Have you ever been on live television?  

If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said “no”.  I had done some filming for “how-to” gardening videos for SheKnows.com – but they weren’t live and took place in my back garden.  Somehow, live TV is quite different.

Last time, I told you about my upcoming appearance on our local ABC station to talk about creative container gardening tips.

Posing next to my newly-planted container filled with purple basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley.  White petunias add beauty to the pot.

Posing next to my newly-planted container filled with purple basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley.  White petunias add beauty to the pot.

This was the second time that I had been asked to appear on Sonoran Living, which is a local morning program.

Last time I was on the show, I spoke about ‘Fuss Free’ Plants.  This time, I would be talking about  creative tips for container gardening.  

So, I went shopping for my ‘props’.  I decided to plant an herb container as well as a pot filled with vegetables and flowers.  I bought several medium-sized pots, a variety of potting mixes and of course, plants.

 Sonoran Living

My sister came along with me to help with the props and setting up.  I had planted the pots ahead of time, so setting up wasn’t too difficult.

The main focus of the demonstration would be the three pots, the potting mixes and the recyclable grocery bag.

They tell you to bring a lot of props, which look good on television.  So, I brought gardening gloves, some hand tools and extra plants to help ‘set the stage’. My microphone was there for me to put on and I was almost ready.  

 Sonoran Living , Finishing up planting my vegetable/flower container.

Finishing up planting my vegetable/flower container.

Last time I was on the show, mine was the first segment.  It went very fast and we were back on the road before the show was over.

This time, I was to go last.  So after everything was set up, my sister and I were invited to wait in the staff break room.

To say that I wasn’t nervous would be an exaggeration.  But, I was not as nervous as my first time.  It’s actually not as hard as doing a “how-to” video where you have to talk to the camera.  On the show, I am talking to a person who asks me questions so I don’t speak directly to the camera at all.  If you lose your train of thought, they are there to get you back on track.

Of the tips I shared on air – using recycled, plastic containers to fill the bottom of large pots as well as using a recycled grocery bag as a container were the most popular with the hosts.

I had a great time and hope to be invited back again.

Below, is the link for my container gardening segment and at the end you see where I accidentally got involved in a conversation at the end about “Dancing With the Stars”.

“CREATIVE CONTAINER GARDENING TIPS”

I hope you enjoy it and come away with some helpful tips that you can use when creating your own container garden.

**You can view my first appearance on Sonoran Living where I talk about “Fuss-Free Plants” here.

Which type of shrub would you prefer in your garden?

Over-Pruning and Ways to Avoid Them

This one?

Over-Pruning and Ways to Avoid Them

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.  

Over-Pruning and Ways to Avoid Them

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 🙂  

What has your winter been like?

Has it been unusually cold or warm?  If you live in the Southwest, you have undoubtedly experienced a warmer then normal winter.  

As a result, many plants that are usually dormant in winter, are green and blooming even though it is still technically February.

I started wearing sandals 2 weeks ago, but I still haven’t broken out my shorts yet.  

Last week, I showed you my edible garden, (also known as a kitchen garden), which is located on the side of our house.

Today, I wanted to show you a peek at what is happening in the back garden during this warm winter.

back garden

This is one part of the back garden.

This was my first vegetable garden.  Because this garden is close to the house, I like to plant vegetables that are harvested frequently such as leaf lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.

To the right, you can see my pink trumpet vine.  Behind is a hollyhock getting ready to flower. Against the wall is purple lilac vine in full bloom and peeking through the slats of the fence are nasturtium leaves.

Abraham Darby' rose bush

I have two large rose bushes and the ‘Abraham Darby’ rose bush has a few lovely blooms.  You may notice that this rose has a rather old-fashioned appearance.  This is one of many David Austin shrub roses.

After growing 40 hybrid tea roses in the garden of our first house, I have found that I like shrub roses.  They are easier to take care of (need less pruning) and are very fragrant.

pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana)

The pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) growing up against the pillar of my patio has beautiful, pink flowers.

Normally, it suffers some frost damage during the winter, but during this warm winter, I have had pink flowers all winter long.  The flowers normally show up in spring and fall and are truly stunning.

I went out into the garden and cut the flowers for a lovely bouquet yesterday.

This plant grows quickly and can be grown as either a vine or a sprawling shrub.  

coral fountain (Rusellia equisetiformis)

Another plant that usually shuts down for winter is coral fountain (Rusellia equisetiformis).  I love the arching branches of this perennial and its orange/red blossoms.

My Back Garden

One plant that still looks like winter, is my bougainvillea.

A few days ago, I asked you on my facebook page if you love or hate bougainvillea.  I had an overwhelming response with most of you saying that you liked it.

I have two bougainvillea.  I used to have more, but while I love the beauty of bougainvillea, I don’t particularly like to prune them, so two words for me.

My Back Garden

The blue sky is really the perfect backdrop for the orange, tubular flowers of orange jubilee (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee).

For those who want a tall shrub that grows quickly, then orange jubilee is a great choice.

I recommend using it against a bare wall or to screen out pool equipment.

In fact, I visited a client who used orange jubilee as ‘green curtains‘ for her home.

purple lilac vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)

Right now, my purple lilac vine (Hardenbergia violaceae) has taken center stage in the back garden.

Growing up my south-facing wall, they burst forth in a profusion of purple blooms every February and last into March.

The whiskey barrel planter is a holding area where I have planted my extra plants.  I’m not sure what I will do with it later.

My Back Garden

In addition to growing purple lilac vine up walls, I also like to grow it as a groundcover too.

*This vine is easy to find in nurseries in winter and spring, when they are in flower.  However, you can have a hard time finding it in summer and fall.  So if you want one, get it now.

Behind my purple lilac groundcover vine, I have red bird-of-paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) growing.

But,  because it is dormant in winter, it isn’t much to look at right now – but I’ll show you how lovely they are this summer.

My Back Garden

Hollyhocks have a special place in my garden.  I love these old-fashioned flowers and their flowers are truly stunning in spring (they flower in the summer in cooler climates).

They self-seed and come up every year for me.  In a month, the flowers will start to burst forth and I can hardly wait.

The hollyhocks are located next to my smaller vegetable garden and receive enough water from the garden without me having to give them supplemental water.

My Back Garden

Another old-fashioned favorite flower are nasturtiums.  These flowers have a place inside of all of my vegetable gardens.

Not only are they beautiful, nasturtiums also repel bad bugs from bothering my vegetables.  Another bonus is that their leaves and flowers are edible.

The bloom in late winter and through spring.  I let them dry up in summer before pulling them out. They do drop some seeds, so I always have new ones coming up the next year in the garden.

My Back Garden

I have several pots in front of my smaller vegetable garden.  In them, I plant a combination of vegetables and flowers, including bacopa, which trails over the edges of pots.

My Back Garden

There are carrots and leaf lettuce growing in my second vegetable garden.

I step outside into the garden whenever I need a few carrots for dinner and they taste so delicious.

My Back Garden

In the same garden, I am growing celery for the first time.  I must say, that I am quite impressed at how well it is growing and can’t wait to taste it.

Last week, I mentioned showing you a part of my garden that I have NEVER shown anyone.

This is my side yard – NOT a garden…

My Back Garden

This is the space where we store garden equipment, trash cans and our garden shed.  I also have my compost bin in this area.

You can see only half of the side yard in this photo, but you aren’t missing anything by not seeing the rest.

Another purple lilac vine grows along the fence, which hides part of the side yard and a large ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde provides welcome shade.

Our second bougainvillea is located along the wall.  It is never watered and it has been 3 years since it has been pruned.  As you can see, it does just fine being ignored.

And so, I hope you have enjoyed peeking into parts of my back garden.  Of course, I haven’t shown it all to you – just the parts that are blooming.

In a few months, I will show the other areas when they are in bloom.

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

So, what is blooming in your garden this month?

Do you have a favorite winter/spring blooming plant?  

Do you know what ‘sustainable landscaping’ is? 

Would you be able to identify a sustainable landscape if you saw one?

Last weekend, I spoke to a large group about “New Ideas for Sustainable Landscaping”.  The community that I spoke to are in the process of becoming an Audubon International Sustainable Community, which would make them the first one to do so, west of the Mississippi.

sustainable landscaping

There a lot of people who turned out to learn more about how to live a more sustainable lifestyle.  I was thrilled to talk to them about what sustainable landscaping is and small steps that they can take toward that goal.

Maybe you are curious about sustainable landscaping and want to implement some strategies toward having a more sustainable landscape.

This is my first post talking about this important subject in the hopes that I can inspire you to take steps toward a more sustainable landscape.

WHAT IS A SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPE?

First, let’s look at an example of what I am NOT talking about in regards to a sustainable landscape…

sustainable landscaping

Do you remember when green gravel was in style in the 70’s?

sustainable landscaping

Or how about this one with the fancy gravel design and two lonely cacti?

Technically speaking, both of these landscapes are sustainable, but they are not the model of sustainability we are looking for.

sustainable landscaping

Here is a great example of a sustainable landscape.

sustainable landscaping

So is this one.

Both of these landscapes are planted with arid-adapted plants that thrive in our hot, dry climate with minimal care. What you may also notice is that they are not ugly – they are all quite beautiful.  

natural landscape

The next time you find yourself near the natural landscape, wherever you live – notice how nature does a great job creating and maintaining a beautiful landscape.

Nature does this without any help – no pruning, supplemental water, chemical fertilizers (nature does fine with natural sources of fertilizer) and pesticides. 

sustainable landscape

So, what exactly is a ‘sustainable landscape’?

“A SUSTAINABLE LANDCAPE IS ONE THAT IS IN BALANCE WITH THE CLIMATE, WHICH REQUIRES MINIMAL ‘INPUTS’.”

What are ‘inputs’?  They are resources that we use to create and maintain our landscapes such as fertilizer, supplemental water, pruning, gasoline and pesticides.

Would you like to decrease the amount of ‘inputs’ in your landscape, without having to sacrifice beauty?

Well you certainly can and it isn’t hard to do.  In fact, you can save yourself time and money in the process!

Next time, we will discuss what we are doing wrong in our current landscapes, which is important to know so that we can avoid these mistakes on our quest toward more sustainable landscapes.

What Keeps a Landscape From Being Sustainable?

Every year as Christmas approaches and most of my plants have gone to sleep for the winter, my favorite shrub is just getting started…

valentine bush

It begins with small buds appearing along each branch.

valentine bush

By mid-January, the buds have burst open, exposing their crimson centers.

 red flowers

By Valentine’s Day, my shrubs are absolutely covered in masses of red flowers.

Wonder what this shrub is called?

“Valentine”

(Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)

You can find out more about my favorite shrub and what it looks like when not in bloom in my latest article for Houzz

 

Kitchen ideas, bathroom ideas, and more ∨

From designer seating and office desks to message boards and credenza, create your dream home office.
Light up your living spaces with recessed lights, designer chandeliers or even a row of pendant lights.

 

 

Earlier this week, I went out for my first visit to a new landscape project…

landscape project

New landscape project

As you can see, they aren’t quite ready for me to step into this project.

landscape project

This church had to have all of its stucco redone.

landscape project

Many of the plants were removed, but some are still intact.

tagged plants (with red paint)

New landscape project

Today, I went around and tagged plants (with red paint) that will need to be removed since I won’t be using them in the new design.

The reasons for this is that the members want more color near the church building – AND they want plants to be blooming in winter when most of the members are here.  (Many spend their summers in cooler places – sometimes, I wish that I could 😉  

green shrubs

Of course, I didn’t recommend removing all of the plants.

Believe it or not, those round, green shrubs are actually trees.  I’ll recommend letting them grow up into trees.

**When designing an existing landscape, I try to keep at least a few of the plants present, if not more.  The reason for this is that a brand-new landscape looks quite sparse for the first few years until the new plants grow a bit.

Keeping some of the existing plants helps to alleviate the sparseness of a new landscape.  Besides, I don’t like pulling out plants that can still benefit the landscape.

Once the scaffolding comes down, I will be back after Christmas.

I’ll keep you updated as my latest project progresses, including what plants I select and the reasons why.

Plant Palette For New Landscape: Perennials and Succulents

Earlier this week, I shared with you the four vegetables that I am growing for the first time this year.  I will be sure to share with you how they do as the season progresses.

In addition to my experimenting with new vegetables, I am also growing some favorite cool-season vegetables…

My Vegetable Garden

My favorite cool-season vegetable crop is leaf lettuce.  I love nothing better then being able to step outside to snip off a few leaves to make a dinner salad.

Once you have tasted fresh lettuce from the garden, there is no going back.  Bagged lettuce is a poor replacement.

About 1/3 of my three vegetable gardens are taken up with beautiful leaf lettuce.  I like to grow different varieties of leaf lettuce including Romaine, Buttercrunch, Great Lakes and Black Seeded Simpson lettuce.

I usually grow lettuce from seed because it is so easy.  It needs temps below 80 degrees to germinate, so October is a good time to plant it.

**Don’t plant all your lettuce at once.  Stagger your planting dates by 2 – 3 weeks, so that when your first crop of lettuce is finished (bolting), then you will have more coming up.  Because lettuce can be planted throughout the fall, winter and early spring, you can enjoy lettuce until April, if you stagger your planting dates.  This is what experienced vegetable gardeners do to prolong their harvest.   

My Vegetable Garden

Isn’t this cauliflower beautiful?  I grew this one two years ago and made the mistake of not planting any last winter.  I’ll never make that mistake again.

I love cauliflower and cut the crown into small 1/4 inch pieces that we sprinkle over our salad – it looks like crumbled cheese and my kids like it.

Cauliflower can be hard to grow from seed, so I use transplants.

**Stagger the planting of your cauliflower as well, so that it does not all ripen at once.  For example: I plant 3 cauliflower transplants every 2 weeks until the end of November.

I do not like cooked spinach.  But, I do like putting it in salads or on a sandwich.

I have grown spinach from seed and from transplants.  It lasts all winter and into spring.

My Vegetable Garden

Carrots are a mainstay of any cool-season garden.  Because they are a root vegetable, they need to be planted from seed.

**My first year vegetable gardening, I planted all of my carrots at once and was rewarded with an ENORMOUS harvest.  We couldn’t eat that many carrots.  So, don’t plant all your carrots at once.  I recommend planting some every month through February, so you will always have some to enjoy, fresh from the garden

My Vegetable Garden

This is the only photo I have of radishes in my garden.  I must remember to take one when they are a bit more developed.

Radishes are the easiest vegetable to grow from seed.  They come up fast – 3 days after planting the seeds, which makes them perfect for kids to grow.

**Stagger your planting of radishes, just as I recommended for carrots for a continual harvest.

broccoli

I have a confession to make…

I seem to have problems growing broccoli.  I’m not sure why and after each disappointing season, I resolve NOT to grow it again.  But, I am trying again this year.

The photo above, is not my broccoli – it my mother’s 😉

**I have only a few broccoli planted now and will plant more through November, for a longer harvest.

garlic

I always plant garlic in October.  I haven’t gotten to it yet, but plan to next week.

Last spring, I was happy with my larger then expected garlic harvest.

The last vegetable on my list is onions, which I will plant from onion sets this month as well.

I promise to keep you updated with how my garden grows throughout the season.

I would love to hear about what you are planting and/or what your favorite vegetables to grow are.

bad landscaping

Often, after I finish with a landscape consult, I drive through the neighborhood and capture examples of good and often bad landscaping.

I do this so that I can use these photos to help you to avoid mistakes in your own landscape.

So, what do you think is wrong with the landscape above?

Please leave your comments and I’ll give you the answer tomorrow….

Do you like spending hours pruning and fertilizing your plants?  Or maybe you are tired of having to spend money on monthly visits from your landscaper.

Sonoran Living

I have been asked to show some ‘fuss free’ plants for fall planting on Sonoran Living, which is a local lifestyle show on our local Phoenix ABC network. The show will air on September 10th at 9:00. (I must admit that I am a little nervous.  I am off to my favorite nurseries to select some plants for the taping this Sunday, after church).

So, enough about my nerves….

What if you could have a landscape full of beautiful plants that only need pruning once a year and little to no fertilizer?

Now you may be thinking that I am talking about a landscape full of cactus, like the photo below – but I’m not.    

fall planting

The key to selecting ‘fuss free’ plants is to choose plants that are adapted to our arid climate.

Here are a few of my favorite ‘fuss free’ plants that need pruning once a year or less…

Firecracker Penstemon, fall planting

Firecracker Penstemon

Firecracker Penstemon(Penstemon eatoni) is great addition to any desert landscape.  It’s orange/red flowers appear in late winter and last through the spring.  Hummingbirds find them irresistible.

Maintenance: Prune off the dead flower spikes in spring.

Hardy to -20 degrees.

Plant in full sun.

Damianita

Damianita

Damianita(Chrysactinia mexicana) is a low-growing groundcover that is covered with tiny green leaves.  Masses of golden yellow flowers appear in spring and again in the fall.

Maintenance: Prune back to 6″ in late February.

Hardy to 0 degrees.

Plant in full sun.  Damianita looks great next to boulders or lining a pathway.

Gulf Muhly 'Regal Mist'

Gulf Muhly ‘Regal Mist’

Gulf Muhly(Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’) is a fabulous choice for the landscape.  This ornamental grass is green in spring and then covered in burgundy plumes in the fall.

Maintenance: Prune back to 6 inches in late winter.

Hardy to 0 degrees.

Plant in full sun in groups of 3 to 5.  Gulf Muhly also looks great when planted next to large boulders or around trees.

Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera)

Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera)

Mexican Honeysuckle(Justicia spicigera) is the perfect plant for areas with filtered shade.  Tubular orange flowers appear off an on throughout the year that attract hummingbirds.

Maintenance: Little to no pruning required.  Prune if needed, in late winter.

Hardy to 15 degrees.

Plant in filtered shade such as that provided by Palo Verde or Mesquite trees.  Add Purple Trailing Lantana in the front for a beautiful color contrast.

Baja Fairy Duster

Baja Fairy Duster

Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica) has truly unique flowers that are shaped like small feather dusters.  The red flowers appear spring through fall and occasionally in winter.

Maintenance: Prune back by 1/2 in late winter, removing any frost damage.  Avoid pruning into ’round’ shapes.  Baja Fairy Duster has a lovely vase-shape when allowed to grow into its natural shape.

Hardy to 20 degrees.

Plant in full sun against a wall.  Baja Fairy Duster can handle locations with hot, reflected heat.

fall planting

Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis formerly, Hymenoxys acaulis) is a little powerhouse in the garden.  Bright yellow flowers appear throughout the entire year.

Maintenance: Clip off the spent flowers every 3 months.

Hardy to -20 degrees.

Plant in full sun in groups of 3 around boulders.  Pair with Firecracker Penstemon for color contrast.  Thrives along walkways in narrow areas that receive full, reflected sun.

These are just a few ‘fuss free’ plants that you can add to your landscape this fall, which is the best time of year to add plants in the Desert Southwest.

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

So, I will be heading to the television studio early Tuesday morning with my sister, who will help me set up and take photos of the whole experience.  I promise to share the video link for those of you who would like to watch it 🙂

**For more of my favorite ‘fuss free’ plants, check out my latest post.

The past few days have been full of celebration in our family.  Our daughter has returned home from her Navy training AND we have a new addition to our family.

For those of you who have been following along in my adventures, you may remember that my second-oldest daughter, Rachele, joined the Navy last spring.

family photo

This was our last family photo taken just before she left in March.

We missed her a lot, but were proud of her decision.  My husband and I, along with our oldest daughter traveled to Chicago back in May to see her graduate and I shared our journey with you back then.

Navy training

Since then, Rachele has been in Missouri, training to be an equipment operator learning how to drive excavators, bulldozers, scrapers, semi-trucks, etc.  She did very well and love it – I’m not sure where she got her skills (not from me 😉

Last week, she graduated and became a “Seabee”.

Okay, so what is a “Seabee”, you may be wondering.  I know I did when she first told me that was what she would be doing.

Basically, a Seabee is a member of the Navy Construction Battalion.  They build bases, airstrips and roads – sometimes in hostile territories.  Unlike most members of the Navy, they spend little to no time on ships.

Once they graduate, Seabees trade in their traditional navy and blue camouflage uniform for  “Seabee Greens”.

Navy training

Last week, Rachele graduated and got the honor of wearing her “Seabee Greens”.

We were so proud and couldn’t wait for her to come home.  She arrived late on Saturday night.  We didn’t tell the kids when she was coming.

Navy training

They were surprised when their big sister woke them up.

Rachele

Rachele was happy that her cat remembered her.

family over for dinner

The next day after church, we went to her favorite place for lunch.

That evening, we had all of the family over for dinner.  Our home was filled with aunts, uncles, grandmas, cousins and siblings including my granddaughter…

Lily

Lily dressed up for the occasion.

I mentioned that we had an addition to our family.

I’d like for you to meet ‘Penny’…

Penny

Penny is the newest member of our furry family.  

Black Labrador Retriever

She is an 8-week old English Black Labrador Retriever.

There are two types of labradors – one is from English stock and the other, American.  The English types are shorter, stockier and blockier.

Both are classified as labrador retriever by the AKC.

Needless to say, our days have been filled with frequent trips to the backyard as Penny works on becoming housebroken.  And, our kitchen is filled with chew toys.