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Earlier this week, I mentioned I was being interviewed about drought tolerant gardening for several radio stations throughout the country.  

This morning, I am doing a live interview for the public radio station, KERA in Dallas, Texas.  I will be taking viewer questions throughout the program.  
*You can listen to it here, if you like. 

I must admit to being a little nervous, but am mostly excited to talk about a subject that I am passionate about and have a lot of experience with having lived in California and now Arizona.


 In my last post I talked to you about 10 steps toward a drought tolerant garden.

As I promised, it is time to decide what to plant in your water wise garden.

Today, let’s talk about one of my favorite group of plants – perennials. 

The perennials I am sharing with you can grow in a variety of climates throughout the United States and I will note their USDA planting zones.

*For best results, the following guidelines should be followed when planting these or any drought tolerant plants:

– Plant in well-drained soil.
-Amend the existing soil with compost at a ration of 1:1.
– The planting hole should be 3X as wide as the root ball to allow the roots to grow outward more easily and the plant to establish more quickly.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)

White gaura has a central place in my drought tolerant landscape.  I have three growing underneath my front window where I can enjoy their delicate, butterfly-shaped flowers that appear in spring and fall where I live in the low desert.

In cooler locations, it blooms spring through summer. This white-flowering native grows approximately 2 ft. tall and wide.

Hardy to zone 7 – 10, plant gaura in well-drained soil.

Penstemon species
The arrival of spring is heralded by the flowering spikes of penstemon.  There are many different species of native penstemon and all have a place in a drought tolerant garden. 

Hummingbirds will flock to your garden to enjoy the nectar from its blooms.  The base rosette of penstemons are approximately 1 foot high and 1 – 2 feet wide when not in flower.

The species you choose depends on your region and their cold hardiness ranges from zone 4 – 10.  Plant in full sun to filtered shade in well drained soil.

Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)

If you like white daisies, than this is a drought tolerant perennial that deserves a place in your garden.

Blackfoot daisies are a native, mounding plant that grow 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide.  Don’t let their straggly appearance fool you when you see them at the nursery – once they are planted and have a chance to grow roots, they will fill in and look great.

I like to plant blackfoot daisies next to boulders where their soft texture provides beautiful contrast.

Plant in full sun, well-drained soil.  Hardy to zone 5 – 10.

Angelita Daisy / Perky Sue (Tetraneuris acaulis – formerly Hymenoxys)

Here is one of my all time favorite perennials.  I use it often in my designs and landscapes that I have managed in the past.

Angelita daisies are native to the United States, which add a welcome spot of color to the garden.  Don’t let their delicate appearance fool you – they are very tough.

Plant them in groups of 3 or 5 for best effect in areas with full, (even reflected) sun to filtered shade.  Gardeners in zones 5 – 10, can grow this pretty little perennial that reaches 1 foot high and tall.

In zone 8 gardens, it is evergreen and will flower throughout the year.  For those who live in zones 5 – 7, it can die back to the ground, but will quickly grow back in spring and provide yellow blooms throughout the summer into early fall.

In zones 4 and below, angelita daisy is often grown as an annual.

Tufted Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)

The flowers of tufted evening primrose open at night where their white blooms illuminate the garden.  As flowers fade, they turn pink.

Plant this native alongside boulders or at the base of spiky plants such as sotol (desert spoon) where you can show off the contrast in textures.

Plant in full sun to filtered shade in well-drained soil for best results.  Hardy to zones 8 – 10.

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana)

It’s hard to find a native plant that can compete with the golden yellow blooms of damianita.  

This shrubby perennial grows 1 foot high and 2 feet wide.  Masses of yellow flowers appear in spring and fall covering the bright green needle-like foliage.

Hardy to zones 7 – 10, damianita needs full sun and well-drained soil.  Prune back to 6 inches in spring after flowering has finished to keep it compact and reduce woody growth.

Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)

While not a native, trailing lantana is a plant that is well adapted to arid climates and is a popular choice for drought tolerant gardens.  It also is a butterfly magnet.
*Lantana can be invasive in warm, humid climates but in arid regions, this is not a problem.

Trailing lantana grows up to 1 foot high and 3 feet wide.  Plant in full sun or filtered shade.  

Although lantana is not cold hardy (it grows in zones 8 – 10), it is often grown as an annual in colder climates.  Flowers appear quickly after the danger of frost has passed that last until the first frost in fall / winter.  Shear back to 6 inches in spring once the freezing temperatures have ended.

Any of these beautiful perennials will add beauty to your drought tolerant garden.  

Do you have friends with whom you share a common interest?


I do.


My friend and fellow blogger, Amy Andrychowicz of Get Busy Gardening loves gardening as much as I do.  Amy and I have spent time together in Arizona and later in Florida.



Last week, while on a road trip through the Midwest, I made sure to make a stop in Minneapolis to visit with Amy and see her garden in person.




You may be wondering what a gardener from a hot, dry climate would have in common with one from a cold, temperate climate?  


My winter temps can get down to 20 – 25 degrees in my desert garden while Amy’s goes all the way down to -30 to -25 degrees.  That is up to a 50 degree difference!

But, believe it or not, there are a large number of plants that can grow in both climates.


Entering Amy’s back garden, my attention was immediately drawn to her large beds filled with colorful perennials.


I love iris!

I am always taking pictures of iris throughout my travels.  While they can grow very well in Arizona, I have never grown them myself.  


The major difference between growing irises in the Southwest and the Midwest is the time that they bloom.  Iris will bloom earlier in the spring while their bloom won’t start until late spring in cooler regions.


After seeing Amy’s in full bloom, I may need to rethink planting these beautiful plants in my own garden.


Succulents aren’t just for the warmer regions.  I have encountered prickly pear cacti in some unexpected places including upstate New York.

Here, Amy has a prickly pear enjoying the sun flanked by two variegated sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ that produces reddish flowers in late summer to early autumn.

This plant also can grow in desert gardens, but does best in the upper desert regions or in the low desert in fertile soil and filtered shade.


You might not expect to see water harvesting practiced outside of arid regions. But you can see examples of water harvesting throughout the United States.

This is Amy’s rain garden.  The middle of the garden is sloped into a swale that channels and retains rainwater allowing it to soak into the soil.  Plants are planted along the sides of the swale who benefit from the extra water.


A water feature was surrounded by low-growing plants including one that caught my eye.


This ground cover had attractive, gray foliage covered with lovely, white flowers.  I wasn’t familiar with this plant and asked Amy what it was.


I love the name of this plant, ‘Snow in Summer’ (Cerastium tomentosum).  While it thrives in hot, dry conditions, it does not grow in warmer zones 8 – 11.



Enjoying the shade from the ground cover was a frog.


I always enjoy seeing plants that aren’t commonly grown where I live.  I have always liked the tiny flowers of coral bells (Heuchera species).  It blooms throughout the summer in cooler climates. 


Do you like blue flowers?  I do.  I first saw Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ growing on a visit to the Lurie Gardens in Chicago.

This lovely perennial won’t grow in my desert garden, so I’m always excited to see it during my travels.



Amy had two beautiful clematis vines just beginning to bloom.  

I must admit to being slightly envious of her being able to grow these lovely, flowering vines.  Years ago after moving to Arizona, I tried growing clematis.  While it did grow, it never flowered.  Clematis aren’t meant to be grown in hot, dry climates.

Aren’t these single, deep pink peonies gorgeous?

While I am usually content with the large amount of plants that I can grow in my desert garden, peonies are top on my list of plants that I wish would grow in warmer climates such as mine.

Amy’s garden was filled with beautiful, flowering peonies of varying colors.


I took A LOT of pictures of her peonies. 




There was even a lovely bouquet of peonies decorating the dining room table.


Amy’s back garden is divided up into individual beds and one entire side of the garden is filled with her impressive vegetable garden.



You may be surprised to find that growing vegetables is largely the same no matter where you live.  The main difference is the gardening calendar.  For example, I plant Swiss chard in October and enjoy eating it through March.  In Amy’s garden, Swiss chard isn’t planted until late spring.  


Swiss chard


The raised vegetable beds were painted in bright colors, which contrasted beautifully with the vegetables growing inside.  Even when the beds stand empty, they still add color to the landscape.

Green Beans

Kale



Young pepper plants took advantage of a hot, sunny location in which they will thrive.


One thing that is different in vegetable gardening is the practice of ‘winter sowing’.  When Amy first told me about this method of sowing and germinating seeds, I was fascinated.

Basically, seeds are planted in containers with holes poked on the bottom for drainage.  The containers are then covered with plastic tops also covered with holes.  

In mid-winter, the containers are set outside.  Snow and later, rain water the plants inside the containers and the seeds germinate once temperatures start to warm up.

Amy has a great blog post about winter sowing that I highly recommend.

As we got ready to leave, we walked through the side garden, which had a wooden bridge.



Different varieties of thyme were planted amount the pavers for a lovely effect.  


Thyme can make a great ground cover in areas that receive little foot traffic.


In the front garden, I noticed the characteristic flowers of columbine growing underneath the shade tree.

I don’t often see red columbine.  Amy’s reseeds readily, so she always has columbine coming up.



This is a sweet, pink columbine that has smaller, but more plentiful flowers.

I had visited Amy’s garden through her blog, Get Busy Gardening for a long time and it was so wonderful to be able to see it in person.  It is beautiful!


I encourage you to visit Amy’s blog, which is filled with a lot of helpful advice – even for those of us who live in the Southwest.

It’s hard to believe that our road trip has come to a close.


Our last day was filled with some memorable adventures.


We woke up to an overcast morning at our bed & breakfast.  

You know what the best part of staying at a B&B is?  The breakfasts!

We started out with strawberries and bananas on a bed of sweetened cream followed by french toast, sausage and eggs.  

Do you remember my telling you how popular rhubarb is in this area, in my last post?

Well, during breakfast, we also had a slice of rhubarb pie.  Can I tell you a secret?  I don’t like rhubarb.


Speaking of rhubarb – it was growing out in the garden.


Speaking of gardens, theirs was beautiful.  This lovely fountain surrounded by petunias was the focal view from the dining room.


A circular bed, edged in stones held flowering violas and chives.


White daisies filled the other perennial beds.

I think that daisies can brighten up almost anyone’s day, don’t you?


Along the side of the 100 year old Victorian home, was a side garden with a curved stone pathway that led to a covered arbor.


Purple ‘Wave’ petunias surrounded by bacopa took center stage from this window.  

I always get a kick out of the fact that we grow many of the same annuals in the desert – just at a different time of year.


The bed & breakfast was located in Amish country.  As we ate breakfast, I noticed an Amish girl working in the garden.

She was busy using hand pruners to prune away old, woody growth from some shrubs.

*Amish people do not like pictures of their faces to be taken, which is why I am only showing her from behind.


After breakfast, we got into our car and headed toward Minneapolis, which was to be our last destination.

Our flight wasn’t scheduled to take off until 7:40 pm, so we had the entire day to fill.


We decided to spend some time at the Mill City Museum.

Did you know that Minneapolis used to be the flour capitol of the world?  It’s true.


As someone who loves carbs with a passion and would rather eat bread then sweets, I knew that I had to check out this museum.


The museum is housed in the old Gold Medal Flour factory, which used to be the world’s largest flour mill.


It is 8-stories high and much of it was destroyed by a fire in the 90’s.

You can see the girders and where the floors used to be in the ruins.


The interior had some great exhibits about the history of the early flour industry and how the city of Minneapolis used the power of the Mississippi River to power the mill.

One very cool part of the museum was the Flour Tower tour.


I apologize for the bad photo, but wanted you to see the large freight elevator that visitors went on.

As you sit, a guide takes you along a journey up and down 8 floors of the mill.  Each floor opens up to a display that recreates the history of the mill.


At the top of the mill, we were allowed to get up and walk to the top of the building.


You could see the old sign, which stood tall above us.


From the rooftop, you could see the Mississippi River flowing by.


I wonder if I will ever tire of seeing the Mississippi River.  I hope not.


Across the river, you could see the old Pillsbury Flour Mill.


After leaving the mill, we head a little time left before we had to turn in our rental car and head to the airport.  So, we decided to go and see Minnehaha Falls.

The falls are located in the middle of the city and flows from the Minnehaha River before joining the Mississippi.

As you stand along the viewing area, you are sprayed by the water, which is really quite refreshing.

The falls are 53 feet tall.


During this entire road trip, my mother has been enjoying taking pictures with her new iPhone.  

Many of her photos are of me taking pictures of my camera, like this one at the falls.

It was time to wrap up our visit to Minneapolis and start toward the airport.


Our time at the airport was much longer then we had planned for.  Our 7:40 pm flight was delayed for 4 hours until 11:30 pm.

Thankfully, I had my laptop and some knitting to keep me busy while we waited.


Sunset in Minneapolis.

I was really wishing that I had been on a plane by now.  I missed my husband and kids.

The airline brought out a cart filled with snacks and drinks for all of us who had to wait.

I ate my fill of shortbread cookies and Ritz cheese crackers.

Our flight finally arrived and we soon left for home.

We had a wonderful time on our road trip and I appreciate your comments so much.

BUT, my road trip posts aren’t over yet.

I’ve saved the visit to my friend and fellow garden blogger, Amy’s garden for my last post.

I can’t wait to show you what’s growing in her garden – so come back soon!

Today was spent driving from Wisconsin, over the Mississippi River into southeastern Minnesota.


Bridge over the Mississippi River toward Minnesota. *Cell phone + dirty windshield = grainy photo.


You know how people who haven’t lived near the ocean, find it fascinating when they get the chance to visit?

I think it is somewhat the same for me in regards to seeing the Mississippi River.  The immense size of the river is amazing.  

This is the third time that I have seen the Mississippi River and it is still something that I always look forward to.

We arrived into the town of Winona, Minnesota – we drove up to Garvin Heights, where a path leads from the parking lot to a viewing point located over 500 ft. above the river and the city.



Isn’t it beautiful?


Off in the distance, you can see the bridge that we drove over, which connects Wisconsin to Minnesota.


My mother has been enjoying her first smartphone.  During our trip, she had taken multiple pictures of me taking photos of plants and/or scenery.  


It makes me feel happy and special at the same time 🙂


During the first part of our day, we spent some time shopping for antiques.

My mother loves antiques and I like to find old pieces that I can use as planters in my garden.  In the Midwest and Eastern regions of the US, antiques are a lot less expensive then in the west – so we like to take advantage of nice antique stores when we can.

I found a large, old coffee pot (the kind they would use in a chuck wagon for a lot of people) that I plan on using for a flower planter in my smaller vegetable garden.

You may be wondering how I am going to get my coffee pot home.  Well, that leads to a tradition that my mother and I started during our first road trip 3 years ago.  We wait until the last day of our trip and then go to a local UPS store and send our souvenirs home.  It makes our life much simpler and we have less to carry in our suitcases.

Another grainy cell phone photo taken through the windshield.

As we headed toward the southeastern corner of Minnesota, we found ourselves alone on country highways for long lengths of time.


Not that I’m complaining about the absence of vehicles.  I’m sure that after spending a day or two at home that I’ll be wishing for fewer cars on the road.


The weather during our trip has been very nice.  There was some rain, which fell during the night, so it did not affect our activities.


Our day’s journey ended in Lanesboro, Minnesota, which has been the recipient of the Great American Main Street Award.  Lanesboro, is located close to Amish communities and we have seen some Amish folk during our travels today.

The main street is lined with historic buildings that have been transformed into trendy shops and eateries.

Unlike many Amish communities that I’ve visited in the past, Lanesboro has upscale, trendy shops, which I really enjoyed visiting, instead of shops stocked full of Amish souvenirs.


A few of the shops had a combination of both new and old things, like this old antique that was transformed into a planter.


This shop had an interesting planter with a galvanized pipe with flowers sitting in a dish planted with real grass.


A variety of succulents were displayed with old, wooden boxes.


This alleyway was filled with plants and antiques, which I love.


One interesting observation about our travels this day is the popularity of rhubarb.  

It was planted along the main street.


Rhubarb ice cream was also available in many of the shops.

I bet you didn’t know that rhubarb was so popular did you?



I admit that I didn’t try the rhubarb ice cream flavor.  I went for salted caramel crunch – yum!


Remember the cheese curds that I tried on day 5 of our road trip?  They are everywhere.  I usually see them offered fried.

As our trip draws towards its end, here are a few observations in contrast to living in California and Arizona (places that I’ve lived).

– In almost every restaurant, Coke products aren’t offered – Pepsi is the drink of choice.

– In all of our driving, we have only seen one highway patrol car (in CA and AZ you often see one every few minutes).

– Starbucks is a huge favorite of my mother and during our road trips, we usually make at least one stop there each day.  On this trip, we have hardly seen any Starbucks stores.  But, there have been quite a few other coffee shops, including independent ones.

Tomorrow, we will fly home in the evening from Minneapolis.  My husband has been wonderful taking care of the kids and house while I’ve been gone.  

But, I’m not sure about what he has been feeding the kids…


My 12-year-old son posted this picture of his dinner the other night, which consists of french fries, cheddar cheese and bacon.

I protested the lack of vegetables, which my husband responded to by saying, “We each had 4 mini-carrots to round our dinner.”  He then went on further to say, “And we had vegetables on our pizza for lunch.”

I told my kids that I have quite a few dinners planned when I get home that will have lots of ‘greens’ in them.

*Tomorrow, we will spend the day in Minneapolis and I’m looking forward to visiting my friend and fellow garden blogger, Amy of Get Busy Gardening.  I can’t wait to see her and her garden.  I’ll be sure to share my visit with you!

We have had a busy start to our upper midwest road trip.  


Our journey started with a 4 hour delay in our layover in Denver.  Thankfully, it is a nice airport.


We arrive in Grand Rapids and got straight to our hotel and collapsed.


This morning started out with blue skies, dotted with puffy white clouds and a lot of wind.


The hotel shuttle took us to the airport to get our rental car and the driver asked us where we were from.  We said Arizona and he got very excited.  It turns out that he and his wife are planning on retiring in a few years and want to live in Chandler.  So, he was happy to find people who actually knew about the area.  He asked us if we would send him a copy of the local paper and told us to use his tip for the postage.


As we do on every road trip, as soon as we get the rental car, we head to the store to get some snacks and supplies.


Our first ‘official’ photo of our trip.
Our plan for the day was to head up to Traverse City by way of Manistee, Michigan.  But, our road trips have always been full of unexpected detours. 



As we were driving down the highway, we saw signs for Frederik Meijer Gardens.  Well, needless to say, we took a U-turn and drove into the parking lot.  


Walking up the gardens, you see the large greenhouse dominating the entry.

Gardens in cold climates often have impressive collections of plants that would not survive the cold winters and as a result, a large amount of their collections are grown in greenhouses.

We were able to enter the garden without having to pay an entry fee because this garden had reciprocal membership privileges with the Desert Botanical Garden, of which we are members.

Near the main entry were entrances to different parts of the greenhouse including there arid garden.

I stepped inside to see what types of arid-adapted plants they had.


These are the largest golden barrel cacti (Echinocactus grusonii) I have ever seen.

Many of the plants I was quite familiar with and a few are growing in my Arizona garden.  You can see a fan in the photo, above, which I am sure they use to keep the humidity levels down.

I did not spend more then a couple of minutes in the arid garden because I wanted to see some plants that were different from home, so I decided to explore more of the garden.

Bachelor’s Button

During my previous travels to the midwest, I have become more familiar with the plants that are grown here.  However, many can be grown in my desert garden including bachelor’s button which I’ve grown as a companion plant in my vegetable garden.


There was so much to see in the garden.  I headed to the Children’s Garden, the Michigan Farm Garden and passed by the Horse Garden.


No matter where you live, vegetable gardening is much the same with the planting calendar being the main difference.  


Lilacs were in full bloom and perfumed the air with their fragrance.


As I was walking from the Children’s Garden to the Michigan Farm Garden, I was startled to see the trees part where a HUGE horse stood, which is part of the Horse Garden.  

*To get an idea of how big it really is, to the left of the horse is a navy blue stroller that you can barely see.


I loved the farm garden which depicted a typical Michigan farm of the 1920’s.

While the day was beautiful, it was windy.  As I was walking, I heard a young boy say to his dad, “It’s windy today?  Do you see a funnel cloud?”
Definitely not something you hear in Arizona.


There was so much to see in the gardens and I took over 200 photos, which I will include in a separate post.

After we left the gardens, we stopped by Robinette’s Apple Haus, which is a family-owned orchard that grows 21 different varieties of apples along with other types of fruit.


They are really into apples 😉

After leaving Grand Rapids, we headed north up the west coast of Michigan toward Manistee.

Before exploring the historic downtown of Manistee, it was time for lunch.

I decided to try a traditional Michigan salad with dried cherries, blue cheese, red onions and bacon with cherry vinaigrette.  It was good!



I love the character of old buildings, don’t you?

A small garden was located in the downtown area with various garden sayings.  This one was my favorite.


Paralleling the main street was the Riverwalk, which was beautiful.  It was nice seeing the drawbridge opening for a large sailboat.

I am always on the lookout for interesting container plantings.  But, I was really excited to see this zebrine plant for a different reason.  Back in college as a horticulture student, we had to dissect zebrine plants all the time because they showed up so well under a microscope.  I know that sounds weird, but I’m a plant lady 😉


While I am not a big shopper normally, I do enjoy shopping when on our road trips.  I also love mittens – a lot.  These were so cute, but I have no need for them.  Fingerless mittens are warm enough for Arizona winters.


After we left Manistee, we drove north toward Traverse City and stopped by the Point Betsie Lighthouse.

We parked right by the beach and heard the waves and wind.


As a Southern California native, I found myself frequently referring to Lake Michigan as the ocean.  It is hard to imagine that this is a lake and not an ocean.


The lighthouse is only open on the weekends, so this was as close as we could get, but it was worth it.

Our day ended with dinner in Traverse City where we had some local options for soda flavors…


Have you ever tried ‘Local Northwoods Soda’ or ‘Wild Bill’s Root Beer’?

Tomorrow we are off to explore Traverse City, Petosky and more adventures…
There is little that can compare to the dramatic silhouette that Ocotillo add to the landscape.

I have been fascinated by these plants ever since I moved to the desert, over 27 years ago.

Since then, I have planted Ocotillo in landscapes around golf courses and even have one of my own, which was a gift for Mother’s Day years ago.

If you would like to learn more about Ocotillo including the fact that they are actually shrubs and not cactus, like many people assume – please check out my latest article for Houzz.com

Architecture, interior design, and more ∨

Hire residential landscape architects to help with all aspects of landscape design, from selecting or designing garden furniture, to siting a detached garage or pergola.
As you get ready to host an event, be sure you have enough dining benches and dishes for dinner guests, as well as enough bakeware and kitchen knives sets for food preparation.

**I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and that your refrigerator is filled with delicious leftovers 🙂

Now on to Christmas, my FAVORITE time of year!

Yesterday, I showed you a photo of a citrus tree that I came upon during a landscape consultation.  



I mentioned that there was more then one problem affecting this tree.  There are actually two large problems and one small problem.

Problem #1: Look at the area near the trunk.  Notice a little green shoot coming up from a small citrus root?

This innocent-looking little sucker can cause a lot of problems if allowed to grow.  The reason for this is that citrus trees are grafted onto a vigorous rootstock.

Basically, the top of a citrus tree and the roots come from different plants.  Citrus trees we enjoy in our landscape don’t have a particularly strong root system.  So, they are grafted onto a thorny, citrus tree that has vigorous roots and sour fruit.


Occasionally, small suckers from the thorny, citrus tree start to grow up from the roots or the base of the trunk below the bud union.  The bud union is a bulge around the lower part of the tree, about a foot above the ground.  Any suckers that originate from below the bud union should be removed, because if allowed to grow – the thorny citrus tree will grow and take over.

Now, back to our original picture for our second problem…


Problem #2: Look closely at the soil and you can see signs of shallow irrigation. How can you tell? Look at the small citrus roots criss crossing out from the tree.  In a properly watered citrus tree, you shouldn’t see the roots at all.

This indicates that when the tree is irrigated, that the water is not turned on long enough to penetrate to the recommended 3 ft. depth.

When I pointed this out to the homeowner, she indicated that if the water is turned for too long, that it runs out from the basin.

There are two solutions for this problem.  

 Elevate the sides of the basin to at least 6 inches high and allow to fill with water.  Next, check to see how deeply you have watered by taking a long, narrow stick or piece of rebar and push it into the wet soil.  It should go down fairly easily to the point where the water permeates.  Pull it back out and you will get a good idea of how much more or less water you will need.

– If after trying the first solution and you still haven’t hit the recommended 3 ft. depth, then try this trick – water in the morning, filling up the basin.  Allow the water to sink and fill the basin again later in the day.  This should help you achieve the right depth.


The smaller problem is really nothing to be overly concerned about…



If you look closely, some of the leaves have ragged edges and holes.  The damage is caused by the Orange Dog Caterpillar.  This caterpillar appears in the summer months and resemble ‘bird poop’ which makes them hard to spot.  


These caterpillars will turn into the beautiful Giant Swallowtail butterfly.  Mature citrus trees can usually handle the damage from the caterpillars, so in most cases, the best thing to do is nothing.

For additional resources for raising citrus in the Valley of the Sun and other areas throughout the Southwest, check out this helpful link.


Do you have citrus trees in your landscape?  Which kinds?

Welcome to the second edition of “AZ Plant Lady  House Calls.  


Earlier this month, I shared with you a landscape dilemma that a homeowner needed help with.  I was able to help her find a solution that would introduce color and herbs to a sunny corner of her garden. 


Well, this same homeowner had another problem area.



This shady area lies next to her sliding glass door and she has had a tough time getting anything to grow in this area.  

You can see some straggly Vinca minor and a raised container growing a few weeds. 
I have rarely seen nice-looking Vinca minor growing in our area – so it is not a plant I recommend.

The homeowner wanted a plant for her container that would flourish along with a flowering groundcover.

What would you do in this area?

Believe it or not, it can be hard to find a plant that can handle our hot, dry temperatures that can also do well in shady areas.  But, there are a few.


Recommendation: Purchase an orange-colored container to add some color to this area and plant a Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sanseveria trifasciata) in the container.  

For an extra decorative touch, you can add black pebbles on the top of the planting soil.

This tropical plant will add height and texture and is very easy to grow.  *Protect from freezing temperatures by bringing them indoors.

Years ago, I worked for a golf course community that had large containers in full shade by the front doors of the clubhouse.  After trying many different kinds of plants – this was the one that did the best.


Around the base of the raised container, I recommended planting 5 Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia).

These do great in light shade and bloom off and on all year.  They grow well in zones 9 – 11.


The leaves are small and so are the flowers on this groundcover that grows approximately 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide.

The purple flowers will provide great contrast to the new orange container.

Both the Mother-in-law’s Tongue and Mexican Heather are low-maintenance and will flourish in this shady spot.

So, what do you think of this solution? Do you have a shady area where you have a hard time growing anything?

I hope you enjoyed the latest edition of “AZ Plant Lady Virtual House Call”.  I will be posting more in the future in the hopes that I can help you with an issue you may be facing in your own garden.

Oftentimes when I am called to help a homeowner with their landscape, they pose a problem and/or a question about a certain area in their landscape.


I will share a few with, you now and then, in the hopes that I can help those of you who may have a similar situation.


Okay, let’s first look at this resident’s sunny area…



As you can see, there is a young citrus tree growing in this corner bed.  

The resident, who was from Europe, wanted to create a Southern European garden theme in her backyard.  However, in this area, she disliked the appearance of the bare wall around her citrus tree.  She wanted to have a retaining wall installed and raise the level of the bed and plant an assortment of herbs, which would cover part of the bare expanse of the wall.

The problem, is that you cannot raise the level of soil or you will suffocate the roots of the citrus tree.  Plants need the oxygen that is present in the soil.  Most of the oxygen is found in the upper levels of soil.  Adding more soil would decrease the amount of oxygen where the plant roots currently are located.

Taking out the citrus tree and replanting it into a raised bed was not an option in this case.

 So, what would you do in this area? 

Recommendation: Add three tall (3 feet or higher), colorful, glazed pots and place them up against the wall – one in the corner and the other two on either side.  Select pots in bright colors such as blue or orange, which will add a punch of color to the landscape AND plant an assortment of herbs in the pots.

Herbs are quite tough and can handle being in containers better then other flowering plants during the summer months and on through winter.

As the citrus tree grows and shades this spot more, the resident can switch out the sun-loving herbs for container plants that enjoy shady conditions.

 So, what do you think of this solution? Do you have an area like this where you want to add color up against a bare wall?

I hope you enjoyed my first “AZ Plant Lady House Call”.  I will be posting more in the future in the hopes that I can help you with an issue you may be facing in your own garden.

Have you ever been on television before?


I hadn’t until 2 weeks ago.  To be frank, the idea was a bit scary to me.  

Do you remember way back, when you were in school and had to present a report in front of the entire class?  That is what I imagined it would feel like – except worse.


I have done work before cameras doing how-to videos, but it wasn’t quite the same since they can retake the video every time you mess up. 


This was going to be live TV…


So, how did this all come about?  I assure that I don’t have an agent looking to book TV shows for me 😉


The producer of our local ABC television station contacted me about appearing on their morning show, called Sonoran Living (we live in the Sonoran desert, hence the name).


She asked me to do a segment on plants for fall.



So, I came up with a list of a few of my favorite ‘fuss-free’ plants and headed out the nursery.

I visited 3 different nurseries to see which ones had the best looking plants.  Then I waited until 2 days before my appearance to pick them up.

You know what true love is?  It is when your husband traipses through the nursery with you without an umbrella in the pouring rain 🙂


It was so rainy for the next couple of days that I kept the plants on my patio and took some time to do a little ‘window dressing’ pruning away dead flowers and branches so that they would look their best.

My youngest sister, Grace, volunteered to come with me to the studio and help me set up for my segment.  So, I loaded up the plants and my little cart and we headed out to downtown Phoenix and the television studio.

When we arrived, the security guard let us in and showed us the studio and then led us to the green room.


I did walk through the studio before anyone got there, to see what it looked like because I knew I wouldn’t see it again since my segment was to be filmed out on their patio.


 My sister, who is a professional photographer, told me to pose up front where the hosts of the show come out every morning.


We headed to the green room where we saw the order of the upcoming segments.  

I must admit that I was both more nervous and yet relieved that mine was to go first, so that I could get it over with more quickly.


We were led outside to the patio, which had a golfing green.  I’m not sure why there was a green – maybe the news anchors like to golf during their breaks?

Another reason I was so glad my sister came with me was that in addition to moral support, she is great at staging.  So she did the plant placement for me along with some of the props that I brought.


She will tell you that she has no particular talent in staging, but she is wrong!  Just look at how well the plants look together.


I brought gardening tools and my leather gloves because I was told to bring props.


I posed for a few pictures while waiting.  The plants next to me are Blue Bells (Eremophila hygrophana) and Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera).

It was so humid that morning because of all the rain, that my carefully curled hair was rapidly becoming UN-curled 😉


I was told to prepare for a ‘teaser’ before my segment, so I tried to look busy putting a plant marker in my pot of chives.

One of the hosts (Terri Ouellette) of Sonoran Living came out early to meet me and go over what I was going to talk about.  She was very nice and I told her that I had been watching her on TV since the 90’s.

It was almost time to go and they wired me up with a mike and they put a monitor outside so we could see what the television audience saw.  


Instead of beginning the show inside the studio, they started it outside and then it was time for my segment.

The segment went smoothly and while my nerves showed a little, I actually enjoyed it.  I did mess up by saying “All of these shrubs need pruning one year”, when I meant to say that they need pruning once a year.

After it was over and the commercial was running, our host Terri said that she wanted me on again – so I guess I didn’t mess it up too badly.


Before we left, my sister asked if she could take a picture of me with the host.  I was too embarrassed to ask myself, so I was glad she did 🙂

So, would I do this again?

I received an email the day after from the producer saying that she wanted me back in 3 months.  I’d told her that I’d be happy too.


I think that I will enjoy it more next time and have fewer nerves.


If you haven’t had a chance to see the video, here is the link – “Ready? Fuss Free Plants for Fall”.