New Clothes for a New Garden

new gloves and hat

     I have bought a new hat and gloves as a way to celebrate gardening in a new place.  As my husband's work here is done, we are moving back to Virginia, and I am thrilled.  I've been waiting for this move for a long time.  I won't be doing extensive gardening at first, because we are renting for a while, but I will be able to plant some annuals in the yard and do some some container  gardening.  And, strangely enough, we ended up renting about six blocks from where we used to live.  I've been packing for the last two weeks, and I have had my fill of boxes, tape, bubble wrap and packing paper.  The movers are coming the end of this week, so this will be my last post for a few weeks.

     Here are a few things I learned about gardening and living in Arizona.

dried grass clippings as mulch

     Nothing decays here, it only dessicates.  I have put grass clippings on my flower garden, and after a year the clippings are still sitting on top of the soil, all brown and dry and crisp.  Since we get very little rain ( four inches last year), and the garden is watered by drip irrigation at each plant, most of the garden gets very little water on top of it.

vinca and celosia

     Solar radiation is much stronger here in the desert southwest (more than twice the solar radiation received by humid regions) because there is no humidity, little living ground cover, and no clouds.  We have gone for months without seeing a cloud.  So the skies can transmit maximal solar energy to the ground where much of it is absorbed, raising the temperature dramatically.  Because of the heat, not much flowers here June to mid-September.  The only flowers in my garden during that time are vinca and celosia.


     It is tricky growing vegetables here.  The last freeze date is around March 1, and the first 100 F day usually occurs in April.  In the fall, the temperature drops to  85 to 90 F by October, but the first freeze date can be mid-November.

     Although I am not a desert-loving person, the desert has its beauty.

Palo Verde tree
My favorite of all natives here is the Palo Verde tree, so golden and graceful.

     Red Yucca with its skyward red spikes.

     Prickly but nicely rounded Golden Barrel cactus.

     I'll be posting in a few weeks from the more humid and much greener climate of northern Virginia.  Hooray! 

Spring in the Desert - Part 2


bush morning glory
      Last week I posted photos of what's been happening in the flower garden the last three weeks.  This week let's walk the backyard path, and we'll see what has been going on in the yard.

     The bush morning glory shrubs have been blooming for a month now and are coming to the end of their bloom period.

lime blossoms
     All the citrus trees (orange, grapefruit, lime) blossomed.  There were many more orange and lime blossoms this year.

nectarine blossoms

nectarine fruit

     The yellow nectarine tree is still blooming.  And I can see some fruits just starting to grow.

purple fountain grass

     After being pruned to 12 inches this winter, the purple fountain grass is growing nicely.

hopseed bush

hopseed bush

     Hundreds of seed pods cover the hopseed bushes.  Some of the seed pods are red, and some are mostly white with just a hint of pink around the edges.

yellow bells

     The yellow bells are blossoming, but somewhat sparsely this year.

deer grass

     The deer grass, which was getting kind of brown, was finally pruned this year and looks lush and green now.


     The lantana (purple, white, yellow, orange and red) have all finally decided it was warm enough to flower.


     Because of the walls around the back yard, we don't get wildlife visitors like javelina (peccaries) or coyotes, but we do have resident lizards.

Spring in the Desert


backyard  view from house
     While I was gone for my visit to Virginia, my garden and yard burst into bloom.  The middle of March to the middle of April is the best time of the year here.  This is the time when the desert blooms, and the weather is the most pleasant, with temperatures running from the mid 70's to high 80's.

     This is the view out my kitchen window  into the backyard.  Let's walk through the garden and I will show you what's blossoming.



     I have several gazania of different colors.  Above are photos of two: a burnt-orange and white variety and a yellow-orange variety.

red rose

white rose

     My rose bushes are blooming away and have several blooms and buds.  I've been bringing fresh cut roses in the house.  Above are a red Mr. Lincoln rose and a white Honor rose.




ornamental cabbage

     My marigolds scattered throughout the garden have just started blooming, as well as the strawflowers and cosmos, but the ornamental cabbage has gone to seed.

red mum

     I bought this potted red mum at the grocery last fall.  I planted it in the yard after blooming, and it has buds so will soon bloom again.

blue cup

     My blue cup plants are the color standouts in the garden now.

view of half of the flower garden

     Next week I'll show you what's happening in the yard.