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Do you ever find yourself wishing that you had flowers to give to a friend or to decorate your table?


Instead of heading out to the store for a generic bouquet, how about creating a lovely bouquet straight from your garden?


Now before you say that you don’t have any flowers suitable for a bouquet, think again.  


Here are several bouquets from my garden and a few from the family farm….


Isn’t this a lovely arrangement?

Believe it or not, the flowers in these vases all came from plants that many of you probably have in your own garden.

My mother created this arrangement using gold lantana (Lantana ‘New Gold Mound’), orange jubilee (Tecoma x Orange Jubilee) and Texas sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) flowers.  As you can see, it is beautiful, didn’t cost her anything and took minutes to create.


This is a bouquet that I created using flowers from my late winter garden.  Pink and white globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) coupled with Goodding’s verbena (Glandularia gooddingii) are a vision of pinks and purples.


I used a small pitcher to put cuttings of purple trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis), angelita daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) and flowers from my cascalote tree (Caesalpinia cacalaco).


This antique milk of magnesia glass jar makes the perfect vase for sweet white alyssum (Lobularia maritima) , purple violas and pink bower vine (Pandorea jasminoides) flowers.


Flowers aren’t the only thing from the garden that you can use to create a bouquet with.  

A mason jar filled with cut branches from a kumquat tree looks lovely on this table in winter.


Maybe your winter garden has no flowers.  Well, don’t let that stop you.  A small vase filled with seedpods and dried leaves from a Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) looks great on my mother’s diningroom table.


Perhaps you’ve never thought that petunias could look be used in a vase.  But, if you use a small, shallow bowl, they can add a beautiful spot of color on your table.


Of course, roses always make a lovely bouquet.

Bouquets created from items in your garden are a great way to add a personal touch of beauty to your space.

So, are you inspired to create your own unique garden bouquet?  Step outside in your garden and take a new look at your plants – you’ll probably be surprised at how many would look nice in a vase.

**How about you?  What plants would you use to create a bouquet with?

Most of us are familiar with teak wood and its beauty.  Often, you can find it in a garden setting being in the form of benches, which weather the sun and rain with no problem.


Teak wood is extremely durable and unlike many types of wood, can handle water with no problem. 


A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by Teak Closeouts if I would try out some of their teak bowls, which would be suitable as planters.


I am always on the lookout for unique and unusual items for the garden that can be both functional and beautiful, so of course, I said said yes!  


One of the reasons I was excited to try out the teak bowl planters was that over the summer is that I saw a rustic wooden planter on a visit to the Green Bay Botanical Gardens.


I loved it’s rustic look and how the annual flowers fit into the interior of this piece of tree trunk.

So, when the FedEx deliveryman dropped of a large box, I couldn’t wait to open it.

Inside were several pieces, but it was the two teak bowls that got my attention right away.


The first bowl, was a piece of art.  Its sides were very smooth, which showed off the beauty of the teak wood.

You may notice the hole at the bottom, which is essential for a planter.

The next teak bowl that I unwrapped was a bit more rustic in nature, much like the tree trunk planter I had seen over the summer.


I always like pieces of wood that allows you to see the grain, which you could see on different parts of the bowl.



This bowl also had holes for drainage and I couldn’t wait to plant them both.


To keep the potting mix from falling out the holes, I put a coffee filter over them, which is a cheap and effective way to keep the dirt in and allow the water to drain.

I planted my favorite cool season annuals – violas.


I added a variety of colors in this large teak bowl and a touch of white alyssum for fragrance.

For my rustic teak bowl, I decided to add ‘Johnny Jump-Ups’, which were the first flowers I planted as a child.  I have always loved their sunny faces.

As you might expect, the amount of soil is rather shallow, but it is enough to grow cool-season annuals.  However, there wouldn’t be enough soil to grow warm season flowers through the summer – the soil would get too hot.


You could however, plant small succulents in them and keep them in light shade – maybe located on a patio?


Although I used this teak bowl as a planter, however it is so beautiful, you could certainly use it to grace a patio or large dining room table.

I often have clients, like those above, who want decorative, yet functional items for their patio.  Either of these teak bowls would work beautifully in this type of setting.

When exposed to the sun, teak will fade to a light gray color, which will provide great color contrast for plants.
As you can imagine, no two bowls are the same – each one retains the unique character from the part of the teak wood it was carved from, which lends to the uniqueness of these bowls.


In addition to the bowls, I also received a lovely teak vase – wouldn’t that look beautiful filled with flowers or perhaps a dried arrangement?

Teak Closeouts has a large variety of teak items including outdoor furniture and garden art at closeout prices.  I encourage you to visit their online store where you will find great gift ideas for the gardener in your life or for yourself!

*I was provided these items from Teak Closeouts free of charge to review, but my opinions are my own 🙂


I am always on the lookout for new ways to display annual flowers.  I’ll do anything from transforming old, antiques into planters to using brightly-colored containers.


On a recent visit to the Green Bay Botanical Gardens in Wisconsin, I saw this creative use of an old, decaying tree trunk…


What a great example of a sustainable flower ‘pot’.  

The depression within the tree trunk held just enough potting soil for the flowers to grow in.  

Seeing this made me wonder what other items that we find in nature that we can use as planters.

Any ideas?

Did you know that certain flowers are edible?


It’s true.


Last week, I mentioned on my Facebook page that I was “channeling my inner Martha Stewart”, preparing for a future diy blog post.


Here are the ingredients I used…



Distilled water, ice-cube trays and edible flowers such as violas.  

Here is what I ended up with…


Wouldn’t these look great on your Easter table?

It was very easy to do, but there are some tricks to doing it just right.
*Not all flowers are edible and you must be sure to use flowers that have not been treated with chemicals or pesticides.

I wrote about how to make your own floral ice cubes along with a list of edible flowers, in my latest blog post for Birds & Blooms, which you can access here.

Yesterday, I asked you on my Facebook page, what was blooming in your garden right now?


March is a glorious time in the desert garden and also time for some needed garden maintenance. 


We don’t have a landscaper, so we gather our kids together for a day of yard work each spring.  


My son helping me prune several years ago.
I can’t honestly say that working out in the garden is my kids favorite activity.  But, if you promise them their favorite dinner and dessert afterward, they usually don’t complain.

I started teaching them at a young age how to prune shrubs, using hand pruners.  My son is a lot taller then when this photo was taken.

Normally, I do the pruning using loppers and hand pruners.  The kids then carry the branches into a large pile on the driveway to be picked up later.

Branches and clippings from the late summer’s pruning.

Once the danger of frost is passed, it is time to prune away all frost-damaged growth and see what else may need pruning.


Every few years, I prune my Texas Sage shrubs back severely.  This rejuvenates them and stimulates the formation of new branches and gets rid of old, woody unproductive branches.  

I allow them to grow out naturally after pruning.  Of course, you can lightly shape them using hand pruners, if desired.

For more information on pruning flowering shrubs, click here.


A few years ago, my Yellow Bells shrub died back to the ground during a severe frost.  I pruned back all of the frost-damaged growth and it soon grew back.

While most of the day was spent pruning, I did take some time to walk around and take pictures of what is currently blooming.


I love my Hollyhocks.  This old-fashioned flower can grow in most climates and mine self-seed each year, giving me new plants!


Normally this time of year, I am pruning away the frost damage from my Pink Trumpet Vines.  But, this year we had very little frost, so they are already flowering.


I have several colors of Globe Mallow growing in my garden.  I will soon be pruning them back severely once it has finished flowering.  Pruning keeps them from looking straggly and also helps keep too many seeds from coming up later.
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Like my Pink Trumpet Vine, my Purple and White Trailing Lantana did not get hit with much frost.  So, they look beautiful right now.  Normally, I prune them back to 6″ in March.


The alyssum and violas are still happily blooming away in their old, rusted watering can.  In about a month, they will start to die once the temperatures begin to rise.

I leave my watering can empty in the summer because it gets too hot and other plants won’t survive if planted in it.



My young apple trees are in bloom.  It takes a few years after planting for apple trees to produce apples.  We planted the trees last winter and I don’t really expect to see the blossoms turn into apples, but secretly I am hopeful!



This is the first year that I have planted ‘Cherry Red’ nasturtiums.  I love their vibrant, red color!



My vegetable garden is in transition this month.  Cool-season vegetables such as leaf lettuce, carrots and radishes are still growing.  I have planted warm-season vegetables such as bush beans, gourds and cucumbers already.

The garlic will soon be ready to harvest.


Some of the leaf lettuce planted last fall has begun to ‘bolt’, but I have younger leaf lettuce still available to eat.


Fall is the best time to add new plants to the garden, but spring is the second-best time.


My husband and son are always so nice about planting things for me.  
*You can see our puppy ‘Penny’ sitting in the shade watching them.  She is now 8 months old and we just love her!  I’ll post an updated picture of her soon.


I will most likely have more for them to plant after I visit the Desert Botanical Garden’s plant sale this weekend (March 13 & 14th)

Well, this has been a small snapshot of what is going on in my garden.

What is happening in yours?

In the past, I have shown parts of my garden, but never a comprehensive look.  So, I thought I would share with you a more comprehensive look at my garden.


First, I’d like to show you my newest part of my garden, which is located on the side of my house – just outside of my kitchen window.  


This part of the garden is looking remarkably good considering that it is still winter.  For those of us who are fortunate to live in the Southwest, we didn’t really experience much of a winter this year.
In fact, I recall only 1 week of freezing temps and that happened back in December.




This is the largest of my three vegetable gardens.  It is hard to believe that it didn’t exist 2 years ago.

I had always dreamed of having a nice side garden and because ours is rather large, there were many possibilities.  So, we decided to create an edible garden in this area.
You can read our planting journey, here. 

This year, I planted Swiss chard for the first time and don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner – I love this plant!

Well, I don’t really like it cooked (but I’m weird that way).  I do like to use it in salads along with leaf lettuce.  My kids even eat it!

I think it also looks really pretty too with its brightly-colored stems.

In the corner, is my single artichoke plant.


It was about 6 inches high when I planted it last fall.  Needless to say, it has grown so fast.  I can’t wait to see the artichoke buds (the part you eat) begin to form.

I will harvest some of the artichokes, but also plan to allow some to turn into flowers, which are beautiful and fragrant.

I like the idea of using artichokes as ornamental plants as well as for eating.


In the center of this vegetable garden sits a stump from a eucalyptus tree that we had to cut down to make space for this particular garden.

An old watering can sits onto of the stump and I fill it with cool-season annuals.  This year it is purple violas and alyssum.

In summer, the watering can sits empty, because it is too hot for plants to grow in it.  Roots will literally ‘cook’ in small containers during the summer.  I think it looks just fine without plants for part of the year.


The second crop of radishes of the season are just beginning to come up.  There is still time to plant radishes before it gets too hot.


Behind the vegetable garden are two apple trees.  They are growing so well during their first year.  I will have to wait a couple more years before I get any apples, so I’m trying to be patient.

I planted garlic around the base, in order to help keep borers away.

Not shown – behind the apple trees are blackberry bushes.  I had a great crop of last spring.  I plan on making blackberry jam this year!


Along the garden wall is one of my favorite shrubs called ‘Pink Beauty’ (Eremophila laanii), which is evergreen in my zone 9a garden and has pink flowers in winter and spring.  

It rarely needs pruning as long as it has enough room to grow – mine stands at 9 feet tall.

Next to is Pink Trumpet Vine and Yellow Bells shrubs, which serve two purposes.  The first, is that the cover up an ugly, bare wall.  Second, they help to cool the garden down because the shrubs keep the wall from re-radiating heat that it absorbs in the day.


The buds on my peach tree have not begun to swell yet, but it is just a matter of time.


My other peach tree is covered in blossoms.  Planted just last winter, it produced 19 peaches for me last year.


My herb container sits in front of the vegetable garden and is filled with lovely, purple petunias.  I like to add flowers to my herb pots for an extra splash of color.


I hope you enjoyed the tour of my side garden.

Next time, I will show you the main part of my backyard and maybe a peek at the ‘other’ side yard, which I never show anyone.

What is growing in your garden this February?  
I’d love to hear about it.


Fall is here and nurseries are stocked with all sorts of cool-season annual flowers.

So, my question to you is, what will you plant your annual flowers in this fall?
Will you use a ‘regular’ container?


Or, maybe you are the type who likes to do things a little differently?

Maybe one of these unusual planters is more your style?

An old bicycle basket finds new purpose as a planter in Noblesville, Indiana.

Marigolds planted in an old wheelbarrow along Route 66 in Williams, Arizona.

Old pots and bowls used to plant miniature gardens in an antique store in upstate New York.

Old chairs transformed into planters in the historic downtown of Noblesville, Indiana.

A ‘bed’ of flowering bulbs in Amish country in Shipshewana, Indiana.

An old bathtub serves as a large planter in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Galvanized metal bucket containers at an Amish swap meet.

I was fortunate enough to have seen all of these unique planters throughout my travels.  But, it was these galvanized bucket containers that inspired me to purchase an old antique watering can and create my own unique container for flowers…


 I found this rusty watering can in an antique store in Prescott, Arizona and I knew just where I would put it in my garden.

I added some holes on the bottom, and filled it with violas, lobelia and alyssum.   It sits right in the middle of my side vegetable garden where I can see it from my kitchen window.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the unusual planters from my travels.

**I would love to hear about any unique items that you have seen transformed into planters 🙂

Some of you may have been following along as I have updated you on my daughter, Rachele’s, journey as she joined the Navy.


For those of you who are only interested in gardening content, here is a container of violas that we saw at the Art Institute of Chicago.  This will be the only gardening part of this blog post 🙂



We said “goodbye” to her in late March as she left for Great Lakes, IL for basic training.  During that time, we had very limited contact spread out with a few short phone calls and a few letters.  


Homesickness, discouragement were the subjects of our earlier correspondence.  However, as time passed, we started to see her resolve to finish and do her best.

The date of Rachele’s graduation was circled on our calendar and we anxiously counted down the days until we could see her again.

The last test that she had to pass was her running test.  She had to run 1.5 miles in 15 1/2 minutes.  Rachele was seriously worried that she wouldn’t pass it because she had twisted her ankle and had shin splints.  If she did not pass, then she would have to stay longer until she passed and forgo the graduation – meaning that we couldn’t come and see her.  A number of sailors don’t pass.

We got a call from Rachele a few days before graduation telling us that when she was running the last test -she was determined to run as fast as she could because she didn’t want to stay in basic training any longer then she had to.  

As she was running, she didn’t know that the lap counter wasn’t working correctly.  So, when she had finished running, she hadn’t run 1.5 miles….she had actually run 1.75 miles under 15 1/2 minutes!

So, our trip was on and her dad and I along with our oldest daughter, Brittney, boarded a plane for Chicago.


We arrived on a Thursday afternoon and drove up to Great Lakes, which is about 40 minutes north of Chicago.

It was hard to believe that we would see our Rachele in just a few hours.  We had to leave our hotel at 6:00 am, which was 4:00 on our internal Pacific time clock.  

But, the adrenaline was flowing the morning of her graduation and we were up early and got to the Naval base.


The ceiling was decorated with state flags.  We could see the copper star and sun rays of the Arizona flag.

We had to arrive early for good seats, which we got.  But then, we needed to wait 2 1/2 hours for the ceremony to start.  Thankfully, they had muffins and hot coffee.

We knew that the ceremony was about to begin with sailors holding the state flags came in and started marching in formation.


Did I mention that it was our 27th anniversary on that day?  I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it.



We then heard the drum corp and finally, it was time for 880 new sailors to enter…

Among those entering was my baby, now a sailor. I was so excited to finally see her!


Did I mention that it was quite cold that day?  The low that night was 39 degrees.  So, the sailors had their rain coats on until they entered.  They were holding their neatly folded rain coats.

Rachele is in the last row, the 8th person from the right.


Eighth from the left in the last row, above 🙂


The atmosphere was electric with all the families seeing their sailor.  There was a young girl who was wearing a very pretty dress and had a flower in her hair as she watched her boyfriend/husband march in.  She was all by herself and it was so sweet and sad to see.


Okay, you moms out there – I can tell exactly which one is my daughter from the back because “I gave birth to that behind” all those years ago, and would know it anywhere 😉
Kind of hard to explain exactly where she is in the photo above, but there are three girls in front of the blue/yellow flag.  Rachele is in the middle with the curly, brown hair.


The sailors stood for 1 1/2 hours for the entire ceremony.  They had to keep straight faces, no smiling.  I had binoculars so I could see her easily.  Her eyes kept looking up at where we were sitting.

Because fainting sometimes occurs when standing so long, they had drill sergeants-in-training walking between the rows of new sailors making sure that no one looked like they were going to faint.  No one did.

After the ceremony was over, the families moved down and greeted their sailors.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to hold Rachele in a my arms once again.


Here she is, wearing her dress whites.  She had lost a lot of weight and her uniform was loose because she was fitted at the beginning of basic training.

Sailors also have their dress blues, which they wear fall through early spring.


It was a beautiful day, but cold.


My two oldest girls, together again!


Rachele was showing her dad how shiny her shoes were.  She worked a long time polishing them.


It is pretty impressive how straight she stands now.  Her mom (me) has terrible posture, but I blame it on my dad, who did too 😉


Rachele got ribbons for completing basic training and for marksmanship (guns).


We weren’t allowed to visit all areas of the Naval base, but Rachele pointed out where she stayed.

Rachele had liberty for the rest of the day until 8:30 pm, which meant that she was able to leave the base for the first time since she arrived in March.


She was also reunited with her telephone, which we brought.  Look at how happy she is! Recruits aren’t allowed to bring their phones.


Driving with our two oldest daughters in the backseat brought back memories of us being a much smaller family before we adopted our three youngest children.  

We told Rachele that we would do whatever she wanted that day.


Her first request was lunch at Chipotle, her favorite restaurant.


Then a trip to the local mall where we all went to see the latest Star Trek movie – I do love all things ‘Star Trek’.

We had a wonderful day with Rachele and returned to the base and went shopping at the NEX (Naval Exchange) for Navy souvenirs to take home with us.

We dropped off to sleep that night, exhausted, but so happy.

The next morning, the Navy put the new sailors on a bus and took them to the airport at 3:30 am.  There, they would wait at the airport until their flight took off for wherever their ‘A’ school was to be.  ‘A’ school is where they learn their skill that they will use in the Navy.

So, another early morning for us as we drove to the airport to visit with Rachele.  Sailors weren’t allowed to leave the airport and so we had to spend our time with her there.


Thankfully, O’Hare is a huge airport with lots to see and do.  We brought Rachele a set of civilian clothes (jeans, shoes and a shirt) that she would be allowed to wear at her ‘A’ school.  Here, she is showing us how to ‘correctly’ fold a pair of jeans.  This made me laugh because Rachele has NEVER been one to fold her clothes at home 😉


Starbucks was another treat that she enjoyed that day.


Video-chatting with her younger sisters and brother, who couldn’t come.


The yellow envelope is filled with her medical records, which she had to bring to her ‘A’ school.


One last meal with Rachele before her plane was scheduled to leave.  It was at this point that we started getting a little ‘teary’.


As we waited for her plane, my oldest daughter, Brittney, asked Rachele to teach her how to salute.  

At this point, I was trying to stay strong for Rachele and not focus on how few minutes that we had left together.  It was too short a time.  

As they announced boarding for her plane, Rachele started crying and I just lost it too (so did Brittney).  We hugged her goodbye and she boarded the plane with her fellow sailor who was going to the same school.

As for my husband, Brittney and myself – we walked out of the terminal with tears streaming down our faces.  I’m not sure what people thought of us, but I honestly didn’t care.

We drove Brittney to the other airport in Chicago (Midway) to catch a plane home and then my husband and I were on our own.  

I must admit that I was not prepared for how sad I would be after seeing Rachele again and then having to say goodbye.  But, it was very hard that night.  

Rachele is going to ‘A’ school in Fort Leonard Wood which is located in the middle of Missouri.  She will be there until mid September learning how to become a heavy equipment operator for the Seabees.

The good news is that Rachele is allowed to use her cell phone and we are able to talk to her everyday, which has helped a lot.

Sunday morning my husband and I drove to downtown Chicago and had a great time exploring Michigan Avenue with its architecture and gardens, which I will share with you soon.

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Thank you for allowing me to share our military journey with you.  Your supportive comments and emails mean so much.

My next post will be full of beautiful gardens, containers and more that we saw in Chicago.


One of my favorite memories as a child was visiting antique stores with my mother.  We usually did this whenever we went on vacation.  My dad would stop the car whenever she saw a store that looked promising.

Now that I am an adult, my mother and I have fun visiting antique stores when we travel together.  I don’t have a lot of antiques myself, but I do have some special pieces.

Last summer, our family traveled to Prescott, which I blogged about back then in “Antique Junk for the Garden“.


 One of the pieces that I got was an old, antique watering can.
I had a vision of seeing it full of flowering annuals.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t plant in the summer because it was too hot for plants to survive in the container.  (It can be very hard to grow plants in smaller containers in summer because the outer 6 inches of soil is often too hot for roots to grow.
However, once fall arrived, I was ready to plant my new (old) container.  
First, I had to make some holes on the bottom for drainage.  Then I filled it with planting mix and then my annuals…
    
 I planted alyssum, violas and lobelia.  The watering can is now sitting in the middle of my vegetable garden.  I added a drip emitter, so my new container is watered whenever my vegetables are.
I must admit that I am quite pleased with how it turned out.
Have any of you used old, antique containers in the garden? 

Well, I did think “outside of the box” for this month’s MGB and I do realize that I am a bit late.  I try to have it posted by the 20th of each month, but I had my deadline for completing four gardening articles moved up.  I have been writing for most of the day and my brain has turned to mush….is that enough of an excuse?

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that it is January and there are not a whole lot of flowers out in my garden.  But, I do have some….just not a lot.


I decided to be a bit creative this month with my bouquet.  Actually, I don’t know if you can even call it a bouquet.  But, I am quite happy with the results.

I have always liked how beautiful floating flowers appear, so I decided to try it out for myself.  I used my grandmother’s glass dessert dishes (to be honest, this is the first time I have used them for anything).  I may have to actually use them for dessert sometime 😉
I realize that I have not mentioned what flowering annuals that I have growing.  Well, here they are – Violas, Dianthus and Pink Geraniums.
 I just wish that I had a party at my house so that I could use them as decorations for the table.  Wouldn’t they be pretty at a tea party?
Well, my kids have been asking me if we could have a tea party the past couple of days…… 
 
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I realize creating a bouquet during the winter months can be quite challenging, but that is where creativity comes in.

Maybe you have some dried seedheads, which would make a beautiful bouquet.  

Or maybe you have some beautiful poinsettias or amaryllis.

I also think that a bouquet of evergreen foliage is beautiful.

If you would like to participate in this month’s MGB, 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! 

It can be as simple or fancy as you like.  Each month, I cannot wait to see what you all come up with.