Observations on This and That AND The Countdown Begins…

floppy agave

I thought that I would share with you my observations on various landscape practices that I viewed over a one week period last month.

As a horticulturist (or a plant lady as my kids call me), I have a hard time “turning off” and not looking at landscapes as I go by.  I am always looking for a beautiful garden 🙂

So here are my observations, in no particular order.

landscape practices

Got floppy agave?

This is the time of year where you will see agave that seem to have suddenly flopped over.

landscape practices

I saw both of these agave on my way home from my mother-in-law’s house.

There was one year when I was working as a horticulturist for golf courses and we had quite a few of our agave flop over.  Now, I had a fairly good idea what had happened to them, but to confirm my diagnosis, we had to dig them up.

Once we did, we were hit with a truly horrible odor, which confirmed that we were dealing with agave snout weevils.

You can read more about agave snout weevil and how to recognize an infestation and how to prevent them here.

Okay, my second observation came courtesy of a facebook follower who asked me if gray Palo Verde trunks were normal.

landscape practices

I explained to her that as Palo Verde trees age, it is common for their trunk to turn gray.

Her question reminded me again of how much I didn’t know when I started on horticulture course work and all the questions that I had.  There are way to many things like this that I overlook and need to remember so that I can assist new desert gardeners.

Speaking of Palo Verdes, I saw this beautiful ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde tree in front of the hospice facility where my father-in-law was.

landscape practices

You may be surprised to find that there is a serious problem with this tree.

Can you see what it is?

landscape practices

Here it is a bit closer.

The tree has been staked, but the cable wire used was not covered where it comes in contact with the tree trunk.

cable wire

As you can see, the cable wire is digging into the trunk and starting to cut off the vascular system of the tree, which is located around the outer portion of the trunk.

Unfortunately, I see this quite often.  Usually in parking lot trees.  There is still time to remove the wire in this case.

When staking a tree, always cover the portion of the cable wire that touches the tree with a piece of drip hose or a regular hose and make sure that you can adjust it as the trunk grows larger.


When Ocotillo are sold and transported, their canes are often tied up for safety for both the handler and the ocotillo itself.

However once planted, you do not need to keep it tied up.  Remove the ties and soon you will be enjoying the beauty of your Ocotillo as it grows and spreads out its beautiful canes.

 landscape practices

Aren’t they so beautiful?

My last observation occurred as I traveled to the outskirts of the Phoenix metro area where I was to meet with an organization regarding a landscape service project.

As I drove, the suburbs began to melt away and I was surrounded by farmland.  As I turned down the street where my meeting was located, I saw that it was lined with mature pecan trees and large farmhouses sitting a few acres each.

It was just so beautiful…

 landscape practices

I bet you didn’t think that places like this existed in the desert, did you?

Well, there are actually many areas like this.  As I left, I could just picture myself living in a large farmhouse with acres of land to garden in.  But then I reminded myself that I have a hard enough time keeping up with my 1/3 of an acre 😉


I hope your week is going well.

My younger sister (not my youngest sister, Chicken Farmer), and her family are coming out for a visit tomorrow.  Her husband is interviewing for a job out here and I am very hopeful that they will be moving out here shortly.

Believe it or not, I was the first of my family to move out to Arizona from Southern California 25 years ago after I married my husband.  Then 5 years ago, my youngest sister and my brother and their families moved out here.  My parents followed a year later and now perhaps my other sister will soon move here.

I hope it all works out.

Oh by the way…..11 days until my daughter’s due date.

I am beginning to get just slightly excited!

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."
5 replies
  1. Rohrerbot
    Rohrerbot says:

    That is extremely excited…I'm excited for you. Great post. What's interesting for me right now are the effects of our past winter NOW. I watched a Palo Verde collapse and turn completely brown. It was really sad to watch. Some trees are almost back to normal while others still demonstrate frost damage like the fern tree(lysiloma?) and several frost tender varieties of mesquite. Several palms have completely collapsed while the coolibah trees are not a full leaf capacity. The red gums are also a bit sparse in their canopies. Last night, during a brief dinner, our local weather guru mentioned that it may be a colder than normal winter….and dry!!! Ahhh la niña. I hope it's not severe like last winter. Great post!

  2. Becc
    Becc says:

    love the ocotillo, I havent seen this plant before, but it looks very interesting. I bet you are excited in anticipation of the babe, I would be too!

  3. Ellen Coulton
    Ellen Coulton says:

    I recently discovered your blog which I find informative and fascinating, particularly since I have great fondness for cacti and succulents. I live in Miami, belong to the South Fl. Cactus and Succulent Society, and a large portion of my front yard is devoted to a variety of these plants. I like that you provide specific info. such as botanical names and those of insects. The other info., e.g., your family, chickens, vegetables, provides delightful reading. Thank you.


  4. Desert Dweller
    Desert Dweller says:

    I also check out and critique landscapes; people with me rarely share my interest, to say the least.

    Snout weevils – I smelled that on both nice Giant Hesperaloe I once had out front in the fall…a bummer! Great points on maintenance that gets left out, but is so easy to do to save trees.

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