a spiky yucca that add both color and texture to the winter landscape.

Southwestern Winter Landscape 3

This winter landscape combines the shapes of columnar organ pipe cacti, Parry’s agave (Agave parryi) with flowering firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatoni), which blooms in winter and on into spring much to the delight of hummingbirds.  A palo brea tree (Parkinson praecox) with its green trunk and a mesquite tree (Prosopis species) in the background add height and shade to the garden in summer.  A bougainvillea shrub grows against the wall, which will produce magenta blossoms spring through fall.

Southwestern Winter Landscape 4

A semi-deciduous mesquite tree stands over a garden filled with red-flowering chuparosa (Justicia californica) attracting hummingbirds from near and far in this area that enjoys them all year round.  A prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.) add contrasting texture with its flat, paddle shaped pads.

The desert Southwest is filled with color year round much to the delight of those of us fortunate enough to live here.

Do you have winter blooms out in your garden, or perhaps blooming indoors?  Please share them with us!

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist, writer and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. She is the CEO and owner of 'AZ Plant Lady,' an education company that aims to help people garden successfully in the desert climate. She is the author of the book, Dry Climate Gardening, and her byline has appeared in publications such as Birds & Blooms and Phoenix Home & Garden magazine. She is an instructor at the Desert Botanical garden and Tucson Botanical Gardens.