Have you ever looked back at your calendar and wondered at how you ever got everything done while still remaining somewhat sane?


I have…


Oh, I knew ahead of time that it would take a small miracle to get through the 30 days, starting with Halloween.  


At this point, I’d like to apologize for the lack of blog posts, but in my defense, I was lucky to be able to remember to feed my kids (just kidding).


Seldom, have I looked forward to December as a time where I will be less busy, but in comparison to what I’ve done the past month, it should be a breeze.


It all started with our annual Halloween celebration, which is held at our house.



I spent the day making ghosts (half a Twinkie dipped in white chocolate), black spiders (mini chocolate donuts with chocolate dipped pretzel legs) and candy corn rice krispy treats.


The entire family came over for dinner and trick-or-treating, including my granddaughter, Lily, who dressed up as Sleeping Beauty.

Two days later, we had an even larger group of people gather at our house for Lily’s birthday party – she turned 3!


Lily is seriously into princesses, so there was a lot of pink in the room.


I made her a princess cake, which went along with her favorite cake pops.

In the week that followed, I continued my work with a local golf course, where they are removing 30 acres of turf in favor of landscape areas filled with drought tolerant plants.


The areas of turf being removed are largely out of play in this parkland style golf course.  Not all 30 acres are being removed all at once – instead, the grass is being taken out in smaller sections.

While a lot of my time was being spent at the golf course, I spent two days selling handmade items at a large holiday boutique.

Now, I’ve never sold anything at a boutique, but this past summer my mother, who is extremely talented, asked my sister and I to do it with her.  I knew that it would be tough, since November is one of my busiest months since I spend most of my time outdoors consulting on landscapes.  But, I really wanted to do it, so I used some of my down time this summer to make some things.

Xerigraphica air plant in a terrarium
The items we sold were made using sustainable, recycled and/or repurposed items.

Air plants in terrariums were a big hit.

We also had hanging terrariums filled with air plants.  I made bird houses from gourds, many of which we grew in our gardens.

My sister made Christmas ornaments using seed pods from a variety of trees, including these little snowmen made from the seedpods from the Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) tree.

Texas Mountain Laurel

I also sold basil salt, which quickly sold out.

We sold out of a lot of items and I must admit that I had so much fun.  We’re already planning for next year.

Back in the garden, I was asked to consult on a landscape where a Brazilian Pepper tree (Schinus terebinthifolius) had suddenly died



If you look closely, you’ll notice that the leaves are still on the tree.  Also, two of the Texas sage shrubs, underneath the window, were also starting to die.

The homeowners were understandably concerned. It didn’t take long to diagnose a case of Cotton (Texas) root rot.  The classic signs are plants suddenly dying toward the end of summer and retaining their leaves.

Some plants are more susceptible to root rot and Brazilian peppers top the list.  The solution to this problem is to remove the affected plants and replace them with plants that are resistant to root rot.  Trees that are resistant include desert willow, mesquite and palo verde.


Some of you may remember that we welcomed a new yellow labrador puppy into our family in September.


Polly is growing fast and although she gets into trouble now and then, she is doing great!

Last weekend, was a day that I had long been waiting for…


My second-oldest daughter, Rachele, is expecting her first child – a boy.

She came home from her Navy base to celebrate her birthday and baby shower, which were on the same day.  Rachele had been looking forward to this day when her family and friends would celebrate with her.  

But, the day didn’t go quite as planned…

That morning, I was busy getting the house and food ready for 50+ people when she walked out of her room with tears in her eyes to tell me that she had been up all night being sick to her stomach.

We didn’t have time to cancel, and she was determined to make it through the shower.

It was obvious to all that she didn’t feel well, but she did get through the shower without having to leave.  However, as soon as everyone left, she got sick to her stomach again.  

Needless to say, the rest of the day was spent in bed with a large bowl ;-(

Thankfully, it was only a 24-hour bug and she was up and feeling much better the next day.

Now, you’d think that that was the end of my busy month – but, no…

We were hosting a large family reunion for Thanksgiving just days later!

My mother spearheaded the family reunion and asked my sisters and I to help her with it. 

I was tasked with making centerpieces using old family photos AND more importantly, making food for 54 people.

Our family started out in California and hasn’t spread very far – we all live in either Arizona, California or Washington.

We gathered together, on the eve before Thanksgiving, for dinner.  My mother didn’t have enough room for 54 people inside her house, so she rented tables and we ate inside the garage.


As I mentioned earlier, I made a lot of food for our reunion, which lasted 3 days.  I traded the busyness of work for working in the kitchen.  I contributed two batches of meatball soup, 4 loaves of artisan bread, 2 batches of toffee bars, 6 loaves of pumpkin bread, 2 carrot cakes and an icebox birthday cake to our reunion.

For our Thanksgiving meal, we searched high and low for a place where we could purchase a hot, Thanksgiving meal.  It wasn’t that easy – grocery stores will provide you with a meal, but you have to pick it up the night before and heat it up on Thanksgiving day.  Same with some restaurants.  But, we did find that Cracker Barrel does provide ‘to-go’ Thanksgiving dinners – it was really delicious!

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And so, that is a brief synopsis of the past 30 days.  I am happy that I survived with my sanity intact – mostly 😉

I hope you enjoyed a very happy Thanksgiving!

I have lots to share with you in the upcoming monthy on a variety of gardening subjects including some really cool garden accessories.  
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."

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