Friday, May 31, 2013

Tomato Pruning - Best Practices

Best Tomato Plants are Grafted for Heat and Harvest

The growing season got off to a painful start this year.  Frigid temperatures in early May delayed the season by two weeks;  even now the evenings are chilled.  Early cold took its toll on several of my tomato, pepper and squash plants that normally take off and thrive.  Once a plant stunts, or shows signs of weakness it needs to be replaced by a vigorous new plant.  The first week of June is the window for this transition. New grafted varieties are the best plants for heat and increased harvest.

grafted tomatoes

Proper pruning of tomato plants increases the harvest dramatically

We are now grafting tomatoes just like fruit trees, grapes and roses have been for years. A grafted tomato may sound odd, but they make a difference in mountain gardens.  The most delicious tomato varieties are weak and disease prone heirlooms your grandfather grew.  By grafting these better tasting heirloom tomatoes onto a productive, disease resistant rootstock we get the best of possibilities in the garden.  Most of this years garden is dedicated to these awesome new tasty varieties.

Now we get bigger, great tasting crops on healthier, vigorous plants with greater tolerance for seasonal temperature swings while extending the growing season in both directions.  The root system on a grafted tomato grows 4-5 times larger a than regular tomato that allow lusher foliage and produce several more pounds of fruit than the tomatoes from yesteryear.

Indigo Rose grafted – The 1-2 oz cocktail sized fruits have a plummy overtone.  The traditional red meat exhibits purple skin when exposed to sun.

San Marzano grafted – One of the few tomatoes that is low in sugar and acid.  For canning, paste, and a killer spaghetti sauce, it’s hard to beat. The 4 inch long fruits are very prolific forming in clusters of 4-6 fruits.

Pineapple grafted – the best tasting right off the vine. A beefsteak type with huge fruits often striped in red and boasting fewer seeds and more solids.  Very aromatic with a fruity aftertaste, for a ‘real tomato’ experience you just can’t find with less robust, milder hybrids!

Replace slow starters and those wrecked by the cooler than usual spring.  If you add a new grafted tomato they will be planted differently than hybrids.  Do not follow the usual practice of deep planting or mulching, since roots formed on the scion lack the advantages the rootstock brings to the union. Keep the graft well above ground and pinch off any suckers from beneath the graft. Handle grafted plants gently and stake them well, providing ample support to avoid damaging the graft.

The rapid growth of a healthy tomato plant often leads to problems.  Whether grafted, heirloom or traditional your pruning techniques affect production.

A tomato is a solar powered sugar making machine. For the first month, all of the sugar a tomato produces is directed towards new foliage. During this stage, tomato plants grow very rapidly, doubling in size every 14 days. Eventually, a plant makes more sugar than the single growing tip can use, which signals the vine to make new side branches and to start blooming.  This usually happens when the vine is just over a foot tall.

If unsupported, the increasing weight of new fruit in combination with multiple side branches forces the plant down onto the ground. Once the main stem is horizontal, there is an increased tendency to branch even more. Left to its own, a vigorous indeterminate tomato plant can easily cover a 4 x 4 foot area with as many as 10 stems and  less fruiting vigor.

Prune for plant health – Suckers form in the axils between the leaves and the main stem. Encourage a strong main stem by removing all suckers below the first flower cluster; this is especially important for graphed tomatoes.

Maximize the efficiency of photosynthesis while minimizing the risk of disease. This is best accomplished by ensuring each leaf has plenty of room and is supported off the ground. When a tomato vine lies on the ground, or when its growth is extremely dense, many of its leaves are forced into permanent shade, greatly reducing the amount of sugar they produce. If a leaf uses more sugar than it makes, eventually it will yellow and drop off. A pruned and staked plant will produce larger fruit 2-3 weeks earlier than an unsupported vines.

Tomato_cluster_on_the_-vineA properly pruned and supported single stem tomato presents all its leaves to the sun. Most of the sugar produced is directed to developing fruits, since the only competition is a single growing tip. The result is large fruits that are steadily produced until frost. If more stems are allowed to develop, some of this precious sugar production is diverted from the fruit to multiple growing tips.  Grow your fruits, not more tips.

‘Tomato & Vegetable Food’ 4-4-6 applied every 6 weeks insures continuous fruit success well into fall.  Keep the vines cleaned, upright and always facing the sun for problem free tomatoes that produce by the dozen.

Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center. Tomato Pruning - Best Practices

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Trees Sure to Please in Summer

As summer comes ‘round again, homeowners envision trees lining their drives, enjoying cool breezes under mature shade trees, and those same trees blocking harsh winds. In the blinding heat of summer, trees make life out-of-doors pleasant and cool.

A nice shade tree also has benefits as the seasons change.  The autumn colors can be magnificent and, in winter, bare branches allow the sun to warm a home. Additionally, landscape trees more than pay for themselves; even one nice tree increases the value of a property.

Here is a list of trees that are proven winners.  They block wind with ease, live long, have low-care requirements, suffer no bug and disease problems, and have generous canopies for cooling shade.

Timeless Beauty Desert Willow ~ Timeless Beauty Desert Willow treeThis willow enjoys twice the bloom time than its native relative, and it does so without bean pods dangling from its limbs. Clusters of large tubular burgundy and lavender flowers that appear at the ends of its branches are attractive to hummingbirds. Its fragrance is welcome in borders, containers, and fire wise landscapes. The ideal tree for water-challenged yards, it works well at hiding hot tubs and chain link fences.  Grows up to 20 feet tall.

Mimosa - Summer chocolate treeChocolate Mimosa ~ A bean-less mimosa, this beauty shows off in summer with scented clusters of pink, powder puff blooms that attract butterflies.  A fast growing tree with an umbrella-shaped canopy, it erupts in spring with beautiful bronze-green foliage resembling fern fronds. The leaves then turn to a rich chocolate burgundy color and remain so throughout summer and autumn.  Grows 20 feet tall with a cooling 15-foot spread.

Pink Dawn Chitalpa ~ Pink Dawn Chitalpa treeA striking specimen with bright green foliage, it bears large clusters of trumpet-shaped, purple-throated flowers.  As a show-off accent tree, it easily fits within beds and borders, and is also useful as a visual screen along property lines.  It can block unwanted views without deprivation of light or air circulation. It’s an appropriate choice for augmenting xeriscapes.  Fast growing to 25 feet high.

Purple robe locust tree

Purple Robe Locust ~ In spring this stunner infuses the yard with dangling wisteria-like clusters of fragrant flowers.  Its young metallic bronze-red leaves mature to beautiful blue-green foliage that provides abundant cooling shade all summer. This variety likes cold winters and harsh dry summers.  At 35′ tall by 25′ wide, it’s ideally shaped for shading a patio.

Dynasty Elm ~ elm dynasty tree shades the front yardRelated to the Prescott courthouse elms, it bears the classic upright, arching habit and dense green foliage perfect as a street tree or backyard specimen.  Autumn brings on its unique shade of orange. This tree stands 40 feet tall, is impervious to our arid winds, bright sun, and poor soil yet is highly resistant to both Dutch elm disease and elm leaf beetle.

Locust sunburst honeySunburst Locust ~ With an open canopy that glows in spring with shiny gold leaves that mature to shady green in summer, this locust turns gold again in autumn. It is a superior color companion to contrasting purple leaf plums. The foliage is pleasantly soft without the thorns or beans common to other locusts. Prized for its low water consumption, it easily adapts to harsh windy landscapes and quickly grows to 30 feet tall.


Autumn Gold Ginkgo ~ gingko autumn gold foliageIf you are looking for an indestructible tree, this deep-rooted variety is impervious to drought, poor soils, and damage from wind and snow. The leaves are an interesting fan shape that flutters in the slightest breeze.  Dark green summer foliage changes to brilliant saturated yellows through autumn; some fans suggest that its colors surpass those of the aspen. This prehistoric tree has been around since the dinosaur era and has been known to live 1000 years.  Grows up to 30 feet tall.

Quaking AspenQuaking Aspen ~ This tree’s dancing leaves, that glow in shades of gold in autumn, have been sources of inspiration to many writers and poets.  It is a fast grower shooting up several feet of new growth each year until it reaches its maximum height of 50 feet.  It adapts well in landscapes above 4000′. The pillar shape and its paper white bark make it attractive in rows along a driveway or in pairs to highlight vistas from a deck.

Tips for Planting Summer Trees – A tree planted in summer requires a good start and that means administering water wisely.  First, keep water usage to a minimum by sprinkling ‘Aqua Boost Crystals’ at the base of each planting hole.  Then top dress the root ball with a 3-inch layer of shredded cedar bark.  The crystals encourage deep roots, while the bark slows water evaporation.  These two simple steps should cut summer water usage by half, while supplying a newly planted tree with the water it needs. Trees Sure to Please in Summer

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Balck Satin Blackberry

Black Satin BlackberryThere is a new variety out that is my absolute favorite for its extremely large fruits and its lack of thorns.  The Black Satin Blackberry, a prolific producer of the tastiest fruits that begin arriving in midsummer.  The plant itself is a beauty with small soft pink flowers that fade to white as they precede fruit formation on erect, thorn-less canes.  This variety allows for pain free harvest without the picker’s arms looking like a survivor of a cat fight! Balck Satin Blackberry

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chrysler Imperial

Not the car, the old fashioned rose. Chrysler Imperial

New Plants in a Garden are Like Fresh Paint on a Wall

backyard landscapeMost homeowners recognize the need to remodel the insides of their homes but don’t realize that their landscaping also benefits from updating and refreshing. An old, stagnant landscape loudly declares, “Look how old and outdated I am!”  Even worse, a landscape can be like the married old codger who, on his silver wedding anniversary asked, “I said I loved her on our wedding day; why does she need to hear that I love her years later?” Your landscape can use some “spiffing up” every spring or she quickly will appear dated, unkempt, and haggard. Fresh, strategically placed plants demonstrate that you care.

The average kitchen remodel is currently at $20,000, without new appliances.  Complete renovations quickly reach the $45,000+ range.   A remodel of your landscape is quicker, easier, and cheaper than remodeling any other part of your home.  Updating is important because the landscaping is the first and the last impression guests and neighbors have of your home.

Landscape plants occasionally need to be trimmed, shaped up, or cut down. For example, hedges are meant to accent your home, not hide it. Now is a good time to cut back overgrown hedges. If necessary, cut them back by a third. They’ll be shorter and appear ugly at first, but will grow back quickly at the start of our growing season. Give them ‘All Purpose Plant Food 7-4-4‘ right after pruning and bright new leaves will emerge within a few weeks.

A miniature butterfly bush is a colorful, refreshing addition to any landscape.

When remodeling a landscape, keep in mind that some plants can be used to highlight the yard. Excellent plants for this purpose are the new miniature butterfly bushes. A host of blue and purple flowers adorn these showy shrubs that love our summer heat and thrive on minimal care. Butterflies drool over the six-inch flowers and their super sweet fragrance. These bushes happily take to the hottest spots in the yard, and also do well in containers, raised beds, and borders. Except for butterflies and hummingbirds, they are not attractive to wildlife; even deer do not care for the taste.

My loose definition of a weed is any plant in the yard that is unwanted.  So I say don’t be afraid to clear out and replace old tired looking plants with fresh new ones. This is especially true for plants damaged by the severe winter we had.  Many plants in the yard were brutalized or killed by January’s sustained cold.  It can take years for uglified plants to recover once they are damaged. Ugly plants can be relocated to a remote place in the yard and replaced with fresh new ones.  Spring is a time of freshness and renewal, and new plants in a yard embody this spirit. In gardening this is much like an interior designer changing the paint on the walls. Remodeling a landscape refreshes the outside appearance of a house, and it’s surprising how much better the gardener feels, too!

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A seasonal transition has taken place at local garden centers.  Spring blooming lilac, forsythia, mock orange and almond have been replaced with selections of showier summer shrubs.  Rose of Sharon, butterfly bushes, jasmine, Russian sage, and native yucca all show off the fragrances from their colorful blooms. They love the warmth of our late spring weather and all transplant well into summer.

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WATERING NEW PLANTS – Dry native soil can wick away moisture from newly planted trees and shrubs.  So for plants that have been in the ground for less than a year it is necessary to supplement your irrigation system.  Once a week hand water your new plants so the surrounding soil becomes saturated.  The additional water adds moisture to the soil surrounding the root ball and maximizes your gardening success.  Supplement with hand watering until the monsoonal patterns return in July.

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SHADE TREES REDUCE CRIME – The elm dynasty shades the front yardconclusion of an interesting U.S. Forest Service study showed that trees and gardens influence neighborhood crime reduction. Quoting from the results, “a 10% increase in leaf canopy was associated with a 12% drop in crime”.  “The neighborhoods that had more trees and gardens seemed to have less crime.” The study connected the dots to conclude that the more trees, the more shade . . . the more shade, the more people want to spend time outdoors . . . and the more people spending time out of doors, the more “eyes on the street” tends to deter crime.

We should start a new local campaign with the slogan: “Plant a tree, stop a crime”.

Until next week, I’ll see you at the garden center. New Plants in a Garden are Like Fresh Paint on a Wall

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Alberta Spruce Tree

Teddy Bear of the conifers Alberta Spruce Tree

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gerber Daisy

Watermelon colored flower Gerber Daisy

Monday, May 20, 2013

Apache Plume

An Arizona native Apache Plume

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Euryops Daisy

A colorful annual flower Euryops Daisy

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Green Tower Boxwood shrub Green Tower Boxwood shrub

Buzz Butterfly Bush

Buzz Butterfly BushThe hummingbird & butterfly communities are a buzz. New magenta flowers tower above this plant that grows 1/3 the size of other butterfly bushes. Large fragrant blooms cover this 3 foot shrub for the rest of the season. Perfect for homeowners needing more drama in a boring yard. These irresistible flowers attract the largest of butterflies into the garden. Buzz Butterfly Bush

Friday, May 17, 2013

Osteospermum Osteospermum

Fruit Tress Need Protection From Birds & They Need It NOW!

Fruit TreeCherry trees that were protected from our spring chills survived with their fruit intact.  Apples and pears also appear to bear very strong harvests, but all fruit trees need protection from hungry birds. ASAP! Fortunately, a little ‘insurance’ goes a long way to guarantee that you will enjoy your blockbuster harvests.  If you don’t want your fruit to go the way of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, put into practice the good suggestions below. All of the methods are tried ‘n’ true and easy to employ.

Anti-bird methods abound, whether pie pans dangling from limbs or red glass Christmas balls hung from the tree with care, and most of these deterrents are effective.  However, none works as well as wrapping each tree in bird netting. This one-inch-square mesh plastic netting is highly effective on newer trees and on semi-dwarf varieties and smaller.

If you have large trees straining under bumper crops, you’ll need to turn to bird tape.  This flexible foiled tape glitters in the sun with apple red painted on one side and spaceship silver on the other.  As the wind flutters the tape strands in the trees, the birds are too nervous to eat very many fruits.  It scares off birds before they eat too much, reducing the number of fruits damaged.

Scarecrows, molded owls and hawks not only keep smaller birds off of fruit trees, but also deter garden rodents. Especially effective are owls made with glass eyes and bobble heads. Whether using scarecrows, owl or hawk replicas, the secret is to not keep them in the same place in the yard. Move your scarecrow every few days.  By moving your owl it will appear to have been on an evening’s carnal rampage, and the birds will keep their distance! This triple play on the birds keeps them guessing, “is it real, or is it fake?”

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javalina 2Now, let’s talk about keeping destructive critters out of our gardens.  Some repellents work well and others fade far too quickly. In bright sun many lose their effectiveness far sooner than touted on their containers.  Better repellents deliver strong repellant action anywhere from 30-60 days. How and when gardeners apply repellents really can enhance their effectiveness. So, thoroughly coat the plants as directed on the packaging, then lightly spritz new growth as it emerges.  Relentlessly keep up this ‘repellent pressure’ until the animals are driven to munch on plants in other yards!

There are so many home remedies and prepackaged repellents that it is daunting to figure out which work best, but don’t despair:  Your mountain gardener to the rescue again!  As a garden writer I receive many freebies to test, and receive even more as a nursery owner.  Two products rise to the top as champions.

‘Repels All’ by Bonide is the old standby.  This multi-purpose, multi-mammal repellent really does what it says.  Point made.  Part of its deterrence is from the bad taste and equally bad odor that animals detest. This product works so well that it even has a minor javalina repelling action.  I’m referring to the garlic and rotten egg smell that also is offensive to gardeners.

Animal-StopperI diligently searched for a repellent that works and has a pleasant smell. It’s ‘Animal Stopper’ to the rescue! You may have noticed that garden marauders avoid the rosemaries, lavenders, and mints in the yard.  That’s because, unlike humans, animals do not like the taste of scented herbs.  Engineers for a small player in the repellent market figured out how to liquefy herbs so that we could spritz the liquid onto the foliage of our plants.  The result:  ‘Animal Stopper’. . . sheer brilliance!

Scientists figured out which herbs are better at keeping away deer, rabbits, pack rats, even snakes! In general, the ‘Animal Stopper’ line of repellents is highly effective. Of course, if you have javalinas bedding down in the middle of your flowerbed you may need to start by throwing the entire bottle directly at them, then follow up with some sturdy fencing!

There are local plants that naturally resist, and some that actually repel animals from the yard. Next time you visit the garden center ask for a free copy of my list of animal repellent plants. Newly created is a list of rabbit and deer resistant plants, and a more stringent list of javalina resistant plants. All of these handouts are free for the asking.

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facebookA digital Garden Club has been started online. Local e-news happenings, garden photos, Q&A, design tips, conversations between gardeners, and more are sent directly from my desktop to yours via email. Whether via smart phone or iPad, with digital access it is easier than ever to share local gardening successes, disasters, even bug identifications. But you need to belong to participate. Ask to join by shooting a quick note to or message through Facebook at   Gardeners are surprised when I personally respond to their garden comments:)

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Magenta Buzz Buddleia blooms without care and is irresistible to largest butterflies.

Magenta Buzz Buddleia blooms without care and is irresistible to largest butterflies.

This week’s Plant of the Week is the pictured magical new butterfly bush rightly named “Magenta Buzz”.  But because I am out of space, this week only my garden club members will receive both the photo and description.  Join the club to share the conversation!

Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center. Fruit Tress Need Protection From Birds & They Need It NOW!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Enthusiastic Garden Center Visitor Enthusiastic Garden Center Visitor

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fragrant Showy Jasmine Fragrant Showy Jasmine

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

August 24 - Cutting Time & Work in the Yard (Free)

Flower-BedSaturday (9:30 – 10:30)  You will no longer be a slave to your landscape after this class.  Lots of shortcuts, tips and tricks that turn any garden project into fast work.  An ounce of prevention prevents hours of work after this fun filled, informative class.  Taking care of the outdoors was never so easy. August 24 - Cutting Time & Work in the Yard (Free)

August 17 - Vacation Landscapes & Less Work (Free)

waterwise-landscapeSaturday (9:30 – 10:30)  Design flare is all it takes with the right plants.  We’ll cover the right local designs, the right plants, the right placement and easy care landscape that isn’t hard to care for.  Bring pencil and paper for lots of notes and pictures of your landscape project for local design advice.  We will have lots of experts on hand to help after this class. August 17 - Vacation Landscapes & Less Work (Free)

August 10 - Keeping Critters Out (Free)

javalina 2Saturday (9:30 – 10:30) The animals can have a ferocious appetite in the landscape, but not in your landscape. These simple steps will keep critters at bay.  We will take special care to show only plants the furry locals are known to dislike, some may even have a repelling presence to them. August 10 - Keeping Critters Out (Free)

August 3 - The Joys of H.C. Gardening (Free)

raised garden bed smallSaturday (9:30 – 10:30) Gardening in the High Country is very rewarding, but you need to be aware.  These simple tips to mountain success are sure to bring a smile to any gardeners face.  We will leave lots of time for questions and hone into individual gardens for this class.  Lots of local success stories and the advice to pull it off in your own yard. August 3 - The Joys of H.C. Gardening (Free)

July 27 - Vibrant Green Lawns to Life (Free)

LawnSaturday (9:30 – 10:30) There is an easier way to have green in the yard without all the work.  Mowing yes, but you will never have to thatch and aerate after this simple to apply class.  You just have to know correct products to use and when to apply for success.  Yes, we will cover water schedules, bugs and more with this fast-paced garden class. July 27 - Vibrant Green Lawns to Life (Free)

July 20 - NO Bugs & Weeds in the Garden (Free)

Cicada ClusterSaturday (9:30 – 10:30)  Arizona bugs are tuff and our weeds even tuffer.  With a little knowledge, comes much success for both bugs and weeds.  Timing is everything with this subject and you will be a local expert after the end of this fun filled class.   Bring a friend, a weed or a bug and we will tell you had to control any of them. July 20 - NO Bugs & Weeds in the Garden (Free)

July 13 - Super Heroes in the Summer Landscape (Free)

purple flowersSaturday (9:30 – 10:30) The summer bloomers are the least understood.  With a few of this garden class pointers you can add a whole new color dimension into the landscape.  These summer plantings are far easier than you may think and more successful with these tricks, tips and advice sure to please. July 13 - Super Heroes in the Summer Landscape (Free)

July 6 - Juicier Fruits, Grapes & Berries (Free)

Saturday (9:30 – 10:30) grape vineThe region is famous for our wine grapes but you can grow so much more.  We will have experts on hand and share the best producing raspberries, a blackberry bush that produces HUGE berries, table grapes and more. Join in the garden harvest to big, juicy fruiting plants. July 6 - Juicier Fruits, Grapes & Berries (Free)

June 29 - Paradise Found for Newcomers (Free)

Saturday (9:30 – 10:30) Beautiful greenhouse garden landscapeArizona is different, but with a few of these tips, tricks and techniques you are sure to have more success this summer. Our most popular handouts are available with lots of room for Q&A at the end.  If you are new to the area or just want to freshen up your garden skills this is a great class.  Local gardening is easier than you think. June 29 - Paradise Found for Newcomers (Free)

June 22 - Containers that Bloom like Crazy! (Free)

Saturday (9:30 – 10:30) container gardens with vistaAfter the first 15 minutes of this class you will have what it take to design great container gardens that sparkle in the afternoon heat. Water, the best foods, companion plants that shine and more.  Everyone is going to comment on you container success after this class. June 22 - Containers that Bloom like Crazy! (Free)

June 15 - Bountiful Vegetable Gardens (Free)

Saturday (9:30 – 10:30)  Zucchini PlantThese local mountain tips will increase the harvest in the vegetable garden.  Setting fruits, getting more harvest per square foot, sweeter flavors and more.  We will cover the foods, bug and planting schedules that guarantee more mountain success. June 15 - Bountiful Vegetable Gardens (Free)

August 31 - Autumn Colors Enjoyed at Home (Free)

Saturday (9:30 – 10:30) evergreen landscapeLandscapes in autumn can be stunning, but only if you plan for them.  This easy care advice will bring the silver and blues out of the evergreens, brilliant bright foliage and crazy colored flowers.  Make this the brightest fall of all.  Plant experts will abound after the class to show off new plant introductions along with local favorites. August 31 - Autumn Colors Enjoyed at Home (Free)

September 7 - Fall ‘To-do‘ list for a Healthy Yard (Free)

Saturday (9:30 – 10:30)az fall leaves Get the most out of your landscape this fall with this easy to use checklist of fall care.  Bring the color out of the fall gardens, reduce bugs next spring, or simply put you landscape to bed for fall with these easy to use ideas.  You will have a better landscape next spring if you do. September 7 - Fall ‘To-do‘ list for a Healthy Yard (Free)

Daisy May Shasta Daisy

A new variety of daisy Daisy May Shasta Daisy

Monday, May 13, 2013

Flowering Wisteria vine

See the gorgeous blooming vines Flowering Wisteria vine

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Green Living Wall for Privacy

Mother’s Day in our mountain area usually means the last frost of the season.  Guess that’s why so many of us celebrate this special holiday with festivities on our decks or patios.  We enjoy being out of doors to honor Mom and to relish family togetherness.  Most of us want to do this with a sense of privacy in the lovely surroundings we’ve created.  Privacy that can be violated by prying eyes, and views spoiled by a neighbor’s pile of trashy belongings.

Deador Cedar naturalizes well and makes an excellent privacy screen and wind break.

Deador Cedar naturalizes well and makes an excellent privacy screen and wind break.

The solution to both of these unwanted invasions of outdoor living is not rocket science. Plant a wall of living evergreen trees to block the messy view and to create the privacy you desire.

To successfully add evergreens to a landscape, there are several essential steps that are worth your time and energy. The most important requirement for evergreen trees to thrive is drainage.  Blend one shovelful of composted mulch into every three shovels full of native earth to pack around your plant’s roots.  Feed new trees with my specially formulated “All Purpose Plant Food”, 7-4-4; the cottonseed meal in this natural food promotes better root formation while maintaining good foliage color.  Evergreens love it.  Lastly, water your newly planted trees with a solution of ‘Root & Grow’.  This water additive tickles the roots of a plant and helps to form a deep root system before summer heat.

When you’re ready to choose the trees for your living wall of green, read through the list that follows.  It is comprised of screeners that do well in our area.  The list contains the names of evergreens that over the years have performed well for my clients and for me.

Deodar Cedar – This is the largest of the screening plants, growing to over 50 feet tall and 18 feet wide with long swooping branches of Arizona blue foliage. Growing some 2-3 feet per year, it is one of the fastest growing of the screeners.  As with most upright evergreens, this cedar can thrive on low water use, drought conditions, and drip irrigation.  Make sure to give it plenty of growing space because this tree is going to need it!

Arizona Cypress

Arizona Cypress

Arizona Cypress – My favorite native evergreen screener is the Arizona cypress.  It is like a large alligator juniper in size and color, but grows faster and fills in more completely than other screen plants.  Growing to over 20 feet tall and 12 feet wide in just a few years, you can see why this is the number one choice for a planted screen.  If you prefer a cypress in rich green instead of an Arizona blue, go for the Leyland cypress.  Both trees grow to the same size and have the same water and soil needs.

Green Mountain Pine – This dense pine is easy to care for and as cold hardy as native pines. Its rich green needles are sturdy and more numerous than those of other pines, with less needle drop in summer. Thick right to the ground and 18’ tall it makes the perfect windbreak while preventing prying eyes from looking in on your private hot tub sessions.

Fat Albert Spruce

Fat Albert Spruce

Fat Albert Spruce – Spruce are the slowest growers, but few other evergreens produce color so blue they can look almost silver.  Like other evergreen trees, this mountain classic Colorado spruce doesn’t like to be over-watered so it’s important that the planting holes drain well.

Giant Sequoia – Few folks know that the largest tree growing on the Prescott courthouse lawns is a Sequoia; it proudly towers over the American Elms that populate the square.  Many local golf courses use this evergreen in their landscapes.  This stately, pyramidal tree is heavily covered in Arizona gray-green foliage, and is well suited for larger estates, home sites, and ranches.  It is so deeply rooted that it naturalizes with ease in mountain landscapes.

Hillspire Juniper

Hillspire Juniper

Juniper – Finally, let’s look at the juniper family.  Hillspire, blue point, and Wichita are on the extensive list of junipers available at garden centers now.  Juniper forests surround us, so you know that junipers are naturals to plant locally.  Whichever color and height you like, all grow well here.

There are more choices, such as the larger evergreen shrubs and deciduous trees like aspens, but we’ll save those landscape tips for another time.  Ask for my handout, “High Country Top 10 Plants”.  It’s free for the asking and includes a list of my ‘top 10′ privacy plants.

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Facebook Question of the week – ‘It there still hope for my hawthorn?  I have a 5-year-old shrub that just won’t wake up; it looks half dead.  What should I do?’  Arlene, Prescott Valley
Answer – Even if our cold weather casualties did make come backs it would be years before they reached their former glory. So break out the chainsaw and shovel! Replace your evergreen hawthorn with a hardier plant like Oregon grape, boxwood, or ‘low grow’ pyracantha.

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Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center. A Green Living Wall for Privacy

Monday, May 6, 2013

Grapes 4 Grades!

8th Annual Prescott-Frontier Rotary Foundation Auction and Wine-tasting

raising money for the math & reading clinicBenefiting the PUSD SUMMER READING AND MATH CLINIC

The Prescott-Frontier Rotary Foundation provides funding to the Prescott school district to provide a strong foundation in reading and math basics so kids K-5 can enter school in the fall ready to learn. Students in PUSD, Charter Schools, and Sacred Heart School are all eligible for the clinic. In 2012, 170 students attended! Thanks to corporate & individual sponsors, 100% of net proceeds go directly to this cause.

Host:         Watters Garden Center
Location:  1815 W. Iron Springs Rd., Prescott
Date:         Sunday, June 23, 2013
Time:         5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Tickets:    $45 each or 2 for $80

You can purchase tickets in advance at or at the following locations:

  • Watters Garden CenterJane in the garden center

  • Prescott Chamber of Commerce

  • Olsen’s Grain.

Call for more information:

(928) 445-4159.

Event Highlights:

** 12 different wines will be available to taste

** New! Arizona wine will be available

** New! Local Beer to taste

** Professionally Catered

** Professional Auctioneer for Live Auction

** Silent Auction

** Door Prizes

** Music by Pandemonium Steel Drum Band

food at wine tasting

rotary wine tasting Grapes 4 Grades!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Butterflies Dining in the Garden Center

Butterfly visiting flowersButterflies can be seen visiting the garden center to sip the nectar of the flowers.  This butterfly posed for a photo while sipping on a red Dianthus. Butterflies Dining in the Garden Center