Tag Archive for: Phoenix

I am always on the lookout for beautiful landscapes that are well-designed and need minimal care.  I like to call them sustainable or ‘fuss-free’ landscapes.

A week ago, my friend and fellow-blogger, Pam Penick came into town on a quest to see examples of gardens that use little water.  So, I was more then happy to spend a day with her looking at some great examples of gardens around the greater Phoenix area.

The first part of our journey began with a visit to the beautifully-designed Arizona State Polytechnic Campus, which included cisterns, man-made arroyos and creative uses for urbanite.  If you missed it, you can read about our visit, here.

The second leg of our tour took us to a butterfly/hummingbird demonstration garden along a golf course and a well-designed parking lot (yes, I said a parking lot).

First, was our visit to a butterfly/hummingbird demonstration garden.

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatoni)

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatoni)

I must admit that I was excited about seeing this garden, which is near and dear to my heart because I designed it.

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

In the beginning, this landscape area was rather unremarkable   There were a number of foothill palo verdes, cascalote and ironwood trees in this area and a few over-pruned Valentine shrubs.

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

Pink Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)

The golf course community wanted to create a demonstration garden to show residents how they can have a beautiful landscape that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds that consists entirely of drought-tolerant plants.

Coral Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua 'Coral')

Coral Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua ‘Coral’)

I want to showcase drought-tolerant shrubs and perennials that provided overlapping seasons of color.

Firecracker Penstemon, Purple Trailing Lantana and Damianita.

Firecracker Penstemon, Purple Trailing Lantana and Damianita.

Paths were created by using stabilized DG that blended seamlessly with regular DG placed around the plants.

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

While walking through the garden, we saw hummingbirds enjoying the flowers.

White Globe Mallow

White Globe Mallow

The plants in this garden aren’t only drought-tolerant – they don’t require any supplemental fertilizer, soil amendments and need pruning once a year or less.

It doesn’t get much better then that, does it?   Our next stop was a park in the mountains of Scottsdale, called Cavalierre Park.

I must admit that I was surprised that my favorite thing about the park was its parking lot.

I realize that that may sound strange, BUT have you seen how ugly most parking lots are?

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

The majority of parking lot islands are over-planted and over-pruned.  In addition, trees seldom thrive in the small islands in the midst of hot, reflected heat.

So, as we drove up to Cavalierre park, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was no asphalt in sight.  

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

Believe it or not, these parking lot islands get no supplemental irrigation and need little, if any pruning.

Each island was edged with rusted steel edging and filled with native rock from the site.

The fact that there is not a traditional asphalt parking lot reduces the amount of runoff from rainfall.  This non-traditional parking lot created from stabilized DG (decomposed granite) doesn’t heat up, thereby keeping the area a bit cooler since it doesn’t contribute to the ‘heat-island’ effect that asphalt does.  

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

During construction cacti and trees were salvaged from the site and replanted onsite once it was finished.

Trees too large to be removed were incorporated into the design with steel edging preserving their original grade.

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

This raised planter keeps the existing mesquite tree and saguaro cactus at their original grade while creating a beautiful, focal planting near the entrance of the park.

Southwestern Sustainable Landscapes

I am constantly amazed at how beautiful sustainable landscapes can be simply by using good design and arid-adapted plants that are maintained correctly.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather enjoy a parking lot like this instead of one surrounded by asphalt and over-pruned shrubs, wouldn’t you?

I hope you have enjoyed this second installment of our tour of sustainable landscapes in the Phoenix area.

Be sure to come back for our last installment – I have saved the best for last…

Where do you expect to see vegetable gardens planted?

Most of the time, vegetable gardens are found in the backyard.

But, have you ever  thought of locating your vegetable garden somewhere else?

Vegetable Gardens

This home in the Encanto district, in downtown Phoenix, has a great way of utilizing space in the front yard for growing vegetables.  

Vegetable Gardens

The homeowners decided to utilize the space beside their driveway for planting a vegetable garden.

I think that this vegetable garden looks great in this area, don’t you think?  

Vegetable Gardens

By the way, do know why the homeowner has planted flowers at the end of each vegetable row?

The marigolds and lavender not only add beauty to the garden, they serve an important role in keeping bad bugs away from the vegetables.

Pairing flowering plants and herbs with vegetables is a practice known as “companion gardening”.

There are many other plants that can be planted with vegetables to keep damaging insects away.  You can read more about companion gardening here.

Vegetable Gardens

I also like how the homeowners added vegetables in front of the house.  Some people would tend to plant annual flowers in this area instead, but think how much more fun it would be to plant vegetables there instead.

The vegetables look at home among the ornamental plants such as Agave angustifolia, Texas Mountain Laurel and Red Yucca

Vegetable Gardens

A couple of years ago, I was driving home from a landscape consult and saw this home’s front yard filled with raised beds.

zucchini, Swiss chard, tomatillos and carrots

I returned a few months later to visit these vegetable gardens filled with zucchini, Swiss chard, tomatillos and carrots.

cucumber plants

This is another home in east Phoenix that has homemade trellises, made from rebar and wire, with cucumber plants growing up on them.

The cucumbers are in the perfect spot where they receive afternoon shade from the large front yard tree.

Both of these gardens are planted and managed by the Farmyard group, who grow organic produce on urban farms in Phoenix and Scottsdale.  You can find out more about this group and the services the offer here.

As cool as these vegetable gardens are, most of us cannot grow vegetables in our front yard due to HOA restrictions.

However, if you do not live in a neighborhood with an HOA, maybe you should think about including vegetables in your front yard?

You can start out small – maybe that area that you would normally plant flowers?   ** A word of caution: don’t plant vegetables in front if you have problems with deer, rabbits or javelina.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about growing vegetables in the front yard…  

Freezing temperatures are coming tonight and forecast to last for the next several days.

Take a drive down the street in your neighborhood, you will probably see landscape plants covered with assorted sheets, towels or frost cloth.

How to Protect Plants From Frost

Those that don’t protect their frost-sensitive plants such as lantana, bougainvillea, yellow bells, orange jubilee or hibiscus will soon have plants that look like thisโ€ฆ

Protect Plants From Frost

In most cases, you do not have to cover your frost-sensitive plants when temps dip into the lower 30’s.

There is nothing wrong with allowing the top growth of your ornamental plants to get frost damage.  You just prune it away in spring.

For those of you who don’t like the look of frost-damage, then you will need to protect your plants from the cold.

**If temperatures are predicted to dip into the 20’s – then I do recommend protecting them from frost because temps this cold can kill a plant.

I wrote a blog post earlier this year when temps hit the low 20’s.  It talks about how to protect plants from frost (and how NOT to) along with the types of plants to protect.

You can read it hereโ€ฆ

“Prepping For Deep Freeze”

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I hope you are having a great week.  I must confess to being a little behind on writing blog posts this month with all the Christmas goings on ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t know about you, but I have enjoyed the wet weather of the past few days.  We almost received 3 inches of rain where I live in a period of 48 hours.  For those of you who do not live in the desert – that is considered A LOT of rain for us ๐Ÿ˜‰

I spent Saturday morning dodging raindrops as I visited two different clients regarding their landscapes.  The rest of the day, I spent indoors just thinking of how much my garden is enjoying this rain.

You may not realize that rain water is much better for your plants then the water that comes from your hose or drip emitters.  Our water is somewhat ‘salty’, which is a result of its journey down the Colorado river and all the rock it passes by.

Plants do not like salt much and a heavy rain will help flush the salts away from the soil.

As the sun began to peek through the clouds this afternoon, I ventured out into the garden in order to harvest some lettuce and Swiss chard for our dinner.

A small sampling of today's harvest

A small sampling of today’s harvest.

It had been a while since I had taken a good look at my vegetable gardens and there was quite a bit more to harvest then I had expected.

Swiss chard

I am rapidly falling in love with Swiss chard (yes, I said ‘love’).

While I do not like cooked leafy greens, I have been surprised at how delicious raw Swiss chard is in salads.

It also adds a nice bit of color with its red and yellow veins.

harvesting vegetables

Sugar snap peas are covering their vines, but it is hard to find them all since they blend in so well with the leaves.

I plan on serving them on our veggie tray Thanksgiving morning.

Right now, I have more radishes then I know what to do with.  But, we had 5, thinly sliced radishes in our salad.  In addition to thinly slicing them, I also quarter them so that my kids will eat them.

harvesting vegetables

Two of my favorite types of leaf lettuce – Romaine and Black-Seeded Simpson.

I have had some problems with caterpillars eating my lettuce, so I will head out tomorrow with my spray bottle of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis).

harvesting vegetables

Fall is the best time of year for all of my pepper plants.  While they can handle hot temperatures, they don’t flower during the height of summer.

Once it begins to cool down in mid September, flowers appear again followed by peppers.

Sadly, once the first frost occurs, they will stop producing and will often die.  Last year, I was able to save my bell pepper plant by covering it when temps dipped below freezing.

I have a ton of bell peppers and jalapeรฑos.  I will dice them up and place them in freezer bags so that I can enjoy them throughout the winter months.

harvesting vegetables

harvesting vegetables

I discovered that I had a lot of parsley growing and I only harvested about half of it.

While parsley will last through the winter months, my basil won’t survive the first frost.  So, I picked some basil too.

harvesting vegetables

harvesting vegetables

I plant to dry my basil and parsley.  Once dry, I will crush the leaves and put them into spice jars.

Drying herbs is easy and you can learn how to do it here.

The remainder of the fresh parsley that I have growing outdoors I will harvest on Thanksgiving to use as a garnish for a few of my favorite dishes.

While I spent part of this afternoon harvesting vegetables, I noticed that I still have not thinned out my carrot seedlings.  Oh, they will still grow if I don’t thin them, but what I will get in return are small carrots not worth eating.

So, I’ll grab a pair of scissors and head out into the garden and snip off the extra.

*************************

How about you?

Have you put your garden to bed for the winter or do you still have things growing in it?

I’d love to hear what is happening in your garden…

Yesterday, I showed you a photo of a citrus tree that I came upon during a landscape consultation.  

landscape consultation

I mentioned that there was more then one problem affecting this tree.  There are actually two large problems and one small problem.

Problem #1: Look at the area near the trunk.  Notice a little green shoot coming up from a small citrus root?

This innocent-looking little sucker can cause a lot of problems if allowed to grow.  The reason for this is that citrus trees are grafted onto a vigorous rootstock.

Basically, the top of a citrus tree and the roots come from different plants.  Citrus trees we enjoy in our landscape don’t have a particularly strong root system.  So, they are grafted onto a thorny, citrus tree that has vigorous roots and sour fruit.

landscape consultation

Occasionally, small suckers from the thorny, citrus tree start to grow up from the roots or the base of the trunk below the bud union.  The bud union is a bulge around the lower part of the tree, about a foot above the ground.  Any suckers that originate from below the bud union should be removed, because if allowed to grow – the thorny citrus tree will grow and take over.

Now, back to our original picture for our second problem…

landscape consultation

Problem #2: Look closely at the soil and you can see signs of shallow irrigation. How can you tell? Look at the small citrus roots criss crossing out from the tree.  In a properly watered citrus tree, you shouldn’t see the roots at all.

This indicates that when the tree is irrigated, that the water is not turned on long enough to penetrate to the recommended 3 ft. depth.

When I pointed this out to the homeowner, she indicated that if the water is turned for too long, that it runs out from the basin.

There are two solutions for this problem.

 Elevate the sides of the basin to at least 6 inches high and allow to fill with water.  Next, check to see how deeply you have watered by taking a long, narrow stick or piece of rebar and push it into the wet soil.  It should go down fairly easily to the point where the water permeates.  Pull it back out and you will get a good idea of how much more or less water you will need.

– If after trying the first solution and you still haven’t hit the recommended 3 ft. depth, then try this trick – water in the morning, filling up the basin.  Allow the water to sink and fill the basin again later in the day.  This should help you achieve the right depth.

The smaller problem is really nothing to be overly concerned about…

Orange Dog Caterpillar

If you look closely, some of the leaves have ragged edges and holes.  The damage is caused by the Orange Dog Caterpillar.  This caterpillar appears in the summer months and resemble ‘bird poop’ which makes them hard to spot.  

These caterpillars will turn into the beautiful Giant Swallowtail butterfly.  Mature citrus trees can usually handle the damage from the caterpillars, so in most cases, the best thing to do is nothing.

For additional resources for raising citrus in the Valley of the Sun and other areas throughout the Southwest, check out this helpful link.

Do you have citrus trees in your landscape?  Which kinds?  

something wrong with citrus tree

something wrong with citrus tree

Last week, I came upon this citrus tree while I was doing a consultation.

At first, there was one problem that I noticed right away.  As I peered closer, I saw that there was another problem affecting this tree.

The tree was well-fertilized and I could see no sign of nutrient deficiencies.

Can you tell what is wrong with this citrus tree?

Leave your guesses below in the comment section and I will reveal the answer tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚

*You may be wondering why you should care about the problems of this particular citrus tree.  Well, if you have citrus growing in your garden, you may have the same problem(s) and not even know it.

My hope is to help others identify and correct problems with their plants that they may not be aware of until it is too late.

October is my favorite month of the year in the garden.  Summer is over and when I walk outdoors, I am greeted with delightful temperatures in the 80’s.  I even had to wear a light sweater the other night when out walking the dogs with my husband ๐Ÿ™‚

October Garden

Planting shrubs in the parking lot of our church along with the boy scouts a few years ago.

This is a very busy month in the garden because the end of summer signals the beginning of planting season.  October is the best time to add plants to your landscape because they have three seasons to grow roots, which will help them handle the stress of next summer.

When digging a hole for your plants, the hole can make a huge difference in how successful your plants will be.  Make the hole 3 times wider then the rootball.  Because roots grow mostly sideways, they will have an easier time growing through recently dug soil then hard-packed soil.  The depth of the hole should be NO deeper then the rootball.  When plants are planted too deeply, they can suffocate or become waterlogged.

So, what types of plants can you add now?  Concentrate on trees, shrubs and perennials that are not frost tender.

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatoni), blooms in late winter and into spring in my zone 9a garden.

Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatoni), blooms in late winter and into spring in my zone 9a garden.

Some of my favorite plants in my garden are those that bloom in fall, winter or spring.

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana), blooms in spring and fall

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana), blooms in spring and fall.

Pink Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii 'Pink'), blooms fall, winter and spring and prefers partial shade

Pink Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii ‘Pink’), blooms fall, winter and spring and prefers partial shade.

Valentine (Eremophila maculata 'Valentine), is my FAVORITE shrub.  I starts blooming in January and lasts until April when there is not much else going on in my garden

Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine), is my FAVORITE shrub.  I starts blooming in January and lasts until April when there is not much else going on in my garden.

When shopping for arid-adapted plants for your landscape, be aware that most of them aren’t too impressive looking when seen at the nursery.

Angelita Daisy in the nursery

Angelita Daisy in the nursery.

Arid-adapted plants don’t really start concentrating on their top growth UNTIL they have grown a good amount of roots.

Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis, formerly Hymenoxys acaulis)

Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis, formerly Hymenoxys acaulis)

As you can see, there is a pretty significant difference after these Angelita Daisies have been in the ground for a couple of years.

Scarlet Flax

Scarlet Flax

Do you like wildflowers?  For a beautiful spring display, October is the time to spread wildflower seed.  Growing your own wildflowers is easy to do, but there are a few important guidelines to follow.  You can read more about how to start your own wildflowers from seed here.

October Garden

If you enjoy growing vegetables, then it is time to get started planting cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, leaf lettuce and radishes – just to name a few.

October Garden

I amend my soil with 3 inches compost, 2 inches composted steer manure, blood meal and bone meal (following the directions on the package on how much to apply).  Lightly cultivate, mixing your new amendments into the soil.

Our little puppy, Penny, is growing up

Our little puppy, Penny, is growing up!

*Beware of 4-month old puppies when adding manure, blood or bone meal to your garden.  It is absolutely irresistible to them and dogs of all ages ๐Ÿ˜‰

Radish seedlings

Radish seedlings.

As your seedlings come up, there will be too many growing too close together, so you will need to thin them once they have 2 – 3  mature leaves (not the small seed leaves).

October Garden

The easiest way to thin excess seedlings is to simply cut them off with scissors.  Pulling them out can injure the roots of the remaining plants.

Lettuce seedlings that were thinned

Lettuce seedlings that were thinned.

Don’t throw out your leaf lettuce and radish greens that you have thinned out.  Use them to garnish you salad – they are delicious!

Check out your local county extension office’s website for information on when and what to plant in your area this month.  For the greater Phoenix area, here is a wonderful vegetable planting calendar

October Garden

Do you have a favorite agave growing in your landscape?  Some agave produce volunteers (also called offsets or pups).  October is a great time to propagate succulents like agave or cacti.  

I have a favorite Parry’s Agave in my garden and it occasionally produces a little baby, which I take and replant elsewhere in my garden or give to a friend.  It is easy to transplant the baby agave and you can see how I do it, here.

October Garden

As temperatures begin to cool, plants do not need as much water as they do in summer.  Adjust your irrigation schedule so that you are water less frequently.

The length of time that you water, should remain the same.  Trees should be watered to a depth of 3 feet, shrubs to 2 feet and perennials to 1 foot.  For watering guidelines and schedules, click here.

I love container gardening.  It is an easy way to change up the look of your landscape seasonally and year to year.

Container with geraniums, yellow Euryops daisies, fern leaf lavender and blue lobelia

Container with geraniums, yellow Euryops daisies, fern leaf lavender and blue lobelia.

Switch out your warm-season container plantings for cool-season favorites.  Alyssum, geraniums, lobelia, pansies, petunias, snapdragons and violas are just a few colorful plants that can be added to your containers in October.

Add 6 inches of new potting mix (I like to use a planting mix, which is a little different then potting soil and avoids problems with wet soil) to each container before planting to replenish the old soil.

After adding your new plants, then sprinkle a slow-release fertilizer around the base of each plant, which will slowly release nutrients for about 3 months.

In addition to your traditional flowering containers, how about changing up your containers?

My granddaughter, Lily, is handling her watering duties very seriously.  I just think her little painted toenails are so cute

My granddaughter, Lily, is handling her watering duties very seriously.  I just think her little painted toenails are so cute!

We planted this container filled with herbs and gave it to my oldest daughter for her birthday.  Chives, parsley, rosemary and thyme will handle our winters just fine and fresh herbs are just a few steps away from her kitchen.

My newest addiction is growing vegetables and flowers together in containers.

Petunias grow among parsley, garlic and leaf lettuce in front of my vegetable garden

Petunias grow among parsley, garlic and leaf lettuce in front of my vegetable garden.

I have almost more fun growing vegetables in containers then I do in my vegetable gardens.

There are many types of vegetable that do well in containers, including leaf lettuce and garlic.  For more ideas of how to grow vegetables and flowers together, click here.

**I also made a video about growing a summer vegetable and flower container.  You can view it here.

Well, I think that I have given you a fair amount of task to do in your garden.  

What type of gardening tasks are you doing in your garden this month?  I would really love to hear about it.

I will post another “To-Do” List next month!

I love visiting other people’s gardens, particularly if they have fruit and vegetables growing in them. So, I was thrilled to be able to go on a tour of local ‘edible’ gardens earlier this month.

Arcadia Edible Garden

This is the second year of the Arcadia Edible Garden Tour, which is made up of a collection of residential gardens in the ‘Arcadia’ area in east Phoenix.  I used to live in this area and it is one of my favorite regions of the Phoenix metro area.

Because my mother loves gardening almost as much as I do, I decided to buy her a ticket too and take her with me as a Mother’s Day gift.

Our first stop was to see Jill’s Sweet Life Garden.  I made sure to visit there first because I had been following her blog and couldn’t wait to see her gardens in person.

Arcadia Edible Garden

As we entered the garden, We headed straight for the raised vegetable beds.

Arcadia Edible Garden

My mother and I love to grow leaf lettuce, so we had to see what varieties were being grown.

Arcadia Edible Garden

One of the reasons that I was excited to go on this garden tour, was to get ideas to use in my own garden.

Like, using regular wire mesh over the garden.  This would be great to use as a support for shade cloth in summer or frost cloth in the winter.  It is much more attractive then PVC supports.

The trellis is made of rebar and wire mesh and provides an attractive support for vining vegetables.

Arcadia Edible Garden

As many of you know, I love to grow nasturtiums alongside my vegetables.  They aren’t only pretty, they help to keep bad bugs away from my veggies.

This bed had a variety of nasturtium that I was anxious to try ‘Cherry Rose Jewel’ (I found seeds at Botanical Interests).  I will definitely be planting these next year.

Arcadia Edible Garden

As I was busy admiring the raised beds, my attention was drawn upward by a massive trumpet vine that was growing up a Phoenix date palm.

Arcadia Edible Garden

Talk about an unexpected support for a vine – I loved it.

I have been growing a special variety of corn in a half wine barrel.  

cucumbers

Sweet Life Garden had cucumbers growing in a barrel with a beautiful trellis.

Baker’s Nursery had these wine barrel trellises available, but I’m not sure if they still do.  You could certainly make your own.

sunflowers

In addition to cucumbers, sunflowers were also growing in a barrel.  I may have to try this.

Arcadia Edible Garden

I love growing herbs in pots, but I think Jill’s look better then mine because of the half barrels.  I think I need to get more for my garden.

beautiful heirloom

Tomatoes were growing like crazy with some beautiful heirloom varieties ripening.

Arcadia Edible Garden

Wouldn’t this look beautiful on a sandwich or on a salad?

Arcadia Edible Garden

I think it is important to have seating areas scattered throughout the garden, which invites you to sit and enjoy your surroundings.

Arcadia Edible Garden

Here is another example of the wire mesh being used as a trellis.

Arcadia Edible Garden

For those of you who mourn the fact that they cannot grow leafy greens for their salad in summer – let me introduce you to Malabar spinach.

Okay, it’s not exactly a spinach but tastes great in salads and tastes like spinach when cooked.

It loves hot temperatures and needs a trellis for support.  I have seeds, but will probably wait until next year to plant mine.

The seeds can be a little hard to find at your local nursery, but you can buy some through Amazon.com for under a $1 – just type in Malabar spinach in the search.

Arcadia Edible Garden

Why limit yourself to growing just vegetables?

Fruit on shrubs and trees is also fun to grow as you can see from the large peach tree, above and the espaliered apple tree, below.

I especially enjoyed seeing the peach orchard. My peaches are almost ready for picking ๐Ÿ™‚

Arcadia Edible Garden

I have been busy picking the blackberries off of my vines and have been thinking of adding more next winter.  

Arcadia Edible Garden

After seeing the berries at Sweet Life Garden, I will definitely add more to my own garden.

Did you know that there is a thornless variety?  I have one thorny blackberry bush and the rest are thornless.  Guess which kind I like best?

Arcadia Edible Garden

It was time to wrap up our visit because there were more gardens to visit.

Arcadia Edible Garden

Did I mention that they have chickens too?

On our way out, we enjoyed seeing a variety of products offered by Sweet Life Garden and local vendors.

Sweet Life Garden
Sweet Life Garden

I had already eaten breakfast, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying a few samples.

Sweet Life Garden
Sweet Life Garden

The three-cheese black pepper bread came home with me.

Sweet Life Garden

We had a great time visiting Jill, at Sweet Life Garden.

But, our adventure didn’t end there.  There were more gardens to visit.  I will give you the highlights of the other gardens in my next post.

**You can find information about the Arcadia Edible Garden Tour on Jill’s blog, Sweet Life Garden.  Be sure to order early next spring, when tickets are available.

Arcadia Edible Tour: Part 2

A couple of days ago, I was busy cooking dinner when I got a call from my husband who was on his way home from work.  He said that there was a haboob on the way.

Okay, some of you may be wondering what the heck a ‘haboob’ is.  Well, the word ‘haboob’ is an Arabic word that describes a dust or sand storm.  Here in the Phoenix area, we don’t have sand, so our haboobs are made up of dust.


Now dust storms aren’t too unusual during our summer monsoon season in the Southwest, but the one that was coming, according to my husband was monstrous.  So, I decided it would be a good opportunity to blog about it, so I went outside with my son, Kai, to watch its approach and take pictures to share with you.

At first, it doesn’t look like much, but as you progress down through the pictures, you can see the progression of the haboob.

You can just see the dust cloud in the distance behind the homes

You can just see the dust cloud in the distance behind the homes.

dust storms
dust storms
haboob

Okay, at this point, my camera battery died.  So, I went inside to get our other camera only to find that its battery was also dead.  I couldn’t believe it…..this was a once in a lifetime weather experience and I had no camera!

But, then my husband arrived home from work and rescued me by taking pictures with his iPhone just as the storm was hitting.

And then it was dark….

haboob

 You can barely see Kai through the blowing dust….

haboob

At this point, we went inside and I actually had grit in my teeth….I won’t mention what my hair looked like ๐Ÿ˜‰

The haboob was 3,000 ft. high and more then 30 miles wide.  It brought winds of 69 mph, some of which broke off some branches of my Mexican Bird-of-Paradise tree.

Just over at Double S Farms, my sister got photos of the storm approaching their house as well.

haboob
haboob

I am a total weather geek and I was thrilled to have witnessed a dust storm of this size.

Now, I just have to sweep the dust off my patio and wash the dust off of my plants with the hose ๐Ÿ™‚

I have heard people lament that they miss the obvious changes that the seasons bring in cooler climates, once they move to the desert.  A fall without yellow and red foliage doesn’t feel the same. 

Autumn color in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

 Autumn color in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

Visions of large, green trees whose leaves are beginning to turn into beautiful colors occupy their thoughts….

Fall foliage begins to make it's appearance in Williamsburg, VA.

 Fall foliage begins to make it’s appearance in Williamsburg, VA.

I like fall color as much as the next person, but as a native of Southern California, I have never experienced a whole lot of autumn colored foliage.  So for me, the coming of fall is indicated by drier and cooler weather, which I wholeheartedly welcome.

Some of you may not have noticed, but I have been gone for about 2 weeks on a vacation along the east coast.  My mother (Pastor Farmer), my husband, the kids and I flew from Phoenix to Atlanta, GA, where we rented a minivan and drove through western North Carolina, through Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, Pennsylvania and ended up in New York.

We had a phenomenal time, which I will post about later.  One thing I will mention is the beautiful autumn color that we were fortunate to see on our travels.

Montreat, North Carolina

 Montreat, North Carolina

We enjoyed gathering some leaves for fall decorations back home.  I was able to get some from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, some in Pennsylvania, a couple of leaves from trees at the White House (the Secret Service didn’t get me in trouble for that), and a few leaves from Central Park in New York City.

Now many new people who move to the desert southwest love our mild winters, but oftentimes lament the lack of fall color in the trees in our area.  Well, for those of you who are homesick for some fall color in your desert garden, do not despair…

There is a wonderful tree that produces beautiful orange-red color in the winter.  The Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) tree stands out in the winter landscape because of it’s gorgeous color.

Autumn Colored Foliage

Autumn Colored Foliage

Aren’t they beautiful?

Throughout most of the year, this Chinese native serve as beautiful shade trees.  They reach sizes of approximately 30 ft. high and will shed their leaves in the winter.

Chinese Pistache tree

This front garden is a great example of a beautiful Chinese Pistache tree.

 It is NOT a good example of how to prune your shrubs ๐Ÿ˜‰

They are hardy to temperatures in the teens in the winter months.  Male trees are said to be more attractive then the female trees.

Autumn Colored Foliage

So, if you are a new resident of the desert, or maybe a longtime resident and would like to add a little autumn color to your landscape, here is a tree to try.

Autumn Colored Foliage

Who wouldn’t love color like this in the fall?

**I am currently getting over jet lag and going through my photos from our vacation.  I can’t wait to share some of them with you ๐Ÿ™‚

Is It Fall Yet?