Some of you who are birdwatchers may have heard of the term ‘life list’, which refers to the list of birds that they hope to see within their lifetime.



While I like birds just fine, I don’t have a ‘life list’ of birds I want to see before I die.

But, I started wondering whether or not anyone had a ‘life list’ of plants that they hope to see in person?

I don’t know about you, but my list would be pretty long.  Of course, I would want to photograph any plant on my ‘life list’ so that I can view it again from time to time.

Yesterday, I spent the entire day with my friend and fellow southwestern-blogger, Pam Penick.  We drove around looking at some great examples of well-designed desert landscapes.

It was during this outing that I spotted a flower that I had wanted a really good photograph of for so long, but it was always just out of reach from my camera.

This particular flower is no stranger to residents of Arizona and I see them all the time in the spring.  However, photographing one close up, was almost impossible without a ladder…

My two youngest kids and I on a recent visit to the Tucson desert.

Yes, I am talking about the beautiful saguaro flower.

The buds of saguaro flowers begin to form at the very top of the cactus.

Heavily cropped photo of a saguaro blossom.

I once got a photo from faraway of the flowers using my best zoom lens (which doesn’t zoom all that close) to capture this picture a few years ago of saguaro flowers growing on an arm. 

But, that wasn’t good enough for me.  I wanted a photo that would show the intricacies of the 3-inch flower.

Well, it may have taken a few years, but yesterday was the day that I was able to get my camera within a few inches from a saguaro flower without having to use a ladder.


It was so wonderful to see this magnificent flower up close.  The white petals are somewhat waxy, like many flowers of cacti and the center is very large.

The blossoms open at night and stay open for only 24 hours and are pollinated by bats, birds and bees.

So, are you wondering how I got up so close to a saguaro flower?


We found these two arms from a saguaro laying on a pallet.  

My guess is that they were going to be transplanted. Unlike other cacti, saguaro do root well from cuttings.  While you can plant a saguaro arm in the soil, it will always look like an ‘arm’.

I was thrilled to have been able to photograph AND touch the blossom of this beautiful flower that is almost always out of reach.

So now I think that I may need to work on creating a ‘life list’ for photographing plants so that I can check off a saguaro blossom.

**My friend Pam and I had a wonderful adventure as viewed some amazing landscapes, which I can’t wait to show you…

I just have to wade through a few hundred photographs first 😉

So, what would plants would you put on your ‘life list’?



A few years ago, while visiting my sister in the Palm Springs area in California, we visited the Living Desert Museum.  This is a combination botanical garden and zoo.



We had a great time exploring along with our kids and I enjoyed taking pictures of the different plants that I saw.


While walking through the gardens, I noticed a small shrub, which at first glance, I assumed was a small species of Leucophyllum (Texas Sage).




I took a quick photo and then walked on.

Fast forward 2 years later, where I found myself learning about a newer plant on the market that thrives in desert heat, is drought-tolerant, flowers all year and needs little to no pruning.

Now any plant that looks great but isn’t fussy in desert gardens is one that I definitely need to get to know better.  

I found out that this particular shrub was supposed to look a lot like a gray Texas sage.  That was when I remembered taking the photo, above.

I was thrilled to find out that I had been introduced to this plant earlier, but hadn’t known it.

There is so much that I can say about Blue Bells (Eremophila hygrophana ‘Blue Bells’) and I have written an article about this beautiful, yet tough shrub, which you can read in my latest Houzz plant profile…

Kitchen designs, bathroom designs, and more ∨

Hire residential landscape architects to help with all aspects of landscape design, from selecting or designing outdoor patio furniture, to siting a detached garage or deck.
A home remodeler or residential architect will see the potential in the architecture and building design of your home.

I strongly encourage you to be a trendsetter in your neighborhood by planting this lovely shrub in your garden!

Which type of shrub would you prefer in your garden?


This one?


Or, this one?

Believe it or not, these are the same type of shrub. 
Did you know that over-pruning causes a lot of problems in the landscape that affect the shrub, water usage and your wallet?

I was recently asked to write an article for the folks at Water Use It Wisely, which is a water conservation campaign created by cities in the greater Phoenix metro area.   

The article I wrote talks about the specific problems that over-pruning causes along with ways to avoid over-pruning.


You can read the article by clicking, here

I hope you find it informative.  **If you have a friend or neighbor who has an over-pruned landscape, you may want to forward the link to them 🙂

If anyone asks me what is on my list of succulent favorites, Santa-rita prickly pear would be near the top.


Santa-rita prickly pear with new pads.

This beautiful prickly pear is also often referred to as ‘purple prickly pear’.  

I love how the its gray/blue pads become gradually tinged with purple as the temperatures get cold.

To learn more about this particular prickly pear and why you’ll want to plant one in your garden, check out my latest article for Houzz.com

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Use the help of top home decorators to select matching bedside tables and a new lamp shade for your own bedroom design.
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I hope you enjoy my latest plant article for Houzz.  I’ve been working on profiling plants that thrive in the desert southwest.


Stay tuned later this month for another great plant!


I woke up this morning, ready to write a blog post about what to do in the garden for the month of December.


However, that was BEFORE I checked my inbox to see a flood of great gardening Cyber-Monday deals that I just had to share with you.


Here is my favorite…



I look forward to getting Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine every month and there are great gardening articles inside.

Even if you don’t live near Phoenix, this is a great gift idea for any gardener who lives in the Southwest.

*I already renewed my subscription at this great price today 🙂

If you like magazines, here is another great subscription deal…


Phoenix Magazine also has a Cyber-Monday deal with subscriptions for $7.  

**I got one of these too!

Have you ever been to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix?  It is a real treat and they always have something going on besides viewing fabulous gardens – art exhibits and informative classes.

I have taken classes there before and always come away inspired.


For Cyber-Monday, they are offering 20% off of memberships.  

A membership to the Desert Botanical Garden is always the perfect gift.  Be sure to enter the code “CYBERMONDAY” to get your 20% off.

**ALL THESE DEALS ARE FOR TODAY, DECEMBER 2ND ONLY!!!**


Let your friends know by sharing this link on Facebook or Twitter.

I hope you are able to cross a few people off of your gift list with these great deals, or give yourself a gift 🙂



I don’t know about you, but I have enjoyed the wet weather of the past few days.  We almost received 3 inches of rain where I live in a period of 48 hours.  For those of you who do not live in the desert – that is considered A LOT of rain for us 😉


I spent Saturday morning dodging raindrops as I visited two different clients regarding their landscapes.  The rest of the day, I spent indoors just thinking of how much my garden is enjoying this rain.


You may not realize that rain water is much better for your plants then the water that comes from your hose or drip emitters.  Our water is somewhat ‘salty’, which is a result of its journey down the Colorado river and all the rock it passes by.


Plants do not like salt much and a heavy rain will help flush the salts away from the soil.


As the sun began to peek through the clouds this afternoon, I ventured out into the garden in order to harvest some lettuce and Swiss chard for our dinner.

A small sampling of today’s harvest.

It had been a while since I had taken a good look at my vegetable gardens and there was quite a bit more to harvest then I had expected.


I am rapidly falling in love with Swiss chard (yes, I said ‘love’).  

While I do not like cooked leafy greens, I have been surprised at how delicious raw Swiss chard is in salads.

It also adds a nice bit of color with its red and yellow veins.


Sugar snap peas are covering their vines, but it is hard to find them all since they blend in so well with the leaves.

I plan on serving them on our veggie tray Thanksgiving morning.

Right now, I have more radishes then I know what to do with.  But, we had 5, thinly sliced radishes in our salad.  In addition to thinly slicing them, I also quarter them so that my kids will eat them.


Two of my favorite types of leaf lettuce – Romaine and Black-Seeded Simpson.

I have had some problems with caterpillars eating my lettuce, so I will head out tomorrow with my spray bottle of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis).


Fall is the best time of year for all of my pepper plants.  While they can handle hot temperatures, they don’t flower during the height of summer.  

Once it begins to cool down in mid September, flowers appear again followed by peppers.

Sadly, once the first frost occurs, they will stop producing and will often die.  Last year, I was able to save my bell pepper plant by covering it when temps dipped below freezing.

I have a ton of bell peppers and jalapeños.  I will dice them up and place them in freezer bags so that I can enjoy them throughout the winter months.


I discovered that I had a lot of parsley growing and I only harvested about half of it.

While parsley will last through the winter months, my basil won’t survive the first frost.  So, I picked some basil too.


I plant to dry my basil and parsley.  Once dry, I will crush the leaves and put them into spice jars.

Drying herbs is easy and you can learn how to do it here.

The remainder of the fresh parsley that I have growing outdoors I will harvest on Thanksgiving to use as a garnish for a few of my favorite dishes.

While I spent part of this afternoon harvesting vegetables, I noticed that I still have not thinned out my carrot seedlings.  Oh, they will still grow if I don’t thin them, but what I will get in return are small carrots not worth eating.

So, I’ll grab a pair of scissors and head out into the garden and snip off the extra.

*************************

How about you?  

Have you put your garden to bed for the winter or do you still have things growing in it?

I’d love to hear what is happening in your garden…
Last week, I came upon this citrus tree while I was doing a consultation.

At first, there was one problem that I noticed right away.  As I peered closer, I saw that there was another problem affecting this tree.

The tree was well-fertilized and I could see no sign of nutrient deficiencies.

Can you tell what is wrong with this citrus tree?  

Leave your guesses below in the comment section and I will reveal the answer tomorrow 🙂

*You may be wondering why you should care about the problems of this particular citrus tree.  Well, if you have citrus growing in your garden, you may have the same problem(s) and not even know it.  

My hope is to help others identify and correct problems with their plants that they may not be aware of until it is too late.

October is my favorite month of the year in the garden.  Summer is over and when I walk outdoors, I am greeted with delightful temperatures in the 80’s.  I even had to wear a light sweater the other night when out walking the dogs with my husband 🙂


Planting shrubs in the parking lot of our church along with the boy scouts a few years ago.
This is a very busy month in the garden because the end of summer signals the beginning of planting season.  October is the best time to add plants to your landscape because they have three seasons to grow roots, which will help them handle the stress of next summer.

When digging a hole for your plants, the hole can make a huge difference in how successful your plants will be.  Make the hole 3 times wider then the rootball.  Because roots grow mostly sideways, they will have an easier time growing through recently dug soil then hard-packed soil.  The depth of the hole should be NO deeper then the rootball.  When plants are planted too deeply, they can suffocate or become waterlogged.

So, what types of plants can you add now?  Concentrate on trees, shrubs and perennials that are not frost tender.

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatoni), blooms in late winter and into spring in my zone 9a garden.

Some of my favorite plants in my garden are those that bloom in fall, winter or spring.

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana), blooms in spring and fall.

Pink Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii ‘Pink’), blooms fall, winter and spring and prefers partial shade.

Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine), is my FAVORITE shrub.  I starts blooming in January and lasts until April when there is not much else going on in my garden.
When shopping for arid-adapted plants for your landscape, be aware that most of them aren’t too impressive looking when seen at the nursery.

Angelita Daisy in the nursery.

Arid-adapted plants don’t really start concentrating on their top growth UNTIL they have grown a good amount of roots.

Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis, formerly Hymenoxys acaulis)
As you can see, there is a pretty significant difference after these Angelita Daisies have been in the ground for a couple of years.

Scarlet Flax

Do you like wildflowers?  For a beautiful spring display, October is the time to spread wildflower seed.  Growing your own wildflowers is easy to do, but there are a few important guidelines to follow.  You can read more about how to start your own wildflowers from seed here.


If you enjoy growing vegetables, then it is time to get started planting cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, leaf lettuce and radishes – just to name a few.


I amend my soil with 3 inches compost, 2 inches composted steer manure, blood meal and bone meal (following the directions on the package on how much to apply).  Lightly cultivate, mixing your new amendments into the soil.

Our little puppy, Penny, is growing up!
*Beware of 4-month old puppies when adding manure, blood or bone meal to your garden.  It is absolutely irresistible to them and dogs of all ages 😉

Radish seedlings.

As your seedlings come up, there will be too many growing too close together, so you will need to thin them once they have 2 – 3 
mature leaves (not the small seed leaves).


The easiest way to thin excess seedlings is to simply cut them off with scissors.  Pulling them out can injure the roots of the remaining plants.

Lettuce seedlings that were thinned.


Don’t throw out your leaf lettuce and radish greens that you have thinned out.  Use them to garnish you salad – they are delicious!


Check out your local county extension office’s website for information on when and what to plant in your area this month.  For the greater Phoenix area, here is a wonderful vegetable planting calendar



Do you have a favorite agave growing in your landscape?  Some agave produce volunteers (also called offsets or pups).  October is a great time to propagate succulents like agave or cacti.  


I have a favorite Parry’s Agave in my garden and it occasionally produces a little baby, which I take and replant elsewhere in my garden or give to a friend.  It is easy to transplant the baby agave and you can see how I do it, here.



As temperatures begin to cool, plants do not need as much water as they do in summer.  Adjust your irrigation schedule so that you are water less frequently.


The length of time that you water, should remain the same.  Trees should be watered to a depth of 3 feet, shrubs to 2 feet and perennials to 1 foot.  For watering guidelines and schedules, click here.


I love container gardening.  It is an easy way to change up the look of your landscape seasonally and year to year.

Container with geraniums, yellow Euryops daisies, fern leaf lavender and blue lobelia.



Switch out your warm-season container plantings for cool-season favorites.  Alyssum, geraniums, lobelia, pansies, petunias, snapdragons and violas are just a few colorful plants that can be added to your containers in October.


Add 6 inches of new potting mix (I like to use a planting mix, which is a little different then potting soil and avoids problems with wet soil) to each container before planting to replenish the old soil.


After adding your new plants, then sprinkle a slow-release fertilizer around the base of each plant, which will slowly release nutrients for about 3 months.


In addition to your traditional flowering containers, how about changing up your containers?

My granddaughter, Lily, is handling her watering duties very seriously.  I just think her little painted toenails are so cute!


 We planted this container filled with herbs and gave it to my oldest daughter for her birthday.  Chives, parsley, rosemary and thyme will handle our winters just fine and fresh herbs are just a few steps away from her kitchen.


My newest addiction is growing vegetables and flowers together in containers.

Petunias grow among parsley, garlic and leaf lettuce in front of my vegetable garden.

I have almost more fun growing vegetables in containers then I do in my vegetable gardens.


There are many types of vegetable that do well in containers, including leaf lettuce and garlic.  For more ideas of how to grow vegetables and flowers together, click here.


**I also made a video about growing a summer vegetable and flower container.  You can view it here.


Well, I think that I have given you a fair amount of task to do in your garden.  


What type of gardening tasks are you doing in your garden this month?  I would really love to hear about it.


I will post another “To-Do” List next month!

The past two weekends have been busy ones in my household, or should I say, gardens.


The beginning of October signals great planting weather for all types of plants and vegetables.  As a result, I have been busy planting cool season vegetables in my edible gardens as well as sprucing up my container plantings.

Introducing my granddaughter to the wonders of plants at our local nursery.

The past two weekends involved visits to the nursery to peruse the vegetables as well as a few other types of plants.

It is very hard for this horticulturist to NOT get carried away with buying plants.  I try very hard to stick to my list of plants but I often fail and come home with another plant or two. 


In addition to my regular cool-season vegetables, I decided to introduce four other vegetables this year… 


Kale (I may try making Kale ‘chips’ and also using the younger leaves in salads).


Swiss chard (I plan to use the young leaves in salads).

Artichoke (I’m not sure if I will harvest the artichokes or let them continue to grow, since artichokes make great ornamental plants too).

The last vegetable I will be trying this year is celery.  Now, celery is said to be fussy and hard to grow in the Phoenix area.  But, part of the fun of gardening is experimenting.  So, I bought 2 celery transplants, just to see what will happen.

Of course, I have many other types of vegetables in the garden.  Most have been planted, but I still have some still to plant.

Later this week, I will show you what else I have planted in the garden.

Do you grow vegetables?  If not, it is easy to do and you don’t even need a plot of land.  You can grow vegetables in pots if you like.  

**Last week, I took you along on my shopping trip to the produce section of my local supermarket in my quest to create a natural, fall centerpiece.  I promise to show you what I came home with and what I created with vegetables and fruit in my next post.

Did you have the opportunity to get away for awhile this summer?


Our summer has been a bit tough this year.  The reason is that my son, Kai, had hip surgery (his 5th) and was confined to a wheelchair this summer.  He was in quite a lot of pain for the first few weeks, which thankfully subsided in July.


We were blessed to go on a family vacation toward the end of July before school started.  Every year, we go on a trip with my mother, my siblings and their families.  This year, we decided to go to Pinetop, Arizona.


We got on the road and started heading east from Phoenix.  The mountains of the high desert were beautiful along Salt River Canyon and we could see swimmers below.

Believe it or not, I have never been to the Eastern part of our state even though I have lived here for over 27 years.

Parts of the highway wound back and forth.

As we neared our destination, I began to see the pine trees that promised cooler weather.


We finally arrived at the cabin that my mother had rented for us all to stay in.

It was quite big – 7 bedrooms and plenty of bathrooms to go around for 5 individual families.

We stayed on the bottom floor so that Kai could get around easily.


A few of our mornings were spent going for walks.

We love to walk outdoors, but in the summer it is tough because of the heat.  So this was a real treat for us.  
If I were at home, I would be busy writing, gardening, managing the kids and/or consulting instead of taking a walk outdoors on a beautiful morning.  Pure heaven!


There were some beautiful gardens in the surrounding neighborhood.


This was my favorite garden. 
Did you know that you can grow these flowering perennials in the desert?  It’s true.  The only difference is that they will bloom in spring rather then in summer.


We didn’t see any wild animals, but did pet a friendly cat and saw a horse getting new shoes.


This kids favorite house had a model train track set up throughout the entire front yard.


The kids were interested in the model trains and small buildings while I like to observe the miniature landscape plants.



This is one vine that you probably will not find growing in the low desert.  This is a lovely Clematis vine and I have grown one before years ago when we lived in Phoenix.  The problem was – it never flowered because it was too hot.

I haven’t grown one since.  


We passed this bountiful vegetable garden.


I love this terraced garden, don’t you?


You don’t have to rely solely on flowers for color in the landscape.  I love the trailing ivy underneath these oak trees.

Besides our walks, there was fun to be had back at the cabin…


The kids had fun racing monster trucks down the driveway every evening after dinner.

It was nice for Kai to be able to participate in racing without having to run.


Gracie enjoyed sitting on the porch and reading her favorite book.


On rainy afternoons, grandma kept the kids busy with art projects.


During the week, each family was responsible for making dinner for everyone.  It was nice only having to cook once the entire week.

After dinner, the big kids would carry Kai and his wheelchair upstairs to play.

They would ‘charge’ the bad guy armed with a plastic gun and a cushion for a shield.


They usually triumphed over the villain.


Of course, we made sure to spend time fishing.


My husband kept our fishing line untangled and our hooks baited.


We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the peace and quiet of fishing.


Unfortunately, there was a little too much peace and quiet since we didn’t catch any.  Not even a nibble.


On our last day, we hiked around the lake enjoying the beauty of the woods.

We had a wonderful trip and 2 days after we returned home, it was time for the kids to start school.

**Thank you for letting me take you along on our summer vacation.**

NOW FOR THE WINNER OF THE “MINIATURE GARDEN BOOK” GIVEAWAY

And the winner is….

Junk Loving Girl!!!

Thank you all for entering.  If you didn’t win, head over to Timber Press where you can enter to win a copy of the book AND a miniature garden kit!