The Unexpected…In the Garden and in Life

Blue Hibiscus

The past couple of days have been filled with the normal things that make up my life….taking care of my family, landscape consults, blogging, etc.  But, one of the things that I love and sometimes don’t love about life are the unexpected things that sometimes cross my daily path.

First the unexpected things that I enjoy…

Blue Hibiscus

Blue Hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii)

The beautiful flowers on this Blue Hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii), stopped me in my tracks as we were entering the house at Double S Farms.

This Australian native is a big favorite of mine because of the large purple flowers that are produced in the spring.  To be honest, I am not sure why someone decided to give it the common name of ‘Blue Hibiscus’, because the flowers are always purple.  I am not a huge fan of common names in general – especially the ones that don’t make sense.

Blue Hibiscus

Blue Hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii)

Blue Hibiscus does well in our desert climate and grows 4 – 6 ft. high and wide. Some gardeners report that it is hardy to 15 degrees F,  so this shrub hold up well under the frosts we experience.  Prune lightly after the first flush of flowers to help produce a second flush.  Supplemental fertilizer is not needed, but regular irrigation is.  It does not do well in an area with reflected sun, so place in a north, south or east facing exposure.

Okay, here is one last look at one of the gorgeous flowers just beginning to open….

Blue Hibiscus

Other instances when I enjoy the unexpected is when I see a plant that does something different then the norm – grow larger, produce different colored flowers, foliage, etc.

Yesterday, I was called to a client’s home to look at his sick Magnolia tree (yes, Magnolias grow in the desert).  The prognosis on the Magnolia tree was good and the client was happy.  I offered to look at the rest of his landscape to see how things looked when we walked up to the largest lemon tree that I have ever seen…

lemon tree

This picture really does not accurately show how large this lemon tree was.  The fragrance coming off of the tree was amazing….the scent of the lemons along with the smell of the lemon blossoms was intoxicating.

**My clients are soon quickly convinced that I am somewhat of a crazy plant lady because I get so excited when I see something out of the ordinary.  They in turn are tickled pink by the knowledge that they have a special plant in their very own garden.

Well, the client with the lemon tree was a retired doctor who was pleased to show off his tree that was planted over 20 years ago.  He said that he had more fruit then he knew what to do with and offered to pick me some lemons and ended up picking me 2 bags full.  I was very touched because he was an older gentleman and it was not easy for him, but he insisted on picking them for me himself.


Now for the unexpected things that I do not enjoy at all….

I was on my way home from this consult when my husband called me to say that my 7 year old son may have broken his arm.  So I rushed home and took him to the doctor.  X-rays were not clear as to whether there was a break or not, so his arm was put into a black brace for a couple of weeks until they could check it again.


You know at first, how it can be kind of fun for a kid to have a cast and/or brace?  That is until they realize how restrictive it is.  I was asked, “Do I have to wear this all the time?  Even when I sleep?”  This morning, he asked me if he had to wear it when he played his video game 😉

Yesterday, I received very unwelcome AND unexpected news…

It was the beginning of a beautiful day and I was getting ready to leave to go on a landscape consultation when I got a call from my oldest daughter, who was just sobbing into the phone.

You know that dropping feeling in your stomach that you get sometimes when you know you are going to hear something awful?  Well, that is exactly what I felt as soon as I heard her voice.

Well, she had fallen down the stairs as she left her apartment and she was pretty sure that she had broken both of her feet.  Somehow, she was able to crawl back up to her apartment where she called her husband, who was at work, to come and get her.  Then she called me.

As a mother, it is so hard when your child is in pain.  I spoke to her trying to help her stay calm while her husband rushed as fast as he could to get home.  But her voice would break with cries of pain.  I woke up my husband, who works at night, and we rushed to be at her side.

Firefighters were called to carry her down the stairs of her apartment and then we met her and her husband at the hospital.  As she was checking in, the clerk asked her if she had ever been there before and my daughter said “No”.  I then stepped in to remind her that she had been there before….23 years ago when she was born.  Surprisingly, they still had her medical records from back then.

My Daughter

Well, it turns out that she broke her right foot AND her left ankle.  She is definitely laid up for a while and will not be able to teach (she is a high school history teacher).  Her husband is wonderful and very supportive.  I will be going to ‘babysit’ her today so that he can attend an important meeting for a little while.  So, I am gathering my magazines, DVD’s and bringing them dinner.

And so in closing, I am hopeful that the coming days bring only unexpected good things for both my family and yours 🙂

Like a Kid in a Candy Store…

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
27 replies
  1. Darla
    Darla says:

    First the Hibiscus is just eye catching drop dead gorgeous….!
    What a wonderful lemon tree, so there is hope for ours.
    My son broke his arm when he was little…so sad for them to be confined to a brace or cast..then in Jr. High he broke his back…boys!
    The call from your daughter brought tears to my eyes…I can only imagine as my 25 year old daughter lives 5 hours away…Prayers for God speed healing in both of your children….and peace in your heart!

  2. Ami
    Ami says:

    Oh, Noelle, I can feel for you! Two kids are hurt almost at the same time? That must be hard for you. Take care, and best wish to your family!

    That "blue" hibiscus is really beautiful though…!

  3. Floridagirl
    Floridagirl says:

    Wow, you have a lot going on right now! Hope your son's arm is OK, and your daughter has a quick recovery. I had a bad fall carrying laundry downstairs six years ago. Broke my right hand and foot badly, so I can definitely sympathize with your daughter.

    That blue hibiscus is beautiful, with its spiraling petals. You keep posting plants I've never seen in nurseries or gardens before. This will be something fun to research when I have time later today. Wouldn't it be great if we could grow that here!!!

  4. Hocking Hills Gardener
    Hocking Hills Gardener says:

    "When it rains, it pours" sure fits your day.I hate to see anyone get hurt or hurting. As a mother it is especially so to want to take the hurt for your child.I hope they get well really fast.
    That is such a beautiful hibiscus Noelle. I love the way the bloom petals lay in a swirl.So pretty.

  5. Bangchik
    Bangchik says:

    A father would feel the same whenever a child falls sick. He seldom bare all his feelings. I dare not say so for every fathers… ~bangchik

  6. Catherine@AGardenerinProgress
    Catherine@AGardenerinProgress says:

    So sorry to hear about your son and daughter. I sure hope they both heal up quickly. I know the thing I love about living so close to my parents is that I know they would and do help us in a minute like you are doing.

    I saw the Blue Hibiscus in San Francisco and just thought it was the prettiest flower. The lemon tree is beautiful, I can just imagine the scent.

  7. Annie's Granny
    Annie's Granny says:

    Noelle, how terrible for you and your two "broken" children! It must be the season, one of our grandsons just broke his ankle playing basketball…a bad break, requiring several pins. And he's just started driver's training, so that will have to be put on hold for this year. My Mr. H thought he'd broken his arm this week (shoveling compost for me), but it turned out to be a pulled muscle, thank heavens.

  8. NellJean
    NellJean says:

    So sorry that your lovely daughter has fractures and that precious young man is inconvenienced while he waits to see if he has to continue in a cast.

    Fresh lemonade is a good source of vitamin C which aids healing.

  9. Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ
    Nancy in Sun Lakes AZ says:

    Oh, Noelle, I'm so sorry about your son and daughter! Hope they both are better soon.
    I think the "Blue Hibiscus" around the Valley has more flowers than most years as do so many of the plants because of all our wonderful rain. Your pictures are just spectacular!

  10. evolutionofagardener
    evolutionofagardener says:

    Sorry to hear about the kids and their breaks. It's awful when your babies are in pain, no matter how old they are. At least they've got a wonderful mom to help them through it.

    The hibiscus is beautiful. 🙂

  11. sweet bay
    sweet bay says:

    Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear about your kids' accidents, especially your daughter. It's scary to think how dangerous stairs actually are.

  12. Gail
    Gail says:

    Noelle, There is nothing worst then when are kids are hurting. I am so sorry to hear that two of your children have had accidents! I hope that they heal quickly and nothing else happens!

    On the other hand, the lemon tree is spectacular and the lemons look beautiful.


  13. Rebecca @ In The Garden
    Rebecca @ In The Garden says:

    My goodness, your poor children! I have broken many bones myself and know how awful it is. There's nothing worse then seeing/hearing your children in pain. I know you will take good care of them.

    The blooms have such a lovely whirl shape and the tree is amazing. Hugs to everyone!

  14. Evelyn Howard
    Evelyn Howard says:

    I hope both your son and daughter speedy recoveries. Not nice at all having to use casts, and have movements restricted, but at least they will get well again.

    My best wishes to you and family.

  15. Kyna
    Kyna says:

    Wow, I'm SO sorry all these bad things have been happening to your kids all at once like that 🙁 I've fallen down the stairs a bunch of times (I seem to do it at least once a year), and I've been very lucky. I can't imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for you to be on the phone with her when she was hurt like that 🙁 And I'm sorry about your son's arm as well…jeez. 🙁

  16. Christine
    Christine says:

    I'm just now reading this post Noelle and am sending best wishes for your daughter's speedy recovery. Did you find out if your son's arm is broken? They heal quickly, youngsters do.

  17. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    omg Noelle, how terrible. Two family members back to back with breaks is heart wrenching. Especially your daughter ~ I can't imagine having both feet incapacitated at the same time. It's good she has family nearby to help her out. All the best to her (and your son).
    The Lemon tree on the other hand is AMAZING. How wonderful to be able to pick lemons from your backyard.

  18. Rosie
    Rosie says:

    Sorry to hear Noelle about those breakages. I hope your little boy will be ok as I know he has had difficulties with his hand in the past. I'm glad you don't live too far away from your daughter to be able to help her out.

    Your blue hibiscus is lovely but not as beautiful as your family.

    That lemon tree looks spectacular – I know what a few blossoms can smell like in a room but to have a tree that size in your garden must be quite overpowering in scent.

  19. catmint
    catmint says:

    The Alogyne is a great shrub. It also comes in white, I have two. One is small, the other microscopic because of many many moves. I think I can leave them where they are now. They are strong survivors of tough even brutal love, as well as having fabulous flowers. cheers, catmint

  20. Helen
    Helen says:

    Blogs are funny things. I realize that I’m reading something that was written in the past, but it’s in present tense. So, I feel like it’s now! I find myself reading fast and hoping she’s ok… then have to remind myself this was 7 years ago.

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