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I thought that I would share with you my observations on various landscape practices that I viewed over a one week period last month.


As a horticulturist (or a plant lady as my kids call me), I have a hard time “turning off” and not looking at landscapes as I go by.  I am always looking for a beautiful garden 🙂

So here are my observations, in no particular order.


Got floppy agave?

This is the time of year where you will see agave that seem to have suddenly flopped over.



I saw both of these agave on my way home from my mother-in-law’s house.

There was one year when I was working as a horticulturist for golf courses and we had quite a few of our agave flop over.  Now, I had a fairly good idea what had happened to them, but to confirm my diagnosis, we had to dig them up.
Once we did, we were hit with a truly horrible odor, which confirmed that we were dealing with agave snout weevils.

You can read more about agave snout weevil and how to recognize an infestation and how to prevent them here.
Okay, my second observation came courtesy of a facebook follower who asked me if gray Palo Verde trunks were normal.



I explained to her that as Palo Verde trees age, it is common for their trunk to turn gray.  

Her question reminded me again of how much I didn’t know when I started on horticulture course work and all the questions that I had.  There are way to many things like this that I overlook and need to remember so that I can assist new desert gardeners.

Speaking of Palo Verdes, I saw this beautiful ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde tree in front of the hospice facility where my father-in-law was.



You may be surprised to find that there is a serious problem with this tree.

Can you see what it is?



Here it is a bit closer.

The tree has been staked, but the cable wire used was not covered where it comes in contact with the tree trunk.



As you can see, the cable wire is digging into the trunk and starting to cut off the vascular system of the tree, which is located around the outer portion of the trunk.
Unfortunately, I see this quite often.  Usually in parking lot trees.  There is still time to remove the wire in this case.

When staking a tree, always cover the portion of the cable wire that touches the tree with a piece of drip hose or a regular hose and make sure that you can adjust it as the trunk grows larger.
When Ocotillo are sold and transported, their canes are often tied up for safety for both the handler and the ocotillo itself.

However once planted, you do not need to keep it tied up.  Remove the ties and soon you will be enjoying the beauty of your Ocotillo as it grows and spreads out its beautiful canes.


Aren’t they so beautiful?

My last observation occurred as I traveled to the outskirts of the Phoenix metro area where I was to meet with an organization regarding a landscape service project.

As I drove, the suburbs began to melt away and I was surrounded by farmland.  As I turned down the street where my meeting was located, I saw that it was lined with mature pecan trees and large farmhouses sitting a few acres each.

It was just so beautiful…


I bet you didn’t think that places like this existed in the desert, did you?

Well, there are actually many areas like this.  As I left, I could just picture myself living in a large farmhouse with acres of land to garden in.  But then I reminded myself that I have a hard enough time keeping up with my 1/3 of an acre 😉

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I hope your week is going well.

My younger sister (not my youngest sister, Chicken Farmer), and her family are coming out for a visit tomorrow.  Her husband is interviewing for a job out here and I am very hopeful that they will be moving out here shortly.

Believe it or not, I was the first of my family to move out to Arizona from Southern California 25 years ago after I married my husband.  Then 5 years ago, my youngest sister and my brother and their families moved out here.  My parents followed a year later and now perhaps my other sister will soon move here.

I hope it all works out.

Oh by the way…..11 days until my daughter’s due date.  
I am beginning to get just slightly excited!
 
 There are some signs that summer is beginning to fade and that fall is around the corner.  The stress that the high temperatures of summer bring has caused many plants to slow down their growth.  
 
However, the slightly lower temperatures in September bring on a flush of new growth for many trees, shrubs, and succulents in the garden.  I enjoy being out in my garden this time of year and seeing many of my plants rejuvenated.
 

With the somewhat cooler temperatures, I am now seeing many gardeners venturing outside and taking stock of the condition of their landscape.  Fall is a busy time in the desert garden because it is the ideal time to install many types of plants, which will be discussed in a separate post in early October.

  
SHRUBS: I just finished lightly pruning my ‘Rio Bravo’ sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae).  Summer flowering shrubs that are cold-hardy look their best when lightly pruned at this time to help reign in rangy, sprawling growth. This should be only done with hand pruners only.  Do not use a hedge trimmer and shear your shrubs.  They should have a pleasing natural shape when you are finished.  Do not prune back frost-sensitive plants at this time.
 
 ANNUALS:  Although the local nurseries are abundant with winter annuals, I don’t recommend planting them now.  The temperatures are still quite hot, and there is a good chance that they will not make it.  
 

In the past when mid-September came, I would load up the truck with 100+ flats of annuals to plant around the community where I worked as the horticulturist.   I would then spent the next four weeks making repeated trips to the nursery to replace dead plants that just could not handle the heat of early fall.  From then on I would wait until October to change out summer annuals and replace with winter annuals.  As a result, we suffered very little plant loss.

TREES:  Mesquite and Palo Verde trees that are overgrown can be lightly easily pruned back.  Resist the temptation to heavily prune at this time.  January and February is the time for heavy pruning to occur for these trees.
 
SUCCULENTS:  Cacti, agaves and other succulent plants do best when planted when soil temperatures are warm, which makes September a great time to install them before cooler temperatures arrive.   Prickly Pear cactus can be pruned back this month if needed.  Problems with agave may show up this time of year. 
 
If your agave suddenly collapses, there is a good chance that they have gotten an infection with agave snout weevil.  There is no cure and the agave should be removed, it will be smelly due to the decay the weevil causes – and not just a little stinky.
 
One of my (least) favorite memories happened years ago when I worked as a horticulturist on a golf course.  One year, we had to remove countless agaves throughout the landscapes due to a large infestation – the smell was awful.  If this happens to your agave, do not plant another agave in the area – use another type of plant instead.
 
ROSES:  Roses should be lightly pruned and fertilized this month (see earlier post for details).
 

CITRUS:  Make sure to fertilize your citrus trees if you have not already done so (see earlier post for details).

 
NEXT MONTH – get ready for planting and wildflower garden preparation!