Sunday, April 28, 2013

Garden, grow

This weekend we set out to a local plant nursery for our annuals. We often go to Lowe's or Home Depot for our plants but this year we went to a locally-owned place instead. The Bear's parents had generously given us a gift card to this nursery for our joint Christmas gift this past year. We decided to use the gift card toward our annual plants.

I had been to this nursery before but it's always surprisingly beautiful whenever I go. It's a great place to shop for plants and the employees are extremely knowledgeable, especially about planting in a desert climate. The greenhouses and outdoor rows are full of fantastic plants, all very healthy. There are lots of bubbling fountains and water features which are enjoyed by the small Bears. We all love to walk up and down the lanes between potted trees. The garden supply shop has lots of decorative items, much of it in the Talavera style like my beloved birdbath. I was especially taken with the pig statue.

I have been on a quest to find good plants for my pots in the front yard. I have tried so many different kinds of flowering annuals - pansies, petunias, geraniums, alyssum, marigolds and dianthus, among others - and they all do poorly. The front yard faces due south and gets full sun all day long. My poor plants just can't handle it, even with frequent watering. I got some good help from an employee at the nursery, though, and I'm feeling hopeful: she suggested verbenas and lantanas. These never even occurred to me, though I have always liked them. So now I have a big planter near the entry to the courtyard with a spiky purple salvia, and two verbenas, a lavender and a bright pinky-red. In smaller pots nearby, I planted a white verbena and a yellow lantana.

Backyard plantings have been a challenge for me as well; there are some parts of the back patio area which get intense sun all day long and other parts which get almost none at all. To a large degree, it has to do with the height of the garden wall but there are other features which contribute to making too much shade in some places. I decided to go with non-flowering plants this year. I did one planter full of multicolored coleus and the other with basil; I always have basil in a pot in the house and I end up moving it outdoors anyway, so we'll just start with potted basil outside right from the get-go this year.

The Bear has decided he would like to try to grow grapes. He chose two varieties, a green and a red, and planted them in the side yard where we have a narrow planter bed running the length of the house. This side gets western exposure so the sun won't be strong until afternoon but he wants to give it a shot; many people here do grow grapes successfully and we even have vineyards in the area. We'll see...I'll be sure to offer periodic grape reports. He also did hanging planters for strawberries and cherry tomatoes. It will be wonderful to have these growing in the yard! We already have some strawberry plants in the ground; they yield just a few very tasty berries every summer.

Last week we planted our seed packs in the beds around the water feature in the backyard. I've been watering daily but haven't noticed any seedlings yet. I have my fingers crossed; I sure would enjoy some wildflowers to pick for display in the house. I can already see them on my kitchen table, bright, cheery and homey. I know just the tablecloth to buy on Etsy should my flowers work out the way I am hoping they will...

If I sound like my gardening exploits are performed on a wing and a prayer...well, it's the truth. I really enjoy gardening but it is not my strong suit. It doesn't help that this climate is so harsh and unforgiving. I have invested countless hours into reading books, perusing websites, forcing neighbors and friends to divulge their gardening secrets, haranguing my mother-in-law who happens to be a doctor of botany - not to mention my long-time subscription to Sunset magazine - all to very little avail so far. But I am really hoping I have finally cracked the code with the front yard, at least. Time will tell and, for better or worse, my blog will bear the news.


  1. Every year that you plant you will learn more.. I adore lantanas, there are several different colors of them. I hope your grapes flourish! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  2. That looks like a lovely place. I am sure you will do well with the plants you purchased. I love the photo with your family. It cracked me up how little bear was standing exactly like his dad. Two peas in a pod I'm guessing. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

  3. A wing and a prayer. That's kind of what I do! I really believe in just having a go. On as tight a budget as I can manage. With one or two stealth purchases if I can get away with it.

    Go for it Jennifer. You will be eating your own grapes before long.

    Leanne xx

  4. I guess you have tried succulents...being in a warm climate...
    They have such beautiful flowers as well...
    I take a lot of my houseplants outside in the summer...
    How about some Areca big pots or baskets?
    They should do well for you...

    I am sure you will figure it out!!
    Look forward to some photos..

    Linda :o)

  5. Beautiful pictures Jennifer. You sound like me in the garden lol.
    But amazingly things grow don't they? We have strawberries which I get to
    sample each year and a crazy rhubarb which I should cook more often.

    wendy in oz

  6. You will get their Jennifer you have a good start and you want to learn ~ so "it will grow on you " eventually ;)

  7. Seriously, my favorite time of year. I dont garden, my parents do but I love going to the nursery with them to choose different plants. From watching them garden I feel like its a hit or a miss each year. Some years, things might not grow and so you learn from that and try something else the next year. My parents switch things up all the time because they tried things that didnt work so they moved on. I'm sure with time you'll get the hang of it! You always take such beautiful pictures. My mom loves taking pictures of flowers to!

  8. Such lovely images.
    The weather looks amazing there.
    I'm so envious.

    It rains most of the time here,
    and we struggle to stop things
    growing quite so much at times!
    (mostly weeds mind you)

    Have a lovely week : )

  9. Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and linking up to my link party. I am your newest follower on GFC. I hope you have a wonderful week!


  10. Good luck on all of your plantings. Love the first picture, so pretty!

  11. I really hope you have cracked it with the front yard Jennifer. It's hard to find out what should go where, but when you get it right, you get such a feeling of satisfaction! I am not a great gardener, but trying to be better each year...I am getting their slowly! We have the opposite problem to you, very wet and cold weather, our garden was hit hard last year - in the UK it was the wettest year on record! :( That nursery looks so nice, I bet you were spoilt for choice! x

  12. I look forward to hearing your gardening news! My gardening style is also based on a wing and a prayer - i have a vague notion in my head of what I want and just hope for the best.

    We have a little south-facing flower bed at the front of our house in which nothing grows but lavender. I think they like a warm climate. You could try that in the hotter, drier areas. x

  13. I'm still waiting for our nights to warm up before I plant my garden. I can't wait because I am so ready for summer :) Love the photos!


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