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After a record-setting February, I think that it’s safe to say that spring has officially arrived.  Plants are waking up a bit early with flower buds bursting forth with glorious blooms.


‘Sierra Star’ Fairy Duster (Calliandra ‘Sierra Star’)

Of course, an early spring means that people are anxious to get out in the garden.  I always say that spring for horticulturists is like tax season for accountants as we get very busy helping others with their gardens.

This has certainly been true for me the past couple of weeks.  Staying up until 1 a.m. in the morning and then up early the next morning for the next appointment and afternoons spent designing landscapes and writing articles – I can hardly see straight at the end of the day.

I thought that I would give you a snapshot of the past 10 days.


It all started with an early morning meeting with a landscape committee regarding adding come color to the entry areas of a community.  An hour later, I was standing in the middle of a busy street, dodging traffic while taking multiple photographs of sixteen different corner landscapes.

Cereus peruvianus with golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)

Later that morning, I met with some clients who had a lovely home and a landscape with ‘good bones’, but that needed some more color according to the clients.

Ironwood tree (Olneya tesota)

The property was situated along a golf course and had lovely specimen trees that offered welcome filtered shade.

Fragrant flowers of Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora)

As I walked around the landscape taking photographs for my report, I took some time to stop and smell the fragrant blossoms of their Texas mountain laurel, which smelled like grape candy.

Pink bower vine (Pandorea jasminoides)

The next day, I visited a family who needed help redesigning their backyard.  However, as I approached the front door, my attention was caught by the beautiful pink bower vine that was blooming in the courtyard.

I spent that Wednesday working on designs and reports.

The next day, I visited a lovely ranch style home.  The backyard was wall-to-wall grass and the homeowner wanted to create a border around the entire yard filled with flowering shrubs and perennials.

‘Heavenly Cloud’ sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Heavenly Cloud’), yellow bells (Tecoma stans stans) and bougainvillea in my backyard.

As a flower type of girl myself, this was a fun design to get to work on.  I created a plant palette that included white and pink gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)purple lilac vine (Hardenbergia violaceae)tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa), firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii), pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana), and angelita daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) among others to ensure year round blooms.


Friday found me at a beautiful home in the foothills where the client had recently moved in.  She wanted help adding more color as well as symmetry to the landscape.  This was a large project that was split up into four separate designs/reports.


Saturday morning was spent attending the SRP Water Expo, where I bought my discounted Smart Irrigation Controller.  


There were numerous displays, each with a focus on saving water in the landscape.  

I saw many people I knew and walked away with my new irrigation controller, which will save water in my landscape.  You can learn more about this controller and the Expo here.


After such a busy week, I indulged myself with getting a pedicure 🙂

This week was spent working on creating designs and reports for all of my consults the week before.   I did have a few appointments, one of which, involved issues with problems with the turf areas in HOA common areas during which, I spotted more suspected cases of oleander leaf scorch.


This area of Phoenix is seeing a lot of cases of this bacterial disease for which there is no known cure.  Affected oleanders typically die within 3 – 4 years from when they first show symptoms.

Gopher plant (Euphorbia rigida) and Parry’s penstemon (Penstemon parryi) in my front garden.


At home, my own landscape is having some work done.  Our 15-year-old drip irrigation system is being replaced.  The typical life span of a drip irrigation system is typically 10 – 15 years, so when ours started developing leaks and the valves also began to leak, we knew it was time.  So, my garden currently has trenches running through it with PVC pipe everywhere.  It will be nice to have it finished and working soon.

On another note, my little grandson, Eric, is now 13 months old.  He is a bright ray of sunshine in my life and helps me to keep life in perspective when the busyness of life threatens to overwhelm me.  


I am so blessed to have a front row seat as he is learning and discovering the world around him.  

I think he would like his own pair of cowboy boots, don’t you?

Have you ever had something happen to you that was such a coincidence that it was hard to believe?  Recently, I had one such experience. 


It all happened on a beautiful, sunny morning in August… 

But first, a little background:

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time may remember me sharing about my past job as a landscape designer.  I wrote about my adventures that you can read about, here.


There were things that I enjoyed about my job and others things that I did not.

However, I did enjoy working with clients and helping design the landscape of their dreams.

*Okay, back to my amazing ‘coincidence’ story.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was on my way to an appointment for a landscape consult – (I work for myself now).

As I got off the freeway and started driving through the residential streets, I realized that I had designed a landscape there years ago when I worked for the landscape design company.

As I got closer to my destination, I saw that I was in the same neighborhood.  I promised myself that I would try to find the same house after I was finished with my appointment.

My GPS directed me down the street where my ultimate destination was and soon I found myself sitting in front of the SAME house that I had originally designed back in 2008.

Hard to believe?  

My first reaction was “I can’t believe it!” 

I had designed hundreds of landscapes and the chances of being called back to the same one by a different owner was so small.

The second reaction was, I hope they don’t hate their existing landscape – if they did, I wasn’t sure I would tell them that I was the original designer.

But then I remembered that my client had told me via email that she and her husband had just moved into their new home and wanted to learn about the plants in their landscape and how to take care of them – they had no idea that I was the original designer.

I knocked on the door and my client greeted me and proceeded to take me into their backyard.

Now

The first thing I saw was the pathway made up of broken concrete (called ‘urbanite’) that was had already been present the first time…

Then

I did have pictures of the landscape when it had been newly installed in 2008.

The new homeowner told me that she and her husband had bought the home because they loved the relaxing backyard landscape.

I then told her that I had been the original designer.  She couldn’t believe it either!

Now

As we walked into the backyard, the details of the design came flooding back.

Would you believe that there used to be a swimming pool in this backyard?  

Then
Back in 2008, we filled in the pool and added mounds, boulders, drought tolerant plants and a palo verde tree. 
Now
The original owners wanted to get rid of their pool, which they hardly used to convert it into a drought-tolerant landscape with a seating area underneath a tree.

I had designed a meandering path from the patio which ended in a seating area made from flagstone.

Then

You can really tell how much the tree and other plants have grown over the past 7 years.

Now

While the overall landscape looked good and I was happy with how the design turned out – but there was an issue.

Most of the plants were brown and straggly – not very attractive and showing signs of under watering.  

The new homeowner provided me with the irrigation schedule that the original homeowners had been using and it was easy to see why some of the plants were a bit small for their age and didn’t look great – they were getting too little water.

Then
I helped her adjust her irrigation schedule and assured her that her plants would soon improve in appearance.

Although some of the original plants had been lost due to under watering, I remembered what they were and was able to give her a list of replacements to buy.


As I got ready to leave, the homeowner told me that she couldn’t wait to tell her husband that by sheer coincidence, their landscape consultant turned out to be the original designer.

I drove away with a huge smile on my face because it isn’t often that a residential landscape designer gets to see their designed landscape a few years later.

It made my job feel very rewarding that day 🙂

**For information on watering guidelines for the low desert including how to avoid over & under watering, click here.