Yellow Bells and Little Hands….

Arizona Yellow Bells

One of my favorite flowering shrubs is Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans).  The other day, I spent some time pruning it back with some little hands eager to help.  

Yellow Bells is susceptible to frost damage in the winter and with spring almost here, it was time to prune back the brown tips.

Arizona Yellow Bells

Arizona Yellow Bells

My son offered to help me with pruning off the frost damaged tips of our Yellow Bells shrub.  As you can see, the shrub is taller then is.

Arizona Yellow Bells

I was happy at how they fared this winter.  Only the tips suffered frost damage.

Arizona Yellow Bells

We pruned back the brown, dead growth back to growing buds.


I am always happy when any of my children want to help me in the garden, but I particularly enjoyed having my son help me on this day because it is more difficult for him because of his disability.

We adopted our son 5 years ago from China knowing that he had a disability.  He was born with a condition in which some of his joints have limited strength and motion.  In the case of our son, his hands and feet are affected.  

He has had multiple surgeries and it is amazing at what he can do now compared to how limited he was when we adopted him when he was 2 years old.  However, he still struggles with the residual effects of his condition.  He does not always utilize his right hand and quite frankly, favors it while we are repeatedly encouraging him to use it to build up muscle strength.

As a result, I was so happy to see him having to use both hands to prune back our shrub.  He was very committed to doing a good job.

Arizona Yellow Bells

How do you think we did?  My son was very proud of the job he did.  I finished up pruning some of the taller branches that he could not reach.

Soon our shrub will be reaching the top of the wall and producing beautiful yellow flowers.

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."
32 replies
  1. tina
    tina says:

    Your son did a wonderful job and I was touched by the fact he even helped, then to read of his disability I realize how much more important it is that he did. I know you are proud.

  2. Darla
    Darla says:

    Well if that isn't the most adorable garden helper I've seen in a long time! He did a superb job!!! (are you sure you helped, lol)

  3. Edith Hope
    Edith Hope says:

    Dear Noelle, What a wonderful job you both made of the shrub and I am confident that it will reward you with beautiful flowers later in the year. I am sure that you are very proud of your little helper. He certainly immersed himself in the task!!

  4. FlowerLady
    FlowerLady says:

    Noelle ~ What a dear helper you have! Bless you and your husband's hearts for adopting your son. Your son did a great job helping, and I'm sure your praise will help in getting him to use his hand muscles.

    Hugs ~ FlowerLady

  5. Rosie
    Rosie says:

    What a proud mom you must be Noelle knowing how much effort he must have put in to do this job and he did a terrific job too.

    Looking forward to seeing it in flower as I've never come across this plant before.

  6. Di
    Di says:

    Bless his heart Noelle and you as well for having adopted this beautiful child. I love little helpers: the grandchildren love grandma's garden. 😉

  7. Janet
    Janet says:

    I think he did a great job pruning and you are doing a great job encouraging him to help out with the pruning, thereby strengthening his hands. Bravo!

  8. Hocking Hills Gardener
    Hocking Hills Gardener says:

    What a cutie Noelle. He did a wonderful job too so he should be proud of himself. That is a good way to get him to use his right hand and if he enjoys that is all the better 😉 I wonder if he would like to trim mine when the snow melts. LOL!

  9. bloominrs
    bloominrs says:

    Your son looks like a fine handsome young man and a great helper. It looks like you guys did a great job pruning. I'm sure it feels good doing the task together. Those are definitely the moments to enjoy.

  10. Amy
    Amy says:

    What cute photos of your son. He is very cute! Isn't it nice when they take an interest in helping. He did a great job… He has a good teacher!

  11. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    Your son is adorable. It's obvious that he is working hard and trying his best. This is a fantastic opportunity for him to strengthen his muscles and fine-tune his motor skills. Beautiful job by all, and a wonderful, touching story. I love happy endings, as well as yellow bells!

  12. Bernie
    Bernie says:

    It's a marvellous job … well done little man! Isn't it fantastic he worked so hard and did a great job … he'll be so excited when it breaks into bloom.

  13. Ami
    Ami says:

    Noelle: I am so touched about your son. You have a very good heart to adopt him even knowing he had the disability then. He is very lucky to have you as his Mom. I am so glad that he is doing such a good job helping you in the garden!

  14. Balisha
    Balisha says:

    He is such a serious helper…Isn't it fun to garden with kids? They learn a bit from us and we learn so much from them in conversations while gardening. Loved seeing these pictures.

  15. Skeeter
    Skeeter says:

    Gardening can help with many disabilities. I think it is wonderful how your son wants to help and in return, he is helping himself in more ways then one! Great therapy indeed…

  16. debsgarden
    debsgarden says:

    Your son did a great job! i know you are very proud of him. Gardening is good for both body and soul. I am sure your son will have good memories of spending time with you in the garden.

  17. James Missier
    James Missier says:

    You have done a great job in training your son to follow a gardener's footstep. Many children I have came to known do not share the same passion in gardening as their parents.
    (Even for instance, within my family of 6 – only me & my mother are gardeners)

    Hope your son get used to the body moments and that he gets more flexible over time.

  18. gippslandgardener
    gippslandgardener says:

    I linked through to one of your earlier posts to see the Yellow Bells in flower and I can see why you are so fond of it – very pretty!
    The last photo of your son is so cute – that look of absolute concentration is priceless 🙂

  19. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    He looks determined to prune that plant. It's nice to get kids involved in gardening. When they are little they like it. When they are teenagers, not so much. He is very handsome and already looks like a professional.

  20. Autumn Belle
    Autumn Belle says:

    Noelle, you are certainly a kind hearted person with a big heart and good mum to your children. Under your care, your son is making great strides in live. I am very touched by your actions.

  21. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Noelle, you have a very wonderful soul. Adopting a child of a different race and with a condition like that means a lot. You will be fully blessed, get a very good karma in this life and beyond. And you deserve very healthy plants and gardens. May your tribe increase!

  22. Carol
    Carol says:

    Noelle how sweet your son enjoys helping you in the garden. What a great job he did. I so admire you and how you have given your children such wonderful love filled lives. I know they add so much to your life too! ;>)

  23. Rose
    Rose says:

    Garden time is even more special when you can spend it with a child. Your son did a great job with the pruning, and what a great way to exercise those muscles. You must be very proud of him!

  24. Martha Z
    Martha Z says:

    Children get great satisfaction from being able to do things themselves. As limited as our grandson is he can be quite stubborn, insisting on feeding himself even though he makes a mess.
    As you do with your son, we encourage him to do what he can as best as he can.

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