Barbara’s Garden

Public gardens are a wonderful place to visit but now and then you have the opportunity to see a beautiful private garden.

Barbara invited me out to see her hollyhocks in full glory.  Beautiful shades of pink and white were indeed glorious and scattered around her acre of Eden in the East Valley.  A transplanted “Alabama Rose” Barbara has transplanted herself and her favorite plants from her childhood home....   Continue Reading

Counting Plants


Not everything that can be counted counts, Not everything that counts can be counted. – Albert Einstein

Winding uphill through the streets of Berkeley, we arrive at the University of CA Botanical Garden in Strawberry Canyon.  There we are faced with a decision of paying the parking meter for the number of hours we need to explore the garden.  The garden holds over 12,000 plants including many rare and endangered plant specimens.  Director Paul Licht does the math for visitors.  “If you allow only 2 hours, a 120 min. visit would require that you see 100 different kinds of plants per minute to experience our entire collection.”  Obviously we will need a full day, even then we won’t truly see all of the plants.  Those we do see will be only a glimpse of life of the plants.  A plant today may be dormant, budding, blooming or declining....   Continue Reading

Lilacs in Southern California

The lilacs are blooming in Descanso Gardens in La Canada-Flintridge CA.  Lilacs need a cool season to generate their blooms in the spring. The cultivars in southern California have been adapted to this climate.  The beauty of these delicate blooms  is  compounded by their varieties of color in lilac lavender, deep purple, pink, and white.  The scent of lilacs generates so many responses from visitors.  One woman inhaling deeply, declared, “this is my childhood, I grew up with these all around my house.”  Another remembers a Grandmother’s house and smiles wistfully at the memory....   Continue Reading

Contemplating Trees


The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago,  the second best time is now. – Chinese Proverb

Arbor Day in the U.S is celebrated on the last Friday in April. In Arizona, we have many good times to plant trees scattered throughout the year so this date is a bit arbitrary in our region.  Still it is a significant day to contemplate trees.  The Arbor Day Foundation’s mission is to encourage us to Plant, Nurture and Celebrate Trees....   Continue Reading

Gardeners Change the World

A Small Garden

The Anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.”  Substitute  “committed gardeners” in this thought and the results DO change our world in immeasurable ways. Master Gardener Park in Port Townsend, WA  demonstrates the power of passionate committed gardeners.  The city’s smallest park, a small triangular shaped patch of earth bordered on all sides by intersecting streets, is now a beautiful garden....   Continue Reading

Desert Botanical Gardens


February arrived with winds and freezing temperatures.  A low temperature in my garden of 23 degrees! Out of state relatives also arrived fleeing even more severe weather of ice storms and below zero temperatures in Indiana. Even as the weather seemed unseasonably cold to us locals the sunshine and mid day temperatures here found my brother and sister-in-law wanting to be outside. In particular they wanted to visit the DBG to get a chance to see desert plants. As a first time visitor to the garden nearly everything was new, including the idea that palo verde trees had naturally green trunks and that a garden would try to protect tender plants with yards and yards of frost cloth....   Continue Reading

Our view of nature

A Sense of Place

When our neighborhood was new a family relocating from Virginia moved in next door and quickly put in lawn for their entire landscape.  Another family relocated from MN and installed a pool and planted pine trees all around it. Longtime desert gardeners cringe at these home garden stories.  Today a strong campaign for regionally appropriate plants fills the garden news.  Advocates raise a chorus of voices that sing, “If we live in a desert it is only common sense that we live with desert plants.”  Einstein said, “common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18.”  Our common experience of  “place” isn’t so common....   Continue Reading

Desert Walk

The sun came out and the temperatures were in the 60’s.  We explored the 5.5 acres of the xeriscape demonstration garden at the corner of McDonald & Hayden road in Scottsdale.  The value of a demonstration garden to create a greater understanding of the sense of place is so important.  Years ago when our neighborhood was new a family relocating from Virginia moved into the neighborhood.  With the new home landscaping had to be planned and established.  Shocked at the desert heat and needles on the cactus the family planted all grass on their property.  Another family moved in from Minnesota and planted three pine trees along side their swimming pool.Adjusting one’s awareness of the geography of a totally different region is a series of discoveries.  Demonstration gardens provide an opportunity to experience a place living in the climate, soil and plant life.

It also provides a lovely healing walk out of doors in a beautiful place.  Bird songs, water splashing, dogs taking their owners for a walk all part of the features of a garden full of life....   Continue Reading