Wouldn’t it be great to have a regional guide for things to do, places to stay and great places to eat?

The EastValleyGuide is a great resource for those who live in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe.

I was asked to write an article for them about the challenges of desert gardening and some simple tips for growing a beautiful, low-maintenance landscape.

challenges of desert gardening

I hope you’ll take a minute or two to read it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the article 🙂

I am always telling people that….

“Gardening in the Desert Isn’t Hard, It’s Just Different.”

Photo Shoot

Yesterday afternoon, I spent some time having my picture taken.

I must admit, that I don’t like having my picture taken much.  I end up feeling self-conscious and start thinking about how ‘weird’ my expression must look (which is why I didn’t mind posing for the photo, above 😉

Unfortunately, I did need some photos for articles and my other blog that I write for.  I had put it off for a long time.  But I needed to get my kids annual photos taken AND I had obtained the services of a very talented, up and coming photographer for their photos.  So, it made sense for me to get my pictures done at the same time.

You may be wondering what photographer I was able to engage.  Well, I am blessed that my youngest sister, Grace, is a fabulous photographer.

She takes photos for other families and for some businesses as well.  She also posts great pictures on her blog FinleyandOliver.com

At this point, I should mention that we haven’t gotten our kids pictures taken at school for a long time.  I got tired of their ‘fake’ smiles, messy hair and the fact that they looked nothing like their normal selves.  So, I have taken ‘school’ pictures of them every year.

This year was going to be the best because my sister was going to take their pictures instead of me…

Photo Shoot

I love this photo of my three youngest.  This will be the photo we give to the grandmas for Christmas.

They each had their picture taken separately and it was so fun to see my sister in action – she is so good posing the kids and making them feel relaxed.

Then, it was my turn…  

Photo Shoot

My sister knows me so well – especially all my ‘quirks’ and hang-ups and the fact that I don’t feel all that comfortable as the sole subject in a picture.  So, she kept talking to me while I was posing – making me feel much more comfortable.

my sister great photography skills

My sister’s dog, Soda Pop, came over to visit while we were taking pictures.  (Soda is the daughter of my dog, Missy.)

I had brought some props over from my garden.  An old watering can that I planted annuals in, an antique blue bottle with cosmos from my garden and some gardening tools.

my sister great photography skills

At this point, I was getting more comfortable and we were almost finished; when my sister said, “We need to get a picture of you holding a chicken.”

So, she rushed off to find her friendliest chicken, “Francie”, who is a ‘naked-neck’ chicken.

my sister great photography skills

my sister’s great photography skills

I think Francie did better then I did posing for this picture 😉

I am so thankful for my sister’s great photography skills and her ability to work with a ‘difficult’ subject (me).  I might just schedule another photo shoot next year 🙂

I like the word ‘deluge’.  I think that it accurately describes what happened at our house a couple of weeks ago.

So, why am I just now writing about it?

Well, I must admit that I am keeping my head above water, so to speak 😉  I am still recovering my strength after suffering from the flu (I have been needing a nap everyday).

I have also been busy with consults now that the weather is cooling again and people actually want to go out in their gardens.

Okay, so back to our ‘deluge’.

We get periods of torrential rain during our summer monsoon season.  But, what happened on this Friday morning was quite impressive.

torrential rain during our summer monsoon season

torrential rain during our summer monsoon season

The Lantana in the front entry were absolutely drenched.

Homes don’t have gutters where I live, so the rain drips from the eaves.

torrential rain during our summer monsoon season

Our new flagstone pathway channeled the water into the street.

torrential rain during our summer monsoon season

Our newly re-landscaped front garden enjoyed the rainfall.  I was happy to see how the rain also pooled around our new Desert Museum Palo Verde tree, watering it deeply.

I wish I could say that our back garden weathered the ‘deluge’ as well as the front garden.

But, we definitely need to work on channeling the water away from the patio….

A Deluge of Water...

Thankfully, my 20-year old daughter, Rachele, and my teenage nephew were on hand to scoop the excess water with buckets out onto the grass.

(The water got too close to the back doors for comfort).

We will be making a shallow channel along the front of the patio and toward the side gardens, where the excess water will drain out to the front.

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I have had the pleasure of meeting a few readers of my blog when I came to do a landscape consult for them.

I enjoy meeting you in person and seeing your gardens for myself.

Have a great week everyone! 

Wet Weather and Two Races…

This past weekend, I had a special helper accompany me on one of my landscape consults….

My son, Kai.

He has never expressed any interest in going with me before – but I think he was bored and his best friend (who lives across the street) wasn’t going to be home.

So, Kai offered to come with me and be my ‘photographer’. 

landscape consults

As I was talking to my clients, Kai would take photos of certain plants, landscape areas or problems, which I would later include in my report.

He caught me gesturing to this evergreen pear tree, above.

Kai also took some good close-ups as well…

Salt damage

 Salt damage from lack of deep watering.

Manganese deficiency

Manganese deficiency in citrus tree.

Kai did also take a few photos with me in them, but he neglected to press the ‘skinny button’ on my camera so I elected not to include them in this post.  (Okay, I know that a ‘skinny button’ does not exist on a camera, but I wish someone would invent one, don’t you?)

As our consult progressed to the backyard, Kai was no longer taking pictures.

Instead, he was finding himself in some of the photos I took….

landscape consults

 Meeting my client’s new chickens.

landscape consults

Swinging from rings in an old citrus tree.

Kai and I both had an enjoyable time.  The clients were very nice people who had a beautiful landscape.

I hope that Kai was able to see more clearly what I do for my work, (besides writing blogs and articles).

But all he said on the way home was, “Can we get some ice-cream?”

“Absolutely.”

Reading The Leaves: Diagnosing Common Plant Ailments

Are you the type of person that notices what is wrong more then what is right?

Although I would describe myself as having an outlook as a “glass half-full” and tend to observe the positive – it doesn’t carry over when I look at landscapes.

I think that it is because I am supposed to find problems and help people avoid or fix them.

A few weeks ago, I shared my first “Landscape No-No” post, which showcased a common mistake people make with drip emitter placement and trees.

My hope is that by sharing some “Landscape No-No’s” that I will be able to help you avoid making the same mistakes in your garden.

This time, I am showing you a picture from a landscape consult that I did a few years ago.

This featured “Landscape No-No”  is from a consult I did years ago.  The homeowner was very excited to show me his newly landscaped front yard.

However, I did find a few problems, including this one along the pathway to his entry…

Torch Glow Bougainvillea

Torch Glow Bougainvillea

Can you tell what is wrong?

Hint: The plant in the middle is a ‘Torch Glow’ Bougainvillea.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what the problem is in the area above.

Please come back for a visit next time, when I will explain why this is a “Landscape No-No” and show you another photo of another problem with this newly landscaped garden.

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I hope you all have a great start to your week!

First of all, I would like to apologize for not coordinating a Monthly Garden Bouquet for February.  I wish that I had a great excuse for not doing one such as maybe not having any flowers in my garden.  But, that would not be true.

The reality was that I was just awfully busy last month and I did feel a bit guilty about it.  So, even though I am still recovering from pneumonia, I drug myself outside, (in my pajamas I might add), to find flowers to cut.


It really wasn’t hard to venture outside.  A clear blue sky and temperatures in the 70’s…..it was so beautiful.

Here is what I came up with…..

Bouquet for February

The blue flowers are Bachelor’s Button, which I have growing as a companion plant in my vegetable garden to help attract pollinators.  This is the first year that I have grown them and I just love their vibrant blue color.

The yellow flowers are from my Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata) perennials that I have dotting my front garden.  They survive on rainfall alone and are flowering off and on all year.  I do give them a ‘haircut’ three times a year to help them look their best.

Lastly, are some pink flowers from my potted Dianthus, which have done so well throughout the entire winter in my front entry.

I ventured outside in my PJ’s because I was sure that I would only take 2 minutes and no one would see me.  But no….. my wonderful neighbor saw me and I spent a delightful 1/2 hour talking with her in my front garden in my pajamas 😉

**I would like to thank you all so much for your kind comments and well wishes for my recuperation from this awful pneumonia.  I have a lot of medicine to take and am feeling much better.  I am just feeling tired and weak now, which is hard when I see the spring pruning that needs to be done in my garden.  Thankfully, my husband is more then willing to help out.

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Okay, so maybe some of you are wondering about this Monthly Garden Bouquet.  Well, here are the details below…..

If you would like to participate in this month’s MGB, here are the guidelines:

1. MGB begins on the 21st of each month and runs until the end of each month. Bouquets can be submitted during this time (or even later 🙂

2. Create your own garden bouquet as fancy or simple as you like.

3. I would appreciate it if you would provide a link back to my post inside of your MGB post, but it is not required 🙂

4. Add your link to Mr. Linky below and that’s it!

It can be as simple or fancy as you like.  Each month, I cannot wait to see what you all come up with.

**Please stop by and read my latest blog post about “Welcome Residents in the Vegetable Garden” on Birds & Blooms.  Your support means a lot to me and the editors 🙂

My April bouquet is a humble one, but special to me because it is my last tribute to spring.  By this time next month, my garden will be full of summer blooms. 

My April bouquet

My purple Violas had been blooming for me since October.  Their pretty faces greet me each day by my front door.

My April bouquet

The sweet, tiny flowers of my Alyssum have sweetly perfumed the air.

My April bouquet

The beautiful, tubular flowers of my Bower Vine stand on either side of my front entry so that I am surrounded by flowers as I walk up to my home.

My April bouquet

My April bouquet

I would love it if you would come join me and other garden bloggers as we each create a bouquet from our gardens.  MGB occurs during the third week of each month.  

I can’t wait to see what bouquets you create.  

Please send me a link to your bouquet as a comment to this post and I will post your link so that others can visit you and see your bouquet.  Please visit the links below to see more beautiful April bouquets.

Catherine from A Gardener in Progress

Floridagirl at Peace in the Valley

Meredith from The Enchanted Earth  

Balisha from Never Enough Time 

Gipplandgardener from A Year in a Gippsland Garden

Jan from Thanks For Today

Patty from SewingSeeds4U 

JGH from Nyack Backyard  

and 

Deborah from Deborah’s Garden

**Update – there is still 5 days to go this week…..I would love to see your April bouquets.

**For those of you who may not have a blog, but would like to create a bouquet to share,  just email me, (use the email link on the sidebar) a photo of your bouquet and I will be happy to post it on my blog so that everyone can see your flowers.

Have a great week everyone!

new English roses

Yesterday, we worked on getting the holes ready for our new English roses.  Now the kids and I are so excited that we are almost ready to plant them.

soil amendments

Here are the soil amendments that I purchased – Bone Meal, Compost, Blood Meal and Organic Rose Fertilizer (the blood meal and fertilizer are to be used later).

Bone Meal – an organic source of phosphorus, which helps aid in root development and later flowering.

Compost – enriches the soil as it is filled with micro-organisms which help break down materials and release them into the soil in a form that plants can absorb through their roots.

Blood Meal – is the highest organic source of nitrogen.

Organic Rose Fertilizer – contains organic nutrients as well as beneficial micro-organisms including miccorhizae.

*Miccorhizae are beneficial fungi that forms a beneficial relationship with plant roots and helps them to absorb and transform nutrients into forms that the roots can absorb.  Plants with micchorizae growing in symbiosis with their roots:

– Absorb nutrients more easily.

– Use less water.

– Grow more feeder roots.

OK, enough of the amendment lecture, let’s get the holes ready for our roses.

holes ready for our roses

Remember the old nurseryman’s saying, “Dig a $40 hole for a $20 tree.”  Well, the same goes for shrubs.  It is hard to under-estimate how important a properly dug hole is for the future health and growth of your shrub.

For our roses, we dug our holes approximately 32″ across and 24″ deep, according to the directions from the rose grower.

*For most shrubs, I recommend digging a hole 3X the width of the root-ball of the shrub and roughly the same depth as the root-ball.  By doing this, you will have loosened the surrounding soil, making it easier for the roots to spread.

holes ready for our roses

The holes were filled 1/2 way with the compost and then I added the bone meal according to package instructions.

holes ready for our roses

Then we returned some of the dirt that we had previously dug up until level with the top of the hole and mixed it together with all of the amendments.

The English roses we purchased are not bare-root roses, so the planting process from this point on is a little different.  But, everything else including preparation of the hole and adding the amendments is the same.

holes ready for our roses

Warning…if you have dogs, they will find a way to play in the dirt you dig up.  If you are lucky, they may help you dig your holes.  

holes ready for our roses

Once the native soil and amendments were combined, we leveled them out and then with a smaller shovel (I used the kid’s shovel – it was the perfect size), I made a planting hole for each new rose.

ready to plant his rose

My son is so excited and ready to plant his rose. 

new English roses

The hole is the same depth as the root-ball of the shrub rose.

new English roses

Fill in the hole carefully, but be careful to not add additional soil on top of the rose.  Then tamp down lightly around the hole.

new English roses

Water!

new English roses

English Roses

Now, it is time to start cleaning up…

new English roses

The kids are wondering how long they will have to wait for their roses to bloom….hopefully, this spring.

**After the roses have bloomed, I will add the blood meal and organic rose fertilizer.  You don’t want to add fertilizer at the beginning since it will cause the branches to grow before the roots can support them.