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One of the most difficult places in the landscape to grow plants is in areas that receive full sun as well as reflected heat.

Reflected heat occurs when sidewalks, walls, and patio decks absorb the heat during the day only to  re-radiate that heat back out.

As you can imagine, when you couple the intensity of areas that get full sun AND reflected heat, it can be hard to find plants that can not only survive, but add beauty to these spaces.

Thankfully, there are a number of attractive plants that will thrive in these hot spots.

I recently shared 10 shrubs, in my latest article for Houzz, that can handle full sun as well as reflected heat.


Do you have a plant that you like that does well in full, reflected sun?


**For additional shrub suggestions, I recommend Mary Irish’s book, Trees and Shrubs for the Southwest.





Do you enjoy winter?


I do.  Surprisingly, the desert Southwest has definite seasons and winters can get cold with temps dipping into the 20’s.  

Frost-damaged natal plum


Unfortunately, the cold temperatures can wreak havoc on our frost tender plants such as bougainvillea, lantana and yellow bells – to name a few.

Let’s face it, no one likes the sight of brown, crispy, frost-damaged plants in the landscape.  Often, our first impulse is to prune off the ugly growth – but, did you know that you can actually do more damage by pruning it off too early?


Learn what plants are most commonly affected by frost damage, when to prune and how in my latest article for Houzz.com

I hope your week is off to a great start!


Do you have a birdhouse in your garden?  Is it decorative or do have there ever been birds taking up residence inside?


This is a story about the birdhouses on the family farm, including one that has an unusual function.


Double S Farms is five minutes down the road from our house and is where my youngest sister and her family live along with my mother.


I am over at the farm at least once a week – usually for the weekly dinner that my mother cooks for our entire clan.  It is a special time when I get to spend time with my siblings, their spouses and kids.  We get to catch up with each other’s lives and get to enjoy delicious food, cooked by my mother, Pastor Farmer. 
(My mother is a retired pastor who loves growing food on their small farm).


The backyard is dotted with numerous trees including apple, kumquat, almond, pecan, peach, apricto, plum, orange, lemon and grapefruit.  But, I always seem to find myself strolling by my mother’s raised vegetable beds to see what she is growing.

This past week, she was excited to show me her newest birdhouse.

Now, my mother has is a collector and has passed that gene along to her oldest daughter (me).  One of her collections consists of birdhouses.  Over the years, she has pared this collection of aviary homes down.  But there is still a small collection of birdhouses in her garden…


I love this birdhouse, which is purely decorative.  But, the chickens seem to find it a nice perch back when it stood in the chicken yard…


Now it sits with in the fenced-in vegetable garden area.


The gardens are now fenced in because the netting was not enough to keep the chickens out – including ‘Francie’ my sister’s naked-neck chicken (yes, her neck is supposed to be featherless).


If you look closely behind the first birdhouse, you will see one that looks like the ‘Tin Man’s head’ from the Wizard of Oz. 


Like the other birdhouse, it is also decorative.  I remember being with her when she bought it at a roadside nursery just outside of Carmel, Indiana during our Midwest road trip.

There are many nesting sites around Double S Farms and the birdhouse below, is one of them.


This birdhouse hangs from the Mesquite tree.  It is made from a gourd that I grew, dried and then made into a birdhouse for her.  I love this gourd birdhouse and have one in my own garden.

Well, now to the unusual birdhouse…


It doesn’t look all that unusual at first glance.

But, what this birdhouse is hiding is not a nest, but my mother’s hand tools that she uses for her vegetable garden.

They are easily accessible and are always on hand when she needs to harvest vegetables, remove weeds, etc.

She came up with this idea herself and just loves it.  The birdhouse was bought at our local Ace Hardware store and the top lifts up, making it easy to access her tools.

What types of birdhouses do you have in your garden?  


Are they decorative or have you had birds set up house in any of them?


The past two weekends have been busy ones in my household, or should I say, gardens.


The beginning of October signals great planting weather for all types of plants and vegetables.  As a result, I have been busy planting cool season vegetables in my edible gardens as well as sprucing up my container plantings.

Introducing my granddaughter to the wonders of plants at our local nursery.

The past two weekends involved visits to the nursery to peruse the vegetables as well as a few other types of plants.

It is very hard for this horticulturist to NOT get carried away with buying plants.  I try very hard to stick to my list of plants but I often fail and come home with another plant or two. 


In addition to my regular cool-season vegetables, I decided to introduce four other vegetables this year… 


Kale (I may try making Kale ‘chips’ and also using the younger leaves in salads).


Swiss chard (I plan to use the young leaves in salads).

Artichoke (I’m not sure if I will harvest the artichokes or let them continue to grow, since artichokes make great ornamental plants too).

The last vegetable I will be trying this year is celery.  Now, celery is said to be fussy and hard to grow in the Phoenix area.  But, part of the fun of gardening is experimenting.  So, I bought 2 celery transplants, just to see what will happen.

Of course, I have many other types of vegetables in the garden.  Most have been planted, but I still have some still to plant.

Later this week, I will show you what else I have planted in the garden.

Do you grow vegetables?  If not, it is easy to do and you don’t even need a plot of land.  You can grow vegetables in pots if you like.  

**Last week, I took you along on my shopping trip to the produce section of my local supermarket in my quest to create a natural, fall centerpiece.  I promise to show you what I came home with and what I created with vegetables and fruit in my next post.