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Have you ever come upon an unexpected discovery?


I did.


Last week, my husband and I flew to Southern California for a visit with our second-oldest daughter, Rachele, who is stationed at a Navy base there.


The purpose for our trip was to be there when she got her 20-week ultrasound to see what sex her baby was (more about that later).



Of course, a trip to California wasn’t complete without visiting some of the places I grew up in.  We decided to take a trip up north to the small beach town of Carpinteria, which has a fun and funky downtown area.  


My family and I used to camp there every fall next to the beach and it was and still is one of my favorite places to visit.


Every time we visit Carpinteria, we have to stop by our favorite cupcake place – CrushCakes.
Can you tell that my husband is excited about our new grand baby?

My favorite cupcake is Vividly Vanilla and I have it every time we visit.  I should branch out and try the other flavors, but I have never gotten past this one 😉

After we had eaten our cupcakes, we ventured out and past not one but two plant nurseries.  Talk about good fortune!

I am always on the lookout for new plants, unique gardening ideas as well as photographs to share with you and also in articles I write.

While I didn’t have my regular camera, I did have my phone and was eager to discover what the first nursery had to see.

Butterflies were flying from flower to flower and the nursery was awash in beautifully blooming plants.


While walking through the nursery, my attention was caught by a lovely flowering perennials including Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) and Echinacea (purple coneflower).

Rudbeckia

Echinacea purpurea 

For those of you familiar with both of these plants – what do you think a ‘baby’ from these two plants would look like?

Well, wonder no more.  Let me introduce a new perennial that is garnering a lot of attention – ‘Echibeckia’

Echibeckia

What do you think?

Aren’t they gorgeous?


As you can see, they have golden yellow petals with orange centers.  Once the flowers begin to age, the petals turn to a darker orange.

The flowers last 2 – 3 months and make great cut flowers.  Echibeckia is hardy to zones 6 and up and would make a great addition for any perennial garden.

Echibeckia along with its parents.

I have purple coneflower and black-eyed Susan growing in my desert vegetable garden where they enjoy the fertile soil and regular water.  I may need to try Echibeckia too!

I toured through the rest of the nursery and took lots of great photos and then stopped at the nursery next door, which was very unique.  I’ll share more of my nursery visits next time.

But, back to the real purpose of my visit to California.  


We came to visit our daughter and to be there when she found out whether she was having a little boy or girl.

The ultrasound technician was showing us the baby’s heart, head and spine, which all looked great.  But, when he started to concentrate on the legs and arms – I was frankly, dying for him to get to the big question we all had – boy or girl???


I was expecting him to build up to the announcement or at least say, “Do you want to know what it is?”  But no – there was no build-up to his announcement.  In the middle of talking about the arms and how much the baby was moving he casually said, “By the way it’s a boy.”

I was looking at my daughter at that moment and she was so happy to finally know what she was having.  None of us had a preference besides a healthy baby, but it is so nice to be able to know the sex.

After the ultrasound, we drove to the nearest Target store and I helped her with deciding what items to add to her baby registry.

It never ceases to amaze me how interesting things like bottles, cribs, high chairs, mobiles and strollers suddenly become once you are expecting.

Our grandson is due in January and we couldn’t be happier.  Now our granddaughter, will have a little cousin to play with 🙂

I love the color purple in the garden because the color, helps to visually ‘cool’ the garden.

‘Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’)

Have you ever wondered how some plants handle our hot temperatures and intense sunlight?

Look carefully at the flowers, above.  Note the small hairs covering the petals?  They help to reflect the sun’s rays.

I like using large shrubs to screen the back wall of my garden, so I have quite a few ‘Rio Bravo’ sage shrubs.

They put on a spectacular show off and on throughout the summer when they bloom.  (Leucophyllum langmaniae) is just one species of Leucophyllum (Texas Sage).

Of course, if you insist on pruning your sage shrubs into round ‘blobs’ – you will never see the flower show.

For guidelines on how to prune your desert, flowering shrubs correctly, click here.

Every year, I hope to avoid a certain malady that always pops its head up in mid-August.

I was pretty sure I had skipped it this year, but early this week – it hit me.

What is this malady?

“I don’t want to venture out into my garden.”

 Shocking, isn’t it?  Now, there is nothing wrong with my garden.  In fact, it looks its best this time of year.
My summer-flowering shrubs are absolutely covered in blooms, my trees are growing beautifully and my lawn is thick and green (thanks largely to increased humidity and monsoon rains).
Bougainvillea ‘Barbara Karst’
Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans)
Orange Jubilee
The fact that I haven’t spent much time out in the garden is rather obvious from the photos of my slightly overgrown plants below…
Rio Bravo Sage
Gold Lantana
So, why on earth don’t I want to go out in the garden?
Well, I must admit that I get a little ‘burned out’ on gardening.  It has to do with the fact that I get a bit tired of the summer heat and living in the Desert Southwest, means that there is always something to do in the garden 12 months of the year.  
Sometimes, I just need a little break.  I don’t think this makes me a bad gardener or horticulturist – do  you?

So, maybe some of my plants are a bit overgrown and need a little pruning.  Well, they can grow for a couple more weeks and I’ll get to it in early September.  

Besides, I would rather have a overgrown plant covered in flowers then one that is over-pruned and ugly, wouldn’t you?
I will shake off this seasonal ‘malady’ and be out in the garden, eager to plant seeds for my winter vegetable garden the beginning of September.
**How about you?  Do you suffer from the same malady from time to time?  Please tell me about it – it will make me feel better 🙂

Hello Everyone…..I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far.  My August has been quite busy and filled with kids back in school, preparing to teach a vegetable gardening class, planning my fall vegetable garden, a baby shower (more about that later), knitting class, baking and writing for a magazine.  

But, I did venture out into the garden to create my Monthly Garden Bouquet and this is what I came up with….

My ‘Rio Bravo’ Sage is in full bloom and I love the light fragrance of the lavender flowers.  I decided to add a cluster of Gold Lantana flowers since they have been blooming in my entryway for the past 6 months.  I love their bright colors.
I must admit that I sometimes overlook my Lantana.  They do so well and are almost always blooming.  They require no fertilizer or special attention except for twice annual pruning.  I think gardeners tend to pay more attention to the plants that take more care,  and ignore those that work hard and look beautiful without much effort, don’t you?
Before I went out into the garden to create my bouquet, I searched for a suitable vase or container to place it in.  I have used the same containers more then once for previous MGB posts and was determined to find another one.  It was then I remembered a special vase that I bought on a visit to Ireland over 9 years ago.

My vase pictures a farm cat and her kitten.  It is from the ‘Landscape’ collection from Nicholas Mosse Irish Pottery.  I have other pieces of the ‘Landscape’ collection and they are beautiful,  painted with farm animals, flowers, and much more. 

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If you would like to participate in August’s Monthly Garden Bouquet (and I hope you do), here are the guidelines.

1. MGB begins on the 21st of each month and runs until the end of each month. Bouquets can be submitted during this time (or even later 🙂
2. Create your own garden bouquet as fancy or simple as you like.
3. I would appreciate it if you would provide a link back to my post inside of your MGB post, but it is not required 🙂 
4. Add your link to Mr. Linky below and that’s it!

I cannot wait to see what bouquets you create from your August gardens.

Have a great week!

Summertime temperatures bring a riot of color to my desert garden and my plants are growing larger and larger.  The combination of warm (okay, hot) temperatures and summer rains means that my garden is going crazy with growth and blooms.

As I walked around the garden taking pictures, I came away with photos of a large number of yellow flowering plants, some recent transplants, and a couple of plants who normally do not flower this time of year (I must have neglected to tell them when they are normally supposed to flower 😉 

 Arizona Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans)
This shrub has now reached a height of 9 ft.  
I will prune it back by about 1/3 in early September.
 A few flowers are still blooming on my Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) even though it is not their typical bloom season.
 I just love the sunny faces of my Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata), which are a perennial that is sometimes treated as an annual.
 I haven’t shown this plant before, but I do love my Eremophila x Summertime Blue.  
They flower off an on throughout the year and I like their bell-shaped flowers.
I transplanted this shrub back in March in order to make room for my vegetable garden.  Thankfully, they survived and now beginning to thrive again.

This pretty little perennial is underused in the landscape in my opinion.  
I love how the spent blooms of my Paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi) have a ‘papery’ texture, hence the origin of the common name.

 I must admit that this picture of a cluster of Orange Jubilee flowers (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee) is not from my garden, but from the garden of my mother and sister.
However, in my defense….I did design their garden and I do have the same type of plant in my garden, but my flowers do not look as nice as theirs do 😉
I love the tiny clusters of flowers of my Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii).
This one sits in the shade provided by my Green Desert Spoon.
An all yellow variety of Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima ‘Phoenix Bird’) proudly shows off it’s flowers in my front garden.



These flowers are not normally found in August, but someone neglected to tell my Desert Museum Palo Verde tree that it can stop flowering now.

All over the Arizona desert, different types of Sages are blooming in response to the summer heat and humidity from our monsoon season.  My Rio Bravo Sage are no exception 🙂

 The flowers of my Rio Bravo Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’) have a light fragrance which just makes this flowering shrub even better.

What is blooming in your garden this month?

To see more blooming gardens, please visit May Dreams Gardens who hosts Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day each month.

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I wanted to thank you all again for your wonderful comments in regards to Gracie’s story.  I promise I will post the third and last installment in a few days 🙂

Today was a beautiful, crisp day.  Temps are in the upper 50’s and there are still flowers present in the garden.
Firecracker Penstemon
Hummingbirds just love the flowers.  Blooms will continue until late April.
**I will have some seeds available this spring.  Click here to see if this perennial will grow where you garden.
Stolk
Flowering in my children’s pool garden.
See earlier post about planting this garden.
Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis)
This bright perennial will bloom all year.
This particular flower is from my neighbor’s garden.

Valentine (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)
My Valentine shrub is really starting to bloom.  
Blooming peaks in February, but continues into late April.
Rio Bravo Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’)
Surprisingly, my Sage is still blooming, although there are not many left.
**Look closely at the little hairs covering the flower…this helps to protect the flower from the intense heat and sunlight in the summer months. 
Whirling Butterflies (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’)
This perennial blooms spring through fall.  It is slowing down, but I was able to get some pictures of the last blooms.
My neighbor’s yellow rose.
Roses continue blooming through December and into January.  
We actually have to cut them back severely in January to force dormancy.  It just kills me to prune off the beautiful rose blooms of my roses….
My Purple Violas are blooming beautifully.
Goodding’s Verbena (Glandularia gooddingii)
A few blooms remain.  
Next to the flowers is a volunteer Victoria Agave that has sprouted from the parent plant.
Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
Blooms fall through the spring.
Unfortunately, they do self-seed prolifically and I have to do a bit of weeding.
**If any of you are interested in seeds, I should have quite a few available this spring.
Click here to see if Globe Mallow will grow in your area. 
Purple Lantana (Lantana montividensis)
A few blooms remain, but a lot of Lantana has been burned by frost.
This one is located underneath a tree, which gives some protection from the frost.
Bougainvillea
The colorful ‘petals’ are actually not the flower.  They are called ‘brachts’.
The actual flowers are the tiny cream colored flowers in the center.
*I realize I include photos of my bougainvillea often, but it has done very well. Most Bougainvillea have been damaged by the frost, but this one is located underneath a tree in my backyard, which has protected it from the cold.
Thank you for joining me for December’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  Please visit May Dreams Gardens for more sites to visit.
Coming up soon…..A Desert Christmas Celebration.  More specifically, how we decorate our homes and gardens for Christmas.   You may be surprised at what we cover with lights…..