Taking photos of succulents in a hidden garden in California.

Taking photos of succulents in a hidden garden in California.

I have a love affair with succulents. 

There are so many reasons for my passion, but the biggest reason is that they are easy to grow, and a low-maintenance way to add beauty to the garden.

succulents solve garden problems

The popularity of succulents is taking off and nursery shelves are filled with numerous varieties to tempt gardeners. Many people are beginning to replace high-maintenance plants with fuss-free succulents.

Sticks on Fire Euphorbia and Elephants Food

Sticks on Fire Euphorbia and Elephants Food

Succulents can also be a great choice for solving common gardening problems.  For example, they make great container plants and require a fraction of the care that flowering annuals do. 

I share my favorite ways to use succulents in the garden in my latest article for Houzz. I hope that you find inspiration for solving your garden problems by adding these lovely plants.

How Succulents Can Solve Your Garden Problems

How Succulents Can Solve Your Garden Problems

golf course

golf course

Last week, I was cleaning out old files that I had stored in a box from my years working as a horticulturist on golf courses, and I found this photo of me standing in a bed of wildflowers.

It was taken during my first year after graduating with my degree in horticulture in 1999. Throughout the golf course, were feature areas and I took this empty one and planted wildflowers including succulent lupine, red flax, and desert marigold (not blooming yet).

When I look at the picture, it brings back many memories of garden victories, along with a few failures – I call that life (garden) experience. 

*What were you doing in 1999?

A Boy Scout, a Horticulturist, and a Lot of Plants

Prune Shrubs, Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) before pruning

Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) before pruning

We had experienced a delightful spring with hot temperatures staying away for the most part. The weather has been so lovely that I’ve been spending a lot of time out in the garden. One garden task that has needed to get done is pruning back my winter/spring flowering shrubs.

What are winter/spring flowering shrubs you may ask? Well, they are those that flower primarily in late winter and on into spring. In the Southwest garden, they include cassia (Senna species), globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), and Valentine bush (Eremophila maculata)

The time to do this varies depending on the plant and the region you live in, but generally, you want to prune them back once flowering has finished. 

I’ve decided to show you how I have pruned my cool-season shrubs and I find that using hedge trimmers make quick work of this job. Yes, I realize that I preach against using hedge trimmers for ‘poodling’ flowering shrubs into formal shapes, BUT they are very useful for corrective pruning for the health and beauty of your shrubs. I only use them ONCE a year.

Above, is a photo of my red globe mallow shrubs before I pruned them. They put on a beautiful show for several weeks, but have gone to seed, and they aren’t particularly attractive in this state. 

Prune Shrubs, Newly pruned globe mallow shrubs

Newly pruned globe mallow shrubs

This is what they look like after pruning. As you can see, they have been pruned back severely, which is needed to keep them attractive and stimulate attractive, new growth. Don’t worry, while they may look rather ugly, in a few weeks; they will be fully leafed out.

Prune Shrubs, Valentine bush before pruning

Valentine bush before pruning

Here is one of my Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’) shrubs. This is one of my favorite plants, and it adds priceless winter color to my garden. One of the things that I love about it is that it needs pruning once a year when the flowers have begun to fade.

Prune Shrubs, Valentine bush after pruning

Valentine bush after pruning

I prune mine back to approximately 2 feet tall and wide, but you could prune it back even further. This pruning is necessary to ensure a good amount of blooms for next year. Don’t prune it after this as you will decrease a number of flowers that will form later.

Finally, it was time to tackle pruning my feathery cassia shrubs (Senna artemisoides). I love the golden yellow flowers that appear in winter and last into early spring. They add a lovely fragrance to the garden as well. However, once flowering has finished, they produce seed pods that will turn brown and ugly if not pruned.

I’ve created a video to show you how to prune these shrubs. Unlike the others, I only prune them back by 1/2 their size.

*As you can see in the video, my grandson, Eric was having fun helping out in the garden.

That is all the pruning that these shrubs will receive, which will keep them both attractive and healthy.

It’s worth noting that hedge trimmers aren’t a bad tool to use – rather, the problem is when they are used incorrectly to prune flowering shrubs excessively throughout the year.

I hope that this post is helpful to you as you maintain your shrubs. If you’d like to learn more about pruning shrubs in the desert garden, I invite you to learn more about my popular online pruning workshop. I’ve helped countless people just like you learn how to maintain beautiful, flowering shrubs with pruning twice a year or less! 

*What do you prune in mid-spring?

Ready to Prune? Here Are Common Pruning Terms Defined

Hummingbird Container Garden

Hummingbird Container Garden

Part 3 of the tour of my back garden looks at my favorite flowering shrubs, a hummingbird container garden, and a peek at a part of my garden that few people get to see.

I hope that you enjoyed the tour of my garden. Admittedly, it isn’t fancy, but neither am I. It reflects much about my personality – rather carefree, not fussy, and a lover of color. My hope is that you will find some inspiration for your own outdoor space.

If you haven’t had a chance to view the other videos of my garden, here is Part 1 as well as Part 2

Garden Tour of AZ Plant Lady

Garden Tour

Part 2 of my garden tour is my favorite area, which is located on the side of my house. Apple, citrus, and peach trees grow nearby my test garden where I grow a number of plants sent to me by growers throughout the U.S. to see how they do in the desert.

I invite you to come along with me and we explore deeper into this part of the garden.

*Keep an eye out for one of the neighborhood feral cats, who inadvertently photobombed this garden video.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, you can see Part 1, here. And as always, click ‘like‘ if you enjoyed it and subscribe to my YouTube channel where I am working on creating new videos.

Garden Tour

Do you have a garden or a yard?

I like to refer to the outdoor spaces around my home as a garden. It’s not perfect but filled with color and beauty where the outside world seemingly melts away.

Many of you have asked to see more of my garden, and I decided that the best way to do that is to give you a video tour. Part 1 focuses on my flowering trees, colorful foliage, and my vegetable garden.

I hope you enjoy the tour and perhaps will get some ideas for your garden. Please click ‘like’ on the video and feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel for notifications when I post new videos.

If you haven’t had a chance to view the other videos of my garden, here is Part 2 as well as Part 3

Disclaimer: This garden adventure to Savannah was provided by Troy-Bilt at no cost to me, however, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

It is said that there are those who love to travel and those who love to garden. So what do you get when you pair the two together? A garden adventure!

For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile, the fact that I enjoy traveling is no secret, and I frequently share my travels with you all. This particular trip was to Savannah, Georgia along with the folks at Troy-Bilt, who I work with as a brand ambassador.  Several garden bloggers from across the country are brought together to learn about the latest Troy-Bilt products, tour a garden, and participate in a service project, all of which, take place within 2-3 days.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

This is my third outing with Troy-Bilt, and I was thrilled to learn that this year’s event was in Savannah. I had visited once before and could hardly wait to revisit some of the same places as well as explore new ones in the little free time that I had.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

I arrived in Savannah the night before and didn’t have a meeting until later in the afternoon, so I woke up ready to walk through the historic section of the city. For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to visit this city, it is quintessentially southern filled with period architecture and beautifully restored buildings.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

Our hotel, The Brice, is a lovely hotel in a historic building right in downtown Savannah.  All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes, and you can walk to most of the popular destinations.

I must confess that I felt particularly liberated and free as I began my walk. There was no work that I had to attend to, no kids to take care of – just three hours of free time to do whatever I wanted, which was to explore my surroundings.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

‘Window Selfie’

Savannah Georgia: Gardening Adventures : Part 1

Whenever I travel, I like to observe the plants of the region. In the warm regions of the South, Spanish moss is the most iconic feature as it drapes across majestic oak trees.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

You can even find it intertwined on shrubs and other plants. Spanish moss isn’t really a moss, but rather an ‘epiphyte’ that receives the nutrients and moisture that it needs from the air. Unlike parasitic plants like mistletoe, Spanish moss doesn’t have roots and doesn’t take nutrients from other plants; they just hang from them. In fact, they are a type of air plant (Tillandsia).

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

Planters were filled with luscious combinations of colorful annuals and perennials like this one planted with blue lobelia, red verbena, orange agastache, burgundy salvia, and snapdragons.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

One of the many things that I like about traveling is to see historic buildings and landscapes as here in the Southwest; there are very few. For example, you probably wouldn’t see a sign like this in Arizona. I did climb the stairs by the way and didn’t fall.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

Downtown Savannah is filled with historic buildings and large oak trees that provide welcome shade. Unique shops and restaurants invite you to step inside and tempt you with their offerings.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

An example of the temptations that await is ‘Funky Bread,’ which is basically monkey bread – and delicious! I must say that I didn’t plan on eating something so fattening for breakfast – but I did!

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

The colorful clothing displayed in the window of this downtown boutique had me making a detour from my route. I didn’t plan on buying any clothes on this trip – but I did that too! A new dress doesn’t take up much room in a suitcase, right? 

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

After giving into the temptation of delicious, high-calorie food as well as buying clothes, for the rest of my walking tour, I avoided going into any more stores.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

All too soon, it was time to wrap up my morning walk and get ready for my first meeting.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

Shortly after our meeting at the hotel, we all headed out for a personal tour of the Coastal Georgia Botanic Gardens.  This garden is known for the bamboo planted around it, which was planted by the original owner of the land.

*Note the gathering storm clouds – they will play a part in our adventures later in the day.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

Our tour was led by the director of the gardens and we visited several sections. Perhaps the most famous section is one filled with many different species of camelliasmany of which, are relatively rare. I don’t grow camellias as they are somewhat hard to grow in Arizona and I stay away from plants that are hard to grow, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy them in other areas.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

Savannah and Phoenix have similar minimum winter temperatures, which means that we can grow many of the same plants such as citrus, lantana, salvia, etc. However, this is a plant that doesn’t grow here, but I liked it just the same. This is called ‘tractor seat’ plant (Farfugium japonicum ‘Gigantea’). I don’t think I’ll ever forget the name of this one as its leaves do resemble the seat of a tractor.

Gardening Adventures in Savannah Georgia

Last fall, on a visit to Atlanta, I noted that many gardens had bird houses mounted on poles. This garden had them too, and I like how it looks. How about you?

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

Containers in my favorite shade of blue decorated the garden, filled with an assortment of plants noted for their foliage. Colorful containers are one of my favorite ways to add color to shady areas where flowering plants won’t grow.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

They had a xeriscape garden filled with familiar plants such as agave, bulbine, and salvias. In a more humid climate, the leaves of these plants were larger than those that grow in drier regions of the country, like the Southwest.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

A garden filled with raised beds was created especially for those with disabilities. I found it quite beautiful with beds filled with flowers and vegetables.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

This citrus tree certainly looks a bit different from those grown in drier regions. Note the lichen growing on the trunk and the Spanish moss hanging from the branches.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

The orchid house is filled with colorful varieties that had many of us taking close-up photographs. Have you ever grown an orchid indoors? I’ve grown two and got them to flower, but then got lazy and didn’t take care of them, which leads me to confess that I am not very good at raising houseplants.

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

As we got ready to leave, storm clouds were gathering on the horizon, and the wind was picking up. Although the garden had a new weather station, they kept this old one, sheltered underneath a colorful loropetalum.

Severe thunderstorms were in the forecast for most of Georgia, including Savannah. Back at the hotel as I was getting ready for dinner, I turned on the local news where the entire broadcast was dedicated to the tornado warnings for Atlanta AND Savannah! In fact, they had their camera focused on the clouds with my hotel directly underneath.  But, did that keep us from going out to dinner? 

Savannah Georgia Gardening Adventures

Nope. The weather held off until we entered the restaurant and thankfully, no tornadoes. 

We did enjoy fabulous food, and I decided that an important part of traveling is enjoying the cuisine of where you are visiting. By the way, I learned that ‘yardbird’ means chicken and that brownies covered in strawberries and whipped cream are heavenly!

In invite you to join me for ‘Part 2’ where we gather together to work on the children’s garden at the Savannah Botanical Gardens.

*Have you ever visited Savannah? What was your favorite thing to visit and eat?

Behind the Scenes at Botanical Interests Seed Company

Fall Blooming Shrubs, Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)

Fall Blooming Shrubs, Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)

Summer temperatures are fading and it’s time to get back outdoors and enjoy the beauty surrounding our homes.  When many plants begin to slow down blooming, there are some that are just getting started including these fall-blooming shrubs.

This time of year is very busy for me as many of my clients are ready to focus on their garden.  However, as busy as I get, I try to find some time to sit outside and enjoy the colorful plants in my own garden.

Mt. Lemmon Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii)

Mt. Lemmon Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii)

Fall is the best time for adding new plants to the landscape, so this is a great time to take a look at your garden and see where you would like to see some welcome autumn color.

If you are ready to add more color to your outdoor space this autumn, I invite you to read my latest article for Houzz where I list my favorite flowering shrubs in the fall garden.

10 Fall-Blooming Shrubs for Southwest Gardens

Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii)

Chaparral Sage (Salvia clevelandii)

Do you love purple flowers? Check out my blog post

where I feature autumn bloomers with purple flowers.

What is your favorite flowering plant for fall?

mother's vegetable garden

*This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.*

This is what my mother’s vegetable garden looks like in the middle of winter.  

She works hard at growing a variety of vegetables in her two raised beds.  On Wednesday nights, we all gather for dinner at her house and get to enjoy many of the delicious vegetables straight from her garden.   

Sadly, her plans for this season’s vegetable garden faced a serious setback.

mother fell and broke her leg

My mother fell and broke her leg while cooking dinner with my youngest daughter.  Both bones in her lower leg suffered multiple fractures, and a metal rod had to be inserted down into her tibia.

Understandably, she cannot put any weight on her foot for at least two months.  So, while she works hard at physical therapy to gain as much independence as she can – we decided to help out with her garden.

mother's vegetable garden

My kids, along with my nephews, were eager to help with Grandma’s garden.  We stopped by the nursery to pick up broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and leaf lettuce transplants while I brought some carrot and radish seeds from home.

Lucky for us, she had already amended her soil with one of my favorite soil amendments – used coffee grounds (from Starbucks).  I added some of my favorite organic vegetable fertilizer for the garden, and we were ready to start planting.

mother's vegetable garden

I instructed the kids on where and how to plant the vegetable transplants in staggered rows.

My sister was also watching us and even stepped in to help out, despite the fact that she never gardens.  

mother's vegetable garden

The kids were eager to help out their grandmother, and we all enjoyed out time out in the garden.  

I took a few photos to bring back to her at the rehabilitation facility where she is recuperating, to show her what her grandkids had done for her.

My mother is doing well and is working hard at her daily physical therapy sessions so that she can get home as soon as possible.  We visit her daily, and her room has pictures drawn by her grandchildren and cards from friends and family.

 

On our most recent visit, my grandson discovered the delights of pushing around his grandpa using great-grandma’s wheelchair.  His smile and laughter brightened everyone’s day.

Meanwhile, back at the vegetable garden.

mother's vegetable garden

I came back to check on the newly planted vegetables.  Most were doing quite well, but I did see a few plants with telltale holes in their leaves.

mother's vegetable garden

I discovered the culprit nearby.  Cutworms are caterpillars that eat holes in leafy vegetables as well as ‘cut’ off young vegetable transplants at their base. 

mother's vegetable garden

The cutworms did kill some of the newly transplanted broccoli, but most of the leafy greens were fine other than a few holes in the leaves.

I brought my favorite organic pesticide, BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), which kills the caterpillars.  I like to use Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 oz in my own garden, which helps keep the caterpillars at bay.

mother's vegetable garden

I sprayed all the vegetables, taking care to spray both top and underneath the leaves.  

BT can be reapplied every 7 – 10 days until the caterpillars are gone.  

**Note; it can be hard to find BT in your local big box store or even some nurseries.  However, you can find it offered online from garden supply companies and Amazon (affiliate link).

Have you planted any vegetables this season?  What are your favorites?

Atlanta Georgia

The last blooms of red bird-of-paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) in bloom underneath the filtered shade of a desert willow (Chilopsis linearis).  Mexican bird-of-paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) grows in front of the window.

There is nothing better than enjoying a lovely view of your garden, (while sitting with your feet up), after being out of town for several days.

I’ve spent the past several days in Atlanta, Georgia, touring gardens, learning from educational sessions, networking, and socializing at this year’s annual Garden Communicator’s Symposium.

A few days before I left for the conference, I hosted my dear friend, Andrea, who flew all the way from Australia to me in Arizona for a few days before we both left for Atlanta, Georgia.

I got in late last night and relished sleeping in my own bed – there is truly no better feeling after a long day of traveling and sleeping in a hotel bed.

I try to keep my schedule light the day after I get home from a trip and today is no different.  So what’s on the schedule today?  Catching up on my favorite television shows while going through business cards from new contacts I met, working my way through the large pile of mail waiting for me, deciding where in the garden to put the new plants I was given at the conference, and deciding what new garden samples to try first in my garden.

What do you do when you come home from a  trip?

On the Road Again…