Spring in the desert Southwest is a busy time of year.  While those that live in colder climates countdown the days until March 20th, the spring season begins a full month earlier where we live.


As a horticulturist / landscape consultant, my days have been quite busy lately assisting people with their gardens.


Today, I thought that I would show some glimpses of my week in review, which was filled with creative containers, newly planted xeriscapes, flowering cacti and the heavenly fragrance of orange blossoms.


The weather this past week has been warm, in the low 80’s.  Spring-flowering plants were in full bloom such as this sweet acacia tree which produces small, golden, puffball flowers.  I love how the deep yellow looks against the blue sky, don’t you?

Often, in my travels assisting clients, I see some great examples of beautiful xeriscapes.


This is a newly planted landscape which stood out from the surrounded homes with its mature plants, the selection of desert-adapted plants and the nice design.

The vibrant purple flowers of the verbena (Glandularia pulchella) demanded attention from passersby.  I also liked how the golden barrel cacti looked in the raised bed.


Another landscape that I saw this week was filled with countless different types of plants.  Often, when you have too many kinds of plants, the effect can appear ‘messy’ visually.  But, not with this landscape filled with succulents of all sorts including aloe, artichoke agave and golden barrel cacti.


While driving by a church landscape that I had designed previously, I stopped to take this photo of the damianita (Chrysactina mexicana), which was in full bloom.  I absolutely love this plant and have several in my own garden.



I took a few moments to stop by and talk to my friends, Sam & Lulu, who happen to own Verde Valley Nursery in Fountain Hills.  My visits always last longer than planned because we enjoy talking about plants!



During visits to a few of my regular clients, who have me come by on an annual basis, I saw some great examples of container plants, including this one filled with Blue Elf aloe, golden barrel, small variegated agave and totem pole ‘Monstrosus’ cactus.  


This looks so nice, it almost makes it easy to skip planting high-maintenance annual flowers.

I really liked this container.  Many people have problems growing flowers in entryways where there is not enough sun.  In addition, there is the burden of having to water frequently that can lead to stains on the concrete.  


This colorful container is filled with dried, flowering agave stalks – I love it!



One of the joys of my job is when clients invite me back to see their landscape and sometimes recommend a few ‘tweaks’.  It was during one of these repeat visits that I saw this trio of Blue Elf aloe, which looks great when planted next to boulders, don’t you think?

Sometimes, I see things that are somewhat unusual, like this Mexican fence post cactus (Pachycereus marinatus) that was forming flowers.  They do not always flower in the low desert, so this was a really neat to see close up.



Visions of purple-flowering plants filled my week. While on a date night with my husband, we strolled through our local outdoor mall and I saw these lovely sea lavender (Limonium perezii).



Although I do not have lavender in my garden, I enjoy seeing lavender in other people’s gardens.  This Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) looked beautiful.



I came upon this gorgeous blue hibiscus shrub in an unlikely place – the supermarket parking lot. 



While not quite purple, the dark pink of Parry’s penstemon looks so beautiful in the spring landscape.  I recently added one in my garden in partnership with Monrovia.



Today as I drove home from an appointment, I rolled down the windows so that I could smell the heavenly fragrance of the orange blossoms from the surrounding orchards.


After beautiful weeks like this, I feel so blessed to work outdoors – especially when I am stuck inside working on taxes today 🙁


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I hope you had a great week and have something fun planned for this weekend! 

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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