An Arizona gardener's planting methods
Inspired by the flowing patterns of wildflowers in desert washes, Bill Horne re-created the look in his Tucson garden.
Before planting, he loosened the native soil with a rake, spread seed of African daisy over the ground in select locations, then gently raked in and watered the seeds. Ten days after they sprouted, Horne did something unusual: He killed off some of the seedlings with an herbicide to thin out the dense planting (you can also remove them with a hoe). After a few days, he reseeded the gaps with a mix of desert bluebells, globe mallow, golden fleece, lupines, poppies, and verbena. Horne kept the area moist for a couple of weeks, then stopped watering, relying on winter rains to sustain the plants.
The garden bloomed in February, flowered all spring with a few supplemental waterings, then died back in May. Horne removed faded plants, harvested the seeds from the soil, and smoothed the ground around the agaves, cactus, and native trees.
Info: Order wildflower seeds by catalog from Wild Seed (602/276-3536).