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For those of you who have read my blog from time to time, you have already met some of the members of “The Refuge” and seen glimpses of their gardens.

Today, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce to all of the residents and show you more of their garden and the beautiful desert that surrounds them.

 
The Refuge is a beautiful, green oasis, located in the California desert, near Palm Springs.  Stark, beautiful, desert mountains surround them that are often covered in snow in the winter.
 

It does rain in the desert and is always a time of celebration.  Dry desert washes, are suddenly filled with running water.
In the middle of this desert are the home and gardens of my sister and her family.
 Peach Tree Blossom

In the middle of the desert, you will find life in this desert garden.
 
Yellow Daisy (Euryops pectinatus)
Flowers are lovingly grown by my sister, Daisy Mom.
 
Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis)
Vegetables are grown by my nephew, Mr. Green Jeans.
 
My sister and niece, Fruity Girl, also lend a hand to the vegetable garden.
 

 
A large Mesquite tree graces the front garden….
 
 
And if you look closely, you will often find one of the residents of “The Refuge” high up in the tree.
 
We have heard from Mr. Compost, my brother-in-law, about how why we should compost and his guest post can be read here.
All that is left for me to do now is to introduce you to the supporting cast, which includes, Gimli, who is the son of my dog 
 Missy….and their shy cat.
 
The beauty of the surrounding desert, the gardens of “The Refuge” along with it’s residents make this a very special place to visit.

There is so much that I am looking forward to sharing with you…we will visit the vegetable garden in depth and view more of the beautiful flowers that my sister grows.
We will also be going on a field trip to see a wind farm which is located close by “The Refuge”.
As the seasons change, we will be visiting the garden to see the changes that they bring.
Thank you for visiting “The Refuge” with me.
There is so much beauty as you look closely as the flower of the sun begins to unfurl it’s petals.
 
A Sunflower slowly begins to unfurl it’s petals, eager to face the sun.
 
Now completely open, the Sunflower embraces the desert sun.
These two beautiful photos were taken by my nephew, Mr. Green Jeans, who is the resident vegetable grower at “The Refuge”.
*For those of you who have not had a chance yet, please visit my 100th blog post and sign up for the giveaway, which ends on Friday (tomorrow).
 
I would like to introduce you to “Mr. Compost”, a resident of “The Refuge”, (and my brother-in-law).  He will be our guest blogger today.  As you can see from his name, he knows a thing or two about composting.
Mr. Compost turning his composter.
You may have seen those “Turn Your Gold Into Cash” commercials on TV and if you had a lot of extra gold lying around your house, it would be appealing.  However, you have something even better that you are probably throwing away that can be turned into “gold” for your soil; kitchen scraps.
 
Kitchen Scraps include apple cores, coffee grounds, egg shells, garden clippings, oranges and peels, bread and grass.
The smaller the pieces, the easier it is for the bacteria to break them down.
   
Fruity Girl and Daisy Mom add kitchen waste to the composter.

That’s right, instead of throwing away your vegetable scraps, you can create a place to compost those scraps and turn them into soil enhancers.
 

“Black Gold”
There are many websites about composting that you can visit to get you started on the composting process, but you can get in the habit of putting those scraps into a separate container so you can eventually put them back into your soil and enhance your garden.
Refuge resident, Fruity Girl
 
Get your whole family involved and have fun!
 *Okay, if you have been inspired, (and who hasn’t?) by Mr. Compost to start composting yourself, there is great information on how to get started here.
Many communities offer free workshops and compost bins to residents.  Check out your local waste management department’s website to see if they are offered in your area.  The majority of cities in the Phoenix metro area offer classes and compost bins).

**For additional information, please visit GippsLandGardener and read another post about composting.

 Many of you have visited Double S Farms with me where my mother (Pastor Mom), youngest sister (Chicken Farmer) and family reside. Well, I have more family for you to meet along with their desert gardens.

I would like to introduce you to ‘The Refuge’ along with it’s residents, their gardens and the beautiful desert surrounding them.  The Refuge is located in the California desert, in the Coachella Valley, and is the home of my younger sister and her family.

 
The desert drinks up all the rain as it runs through the wash, by The Refuge.
My entire family and I are all native Californians who grew up minutes from the ocean.  Much of our time was spent at the beach.  Some of us were surfers, while others, (my sisters and I), would lay on the beach working on our tans, or lack of – we are fair-skinned.  
*Disclaimer – we always wear sunscreen, now that we know better.  Back then, we were young and stupid ;0)
   As time passed by, we all eventually found our way to the desert and have made our homes here.  My younger sister and her family live in the California desert, near Palm Springs –  while my mother, brother and youngest sister (and families) live in the Arizona desert as I do.

 
Washes in the desert fill quickly with rushing water when it rains.
Often, when people think of the desert, they picture barren, sandy hills with small scrubby shrubs and believe that all deserts look the same.  However, there are differences in all deserts.  The California desert around the Palm Springs area is part of the Sonoran Desert as is the larger Phoenix area where I live.  
However, there are some differences between the California  and the Arizona Sonoran Desert, which caused the California desert area around the Palm Springs area to be sub-classified as the Colorado Desert.  You can read more about the differences in an earlier post Journey Into My Backyard – The Sonoran Desert.


 
Small pools like this will quickly disappear as the soil drinks up the rain water.
A Creosote (Larrea tridentata) shrub is reflected in the water.
As a child, I would look forward to visits with my grandparents who lived in Palm Desert.  The beautiful barrenness of the mountains against the deep blue sky just transfixed me.  My sister has a beautiful view of the tallest mountain, Mount San Jacinto, from her kitchen and it is often covered in snow in the winter.
As we drive through the California desert towards my sister’s home, you are surrounded by the stark beauty of the desert.  As we turn down the street towards her home, it is easy to see why it is called ‘The Refuge’.  A beautiful garden surrounds their home, creating a green oasis with colorful, flowering plants and trees.

My nephew, Mr. Green Jeans, who is the resident photographer at ‘The Refuge’.
In future posts, we will have more glimpses of the gardens at ‘The Refuge’ and meet it’s residents.  My nephew, Mr. Green Jeans, is not only the resident photographer, but also grows beautiful vegetables.  My brother-in-law, Mr. Compost, is passionate about composting and will perhaps do a guest posting about how he composts.  My sister, Daisy Mom, grows beautiful container plants as well as houseplants.  

We will soon return to ‘The Refuge’ and meet more of it’s residents, view their gardens and the beautiful desert that surrounds them.