After a few seasons of digging and growing in this prehistoric dry lakebed valley, successful gardeners once they get the swing of things, tend to seek out new and exotic plants to add to the gardens they’ve worked so hard tending. As I’ve mentioned before, gardening here is darn challenging, planting in the Lahontan Valley, despite your best efforts can be best considered, trial and error. When you seek out new plants, you might consider searching for unusual plants that are also tough plants. Plants that are hardy to our area. And by hardy, I mean drought tolerant, alkaline pH and salt tolerant, as well as heat tolerant and wind tolerant. Yes, a magnolia is darn beautiful but there is some serious work involved in growing one here in the high desert. If you’re up for a challenge and some variety, you might consider instead plants like Red Yucca, Penstemon, or gorgeous colorful Ice Plant. There are over 1,000 different types of Sage, most are extremely loved by hummingbirds and pollinators and fairly easy to grow in our climate, chances are you will love them as well.
In the hard to find plants in your neighbors’ yards but easy to grow category, I would add Onobrychis viciifolia, sometimes called Holy Clover or Sainfoin. This ancient, perennial legume is reportedly a drought resistant, deep rooted, non-bloat causing forage that cows and sheep prefer over alfalfa. And it makes a pretty addition to a colorful, flower based landscape. You can find seed for Sainfoin from the folks at Great Basin Seed. They are an excellent source of plants you might not necessarily have on your radar but certainly should. Based out of Utah, they specialize in seeds for reclamation, revegetation, and wildlife habitat improvement. I have several Sainfoin in my yard that are covered in large spikey pink flowers right now, the blooms will continue all summer. In the fall these flowers are replaced by large seeds you can collect to pass on to friends. Most beekeeper forums mention, Sainfoin as the best legume for honeybees to make honey. If you would like to try some in your yard, my bees will thank you. I have seeds to share - you can email me at [email protected] and I’ll put some in the mail to you.
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