Posts

Have you ever thought of fruits, herbs or even vegetables as ornamental plants?  

Often the characteristics that make edible plants appeal to our appetite, can also add beauty to the garden making edible plants a great choice for the garden as they can do double duty as ornamentals.

I am always struck by how edible plants are increasingly used to create beautiful garden spaces.

I’ve recently shared several of my favorite examples from my own garden as well as in during garden travels for Houzz.

I hope you are inspired to look at edible plants in a new light.

Do you have an easy time saying “goodbye” to a loved one?  Probably not.


As I sit and write this post this evening, I must confess that my mother’s heart hurts.  


We said “goodbye” this morning to our daughter, Rachele and her little baby, Eric.


Her car was all packed up and ready for her journey back to California.

We said our goodbyes just before we left for church.  The day was cloudy with rain on the way. The dreary weather matched my mood.

Just 48 hours ago, Rachele and I (along with Eric) were enjoying a talent show put on by the kids in our church’s youth group.

It was a fundraiser for a future mission trip. The kids served a spaghetti dinner and entertained us all with their talent.


My daughter, Gracie, played piano and did great, even though she was a little nervous.


My son, Kai, and daughter Ruthie (hidden behind Kai), displayed their comedic talents.  Or should I say, Kai showed how much ice cream he could eat.  Ruthie while hidden behind Kai, served as his ‘hands’ as she prepared an ice cream sundae and then proceeded to feed him.  Needless to say, not much ice cream made it into his mouth.

The silent auction afterward was fun and I even won a couple – Starbucks and a Diamondbacks baseball game.


24 hours ago, I was sitting with Eric, enjoying some of our last moments together.

He is almost 6 weeks old and I have been with him for everyday of his short life.


From holding him minutes after his birth and changing his first diaper…


To taking care of both him and my daughter during their 6 day hospital stay.

Rachele came home to stay with us while she recovered from her c-section and we enjoyed her company and holding Eric a lot.


I will miss feeding Eric and seeing him becoming ‘milk drunk’ and I will even miss his crying (a little).


This morning, I took one last picture of Eric before it was time for them to go.  It will be hard to think that we will miss the next few milestones like his first smile.


I remember how sad I was when Rachele first left for the Navy and how I rejoiced when we saw her again when she graduated from basic training.
You can read more about her Navy journey, here.  

Then there was sadness as she was gone to Missouri and later Mississippi for further training.


It’s hard to believe that my little girl is all grown up.  You would think that when your child is an adult, that saying “goodbye” would be fairly easy.

Well, it’s not true.  I wish it was.

Now it is harder because I also miss my grandson. I realize that I was given a special gift of being able to spend so much time with them both. 

While the house seems rather empty with them gone, there are some perks:

–  My son, who graciously gave up his room for them to stay in, now gets to vacate the living room couch and move back into his room.

– The Xbox, which was moved temporarily into our bedroom, is now back in his room.

– The kitchen counter is free from bottles, nipples and formula.

– The trash can will be ‘diaper-free’.

– There is more room in the family room with the absence of the baby swing, infant seat and changing pad.

– Nights will be somewhat quieter with no midnight feedings.

While the house is quieter and cleaner, I would trade it all back if I could.

But, the good news is that Rachele lives one state away, 7 hours by car and 1 hour by plane.  We already have plans to visit in April, June and September for starters.

I wonder if I can figure find a gardening conference coming up soon that is near her house?

Thank you for letting me share my mother’s heart with you today.

**For those of you with older kids, do they live nearby or far away?  How often do you get to see them?

Do you love roses?


I do.



While most people will tell you that they love roses, they probably do not like the extra maintenance that they require with repeated fertilizing, deadheading, fighting damaging insects and fungal diseases.

Well, let me introduce you to a rose that is beautiful and low-maintenance.
Lady Banks rose may be well-known to a few of you and it is worth a second look for those of you who love roses but not the fuss.  

They are resistant to damaging bugs and most fungal diseases leave them alone.  However, unlike many modern roses, they flower once a year in spring, producing a glorious show.

Tombstone rose Lady Banks

If you’ve ever heard of the World’s Largest Rose Bush in Tombstone, Arizona – it may interest you to find out that it is a Lady Banks rose.
You can read more about my visit to this historic rose bush, here.

There is so much to enjoy with this beautiful, fuss-free rose.

I invite you to learn more in my latest article for Houzz.com

Whenever I am not writing, you’ll often find me out in the field helping others learn how to grow and maintain their landscapes.


Usually most landscape consultations are fairly routine.  However, I sometimes see something truly unique.


Earlier this week, I saw something that is probably the most unexpected thing that I’ve ever encountered.


Here is how it unfolded…


I met with a very nice couple who had a new landscape installed a year ago.  While they were very happy with the design, they wanted to learn how to care for their plants and needed help with some problems with dead plant(s) and some failing to thrive. 

Other than a dead Valentine bush, some iron chlorosis, over fertilizing and a few plants growing in the wrong exposure – it was all fairly routine until I saw an unusual shrub off in the distance.


I must confess that I had no idea what the shrub was from this distance.  Now every once in a while, I am faced with a plant that I am not familiar with, but I was hopeful that as we got nearer, I would be able to figure it out.


As we got closer to the shrub, I still didn’t know what it was.  I’m starting to feel a bit uncomfortable because I have no idea what this shrub is.

It did have dark, dusty green foliage that started to turn red with cooler winter temperatures.

The homeowner had carefully staked it upright and it had an attractive vase shape growth habit.


At this point, the homeowner complained about a mesquite tree volunteer that was coming up at the base.

I took a closer look and discovered that the so called ‘mesquite tree’ was actually a Baja fairy duster – that was a MAJOR clue about the identity of this unusual shrub.

At this point, I looked closer at the leaves of the shrub, which did look rather familiar – just not on a shrub…


Does it look familiar to you?  

At this point, I knew what it was, but I couldn’t get my head around what this unusual shrub actually was.

Can you tell what it is yet?


The base was quite large and I could see the Baja Fairy Duster, to the left, trying to grow.

I told the homeowners that what they thought was a mesquite tree volunteer (basically a weed), was in fact the plant that was supposed to grow there.


So what was the ‘unusual shrub’ then?

Belive it or not, the shrub that the homeowners had carefully staked and fertilized over the past year was actually a WEED!

So what kind of weed was it?


That large shrub that was 4+ ft. high and 2 ft. wide was really a spotted spurge weed!

Can you believe it?

Spotted spurge is the bane of many gardeners and is a low-growing weed that spreads.  I hate this little weed.  I’ve spent hours battling this weed during my time as a horticulturist for golf courses and now in my own garden.


So how did the homeowners mistake this weed for a shrub?  Well, I suspect that the nursery container, with their actual shrub, had spurge already growing in it (not uncommon).  

The new shrub was quite small when first planted and the spurge, like most weeds, grew quickly – much more quickly than the shrub itself.

The poor little Baja fairy duster had little chance of growing afterward since weeds are famous for being vigorous growers and out compete other plants for water and nutrients.  

So what did the homeowners think, you may wonder?

Well, they were shocked, but then got a good laugh out of it.  The wife was having a lot of fun teasing her husband about his ‘unusual shrub’.

Have you ever seen an unusual plant that turned out to be a weed?  This one is definitely one for the books in my career.

**If you have problems with spurge, you can treat them with homemade weed killer that uses natural ingredients – vinegar and soap – that’s it.  

Queen butterfly and a Victoria agave

Do you like succulents?

I do.  I must admit that I am not a huge fan of cacti in my own garden – I have only two.  But, I do have a number of agave, which are without a doubt, my favorite succulent.

What’s not to love about agave?

They are drought tolerant, fuss-free and with over  200 species to choose from, the possibilities in the landscape are almost endless.

From species 18 inches in size to large size species over 6 feet tall and a variety of colors and leaf shapes to choose from, it’s a wonder that I don’t have more agave in my landscape.

Would you like to include agave in your landscape?

Learn more about this versatile succulent and how to use it in your landscape in my latest article for Houzz.


Do you have agave growing in your garden?  What species is your favorite?

I love to use plants that thrive in the desert Southwest.  

But, I won’t use just any plant – it has to be drought tolerant, low-maintenance and add beauty to the landscape.

One of my favorites for adding spiky texture and great color contrast is desert spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri), also known as ‘sotol’.

It handles freezing temperatures, is evergreen and unlike agave, won’t die after it flowers.

I recently wrote about all the reasons that I like desert spoon along with ideas of how to use it in the landscape, which you can find in my latest article for Houzz.com


**By the way, there is just 5 days left to enter the giveaway I am hosting for Troy-Bilt’s most powerful, handheld blower.  Click here to enter!

When you visit a nursery, do you wonder which plants are drought tolerant as opposed to those who will wilt if not given enough water?


There are a few different traits that many drought tolerant plants share.  For example, did you know that small leaves and gray foliage can be signs that a plant may be drought tolerant?  


I recently shared several traits to look for when shopping for drought tolerant plants for Houzz.com



I hope this article will help you to create a beautiful, drought tolerant garden!


Have you ever gardened in an area where spiny cacti, dry heat and scorpions are common elements?


I was recently invited to be on the podcast, “Back to My Garden” where I shared some of the highs and lows of gardening in the desert along with some helpful tips.

So, if you are wanting to pick up some helpful tips on how to garden in the desert Southwest OR you just want to know what I sound like (just kidding), I invite you to listen to the “Back to My Garden” podcast, which you can listen on iTunes, or you can listen by clicking here.

I would be thrilled if you took a few minutes to listen.  My hope is that you enjoy it and come away with an understanding that you really can grow a beautiful, drought tolerant garden in the middle of the desert!

At first glance, violet silverleaf (Leucophyllum candid) may look like a nice gray shrub with a smattering of purple flowers.

BUT, when you crank up the humidity and add some summer rain into the mix and it really explodes with color…


These shrubs literally stop people in their tracks with their purple beauty.

Violet silverleaf is easy to grow in arid climates and when not in flower, its gray foliage provides great color contrast in the landscape.

Find out more about this Texas native and why you’ll want to include it in your garden in my lates plant profile for Houzz.com:


Have you ever seen this shrub growing?  Do you have one in your landscape?

A few weeks ago, I was asked by one of my editors to come up with a list of the top 10 plants that every resident of the Southwest should consider adding to their landscape.


I must admit that the task was a bit daunting at first – not because I couldn’t think of enough plants.  The problem was that my list was much larger.


I had to pare my list down and decided to focus on plants that would grow in zones 7 – 10, which cover much of the desert Southwest.  In addition, they had to be low-maintenance, native, beautiful and easy to grow.


After considering all of the criteria, I still had about 20 plants.  So, I added one other criteria of my own – how easy is it to find at your local nursery?


At the end, I had 10 plants that I was very happy with – but I could have easily added a lot more 😉

I hope you enjoy reading through this list of 10 essential plants for the desert Southwest.  


*I’d love to hear what plants you would include in your list of 10 favorites.