These shrubby trees are one of my favorites when their white or purple blossom sprays kick off the beginning of summer. They are heavily planted along I-35 due to their sturdy constitutions. Up close vitex foliage looks like marijuana, a pentagram of pointed leaves which have a spicy camphor/lavender smell when crushed. Also called chasteberry; due to its leaves once being thought to have anti-aphrodisiac properties. This specimen along the Arroyo Seco greenbelt is stunning; my photo does not do it justice. Large pots of vitex are standing out front at Shoal Creek Nursery—a sure sign that customers are asking for “that purple thing that's blooming right now.”
After 10 years gardening on solid rock in Rollingwood, I moved into a 40's cottage in the North Loop area spring 2007. The little postage stamp yard is black clay and no one had ever dug a single flower bed. After visiting Key West a few years ago, I came back inspired by the little frame cottages, white painted railings, and rustling palm leaves. So the plan is: desert tropical cottage garden.