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Last July, we had some guests visiting us from Missouri.  There visit was to be only 48 hours and so we planned a day trip, packed with activities in order to show them parts of our beautiful state.


So, we took them up to Sedona, which is a stunningly beautiful area, less then 2 hours from our home.  As we started the drive north of Phoenix, our friends were amazed at the beauty of the desert and marveled at all of the Saguaro cacti that dotted the landscape.


Soon, the cacti disappeared and pinyon pine started to appear and we soon saw the red mountains of Sedona in the distance.




Sedona is one of my favorite places to visit and we make it up there at least once a year.


Our primary destination in Sedona was a place called ‘Tlaquapaque’, which is a recreation of a Mexican village.  This recreated village is actually full of shops – mostly full of creations from local artists.  Although, I must admit that my favorite store is the Christmas store 🙂


There is just something so inviting about an archway that says “Shops” over it, isn’t there?


Tlaquepaque is a very beautiful place with many specimen trees, shrubs and plants.


As we walked around, our guests headed straight for the shops, while I spent most of my time looking at the gardens.  

I was especially interested in the beautiful container plantings that they had.
Here are a few of my favorites….

Coreopsis, Zinnias and Toadflax


Coleus and Impatiens

An entire walkway was lined with containers full of annuals.

Potted Geraniums and Variegated Ivy

Did you know that Bougainvillea make great container plants?  Look how beautiful they look when trained upward against a wall, below.


Bougainvillea don’t like wet soil and like to be watered deeply and then allowed to dry out in between, which makes them suitable for containers.
 

Indian Fig Prickly Pear

I thought this was an interesting potted plant.  Now most Prickly Pear species are NOT suitable for being planted in pots because of their thorns and ‘glochids’, which are the tiny, brown hairs that get stuck in your fingers.

But, Indian Fig Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a thornless species of Prickly Pear, which makes it okay for use in a container.

Petunias and Purple Coneflower
As I walked around taking photos, I noticed that I was close to my favorite Christmas store, so I ducked inside….


This store (I forgot the name) features beautiful, handmade Christmas ornaments.  I have bought some of my favorite decorations here.  

The display above features a dried agave stalk that they have hung ornaments from.
I resisted the urge to buy more ornaments for myself, but I did purchase an ornament for our guests to take home to remember their trip to Arizona.  It was a dried, red chili with a Santa face and beard painted on it.

As I stepped out of the store, I heard Indian song and drums….


 Imagine my surprise to see an Indian hoop dancer, performing.



My family and our guests enjoyed the performance very much.  

Especially my daughter, Gracie (far right), who in the past was scared of Indians because of their painted faces (from the movies, I think).

She loved the performance and afterward…. 



Posed for this picture and shared it with her school.


We had a fabulous day with our friends and on our way home, decided to treat them to another regional treat….

In-n-Out Burger 🙂

Today, I visited our local big box store to buy some summer annuals for my containers.  Each time I visit, I mentally prepare myself ahead of time because I usually get frustrated at the fact that they frequently sell the wrong plants for the wrong time of year.  I have posted about this before, which you can read here if you like.

In the meantime, I thought I would give you a pop-quiz.  I know, I know….no one likes pop quizzes.  In high school, those words would create a sinking feeling in my stomach every time.  But I promise, I will give you the answers and I am an easy grader 😉
 
The following are flowers that were offered for sale today.   Some are summer annuals for our area and some are winter annuals, which will soon die from the coming summer heat.  Are you ready for the quiz?  There are two possible answers for each question – summer or winter flower. 
 Petunias
Winter or Summer Annual?
  
Celosia
 Winter or Summer Flowers?
 
Vinca
Winter or Summer?
 
Lobelia
Winter or Summer Annual?
 
 
Verbena
Winter or Summer Flowers?
 
Alyssum
Winter or Summer?
 
 
Impatiens
Winter or Summer Annual?
 
Red Salvia
Winter or Summer?
 
Begonia
Winter or Summer Flower?
 
Portulaca
Winter or Summer Annual?
 
I told you I would give you the answers, so here they are:
 
Petunias – Winter
Celosia – Summer
Vinca – Summer
Lobelia – Winter
Verbena – Summer
Alyssum – Winter
Impatiens – Winter
Red Salvia – Summer
Begonia – Winter
Portulaca – Summer
 
How did you do?  It is not easy to tell looking at the flowers which one will do well in summer and which ones do best in winter. 
 
I do go to big box stores and buy plants because they are usually inexpensive.  BUT, I DO NOT rely on their advice or the fact that if they are carrying certain plants, that they are appropriate to plant at that time of year.  Shopping at big box store nurseries only works if you do your research ahead of time.  Just because they have a plant on display does not mean that it will survive for long in your garden.
For example, the big box store had winter and summer annual flowers displayed right next to each other (above).  There was no way to know that the one on the right would survive the summer and that the one on the left would soon be dead from the summer heat.
 
If you are uncertain about what plants to purchase, then I recommend doing your own research OR going to a local nursery, where you may pay a little more, but you can receive expert advice on the right type of plant to plant the right time of year.
 
I ended up buying two Radiation lantana for my front containers.  Lantana are great summer flowers and I then transplant them into my garden in the fall.
 
**Butterfly update – the caterpillars are still within their chrysalis.  I am hoping they emerge early next week.  I have had to bring them indoors the past two nights because the temperatures have dropped below 55 degrees.  I will keep you updated 🙂
 
I hope you all have a great weekend!