beautiful desert garden wall
marley horticulture learning lab

I am always on the lookout for new and different ways that gardens are designed and the materials that they use. Recently, I was scheduled to teach a class at the Desert Botanical Garden, and as I headed toward the classroom, I admired the modern design of the building but, it was the vine-covered wall that caught my interest.

beautiful desert garden wall

This unusual wall was made up of masonry blocks, like many garden walls in the desert Southwest, but this one was decidedly different. It was made from broken masonry blocks repurposed from a wall that had been removed elsewhere. Some brilliant person realized that instead of filling up landfill space, that the broken blocks could still function as a garden wall. 

beautiful desert garden wall

The salvaged wall provides the perfect surface for queen’s wreath (Antigonon leptopus) vines to crawl up on with their twining tendrils taking advantage of the nooks and crannies within the wall.

beautiful desert garden wall

The sprays of flowers, leaves, and stems create beautiful shadows along the pavement below. Shadows are an element of garden design that is often overlooked. However, don’t underestimate the effect that the shapes of the shadows from cactuses, succulents, and even vines can add to a bare wall, fence, or even on the ground.

beautiful desert garden wall

Years ago, I used to carry a small digital camera in my purse for unexpected opportunities to take pictures of a particular plant, or design idea. Nowadays, this is just another reason that my smartphone is perhaps my most valued tool.

Book Review: Desert Landscaping and Maintenance

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. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    What an interesting wall idea. At first I thought it was mortar squishing out from between whole blocks, but after a second look I realized they were salvaged blocks that were broken. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Marie Barassi
    Marie Barassi says:

    I love the idea of salvaging old materials, what a great idea! And I love the use of this vine in it! Have you grown this vine? I have two I planted several years ago from tiny starts I mail ordered, but they have never bloomed. I live in zone 9b, so they should,they look healthy, one climbs up the bottle brush tree and one scrambles up a baby jacaranda tree, I cut them back hard last winter to encourage new growth, which worked, still, no flowers ): any suggestions?!
    Thank you for your posts, they always inspire me.

  3. says:

    Hi Marie,

    I have grown this vine and seen it growing in lots of areas. It does best in full sun and periodic deep watering. I would recommend adding a liquid fertilizer at 1/2 strength and see if that works. I hope this helps!

  4. Sandy Smith
    Sandy Smith says:

    Hi Noelle,
    I also like the gravel/rocks next to the walk in the 2nd picture which indicate good drainage (so important 🙂 Love your observant eyes.

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