I used to live in the Mojave desert and as a gardener I learned this pretty quick: you can grow anything practically anytime out there with enough shade and water. Watch out for caliche - it's that hard white mineral in the ground. Remove it from your yard entirely when you encounter it.
I miss gardening down there really badly. I had fresh tomatoes in January!
But there are so many things that I find rewarding now as well.
- Buttercup and borage = weeds, need no special attention.
- Sunflower = easy to grow, but protect from slugs as they love it
- Poppy = scatter seed and leave, self seeds and comes back year after year
- Aster = boring all year then in autumn
- Snowdrop's and Crocus = Push bulb into ground, wait till January!
- Lavender = really hates to get wet feet, needs well drained soil in winter of it will die
- Thyme = great plant and excellent herb, nice flowers, start from seed and plant out when large enough
- Sage = Lovely evergreen, hardy perennial, makes gorgeous blue flowers in summer
- Fennel = Makes tall stalk with thousands of small yellow flowers. Self seeds easily.
- Geranium = grow from cuttings, protect from frost
- Calendula = easy to grow from seed, half hardy
Lavender really enjoys soil that is a bit sandier, better drainage to avoid those wet feet, and does very well if it can be planted by something that will radiate some heat back to it. Mine is right alongside my porch foundation, which is stone/concrete, so it holds the warmth from the sun and my lavender seems to love it! It even looks decent in winter.
Regardless, It loves heat and can take drought very well. I found some interesting facts on cals.arizona.edu regarding different types of lavenders, and it's from the University of Arizona. I hope it's helpful!
I recommend looking into if a particular type is more "native" or suggested for your area.