Posts

What do you have growing in your vegetable garden?


I have three separate gardens where I grow vegetables, but they aren’t the only thing that are growing in the rich, moist soil.



There are also red poppies present alongside the Swiss chard and leaf lettuce.


It all started 4 years ago with a packet of red poppy seeds.

Thereafter, every year a new crop of poppies grow among the vegetables.


Poppies aren’t the only flowers that come up each year on their own – blue lobelia, marigolds and nasturtiums are always make their presence known every spring.

For this of you who enjoy colorful annuals, how about giving them some space in your vegetable garden?  It has everything they need – fertile soil and water.

Do you have anything else growing in your edible garden?  What flower would you add?


Fall is here and nurseries are stocked with all sorts of cool-season annual flowers.

So, my question to you is, what will you plant your annual flowers in this fall?
Will you use a ‘regular’ container?


Or, maybe you are the type who likes to do things a little differently?

Maybe one of these unusual planters is more your style?

An old bicycle basket finds new purpose as a planter in Noblesville, Indiana.

Marigolds planted in an old wheelbarrow along Route 66 in Williams, Arizona.

Old pots and bowls used to plant miniature gardens in an antique store in upstate New York.

Old chairs transformed into planters in the historic downtown of Noblesville, Indiana.

A ‘bed’ of flowering bulbs in Amish country in Shipshewana, Indiana.

An old bathtub serves as a large planter in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Galvanized metal bucket containers at an Amish swap meet.

I was fortunate enough to have seen all of these unique planters throughout my travels.  But, it was these galvanized bucket containers that inspired me to purchase an old antique watering can and create my own unique container for flowers…


 I found this rusty watering can in an antique store in Prescott, Arizona and I knew just where I would put it in my garden.

I added some holes on the bottom, and filled it with violas, lobelia and alyssum.   It sits right in the middle of my side vegetable garden where I can see it from my kitchen window.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the unusual planters from my travels.

**I would love to hear about any unique items that you have seen transformed into planters 🙂

One of my favorite memories as a child was visiting antique stores with my mother.  We usually did this whenever we went on vacation.  My dad would stop the car whenever she saw a store that looked promising.

Now that I am an adult, my mother and I have fun visiting antique stores when we travel together.  I don’t have a lot of antiques myself, but I do have some special pieces.

Last summer, our family traveled to Prescott, which I blogged about back then in “Antique Junk for the Garden“.


 One of the pieces that I got was an old, antique watering can.
I had a vision of seeing it full of flowering annuals.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t plant in the summer because it was too hot for plants to survive in the container.  (It can be very hard to grow plants in smaller containers in summer because the outer 6 inches of soil is often too hot for roots to grow.
However, once fall arrived, I was ready to plant my new (old) container.  
First, I had to make some holes on the bottom for drainage.  Then I filled it with planting mix and then my annuals…
    
 I planted alyssum, violas and lobelia.  The watering can is now sitting in the middle of my vegetable garden.  I added a drip emitter, so my new container is watered whenever my vegetables are.
I must admit that I am quite pleased with how it turned out.
Have any of you used old, antique containers in the garden? 
Guess who went plant shopping!
Not me….
But, my mom did.
She went to buy her fall vegetables at Baker’s Nursery, which is a hugely popular nursery in Phoenix.
Since I knew was going, she kindly offered to buy the remaining plants on my list.
And as another example of how wonderful she is – she took my two youngest kids (Kai and Gracie) with her and treated them to lunch.
So, what did we get?
 Dill, Parsley and Thyme, which are herbs that will do well through the winter in my garden.
Green and Purple Leaf Lettuce that I will be growing in pots and in a very unusual place that I will share later.
 Lobelia and Alyssum, which are great flowering, low-growing annuals that I will use in a unique container.

Lots of Broccoli, which is my favorite vegetable.
I didn’t get the garlic from Baker’s Nursery.  I usually buy my garlic from my local grocery store and it works just fine.  Although, you can buy different varieties from online nurseries.

The last thing they bought were Petunias, which weren’t on my list.  But, my mother loves to help foster a love for gardening with her grandchildren.  
So, she let Kai and Gracie each choose a six-pack of flowering annuals.  They choose Petunias, which they planted just after they got home.


Okay, I admit that my son looks less then thrilled.  But to be honest, that is how he looks in most of his pictures now.  He really was happy – he spent a few hours with me helping me to plant everything.

Why is it that young boys get this ‘fake’ smile once they hit 5 years old and then later – it is almost like pulling teeth to get them to smile at all?
I promise to share with you the few different things we did with our ‘goodies’ from Baker’s Nursery over the next few posts 🙂


We are more then half-way through our road trip and are having a fabulous time.

We have encountered great food, not so great food, interesting tourist destinations, beautiful plants as well as some over-hyped destinations.

Our typical road trip day begins with breakfast at the hotel and then we head to our car, turn on the GPS and get on the highway.  We have brought some audio book CD’s which are fun to listen too.

We try to stay off of major highways because you cannot see much besides trees on either side of the road.  To experience more of each area we visit, we travel on minor highways.  BUT, our GPS is always trying to get us back onto the major highways.

We visited Washington Jefferson College in Washington, PA – the second oldest college in the US, after Harvard.  
 Both my grandfather and great-father attended this college.  

After visiting the college, we walked up and down the main street of Washington.

There was some pretty Clematis growing underneath a Gingko tree…

Roses were in full bloom as well….


Before we left Washington, we drove up to my great-great-great-grandfathers farm.  Or, where it used to be.  It is now filled with beautiful homes.  I tried to imagine what it used to look like and felt a connection to standing on land he used to farm.

Later, we headed up to New York state.  On our way, we stopped by the tiny town of Volant, which is located in Amish country in New York.  

Don’t you just want to sit on this porch?
I found an antique colander, which I will turn into a planter.
The weather has been warm….in the 80’s.  I must admit that it is a bit too warm for me.  I know, I know….I live in the desert.  How can it be too warm for me?
Well, I am a wimp when it comes to humidity – I like dry heat 😉
This tiny town was hosting a progressive tea party.  Each store was hosting part of the meal.  Over a thousand people were expected.  Thankfully, we came the day before.
Blue Lobelia, White Bacopa, Sweet Potato Vine, Geraniums and Marigold.
Spring has arrived and colorful containers are filled with beautiful flowers.
 
Lupine

I fell in love with the Lupine, above.  
 
 Guess where we went the next day?
We visited Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side, which has a better view.
Tomorrow, I’ll share with you our visit to the falls and then our travels to the Finger Lakes region with its wineries and hidden garden I found.

I absolutely love to travel and one of my favorite destinations is Europe.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to visit in recent years, but my daughter and her husband were able to travel there this summer and visited three different countries – France, Germany and Italy.

 
When they returned, I couldn’t wait to hear about their adventures and view their photos.  I was particularly touched by the fact that my daughter took the time to take some pictures of some of the beautiful flowering plants they saw in Germany.

 

 I just love window boxes….don’t you?
 
The reason it meant a lot to me is that my oldest daughter is not particularly into gardening – but that could be because she lives in an apartment and has no space for gardening 😉  So, the fact that she took the time to take photos for me to share with me meant a lot.

 

I do not know what all of these flowering plants are and would love some help with identifying some of them 🙂
Geraniums, Verbena and Chamomile?
Don’t you love the stone planter?
Germany has a special place in my heart because years ago, my grandparents were transferred there for work when I was young.  As a result, I spent two summers in Germany as a child along with my parents and siblings.  
 
We spent our time in Frankfurt where my grandparents lived.  I remember the large field of strawberries that were grown in the back garden and the struggle keeping the rabbits away.  But mostly, I remember how delicious the strawberries tasted.
 Lobelia
I grow this beautiful annual in the winter months.
A couple of times a week, a local farmer would drive up our street and open up his van which contained a plentiful harvest of all sorts of fruit and vegetables.  Wouldn’t it be great if the farmer delivered produce straight from the farm nowadays?
Okay, I just love this photo of little garden gnomes.
I find it interesting how certain smells can bring a crystal clear memory to my mind.  To this day, the smell of bus exhaust reminds me of a cobblestone street in downtown Frankfurt.
 These were my daughter’s favorite flower that she saw.
Any ideas what type of flower this is?
On my kitchen wall is the beautiful cuckoo clock that my grandparents brought back from Germany.  Growing up, we loved hearing it cuckoo on the hour and dancing to the music that played afterward as the tiny figurines twirled in a circle.
Isn’t this a beautiful flower?
Any ideas what it is? 
Our cuckoo clock has not worked for many years and I keep meaning to get it fixed so that my kids can enjoy it as I did as a child.
Beautiful red roses.
Both my husband and I have some German ancestry and I hope to be able to visit there again and experience the beauty that Germany has to offer.
  
Are there any places that have a special place in your heart for, or that you yearn to visit someday?

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!
Yellow Euryops Daisy, Hot Pink Geranium, Blue Lobelia, Fern Leaf Lavender and Gazania
First, I would like to share with you some beautiful winter flower container arrangements which were designed and planted by my friend, Maggie Thomas.  She is a landscape designer and her specialty is designing container plantings.  As you can see, she is extremely talented.
Hot Pink Geranium, Bacoba ‘Cabana’, Blue Lobelia, Fern Leaf Lavender and Blue Viola

  In the area we live, zone 8b, we are fortunate to be able to grow flowering plants in containers year-round.  In late spring, these plants will be pulled out and replaced with summer flowering plants that can handle our hot summers.

Yellow Euryops Daisy, Hot Pink Geranium, White Bocoba, Blue Lobelia, Fern Leaf Lavender and Fortnight Lily.
Blue Viola
 
Hot Pink Geranium
Fern-Leaf Lavender (Lavandula multifida)

Although these containers are planted with plants that do well in our desert climate in the winter, those of you who live in more temperate climates can try these out in the summer months.

Pink Geranium & Bacopa ‘Cabana’
Now, for the name change….
I have been thinking about changing the name of my blog for some time.  The current title, “Plant Tips and Guidelines for a Desert Garden” sounds a bit like a textbook and although I strive to include helpful information in each post, I also like to ramble on a bit about all sorts of things.  
So, I am changing the name of my blog to…
“RAMBLINGS FROM A DESERT GARDEN”
I hope you like it as it more accurately describes what my blog is all about.
 (My feed and links should not be affected because my url address is www.azplantlady.com which is not being changed.)
*Meanwhile, I am waiting patiently for my roses to arrive in the mail this week so I can start planting.

Each year, around the end of August, I walk into the plant section of our local home improvement store just to look at the colorful, flowering annuals


While I may be sorely tempted,  I don’t buy any; I just like to look.


BUT, I know that I am in trouble when the majority of the nursery shelves is covered in a sea of winter annuals – I feel like a kid in a candy store.  The vibrant colors and scents are almost intoxicating – to me anyway.

 

In the past, when I managed landscapes on golf courses, I would come to the store in our work truck and load countless flats of annuals for planting around the golf courses and the other buildings.  I loved planning ahead of time what I would plant and the color combinations that I would use.

Petunias, bacopa, and alyssum

In the low desert, winter annuals typically show up in the nurseries around late August, and it is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of fall being just around the corner along with the promise of cooler weather.  So before you know it, you buy a bunch of flowers and run home and plant them.  The problem is, is that it is often still too hot for them to survive.

 Red geraniums with bacopa
For years, I would tear out the summer annuals around the golf courses and plant winter flowers in late September, usually with good results.  Of course, I would have to be vigilant and replace a few plants that would fall victim to the warm September temperatures, but overall they did fine.  
 
That is until one year when we had higher than usual temperatures in early October.  The flowers kept dying despite my best efforts.  Each day on my way to work, I would have to stop by the nursery to buy replacement plants.  This got kind of old after 2 – 3 weeks and I would have to go from store to store to find the same kind of flowers that I needed.
 Blue Petunias 

So, I learned my lesson – no matter what, we would not plant winter annuals until late October.  I mean, it was silly to pull out the summer annuals in September when they still looked great.  I think people want to get a jump start on winter flowers because it makes us feel like the weather is cooler when it isn’t.  So unless you want to make extra visits to your local nursery, WAIT until mid-October.

Now, since I no longer manage landscape areas, I am only responsible for my annual pots.  Last year I planted hot pink geraniums with alyssum, and they did very well.  In the past, I have tried the following combinations with good results:
 
– Yellow Snapdragons with Blue (Deep Purple) 
– Petunias and White Alyssum
– Red Geraniums with White Alyssum
– Hot Pink Geraniums with Lobelia
– Yellow Pansies with Lobelia 
– Light Blue Pansies and Alyssum
– White Snapdragons with Pink Petunias and Lobelia 

 

Snapdragon

 PLANTING:  For containers (pots), I use a planting/potting mix, which is specially formulated for containers – not potting soil, which can become soggy.  

 
If you are planting annuals in the ground, then I add compost or potting soil to the existing soil at a ratio of about 1 part compost to 1 part existing soil.  


If you do not have a compost pile at home, you can buy bagged compost at your local nursery.  Add slow-release fertilizer, following directions on the label.  Plant your winter annuals, making sure that they have enough space between them to grow.
 
CARE:  Water twice a day.  I usually water in the morning and maybe late in the afternoon as the plants are becoming established (about two weeks).  You can then water once a day or every 2 – 3 days, depending on the weather.  


In a managed landscape setting, I would also fertilize weekly with a liquid fertilizer to promote maximum blooming.  At home, I usually fertilize every other week.
Viola
 

Now that we are in the second half of October, I am ready for planting winter annuals in my garden.  I have been thinking about planting violas.  I have not planted them since I was a little girl and I did notice some beautiful ones at the nursery back in August.  Those violas are probably dead from the heat of late August.  


Hopefully, they will have some new ones in now that it is really time to plant!