Posts

Do you love roses?

I do.

Lady Banks rose

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.

Lady Banks rose

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.

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…

new landscape

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.

unusual shrub

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.

unusual shrub

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.

unusual shrub

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…

unusual 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?

Baja Fairy Duster

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.

A Most Unusual Shrub With a Shocking Secret...

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?

spurge weed

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.

A Most Unusual Shrub With a Shocking Secret...

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

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 agave 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?

 
Dasylirion wheeleri

(Dasylirion wheeleri)

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, 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?

spiny cacti

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!

violet silverleaf (Leucophyllum candid)

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…

purple beauty

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

(Leucophyllum candid) 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.

Southwestern Landscape

Southwestern Landscape

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.  

10 Top Plants Native to the Desert Southwest

Tour of Sustainable Southwestern Landscape: Part 1

Do you have vines in your garden? 

What type of trellis do you use for them?  Is it your basic (somewhat boring) wooden trellis?

What if you could make your own trellis that not only looks better but costs next to nothing?

*I have been sharing some of my favorite garden blog posts that I have written recently for Birds & Blooms magazine where I serve as the garden blogger – including this one about how to make your own ‘natural’ trellis.

Wooden trellis

Wooden trellis

I have seen quite a few trellises made from branches, but I thought this one that I saw while visiting the Green Bay Botanical Gardens in Wisconsin, was especially nice because you could see how it was made because the vine had not yet grown up on it.  

With all of the stormy weather, I’m sure you have your share of branches that have blown down from your tree that you can use.  I shared how to create your own trellis using branches in a recent post for Birds & Blooms…  

DIY Yard Project: How to Make a Trellis From Tree Branches    

You’ll not only save money by making your own, but I think that it looks nicer and is a more sustainable option.

DIY in the Garden: Floral Ice Cubes

Is your garden looking a bit lackluster and in need of more color than green?  While colorful flowering plants can help, it is hard to find a plant that will flower all year long.  

*Some of you may know that I am the garden blogger for Birds & Blooms magazine.  I have been going through some recent blog posts that I have written for them and thought that I would share some of my favorites with you.

Garden Without Plants

As part of a two-part series, I shared some creative ways to add color to the landscape without relying on plants alone.  This is especially helpful during the winter months when not many plants are in flower.  

Most of the photographs in these posts were taken during a recent trip to Southeastern Arizona including Bisbee, Tombstone and Tucson.  

Backyard Garden Decor: Adding Color – Part 1

Backyard Garden Decor: Adding Color – Part 2  

I hope that you are inspired to use a few of these colorful ideas in your own landscape!