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Do you ever find yourself wishing that you had flowers to give to a friend or to decorate your table?


Instead of heading out to the store for a generic bouquet, how about creating a lovely bouquet straight from your garden?


Now before you say that you don’t have any flowers suitable for a bouquet, think again.  


Here are several bouquets from my garden and a few from the family farm….


Isn’t this a lovely arrangement?

Believe it or not, the flowers in these vases all came from plants that many of you probably have in your own garden.

My mother created this arrangement using gold lantana (Lantana ‘New Gold Mound’), orange jubilee (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee) and Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) flowers.  As you can see, it is beautiful, didn’t cost her anything and took minutes to create.


This is a bouquet that I created using flowers from my late winter garden.  Pink and white globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) coupled with Goodding’s verbena (Glandularia gooddingii) are a vision of pinks and purples.


I used a small pitcher to put cuttings of purple trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis), angelita daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) and flowers from my cascalote tree (Caesalpinia cacalaco).


This antique milk of magnesia glass jar makes the perfect vase for sweet white alyssum (Lobularia maritima) , purple violas and pink bower vine (Pandorea jasminoides) flowers.


Flowers aren’t the only thing from the garden that you can use to create a bouquet with.  

A mason jar filled with cut branches from a kumquat tree looks lovely on this table in winter.


Maybe your winter garden has no flowers.  Well, don’t let that stop you.  A small vase filled with seedpods and dried leaves from a Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) looks great on my mother’s diningroom table.


Perhaps you’ve never thought that petunias could look be used in a vase.  But, if you use a small, shallow bowl, they can add a beautiful spot of color on your table.


Of course, roses always make a lovely bouquet.

Bouquets created from items in your garden are a great way to add a personal touch of beauty to your space.

So, are you inspired to create your own unique garden bouquet?  Step outside in your garden and take a new look at your plants – you’ll probably be surprised at how many would look nice in a vase.

**How about you?  What plants would you use to create a bouquet with?

Do you have citrus trees?  If you live in zone 9 or higher, chances that you or your neighbor has a citrus tree or two growing in their backyard.



It may be hard for those who live in colder climates to understand, but those of who grow citrus often have more than we can eat.  In fact, it’s not unusual to see boxes and bags filled with citrus fruit by the curb free for the taking. Sometimes excess citrus fruit is simply left on the tree or falls to the ground.


While it’s true that you can only eat so much citrus in the few months it appears in your tree, did you know that there are other ways you can use citrus?

Here are 5 creative ways to use citrus:

1. Citrus Natural Air Fresheners


Who doesn’t love the fresh scent of citrus?  Well, you can bring the scents of citrus into your home by making your own natural air fresheners.

In addition to citrus, you can add other fragrant ingredients such as mint, thyme, vanilla and even basil and peppercorns.

Click here to learn how easy it is to make your own – they make great gifts too!

2. Citrus Bouquets


The leaves of citrus are dark green and glossy and they make a great filler in bouquets.  

If you have a citrus tree that produces smaller fruit such as a kumquat or lime tree, you can cut a few branches and leave the fruit on it for a colorful, natural centerpiece.

3. Natural Citrus Cleaner


Did you know that the peels of citrus can be used to make an effective, natural cleaner for your home?

It doesn’t matter what type of citrus peel you use – all you need are peels, vinegar and a large jar.

Click here to learn how to make your own.

4. Freeze Citrus Zest


How many times have you made a recipe that needed lemon, lime or orange zest?  Now, when citrus are in season, all I have to do is walk outdoors and pick what I need.  But what about the rest of the year or for those of you who don’t grow citrus?

It turns out the citrus zest can be frozen.  So, just before you peel or juice an orange, zest if first and put the zest in a plastic freezer bag.  

I have frozen citrus zest in my freezer, ready for me to use.  

5. Lemon Ice Cubes


Lemon and sometimes lime juice are a popular ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes.  An easy way to preserve your lemon harvest is to freeze the juice into individual ice cubes.  Once frozen, pop them out and save them in a plastic freezer bag.

When you need to use them, simply put an ice cube in a small bowl and stick in the microwave for 30 seconds on high to melt.  That’s it!  I do this for my homemade salsa.

Whether you grow your own citrus or buy it at the store – make the most of them by using one or more of these creative tips.

How about you?  Do you have any tips for using citrus fruit?  

I love living in the desert Southwest.


I really do, except in August.  That’s when I start to tire of the long, hot summer and yearn for fall.  By September, the days begin to shorten and the weather begins to cool and I plant my cool-season vegetable garden.


One of the things that I love most about gardening in the desert Southwest is that you can grow fruit and vegetables all year long – even in the midst of winter when most of the country can only dream of growing things outdoors.

 Where else can you look outside and see delicious vegetables coming up and picking them fresh for your table in January?


Oh, and how about the citrus fruit that not only provides us with sweet, tart fruit – but also adds bright color to our desert gardens?

Over the next few days, I thought that I’d share with you what I have harvested from my winter garden in hopes that you will be inspired to grow your own desert Southwest winter garden.

Even if you don’t live in a mild winter area, growing vegetables is not all that different in other regions, except for the calendar.  So, you can always pick up some helpful tips from vegetable gardeners who live in other places.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my first-ever success in growing a vegetable that has given me problems in the past.

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Baby Watch Update:

Our second-oldest daughter, Rachele, is expecting her first child soon!  She is in the Navy and currently stationed in California – about 7 hours away from us.

She is being monitored closely because of the baby’s low birth weight and now the latest ultrasound shows a lower level of amniotic fluid.

Rachele has been seeing having weekly ultrasounds, stress tests and seeing the doctor.  On her last visit, she was told that they may have to induce her maybe a week early.

So, what does that mean for me and my husband? Well, I had to reschedule a speaking engagement on “Updating Your Landscape”.

Our plan is to hit the road as soon as we get the call from her that she is being induced and/or in labor. Hopefully, we will get there before the baby does!

Meanwhile, I’m off to pack my bags!

Did you travel out of town for the 4th of July?  We normally don’t.  But before you start to feel sorry for us, I would love to share with you what we did this 4th.

We spent it with my sister and her family on their farm, which is located just 5 minutes from our house.  Their farm is a fun place to visit with dogs, chickens, a pet toad who lives with the chickens, fruit trees, nut trees and a vegetable garden.  I love sharing their farm with you all.


So we started out our evening with an all-American meal of hot dogs, chips and watermelon.  I brought Rice Krispy treats with both milk chocolate and white frosting on top.  After we ate, we went outdoors and watched the kids play.

In the distance, we could see a thunderstorm brewing, but it didn’t look like it was going to hit us.
As I usually do each week when we visit, I decided to check out the fruit trees and vegetable garden see what was growing.
The green fruit that you see above are grapefruit that will be ripe this winter.  Other then watering deeply (3 ft. deep), there is nothing to be done for citrus trees this month.


There was a single kumquat hanging in this tree.  Later the tree will be covered with them.


I love growing gourds and have 4 big ones in my own vegetable garden.  But, there are 3 large ones growing in this vegetable garden.


Both the watermelon and gourd plants are growing like crazy.  It is probably not a good idea to plant these plants close to each other.


The chickens, Effie, Lucy and Flo were out enjoying the early evening along with us.


Do you remember the frost-damaged tree that I wrote about a few weeks ago?  Well, look at how quickly it has grown!

My nephew Oliver, my son Kai, my daughter Ruthie, my nephew Finley and my daughter Gracie.

The kids were getting very excited about seeing fireworks.


Gracie may have been born in China, but she is a proud American citizen 🙂
Notice her shirt?  Gracie just loves Sonic the Hedgehog and couldn’t believe it when we saw this t-shirt at the store the other day.  It didn’t matter to her that it was in the boy’s department.  She used her allowance to buy it.  She wears it everyday until I tell her that I have to wash it 😉
Finally, it was dark enough to set off the fireworks in the front yard.



I don’t know who was most excited, the kids or my brother and brother-in-law who were going to set them off.


We started off small, with sparklers.


My daughter, Rachele, and I were happy to just watch.


Some of the fireworks were a bit loud for Gracie.


We had such a fabulous time watching our small firework show that we didn’t even venture into the backyard where our town’s firework display could be seen.

How about you?  
What did you do this 4th of July?
January is the slowest time of the year for blooms in the desert.  However, due to our year-round growing climate, there are still a lot of flowers to see…
   
 Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides)
My Valentine shrub (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’) is in full bloom.
One of my Mexican Bird-of-Paradise trees (Caesalpinia mexicana), happily blooming away…
Radiation Lantana ‘Desert Sunset’ is still blooming underneath my Dalbergia sissoo tree. 

The tree has protected it from frost damage.

The flowers are starting to peek out of the Silvery Cassia (Senna phyllodenia).
More blooms will soon follow from this Australian native.
 
One of the Geraniums in the Children’s Flower Garden. 
In case you are getting tired of the flowers in my garden or just want to see more colorful blooms, I thought I would also show you some of the flowers currently blooming at Double S Farms.
 
Baja Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis) is a reliable year-round bloomer.

The flowers of the ‘New Gold Mound’ Lantana lighten in the winter, but are still beautiful.
I found this single flower on the Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis)

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)

I’m not sure if fruit counts as a bloom for GBBD, but just in case….

Kumquats reaching towards the sky.  
And lastly, a photo of a single rose from the Neglected, Overgrown, Nameless Rose just before I pruned it back.  I realize I did not take the photo on the 15th, but it would have still been there if I had not pruned the rose bush back over the weekend.  
I also wanted it to have one last opportunity to show off it’s flowers before the new flush of rose blooms come in March.
 

English Rose ‘Glamis Castle’

Thank you for joining me for January’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  Please visit May Dreams Gardens for more sites featuring Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.