Connecting Greater Phoenix gardeners with information that helps put xeriscape principles into action.

The All-New Western Garden Book

Sunset Western Garden BookWOW, I just got the new Western Garden Book and it is gorgeous!  So much better than the last edition.  Biggest difference?  Photos galore!   The last edition used illustrations for all of the plants.  They’re good, but dang…nothin’ can beat a good shot of the plant you’re trying to find or identify.

Here’s the other thing:  the cover is boatloads better!  It’s not a paperback cover and it’s not a hard cover, but something in between…like reinforced something or other.  Anyway, it won’t fall apart.  Drop it from a tall building like they do with the Samsonite and it’ll stay intact.  I think.

So if you’re looking for a good general gardening book, check this one out. It’s not specific to Phoenix desert landscapes, and I don’t think they’ve heard of the word “xeriscape”…it’s published in California after all, and they get all kinds of rain. But it has all kinds of information to help you get started and it’s a great plant reference besides!


Beware the Jumping Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii)

Cylindropuntia bigelovii (Teddy Bear Cholla)Ah, the Teddy Bear Cholla.  Cylindropuntia bigelovii, as the plant people like to call it.  There are about 25-35 species in the Cylindropuntia family, all of which are native to the Southwest and Northern Mexico and about half of which are threatened and endangered.

But this little guy is not cute and cuddly.  Come upon a field of these while walking through the desert, and they’ll attach themselves to you.  So I call all Chollas Jumping Cholla.

But as I understand it, Frank Lloyd Wright had an even better name for them:  Blonde Bitches of the Desert.  I don’t recommend this search on Google.

I haven’t seen these in cultivation.  Then again, I haven’t looked.  But if you can find them, they’d be an excellent addition to a natural desert garden.


Contain Yourself: Potted Plants for the Desert

Using Container Plants to Add InterestIt’s still beastly hot here in Phoenix, but now’s the time to start thinking about creating (or refreshing) container plants for fall.

I like using containers because they’re flexible.  Change them out as the seasons change…or as your mood changes.  Try out new plants or groupings…or make a long-term commitment to a spectacular specimen.

Mix the colors and textures of your plants and containers to create the perfect arrangement for potted plants. 

I happen to love Talavera pots.  Because they’re already colorful, I tend to stick to simple plants:  red verbena, foxtail fern, mixed greens.  With one-color containers, you can be a bit more adventurous.  Create a mini herb garden that’s close to the door so you can easily snip as you cook, group multiple plants together, or show off a stunning cactus or agave. 

This mass of bright gold marigolds contrasts nicely with the true blue pot–and the subtle purple of the lavendar behind it–for eye-popping color that’s hard to miss. 

Hot Pots Container Gardening in the Arid Southwest

HOT TIP!  Check out Hot Pots: Container Gardening in the Arid Southwest to help you select materials, put a design together, and care for potted plants in your desert landscape!