Day 2 of our road trip was filled with quite a few firsts for me.

My mother and I are on our fourth annual road trip and this time we are exploring the upper midwest. You can read about day 1 here if you like.

Today, we woke up in beautiful Traverse City, with is located along the western side of Michigan.  It is a very popular location for visitors and it was easy to see why.

Our first stop was to visit the local farmers market in the historic downtown areas.

Road Trip Day 2

Whenever I travel, I like to to take time to talk to the local farmers about their produce and talk about the similarities and differences of growing the same types of vegetables.

Road Trip Day 2

Asparagus is really big in this part of Michigan.  There are signs for it everywhere along the roadways.  In the farmers market, just about everyone had some for sale.

Too bad, I don’t like asparagus 😉

Road Trip Day 2

A variety of herbs and vegetable transplants were available for sale.  I just love the color of purple basil – I have some growing in my herb container at home.

beautiful Traverse City

I love baked goods a lot!

Road Trip Day 2

Cherries are grown in the area and you can find cherries in just about everything including salsa.

Road Trip Day 2

There were quite a few planted containers filled with flowers ready for eager homeowners.

beautiful Traverse City

I really like herb planters like this one.

After the farmers market, we headed up toward the Old Mission Peninsula, which is a small finger of land that extends up from Traverse City.  Our destination was to see the Mission Point Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.

What we hadn’t prepared for was the beautiful scenery along the drive.  Orchards were filled with cherry trees, one type of fruit tree that does not grow in my desert climate.

Along the way, we spotted numerous vineyards.

vineyard

The lilacs are in bloom everywhere and this vineyard was flanked by a huge lilac bush.

vineyard

It’s hard to believe that this barren vine will soon be covered with leaves and sweet grapes.

vineyard

Then we saw this sign, which led to one of my ‘firsts’.

Peninsula Cellars Winery

The sign led us to Peninsula Cellars Winery, whose store is housed in an old, historic schoolhouse.

Road Trip Day 2

The inside of the old school was very charming.

I have never been much of a wine drinker.  The few times I have tried it, I didn’t really enjoy the taste.

But, I figured if I could do a bourbon taste test on our last trip, I would participate in a wine tasting for the first time.

Road Trip Day 2

I tasted four different wines and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked two of them very much.

Road Trip Day 2

Many of their wines had a school-themed name due to the old school building.  Their ‘Detention’ wine was a popular choice.

*Note: I have never gotten a detention at school.

I came away from my first wine tasting with a new appreciation for wine and a bottle of my favorite to share with my husband when I get home 🙂

As we got back on the road toward the Mission Point Lighthouse, we were told to stop by the old general store.

General Store

The Old Mission General Store is one of those places found out in the middle of the country.  You can see the lake behind it.

Road Trip Day 2

The store had a collection of the old and the new – but mostly old.

Road Trip Day 2

Barrels filled with salted peanuts and a variety of old-fashioned candies would make excite any child.

Road Trip Day 2

Old-fashioned sodas were offered alongside more current soda choices.  

Road Trip Day 2

A unique collection of foods were offered in the deli case.  I’m not sure what the reddish item was on the left and I’m still not sure what ‘blind robin’ is.  But, fishing is big here, so I’m assuming it is a type of fish?

The back was filled with an assortment of things including rabbit skins, wooden hand toys and coon hats.

Road Trip Day 2

After we left the general store, we continue our journey to the lighthouse.

 

 

The Mission Point Lighthouse is located at the very tip of the Old Mission Peninsula.

Road Trip Day 2

The area has many trees and it is so green and beautiful.  We parked and started to walk toward the lighthouse and the shore, which we could barely see through the trees.

lighthouse

This lighthouse guided ships from 1870 to 1933.  We entered the lighthouse to see the exhibits and to embark on another ‘first’ for me.

lighthouse

I decided to climb up to the top of the lighthouse – something I have never done before.

There weren’t too many steps to the top, only 35 of them, but they were steep and the last part were ladder steps.

beautiful Traverse City

The 360 view was just beautiful!

beautiful Traverse City

Climbing back down, I decided to checkout the outside.

beautiful Traverse City

A cherry tree was in full bloom in the backyard with the lake in the background.

Lighthouse

To be honest, there are a lot of lighthouses along the Michigan coast.  We don’t have time to see all of those along our route, so we had to choose a few to see.  It was the picture of the side of the Mission Point Lighthouse, which made me want to visit this one.  I am so glad we did.

Michigan

We headed back down the peninsula and on the way, drove by this small painted shack where Michigan maple syrup was for sale.

Road Trip Day 2

Payment was done through the honor system where you inserted your money into a modified PVC pipe.  My mother bought a bottle.

Along this small peninsula, we passed an interesting marker…

Road Trip Day 2

I thought that we were pretty far north, but it turns out that we were only halfway between the equator and the North Pole.

See, you never know what you will learn on a road trip.

Traverse City

After our journey to Old Mission Peninsula, the rest of our day was spent touring the historic downtown area of Traverse City and later we drove up to the quaint town of Petoskey where we did some shopping.

colorful flowers

All of the planters in the downtown areas were newly planted with colorful flowers.

While I saw some very creative containers filled with a variety of flowering plants, I was struck by the simplicity of this window box planted with a single row of orange marigolds.  The vibrant orange of this flower stands on its own.

American Spoon

One of my favorite shops we visited was called the “American Spoon”, which sells all types of preserves.

I love to make peach, plum and strawberry jam as well as applesauce from the fruit from both my garden and my mother’s – so I was anxious to go inside and taste the different types of jams and jellies they had.

Road Trip Day 2

While I did taste some delicious fruit preserves, there was also a large selection of salsas, including  pumpkin seed salsa and cherry salsa.

I must admit that I didn’t try any – I am somewhat of a purist when it comes to my salsa.  But, I realize that I am probably missing out some new flavors that I may love.

Road Trip Day 2

Don’t these tomato preserves look delicious?

I came away from the store with cherry preserves, which I will use on my daily English muffin.  I also bought some tart dried cherries which I will sprinkle on my salads.

Did I mention that cherries are very popular here?  They are growing everywhere you see.

Road Trip Day 2

In addition to cherries and asparagus, fudge is also offered everywhere.

I haven’t had any yet, because I am waiting until tomorrow when we travel to Mackinac Island.

I can’t wait!

I love to travel.

A lot.

For the past few years, I leave my husband and kids behind and embark on a road trip along with my mother where we explore a different region of the United States.

We fly into one city, rent a car and several days (and states later) fly out of a different city.   I must admit that I love planning our trips and I have a binder filled with our itinerary and places of interest.

 Indiana Amish country

We named our first road trip “The Midwest”, which began along the west coast of Michigan.  We ended up in Springfield, Missouri with stops in Indiana Amish country and visits to historical Abraham Lincoln sites in Illinois along the way.

What I love about these trips are meeting the people and learning the regional differences in food and culture.  For example, who knew that a ‘regular’ ice-cream cone is 3 scoops?

My favorite memory from this trip was walking into our bed & breakfast in Amish country to find the owner entertaining three elderly Amish women who were watching the royal wedding on television.

You can read my blog posts from our first trip here.

 Indiana Amish country

Our second trip took us to the Northeast.  We began in Columbus, Ohio (where I visited an old friend) and ended in Manchester, New Hampshire.  Along the way we drove through West Virginia, eastern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and Vermont.

Memories that stand out for this road trip are visits to my grandfather’s grave outside of Pittsburgh and seeing the graves of my third-great grandparents. Seeing Niagara Falls in person was breath-taking and I enjoyed walking through some small towns in upstate New York.  Vermont is a great place to visit and lots of good food – cheese, ice-cream and maple syrup.

You can read my blog posts from our second road trip here.

The Midwest

Last year, our annual road trip found us in the South.  Our journey began in Savannah, Georgia and ended in Louisville, Kentucky.  Stops along the way included Charleston – South Carolina, Asheville – North Carolina and Tennessee

The special memories that stand out were seeing the colorful window boxes along the historical streets of Charleston and the fabulous kitchen gardens of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Visiting plantations in Georgia and touring the thoroughbred horse farms in Kentucky was so interesting.

We visited a bourbon distillery Kentucky and had a tasting (I learned that I don’t like bourbon) and later visited the first KFC, which has a museum where it all started.

You can read my blog posts from our third road trip here.

I am so excited for our next journey!

Are you curious to know where we are going?

Upper Midwest

We have named this road trip “Upper Midwest”.

Our journey begins in Grand Rapids, Michigan and will end up in Minneapolis, Minnesota several days later.

For those of you who have followed me for awhile, you know that I like to blog from the road and this trip will be no different.

**Any suggestions of what to see and do along the way would be appreciated!

For more links to previous travel blog posts to places like the Caribbean, California, the East Coast, Florida as well as popular Arizona travel spots – click here.

June is here, which marks the official beginning of hot, dry weather throughout the southwest.

While most of us can be found indoors in the comfort of air-conditioning – your plants can be suffering from the heat and intense sunlight.

May and June can be some of the most difficult months for plants in the garden until the summer rains arrive in late June.

Need some helpful tips for your June garden?

Here is my June “to-do” list that I wrote for Houzz.com.

 
 
 

Have you ever visited a place that took you a long time to get to?

I’m not talking about how long it takes to travel there but the length of time that you had wanted to visit a place before you finally got there.

On The Road to Bisbee

I have lived in Arizona for 28 years and during that time have visited the southwestern, western, northwestern, northern, northeastern, eastern and southern areas of our beautiful state.

However, I am embarrassed to say that I have never visited the southeastern part of Arizona.  I had wanted to visit Bisbee, AZ for years.  So, my husband and I decided to take a trip to Bisbee for our 28th wedding anniversary.

So, we packed our bags and headed out.  Our route took us through Tucson and then toward Tombstone, AZ where we had some fun adventures including viewing the “World’s Largest Rosebush”.

You can read about our Tombstone adventures, here.

After leaving Tombstone, we soon arrived in Bisbee.

old copper mining town

Bisbee is an old copper mining town.

old mining town

It has been often described as an old mining town with a European flair.

Mule Mountains

 Bisbee is situated within the Mule Mountains and built into the hillsides.

Road to Bisbee

100 year old buildings have been converted into art galleries, hotels, restaurants and shops.

copper mine

Bisbee’s existence is due to the now-closed, open-pit copper mine.

As you drive into the historic section of Bisbee, you can view the enormous open pit where they mined for years.

*To get an idea of the scale, look at the buildings to the left of the mine.  

Road to Bisbee

It is obvious, after spending a few minutes in Bisbee, that it is a community with many artists.

Concrete walls throughout the town displayed a variety of murals.

Road to Bisbee

This mural was just outside our 100-year old hotel, Canyon Rose Suites, which I highly recommend.

Road to Bisbee

I liked this garden mural of potted succulents along the Cochise County Cooperative Extension Office, which had gardening tips up in the window.

art galleries

As you walked past some of the art galleries, you could see examples of unique art, like the colorful doorway, across the street.

I walked across the street to see what was used to create this unique doorway…

plastic shopping bags and recycled bottles

It was a collection of colorful, plastic shopping bags and recycled bottles.

*Plastic bags are banned in Bisbee and stores charge you 5 cents for paper bags.  So, it’s easier to bring your own recyclable shopping bag with you.

zombie miner

We didn’t buy anything for our kids, although I was tempted to buy this ‘zombie miner’ shirt for my son.

old buildings

I enjoyed seeing the old buildings – some were a bit quirky like this storefront covered in bottle caps.

recycled materials

We passed by this interesting figure made from recycled materials.  His body is made from an old propane tank, his legs are made from rebar inserted into coils, the arms are made of rebar with plastic forks stuck to the ends and his head is an old bucket with washers for his eyes.

unique pieces of artwork

An empty lot along the main street had some unique pieces of artwork as well with an outdoor living room depicted.

As you can see, it is wise to expect the unexpected when walking through the historical sections of Bisbee.

One evening, we were walking along the main road after dinner, when I noticed something strange on the mountainside…

Road to Bisbee

Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting a skull and crossbones.  The hotel across the street, had a special light that shone onto the mountainside across the street.

*The next night the skull and crossbones had been replaced by the ‘bat signal’ from Batman fame.

Road to Bisbee

The residents of Bisbee are very friendly and the city proudly marches to beat of its own drummer.

Road to Bisbee

I saw this bumper sticker that I think described Bisbee pretty well.

The Bisbee Great Stair Climb

Because Bisbee is built up on a mountainside, there are a lot of stairways, which have led to an annual event known as “The Bisbee Great Stair Climb” where participants climb 1,000 stairs, distributed throughout different stairways.

The Bisbee Great Stair Climb

Each stairway is clearly designated throughout the city and the number of stairs in each stairway is indicated for tourists who want to try climbing the stairs for themselves.

The Bisbee Great Stair Climb

Here is another one.

The Bisbee Great Stair Climb

This one leads up to the city park and is 127 steps.

The Bisbee Great Stair Climb

This one was the most colorfully painted.

*My husband dared me to climb one of the longest stairways.  Click here to see which stairway he dared me to try and if I tried to scale the seemingly endless steps.

Screaming Banshee

Of course, a vital part of a vacation is enjoying good food.  We had lunch at the ‘Screaming Banshee’, which served delicious basil pesto breadsticks and great pizza.

We also enjoyed eating at Bisbee’s Table and Santiago’s Mexican restaurants.

Road to Bisbee

Walking through Bisbee is enjoyable, but bring comfortable shoes because you are either walking up or downhill.

Because Bisbee is 5,500 feet up in altitude, we got a good workout walking, which is a good thing because we ate a lot of great food!

Road to Bisbee

As you can see, we had a great time AND I haven’t even shown you the gardens yet!

Come back next time when I show some cute bungalow gardens, roses, cacti, hidden gardens and more 🙂

Have you ever taken out an area of grass and added plants in its place?

I have – numerous times.

My past was filled with grass – acres and acres of it, when I worked as a horticulturist for golf courses.  Nothing made me happier then when areas of grass were being removed and I was able to design a new landscape area.

golf courses

It’s been 8 years since I worked as a staff horticulturist for golf courses, but the past few weeks have found me spending a lot of time back on the golf course.

Earlier this week, I told you about my most recent project – creating landscape designs for up to 30 acres of former grass area.  Two golf courses, that I have worked with in the past, are removing large areas of turf in favor of a more natural, desert-scape.

The plants that I have chosen are extremely drought-tolerant, need very little maintenance and are native to the deserts of North America.

Another important criteria for my choices of plants was that I have to had experience growing them myself, either in my own garden or professionally in landscape areas that I have managed.

Here are the plants that I am using in this first area:

Desert Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis)

Desert Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis) 

Desert Ruellia is a favorite shrub of mine.  It is incredibly drought-tolerant.  I like to use it as a smaller substitute for Texas sage.

In this first landscape area, I wanted a shrub that could survive with intermittent deep-watering, limited maintenance while still looking attractive.  The purple flowers that appear spring through fall will add color to the area.

golf courses

Chuparosa (Justicia californica) 

This flowering native, will find a place underneath the filtered shade of the large mesquite tree already present.  

Chuparosa explodes with color off an on throughout the year, attracting every hummingbird in the neighborhood.  It does well in full sun or filtered shade.  

Desert Spoon (Dasylirion wheeler)

Desert Spoon (Dasylirion wheeler) 

Succulents are a vital part of the plant palette for all of these new areas.  Their unique colors and shapes add texture to the landscape and contrast well with the more softly-shaped plants.

Desert spoon will be interspersed throughout this first area where its gray color will contrast with the darker greens of the shrubs.

Santa-Rita Purple Prickly Pear (Opuntia santa-rita)

Santa-Rita Purple Prickly Pear (Opuntia santa-rita) 

Santa-rita purple prickly pear is also high on my list of favorites.  You just can’t beat the purple coloring that appears toward the tips of gray/blue pads.

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata) 

Often grown as a annual, Desert Marigold is a short-lived perennial that flowers throughout the year.

Cold and lack of water don’t bother these tough little perennials.  They require little to no maintenance – but I cut them back severely to 3 inches once a year to improve their appearance and promote more flowering, although you don’t have too.

Whether you or not you are a fan of yellow – it is an important color to include in the garden because the color yellow helps the other colors in the landscape to ‘pop’ and stand out more vividly.

Although short-lived, desert marigold self-seeds, ensuring that they remain a presence wherever they are planted.

golf courses

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatoni) 

If you are a fan of penstemons, this is one to consider adding to your list.  Firecracker penstemon has a long bloom period in the low-desert.  It starts blooming in late December and continues into spring.

You can often prolong the bloom period by removing spent flowering stalks, which will promote a second flush of bloom.  I have several of these growing in my own garden – some are 15 years old and still going strong – although that is uncommon.  

Bursage (Ambrosia deltoidea)

Bursage (Ambrosia deltoidea) 

I’ll be the first one to admit that this low-growing shrub is not exciting – one may even call it ‘boring’.

But, bursage is seen carpeting the ground throughout the Arizona portion of the Sonoran desert.  Its gray/green foliage serves as an understory plant that helps to tie the separate elements of this ‘natural landscape’ together.  

Example of bursage use in a natural desert landscape planting

Example of bursage use in a natural desert landscape planting. 

The key to keeping bursage attractive is to prune it back severely to 6″ tall and wide every 2 – 3 years in early spring.

So, this is the plant palette for the first of many ‘natural desert landscape areas’.  I do have a few more plants that I will show you as I create designs for the other areas on the golf courses.

Do you grow any of these plants in your garden?  

Last week was a busy one for me.  I had several appointments scheduled, and then I got the ‘mother’ of all colds.  

I don’t get sick colds very often. So, that is probably why when I do get them every few years – I get a severe one.  

My constant companions the past week

My constant companions the past week. 

I am finally among the living after a week of fighting through all that this cold could throw at me, and I feel weak and drained – BUT, I can now walk through the house without carrying a box of tissues.  *Being able to breathe through your nose is so delightful when it has been stopped up for a week (cold medicine just doesn’t seem to work all that well for me).

Despite this terrible cold, I was able to make it through my appointments, although I prayed that my nose wouldn’t start dripping in front of my clients. Whenever I started to feel weak or faint, I would come up with an excuse to sit for a minute or two by saying, “Let’s sit for a minute and see what the view of the landscape looks like from this perspective.”

I promise that I used a lot of hand-sanitizer before shaking hands with everyone 😉

Alright, enough complaining about my cold.  I am excited to show you my latest project.

drought-tolerant landscape

Okay, I admit that it doesn’t look too exciting right now.

As you can see, the project is on a golf course.  This particular course is removing 50 acres of turf and planting drought-tolerant landscapes in their place in their attempt to save water.   The area pictured above is just one of many that I will be working on throughout the summer.

drought-tolerant landscape

As part of the turf removal, the golf course will be re-designing its entire irrigation system. (It hasn’t happened yet in this area, which is why it is wet.)

drought-tolerant landscape

Along the entire length of this area, will run a river-rock lined wash, which will help to channel stormwater.

I have been working on a plant palette that includes native, drought-tolerant succulents, shrubs, and groundcovers that will require minimal water once established.

Railroad ties, that separate homeowner properties will be removed to help the transition toward the golf course landscape visually.  To that end, I will include a few of the same plants already present in the adjoining properties to create the illusion of a seamless landscape.

The goal is to create a beautiful landscape area that has minimal water and maintenance requirements.  To say that I am excited about working on this project is an understatement.

Interestingly, my first job out of college was working as a horticulturist for a golf course.  Although I had unlimited opportunities to golf for free – I never did. Other than indulging in an occasional round of miniature golf – I don’t play golf at all.

I may not play golf or completely understand the passion for the game – I have come to know the unique challenges that landscaping around golf courses entail – overspray from sprinklers, carts driving through landscape areas when they aren’t allowed, knowing what plants to use in areas that are in play, etc.

Next time, I will share with the plant palette of drought-tolerant natives that will be used in these areas.  Who knows?  You may be inspired to use some of these plants in your landscape!    

Tips to Save Money When Shopping for Succulents

Do you have a vegetable garden or have you thought of maybe starting one?

Four years ago, we planted our first vegetable garden.

My First Edible Garden 4 Years Later

The kids were eager to join in the fun and helped us install our new garden.

My First Edible Garden 4 Years Later

We created a raised vegetable garden that measured 7 x 8 feet for a total area of 56 square feet of space for vegetables.

Although I have grown vegetables as a child and again as a horticulture student – this was our first time growing vegetables on our own.

It has been an incredibly rewarding an learning experience.

After the first year, we enjoyed our little garden so much, that we added an extension…

My First Edible Garden 4 Years Later

Our garden was fenced to keep our dogs out.

It was so great having even more space to grow vegetables.  You can view how we built our vegetable beds, here.

Those of you who grow vegetables, probably won’t be surprised to hear that we took it even further.  We created an edible garden along the side of our backyard, complete with our largest raised bed and added fruit trees and berries.

But, back to our original vegetable garden.  This is the garden that I see from my family room window.  Besides growing vegetables, it is also where I have masses of flowers growing, which attract pollinators.

hollyhock

Hollyhocks grow year after year, with no help from me.  I planted hollyhock seeds 4 years ago and since then, they come every year.

The hollyhocks are located just outside of the raised bed and get enough water from the vegetable garden.

Every year, I am never certain what colors of hollyhock will come up.  Some years, I have had white, red, pale pink and magenta flowers.

hollyhock

This year, it is magenta.

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums always play an important part in my spring vegetable garden.  They help to repel damaging insects from my vegetables AND they add beauty to my garden as well.

They usually come up from seed, beginning in February.

leaf lettuce

This is the last of my leaf lettuce for the season.  Hot temperatures will cause it to ‘bolt’ soon and make the leaves taste bitter.  In my garden, this usually occurs in mid-May.

The blue lobelia came up on their own from those planted the previous year.

Onions

Onions are beginning to flower and I will harvest them once the tops die back, which should be around late May, early June.

I like to dice my onions and freeze them for future use.

My First Edible Garden 4 Years Later

My garden also has an unlikely plant growing next to my carrots – Pink Wood Sorrel.  I received a cutting of this plant from a fellow-blogger from Oregon. Surprisingly, it thrives in its corner in my vegetable garden.

The flowers appear throughout spring and then the entire plant dies down in the summer before growing back in the fall.

My First Edible Garden 4 Years Later

Along the front of the extended vegetable garden, sit three containers filled with a combination of flowering plants, vegetables and herbs.  It is very easy to grow vegetables in pots and you can read how to here.

My First Edible Garden 4 Years Later

The newest addition to this area of the garden is a Meyer lemon tree.  I realize that it looks rather sad, but there are quite a few new leaves beginning to bud and a few, tiny lemon fruit beginning to form.

The chicken wire is a temporary barrier for the dogs.  Eventually, we will remove it.

We selected a Meyer lemon tree because it is slightly more cold-hardy then the ‘Eureka’ variety.    Meyer lemons are sweeter them other lemon varieties because they are not a true lemon – they are a cross between an orange and lemon tree.  As a result, they are slightly sweeter then your typical lemon.

The only downside to Meyer lemons compared with ‘Eureka’ is that they are thorny.

My First Edible Garden 4 Years Later

Strawberries, malabar spinach and garlic are also current residents in my first edible garden.

But, this time of year – my favorite plant in my edible garden isn’t edible – it is my 12-foot tall hollyhocks.

So, how about you?  Do you have an edible garden, or are you thinking of starting one?

I am always on the lookout for beautiful landscapes that are well-designed and need minimal care.  I like to call them sustainable or ‘fuss-free’ landscapes.

A week ago, my friend and fellow-blogger, Pam Penick came into town on a quest to see examples of gardens that use little water.  So, I was more then happy to spend a day with her looking at some great examples of gardens around the greater Phoenix area.

The first part of our journey began with a visit to the beautifully-designed Arizona State Polytechnic Campus, which included cisterns, man-made arroyos and creative uses for urbanite.  If you missed it, you can read about our visit, here.

The second leg of our tour took us to a butterfly/hummingbird demonstration garden along a golf course and a well-designed parking lot (yes, I said a parking lot).

First, was our visit to a butterfly/hummingbird demonstration garden.

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatoni)

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatoni)

I must admit that I was excited about seeing this garden, which is near and dear to my heart because I designed it.

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

In the beginning, this landscape area was rather unremarkable   There were a number of foothill palo verdes, cascalote and ironwood trees in this area and a few over-pruned Valentine shrubs.

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

Pink Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)

The golf course community wanted to create a demonstration garden to show residents how they can have a beautiful landscape that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds that consists entirely of drought-tolerant plants.

Coral Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua 'Coral')

Coral Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua ‘Coral’)

I want to showcase drought-tolerant shrubs and perennials that provided overlapping seasons of color.

Firecracker Penstemon, Purple Trailing Lantana and Damianita.

Firecracker Penstemon, Purple Trailing Lantana and Damianita.

Paths were created by using stabilized DG that blended seamlessly with regular DG placed around the plants.

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

While walking through the garden, we saw hummingbirds enjoying the flowers.

White Globe Mallow

White Globe Mallow

The plants in this garden aren’t only drought-tolerant – they don’t require any supplemental fertilizer, soil amendments and need pruning once a year or less.

It doesn’t get much better then that, does it?   Our next stop was a park in the mountains of Scottsdale, called Cavalierre Park.

I must admit that I was surprised that my favorite thing about the park was its parking lot.

I realize that that may sound strange, BUT have you seen how ugly most parking lots are?

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

The majority of parking lot islands are over-planted and over-pruned.  In addition, trees seldom thrive in the small islands in the midst of hot, reflected heat.

So, as we drove up to Cavalierre park, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was no asphalt in sight.  

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

Believe it or not, these parking lot islands get no supplemental irrigation and need little, if any pruning.

Each island was edged with rusted steel edging and filled with native rock from the site.

The fact that there is not a traditional asphalt parking lot reduces the amount of runoff from rainfall.  This non-traditional parking lot created from stabilized DG (decomposed granite) doesn’t heat up, thereby keeping the area a bit cooler since it doesn’t contribute to the ‘heat-island’ effect that asphalt does.  

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

During construction cacti and trees were salvaged from the site and replanted onsite once it was finished.

Trees too large to be removed were incorporated into the design with steel edging preserving their original grade.

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

This raised planter keeps the existing mesquite tree and saguaro cactus at their original grade while creating a beautiful, focal planting near the entrance of the park.

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

I am constantly amazed at how beautiful sustainable landscapes can be simply by using good design and arid-adapted plants that are maintained correctly.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather enjoy a parking lot like this instead of one surrounded by asphalt and over-pruned shrubs, wouldn’t you?

I hope you have enjoyed this second installment of our tour of sustainable landscapes in the Phoenix area.

Be sure to come back for our last installment – I have saved the best for last…

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.

life list

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.

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

Yes, I am talking about the beautiful saguaro flower.

saguaro flowers

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

Heavily cropped photo of a saguaro blossom

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.

Do You Have a 'Life List' for Plants?

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?

saguaro laying on a pallet

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’?

I am busy putting the finishing touches on my presentation for an upcoming speaking engagement this Monday evening…

low-maintenance garden

The women’s ministry at Cornerstone Church in Chandler, AZ asked me to speak about desert gardening.

Now, I love talking about how easy it is to have a beautiful and low-maintenance garden in the desert – yes, I said easy.

We are the ones that make our landscapes high-maintenance by making the following mistakes:

– Not allowing plants enough room to grow, which leads to over-pruning.

– Pruning plants more often then they need it.

– Selecting plants that aren’t well-adapted to our climate.

– Using fertilizer on plants that almost never need to be fertilized.

desert gardening

The event begins at 7:00 with the main speaker and afterward, attendees are given the choice of going to one of several ‘labs’ being offered at 8:00 pm.

I will be heading up the lab, “Creating a Beautiful, Fuss-Free Garden”.

low-maintenance garden

The main speaker, is Lysa TerKeurst, who is fabulous.

And, did I mention that the entire event is FREE???  There is no need to register.  Just show up.  Here is a link for more information.

I’d love to those of you who live in the greater Phoenix area!

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On another note, I have been talking about attending plant sales and sharing with you about new varieties of some popular plants available along with a few of the newest plant introductions.

I had mentioned that I had come away with 3 new plants from the Desert Botanical Garden’s Spring Plant Sale.

So today, I thought that I would share with you the plants I chose and why…

Red Powder Puff (Calliandra haematocephla)

1. The first plant I chose is one that I have never grown before – Red Powder Puff (Calliandra haematocephla).  As indicated on the plant sign, it is new to the market.

It is related to Red & Pink Fairy Duster shrubs, (which are great plants for the desert landscape, by the way).

I was entranced by the photo of large, puff-ball flowers.  I also liked that I could grow it as a small tree, if I wanted too.  

low-maintenance garden

I like that is hardy to 20 degrees, which should make the occasional dips into the low 20’s in my garden no problem.

I planted it along the eastern side of my backyard, against a patio pillar.  It will receive morning sun and afternoon shade. Growing to its right is a 15 ft. tall Mexican Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) that I’ve pruned into a tree form. So, I think that they will look great next to each other.  

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)

The next plant I chose is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha).

Years ago, I planted this shrubby perennial in a parking lot of a golf course I worked at.  It did beautifully and attracted hummingbirds.  It would die back to the ground every winter, but quickly grew back in spring.

I have also seen Mexican Bush Sage grown in a variety of other areas during my travels, including Santa Barbara, CA and Miami, FL where it is grown as a perennial.

During a tour of the White House in Washington DC, I saw it grown there as well, where it is treated as an annual.

As much as I have liked this plant, I’ve never grown it in my own garden.

I planted it against the outside of one of my vegetable gardens where it will get morning and early afternoon sun.  Two other factors were important in choosing this area for my new Mexican Bush Sage – I didn’t have to add drip irrigation for it because it will get residual moisture from the vegetable garden AND it will also attract pollinators to my vegetable garden.

Purple Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii 'Purple')

The last plant that I chose is one that many of you may be familiar with, just with a different flower-color.

Purple Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii ‘Purple’) was evidently a very popular plant at the sale because there was only one left, which went home with me.  

low-maintenance garden

It will grow much like the red variety, pictured above, enjoying filtered shade or afternoon shade.

Flowers will appear in fall, winter and spring in low-desert gardens.

Other varieties of Autumn Sage are available with different-colored flowers like white, pink and salmon.

My new Purple Autumn Sage is also happy in its new home outside the vegetable garden where it will receive afternoon shade.

I will keep you updated on how well they grow in my garden.