Where did you learn about gardening? 

I have shared about learning to garden as a young child when my dad gave me my own little plot of land and let me plant whatever I wanted.

Later, I learned more about gardening in school.  It was an elective gardening class and it was one of my favorites. 

So last fall, when I was asked to visit and help out the Johnson Elementary School Garden Club.  Of course, I said “yes”.

As I walked into the school, I spotted a greenhouse and rain barrel sitting in the courtyard.     I was getting excited to see what else they had and wondered how I could help.

Farther in, I saw raised vegetable beds, which were implementing the ‘square-foot’ gardening method for growing vegetables.

Once I arrived at the classroom where the gardening club met, I was greeted by several teachers and the students themselves.  This is an after school club that is made up of 5th and 6th graders.  It is a very popular club as was evident by the filled classroom.

I was asked to talk with the students and was then taken around to see even more of what they were learning about.

I was blown away by their aquaponic garden and grow light set up.  

After viewing the classroom, our next stop was a prospective area where they wanted to grow vegetables, which they called “The Back Forty Garden”.

Along the wall that bordered the school, was a raised bed.  Their question for me was how and if they could grow vegetables in this area.

The answer was “yes”, but there were some challenges to deal with.

First, there was no irrigation, so drip irrigation would have to be added.  The second challenge was that this wall faced west, so growing vegetables in summer would be almost impossible without shade cloth.  But, growing vegetables fall, winter and spring would be fine.

I talked about how to amend the soil with compost, composted steer manure, blood and bone meal.  I gave them information on what vegetables to plant and when.

Fast forward 6 months later and I received a very nice email along with photos of the new vegetable garden.

I love the painted mural, don’t you?

As you can see, a variety of vegetables were planted along the long length.  Wouldn’t you love a garden space this big?

The kids planted the vegetables and later harvested them.  Each kid got to take home some of the bounty.

Look at these proud faces!

School gardens are a great resouce as they teach kids about the environment and nature.  Most of all, it can inspire a lifelong passion for gardening.  

I wonder how many of the kids in this photo will have vegetable gardens of their own when they are grown up?  Once you get a small taste of growing your own vegetables, it’s hard to stop.

The teachers who work with the Garden Club at Johnson Elementary School in Mesa, Arizona are wonderful people with a passion for teaching and gardening.

What a perfect combination!

Earlier this week, I have been sharing with you about our recent trip into the old, mining town of Bisbee, AZ.

From unique pieces of art, the friendly people, great food and endless stairways, our trip was so much fun.

What I haven’t shown you in my earlier posts are the plants and gardens of Bisbee, which deserve their own post.
Bisbee is located in zone 8a, which is means that it gets about 10 degrees colder then Phoenix and Tucson areas.  Because this historic town is also higher in the mountains, it doesn’t get as hot in the summer months.
Much of the plants were the same of what you would see growing throughout central and southern Arizona.  Missing were the more tropical plants such as bougainvillea, yellow bells and lantana, which struggle to survive the winters in this area.
The gardens in Bisbee often made use of old, antique pieces that intermingled almost seamlessly among garden plants.
In this garden, the homeowner added a splash of color by using brightly-colored bottles to form an informal border along her raised beds.
Up on her wire fence, she had an old miner’s pan and soup pot hanging from a post.
The Historical Clawson House had a lovely planting arrangement that I particularly liked.
A large swath of flowering coreopsis contrasted beautifully with the gray/blue agave showing us that you don’t need a lot of different types of plants to make a statement in the garden – sometimes less is more effective.
Walking along the main street, I saw the biggest star jasmine vine.
It grew up the metal fence and beyond, hugging this 3-story building.  Needless to say, the fragrance was intoxicating.
A brightly-colored building had an unusual pair of container plants.
Spinless prickly pear (Opuntia ellisiana) looked great in half-whiskey barrels.
Continuing our walk through town, I saw a small cafe which had an adjoining garden that can only be described as a grotto.
Where else, but in the desert southwest would you see a prickly pear cactus growing along side a rose bush?
Speaking of roses, I spotted a hedge of pink Iceberg roses in full bloom.
*Iceberg roses are a typically used for providing an informal hedge and they do well in Arizona.
In front of the iconic courthouse, I spotted some flowering ocotillo, so I headed over for a closer look.
I never tire of seeing the vermillion-colored flowers of ocotillo year after year.
My little ocotillo produced its first flower earlier this spring, after 4 years in the ground!  It can take while for newly planted ocotillo to flower, but 4 years was a little long to have to wait.
Alongside the ocotillo were santa-rita (purple) prickly pears in full bloom.
Continuing our walk through the historic downtown, I noticed murals painted along the Cochise County Cooperative Extension Building.


In the window of the building were some helpful plant tips.


What a great way to add ‘plants’ to an area where planting live plants isn’t feasible.
This small front garden had a naturalistic planting theme using white achillea with Mexican evening primrose.



A local store did add some live plants by training a pair of vines over the doorway.


As I passed by these large metal doors, I wondered what lay behind them…
I peeked through a crack and noticed a lovely, little garden.  I just wish that I could have seen more.
I have always liked small bungalows and their gardens.  Maybe I can have one someday when the kids are gone and we need less room.



Here is another bungalow garden filled with purple prickly pear, a white Texas sage and autumn sage.


The city park had a two rain barrels, painted with rainy themes.  It was a great way to demonstrate how homeowners can harvest their own rainwater.
**In closing, I would like to say that it isn’t easy traveling with me.  I am always stopping and taking small detours in order to take pictures of plants and landscapes.



My husband is always so patient and doesn’t hesitate to carry my purse for me when my hands are busy holding my camera taking pictures.
Another common occurrence when traveling with a horticulturist is having to stop the truck after passing a lovely (or sometimes bad) landscape.
Again, my husband doesn’t complain – he just pulls over and waits while I run out to take a picture.
In this case, it was a lovely metal fence that had small shelves for pots planted with red yucca, to rest on.  There were figures sculpted out of metal as well.  It was just lovely.
I hope you enjoyed this small tour of the gardens of Bisbee.  I cannot wait to return again someday.