Okay, you may be wondering what these two things have in common with each other…..nothing really.  But this past week has been full of the unexpected, the expected and I also have some seeds to giveaway.

For those of you who may have been following my “Curing the Garden Blahs” posts (I do hope someone is reading them), I will return to them next week when we will focus on color combinations.

As I sit here writing this post, I am frankly surprised that I am not more worn out.  This past week was all planned out…..in addition to my normal responsibilities, I had two speaking presentations to prepare for, I had to replant my vegetable garden (more about that later), prepare the Sunday School lesson for 5th & 6th graders and get ready for the scheduled birth of my nephews on Thursday.

Well, we were on our way home from church last Sunday when we got the call…..my sister-in-law was rushed to the hospital because she had a placental abruption (basically her placenta detached) and although she was okay, the babies were being delivered right away.  We could hardly get there fast enough for me.  I was so thankful she was going to be okay, but I wanted to see my brother’s face when he came out to tell everyone about his sons.  **You know the expression that new fathers get?  I call it the ‘new dad face’ and I couldn’t wait to see my brother wearing that expression.  It had not been an easy path for them and now they were giving birth to twin boys.

 Meet Danny & Dean.  

Of course, my planned schedule went out the window because I was spending much of my time doing this….

 I was perfectly happy to make daily visits to the hospital to visit with my brother, my sister-in-law and my new nephews.  But life had another surprise in store for me .
I mentioned in my previous post that my son, Kai, was injured on the playground at school.  We got there when the paramedics did and helped to splint his hurt leg.  Wednesday afternoon was spent in the ER.  Thursday was spent taking care of Kai who could not walk and was in considerable pain.  Friday involved a visit to the orthopedist to check out his leg and then another visit to get a new prosthetic to add to the brace that Kai already wore on his leg.  Six hours later, it was so nice to return home and see that my mother had brought over dinner for all of us…..Joe’s Real BBQ rocks!
Unfortunately with all that life has thrown my way, I have not been able to visit my nephews since Tuesday.  But, I will soon be holding them in about 1 hour 🙂
Between caring for and carrying Kai, I was able to replant my vegetable garden and finished preparing for one of my upcoming presentations, so all things considered, I am pretty pleased that I am able to sit upright this morning 😉
Now for my second subject…..seeds!
Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) is absolutely my favorite plant.  There is so much to love about this beautiful perennial; it is hard to know where to start…. reddish orange flowers, attracts hummingbirds, blooms winter through spring, low-maintenance, drought tolerant and native to the desert.  Need I say more?  Well then, I will……

This particular Penstemon can be found growing in the Southwestern US deserts of Nevada, Arizona, California, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.  It is hardy to -20 degrees F.  Beautiful orange/red flowers are produced in the winter and spring.  In zones 7 – 10, their leaves are evergreen.  Grown easily from seed, Firecracker Penstemon reaches a mature size of approximately 2′ x 2′ when in flower. 

USES: Firecracker Penstemon is a welcome asset to the desert flower garden.  Plant in full sun and keep away from the shade as they will grow leggy from lack of sunlight.  I particularly like the way they look when planted singly next to boulders.  They also look spectacular in bloom when planted in groups of three.  Place alongside other plants that are either yellow or white which will contrast nicely with the orange/red color of this Penstemon’s blooms.  Recommended companion plants include Damianita, Blackfoot Daisy, Prickly Pear Cactus,  Brittlebush, Agave, Angelita Daisy and Desert Marigold.  For maximum hummingbird viewing, be sure to plant Firecracker Penstemon where you will be able to see the hummingbirds feeding.

MAINTENANCE: This perennial is low-maintenance.  The main requirement is removal of spent flower stalks, which will often promote additional flowering.  Firecracker Penstemon is drought tolerant when established, but will require regular irrigation to look their best.  At the minimum, supplemental water will be required in the summer months.  Older plants can be be cut back to remove old, woody growth.  NO fertilizer is required.

Now for the seeds…..I have 5 beautiful Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) in my garden.   Last spring, I harvested some seeds from their spent flowers and would love to share some with you.
All you have to do is to leave a comment.  I will randomly select 7 people who leave comments to this post and notify you next Wednesday.  **Please make sure that there is a way for me to contact you, either through your blog or an email address (you can use my email link on the sidebar to send me your email address if you do not want to enter it in the comments section).
 **You still have time to submit your Monthly Garden Bouquet (MGB) before the end of the month.  I can’t wait to see what you create 🙂
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


Rosey (Dung Hoe)
Liza (Good to Grow)
Diana (Scrappy Wonder Woman)
Rose (Prairie Rose’s Garden)
Ginny (Ginny’s Garden)
Nancy (Sun Lakes)
Johanna T.
Donna F.
Susan in the Pink Hat

I do have enough seeds for 8 winners.  If your name is on this list, PLEASE email me your mailing address so that I can get the seeds in the mail to you.



Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, 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."

24 replies
  1. Diana
    Diana says:

    ooh! sign me up! 🙂 I would love to have some more color in my front yard! So glad to here that Kai is doing better–your mom ROCKS! Bringing Joe's over–LOVE that place! We have one more stop for sure this year for a birthday–REALLY like that it's free!
    Your nephews are adorable, hope that you have a nice visit.

  2. Evelyn
    Evelyn says:

    Wow Noelle
    Congrats on the nephews – glad yr sis-in-law is ok. Sorry to hear about Kai – poor guy, hope he will recover quickly. Gee, it's go, go go!

    The firecracker penstemon is lovely – the flowers are stunning. But no seeds for me, thanks :). I don't think they'd like my balcony… besides I have no space!

    Have a nice weekend, Evelyn

  3. Rosey
    Rosey says:

    What a sweet blessing, to have those two new nephews. New babies are such tender reminders of God.

    I would love to be added to the drawing. I will try any kind of plant that the hummingbirds flock to.


  4. Ginny
    Ginny says:

    The firecracker penstemon sounds like a nearly perfect plant for kind of weather we had this summer! I would love to be included in the seed drawing.
    Congratulations on your new nephews – what a blessing! And there is no describing how wonderful it is to hold a newborn.

  5. One
    One says:

    Noelle, I feel very amazed with all that you do. Do you ever sleep? I hope Kai recuperates fast. That photo you take of the bee approaching the flower is stunning. Can I have the bee with the seeds? 🙂 Congratulations for the new arrival of Dean and Danny.

  6. Liza
    Liza says:

    Wait, wait! Do you have to pick winners randomly? Or can I suck up the most? Because those flowers would grow great here, and they're my landlady's favorite as well. And I adore your blog, so there's that. You're an outstanding human, your family is wonderous, and even though the state in which you live is plagued with problems, I know you haven't contributed to the disarray. In fact the contrary, you seem hellbent on making the world a better place, Noelle.

    Now, let's stop the suspense. Did I win? Did I win?

  7. FlowerLady
    FlowerLady says:

    Dear Noelle ~ What sweet little nephews you have.

    I'm so sorry to hear about Kai's mishap. Hope he's getting stronger with each new day. Chasing girls huh. That's cute.

    I think I'll have to pass on the penstemon as they do not like our humid area. Someone will enjoy them.

    Have a lovely Sunday ~ FlowerLady

  8. Hocking Hills Gardener
    Hocking Hills Gardener says:

    Hi Noelle.
    Poor Kai. I hope he is feeling better. Little fella has had a time of it without getting hurt. Hope he doesn't quit chasing the girls though. LOL!
    The twins are just so sweet. That will be a busy household. My mother-in-law had two sets of twins and 12 children in all and I wonder how she ever made it. LOL! With that many there was always others to watch out for one another.
    Have a nice visit with the little cuties.

  9. Pam's English Garden
    Pam's English Garden says:

    Dear Noelle, How sweet of you to share your seeds. I'll pass, but I am sure the chosen recipients will enjoy them.
    I was waiting for a photo of your new nephews – and they are perfect!
    I am so sorry Kai has hurt his leg. He is so brave. I hope he has a quick recovery.
    Noelle, you amaze me … how do you keep up with it all? Pam x
    PS Sorry I didn't manage a bouquet this month … I just don't seem to be able to juggle everything the way you do.

  10. Elephant's Eye
    Elephant's Eye says:

    … bent on making the world a better place – that is Noelle. Whether you write about your life, making the world better, or your gracious and helpful garden advice – rest assured, we are reading you ;>) Oh, no seeds over here tx.

  11. Desert Dweller
    Desert Dweller says:

    Firecracker Penstemon is prob my favorite. (well, next to Rock Penstemon, w/ summer flowers)

    Here (5000'), it's flowering season seems based on source, a native range from the Utah Wasatch Mtns @ ski area level to the eastern Mojave @ Las Vegas. Both tough!

    The former may be the ones blooming late Jan here, while the latter do not start until April.

  12. Msrobin
    Msrobin says:

    You must have been so frightened when Kai hurt his leg, then to have your nephews arrive so suddenly. But congrats, they are sure cute! Do you think those penstemon will grow here in zone 6?

  13. Johanna Turner
    Johanna Turner says:

    I enjoy your columns. You know alot about plants! I planted 2 Feathery Cassia and a salvia in my front yard. I want low maintenance plants because I don't have alot of time or energy to care for them (and my husband has some disabilities, so he can't help much). I would love some of the seeds. That is a beautiful plant!

  14. Balisha
    Balisha says:

    Those babies are just perfect…so glad you got to be there. I'm looking forward to more pictures as they grow up.
    I was so sorry to hear about Kai. He has been through so much…and you as a parent too. I do hope that he continues to heal and can be out playing with the kids.
    Balisha ((HUGS))

  15. Liz
    Liz says:

    I would love to have that penstemon. I'm considering specing it for a climate: my only concern is it likes it dry, and I don't think the site will be that dry. But its so pretty too.

  16. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Noelle, you are really awesome, i wonder how you were able to put all those things altogether. Whew! When i am too much stressed like when there are sickness in the family, i can't seem to do other things, much more think. And with all the packing and transporting things to my new location, my body seem to be stressed out. That's why i think you are my idol. Hi IDOL, am glad to meet you, hehehe. And those kids are so beautiful. I hope Kai is already very well.

  17. Candy "Sweetstuff"
    Candy "Sweetstuff" says:

    Congratulations on your beautiful nephews. I am so glad that everyone is ok. Must have been scary for them. And I sure hope that Kai gets better soon. Poor little guy.

    And I love that bee shot you took! Wow fantastic! Way to go!

  18. Rose
    Rose says:

    What adorable babies! Congratulations to your brother and sister-in-law.

    Sounds like you've had a very busy weekend, Noelle. Throw my name in the hat, too, for the penstemon seeds, if you don't mind. These are very aptly named

  19. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:


    Rosey (Dung Hoe)
    Liza (Good to Grow)
    Diana (Scrappy Wonder Woman)
    Rose (Prairie Rose's Garden)
    Ginny (Ginny's Garden)
    Nancy (Sun Lakes)
    Johanna T.
    Donna F.
    Susan in the Pink Hat

    Please email me your adress and I will get them in the mail right away 🙂

Comments are closed.