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In the past, I have shown parts of my garden, but never a comprehensive look.  So, I thought I would share with you a more comprehensive look at my garden.


First, I’d like to show you my newest part of my garden, which is located on the side of my house – just outside of my kitchen window.  


This part of the garden is looking remarkably good considering that it is still winter.  For those of us who are fortunate to live in the Southwest, we didn’t really experience much of a winter this year.
In fact, I recall only 1 week of freezing temps and that happened back in December.




This is the largest of my three vegetable gardens.  It is hard to believe that it didn’t exist 2 years ago.

I had always dreamed of having a nice side garden and because ours is rather large, there were many possibilities.  So, we decided to create an edible garden in this area.
You can read our planting journey, here. 

This year, I planted Swiss chard for the first time and don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner – I love this plant!

Well, I don’t really like it cooked (but I’m weird that way).  I do like to use it in salads along with leaf lettuce.  My kids even eat it!

I think it also looks really pretty too with its brightly-colored stems.

In the corner, is my single artichoke plant.


It was about 6 inches high when I planted it last fall.  Needless to say, it has grown so fast.  I can’t wait to see the artichoke buds (the part you eat) begin to form.

I will harvest some of the artichokes, but also plan to allow some to turn into flowers, which are beautiful and fragrant.

I like the idea of using artichokes as ornamental plants as well as for eating.


In the center of this vegetable garden sits a stump from a eucalyptus tree that we had to cut down to make space for this particular garden.

An old watering can sits onto of the stump and I fill it with cool-season annuals.  This year it is purple violas and alyssum.

In summer, the watering can sits empty, because it is too hot for plants to grow in it.  Roots will literally ‘cook’ in small containers during the summer.  I think it looks just fine without plants for part of the year.


The second crop of radishes of the season are just beginning to come up.  There is still time to plant radishes before it gets too hot.


Behind the vegetable garden are two apple trees.  They are growing so well during their first year.  I will have to wait a couple more years before I get any apples, so I’m trying to be patient.

I planted garlic around the base, in order to help keep borers away.

Not shown – behind the apple trees are blackberry bushes.  I had a great crop of last spring.  I plan on making blackberry jam this year!


Along the garden wall is one of my favorite shrubs called ‘Pink Beauty’ (Eremophila laanii), which is evergreen in my zone 9a garden and has pink flowers in winter and spring.  

It rarely needs pruning as long as it has enough room to grow – mine stands at 9 feet tall.

Next to is Pink Trumpet Vine and Yellow Bells shrubs, which serve two purposes.  The first, is that the cover up an ugly, bare wall.  Second, they help to cool the garden down because the shrubs keep the wall from re-radiating heat that it absorbs in the day.


The buds on my peach tree have not begun to swell yet, but it is just a matter of time.


My other peach tree is covered in blossoms.  Planted just last winter, it produced 19 peaches for me last year.


My herb container sits in front of the vegetable garden and is filled with lovely, purple petunias.  I like to add flowers to my herb pots for an extra splash of color.


I hope you enjoyed the tour of my side garden.

Next time, I will show you the main part of my backyard and maybe a peek at the ‘other’ side yard, which I never show anyone.

What is growing in your garden this February?  
I’d love to hear about it.

Have you experienced a warmer then normal winter this year?

I certainly have, although I’m not complaining because my garden loves it.  I took a walk around the garden and was so pleased to see quite a few plants blooming….

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)
My purple lilac vine blooms this time every year, which makes it a great vine for the garden.  The foliage is evergreen in my zone 9a garden through out the year, which is also a plus.
It can be hard to find this flowering vine in the nursery later in the year.  So, grab it now if you want one.
Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
 
Firecracker penstemon is my favorite plant.  I starts blooming in January and goes until May.  Hummingbirds love it too!
Pink Beauty (Eremophila laanii)
My pink beauty shrub has grown tall 8 ft.), which I love because it covers an expanse of bare wall in the garden.  This Australian native is evergreen in my garden.
Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)

This is my second favorite plant.  Valentine flowers from December through May in my garden, with the peak bloom arriving on Valentine’s Day!  Hardy to zone 8.

Purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis)

Normally, my purple trailing lantana is brown and crispy from frost – but not this year.  Butterflies just love this plant.
Pink Trumpet Vine (Podranea ricasoliana)
My pink trumpet vine blooms next to my vegetable garden.  I just love this plant too!

How about you?  Do you have anything blooming in your garden this month?

Well anyone who knows me well, would definitely have a hard time believing that I actually wrote a title like this one.

For those of you who may not know me personally….I will let you in on a secret – I love getting a good deal and living simply.  My mother (Pastor Farmer) is very good at this as was her mother, so I guess it is in my DNA.  I love shopping sales and coming home with items that normally would have cost much more.

When I quit my full-time job as a landscape designer, we had to make some cuts to our household budget which was a challenge that I actually enjoyed, especially at the grocery store.  My daughter Ruthie is always asking me how much I saved each week at our local grocery store.  I think she is on her way to becoming a saver as well.

I am also a huge proponent on saving money in the garden as well and it is really not difficult to do while still having a beautiful garden.  Now you would expect that the best way to save $ in the garden is by downsizing and you would be partly right.  You can definitely save money by downsizing, but it does not always save you money.
I am going to share with you a great way to add beauty to your garden, decrease your maintenance and save money.  It is really so simple that I hope you are inspired to try this in your own garden.
Okay, are you ready?  All you need to do is to purchase shrubs that will grow to a large size.  You may be asking, is that all?  YES!  
Many shrubs will grow to a large size, which takes up space in the garden.  The more space covered equals fewer plants needed.  Large shrubs also are great at covering up bare walls, hiding pool equipment / air-conditioning units while adding beauty, particularly if you select a flowering shrub.
My Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans) shrub easily grows to 7 ft tall and wide.  Mine covers approximately 30 sq. ft. of area in my garden while providing beautiful flowers 9 months out of the year.  It also helps to cover up my bare wall.
Want more examples?
This is a ‘Torch Glow’ Bougainvillea that I placed along my father-in-law’s back garden wall.  Paired with two others, their unique branching habit along with their bright colors really provided a great focal point.
Now people either love or hate Oleanders (Nerium oleander).  For the average garden, I do NOT recommend planting the large varieties.  But, the dwarf forms of Oleanders do grow to a good size and can reach heights of 6 ft.  Since Oleanders are so easy to grow, many people have them in their gardens.
So, if you would like to include some in your garden, I recommend trying a red flowered variety since most Dwarf Oleanders seen in landscapes are the pink and salmon colors.  (Be aware that all parts of Oleanders are poisonous).
 When you talk to newcomers to the desert southwest, they often ask about the beautiful large shrubs with orange/red flowers are planted along the freeways.  
Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is beautiful in the summer landscape and as you can see, hides a bare wall very well.  Maintenance in my zone 8b area is very simple – just prune back to 1 ft. in January and they will soon grow back to 6 ft. high in the summer months.  **Another helpful tip to help prolong bloom – prune back lightly (by 1/4) in August to extend the bloom period throughout October and early November.
I just love the unique flowers of Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica), so do hummingbirds.  I love both the beauty and low maintenance of these shrubs.  Please do not prune them into ‘balls’…..they are so beautiful in their natural form 🙂
If you prefer more green then flowers, then the following shrubs may be more to your taste….

 
Hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa)
 You could easily put 5 small shrubs along with 3 groundcovers in this area….where just 2 Photinia (Photinia fraseri) fit very well in the area above.
 
Many of you may be surprised to find out that many of the shrubs you already have in your own garden can grow quite a bit larger then you let them.  The solution to the problem is quite easy…..stop over pruning them and let them grow.  The alternative is to plant multiple shrubs in a given space and as they grow,  you are forced to keep pruning them back to keep them from crowding each other.
 
Well how about buying a single 1-gallon shrub (you don’t need to spend extra for a 5-gallon) and give it space to grow?  You will be rewarded with more $ in your pocket, a large beautiful shrub and fewer plants to prune and maintain.
Yes, your new 1-gallon Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) will look scrawny – but not for long….
Other suggestions for shrubs that will grow large:
Littleleaf Cordia  (Cordia parvifolia)
Orange Jubilee  (Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’)
 Pink Beauty  (Eremophila laanii)Feathery Cassia  (Senna artemisioides)
Chaparral Sage  (Salvia clevelandii)
 
You may be wondering where my next post on our trip to the east coast will come.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if they were becoming somewhat boring – especially for those who read my blog for gardening topics.  So, I thought that I had better write a gardening post.  I promise that I will write more about our trip  – our visit to Amish country was just fabulous.
Have a great week everyone!

 An example of a “front garden”.


 What word do you use for the area surrounding your home?  Do you call it a ‘yard’ or a ‘garden’?  

I looked up the definition of the word ‘yard’ regarding the land surrounding a house and here is what I found:

1. A tract of ground next to, surrounding or surrounded by a building or buildings.

2. A tract of ground, often enclosed, used for a particular business or activity. 

3. An area where railroad trains are made up and cars are switched, stored, and serviced on tracks and sidings.

4.  A winter pasture for deer or other grazing animals, or an enclosed tract of ground in which animals, such as chickens or pigs, are kept.

Now, I don’t have any trains in my yard or deer, chickens or pigs either.  I do have animals in my yard, but my dogs spend most of their time indoors.

Of all these definitions, the first one best describes my ‘yard’.  But it is so much more than a “tract of ground surrounding a building”.
My back ‘garden’ in the summer.
 
So, I looked up the definition of the word, ‘garden’.  Here is what I found:

1. A plot of land used for the cultivation of flowers, vegetables, herbs, or fruit.

2. Grounds laid out with flowers, trees, and ornamental shrubs and used for recreation or display.
 
3. A yard or lawn.

Now some people may not feel comfortable referring to their ‘yard’ as a garden.  They may feel that their landscape is inadequate.
 Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny Ireland

Well, I don’t see anything in the definitions of the word, ‘garden’ that means that you have to have beautiful, formal, extravagant landscaping around your home.  You don’t see the word ‘castle’ mentioned in the definition, do you?

I think the definition(s) of the word, ‘garden,’ describe the landscape around my house much more accurately than the word ‘yard.’  I have flowers growing in containers, I have a vegetable garden, I have flowering plants, ornamental shrubs, and trees.

 Winter Annuals

Okay, you may be asking, “What if I only have a single tree and a couple of shrubs in my landscape?  Does that mean that I only have a ‘yard’, or can I call it a ‘garden.’  Well, if you look at the definitions from the dictionary, I think the word, ‘garden’ certainly applies.  But, it certainly couldn’t hurt if you decide to add more trees and plants in my opinion 😉

A few years ago, I stopped referring to the area surrounding my home as a ‘yard’.  I didn’t think that the term ‘yard’  described the landscape surrounding my house.  (When I managed landscapes, we had a ‘maintenance yard’ where all of our equipment was kept and our offices were also located there as well.  The term ‘yard’ did describe what we used that parcel of land for – a specific business or activity.  But it certainly was not a term that I wanted for the area around my home.)

My side vegetable ‘garden’


Now, my landscape is not particularly fancy…it’s rather simple, filled with plants that I love.  And so I decided that I did not have a ‘yard.’  To be more specific, I did not have a ‘front yard’, ‘backyard’ or even a ‘side yard’.  I had a garden.  Today, I refer to them as my ‘front garden’, ‘back garden’ and ‘side garden’. 
 Pink Beauty (Eremophila laanii)
When I meet with clients, I like to refer to their landscape areas as their front garden and back garden.  My hope is that they will see their “yard” as what it really is…..a garden.



So, what do you have?  A ‘garden’ or a ‘yard’?
Welcome to my first Fertilizer Friday.  On this day, I am so excited to get to show you what is flowering out in my garden.
 
We have had unusually cool weather these past few days and some rain.  In the desert, we almost always welcome the rain, which will soon be gone for a few months until the summer rains begin.

 Pink Beauty (Eremophila laanii)


 Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans)

Even though the flowers are not red or purple, the hummingbirds love to visit the yellow flowers of my Yellow Bells.
 
 Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)

I have had to prune back most of my Firecracker Penstemon a week ago, but should get a second flush of bloom soon.  This flower is one of the few that I have peeking out.
 
Pink Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides)
I have two Pink Bower Vines that line either side of the entry to my house.  They bloom most of the year, but slow down somewhat during the heat of the summer.
  
Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddinggii)
My Verbena has been blooming nonstop for two months.  She has been kind enough to have self seeded in order to give me two new plants as well.
  
 Bougainvillea
My Bougainvillea are beginning to produce their colorful brachts again.  The actual flower of the Bougainvillea is not the colorful outer leaves (brachts), but actually the tiny cream colored flower in the center.
My last contribution to my first Fertilizer Friday is the first few flowers of my Orange Jubilee shrub.  I love how tall this shrub grows, it’s lush green foliage and of course the pretty orange flowers.
 
 Orange Jubilee (Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’)

I have enjoyed participating in my first Fertilizer Friday, which is the creation of Tootsie Time.  Please visit her to see what is blooming in other gardens today.
**By the way….my youngest daughter has a surprise that she would like to share with you all tomorrow.  It is kind of gross right now, but will end up just beautiful in the end. 

I am so happy it is Friday!

The weather has warmed into the low 70’s this week and the flowers are beginning to burst out of their buds….

 Pink Beauty (Eremophily laanii)
 The first few blooms are beginning to appear on this Australian native.
Grows up to 6 ft. high and blooms spring through fall.
Desert Senna (Senna artemisiodes sturtii)
Another of my Australian favorites and are drought tolerant and extremely easy to grow.
Grows up to 6 ft. high and flowers in the spring. 

 
Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
This Southwest Desert native has reached full bloom, causing hummingbirds to eagerly drink of it’s nectar.
Grows up to 2 ft. high, when flowering.  Blooms winter through spring (removing spent flowers, will cause more blooms to form and prolong the flowering period).
 
‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde (Parkinsonia hybrid ‘Desert Museum’)
It’s early, but the first few blooms on my Palo Verde tree are starting to appear.  
This beautiful tree grows approximately 30 ft. high and wide.  In late spring, the tree will be a mass of beautiful yellow flowers.
 
 Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides)
This blossom is ready to open and join it’s neighbors and reveal its magenta heart.
Grows on a trellis for support and blooms fall through spring in the desert. 

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)
My second favorite Australian native, is in full bloom and is buzzing with bees.
Grows on a trellis or as a groundcover.  Blooms in February. 

 
Violas and Alyssum
My annuals have bloomed non-stop all winter and show no signs of quitting any time soon.
 
Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)
My favorite Australian native who is aptly named for the time of year when it reaches full bloom.
Grows approximately 3 ft. high and wide.  Blooms December through April.
This is my monthly contribution to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, which occurs on the 15th of each month.  Please visit Carol of May Dreams Gardens to see what is blooming in other gardens around the world.