Maureen Gilmer

Get an Edge on Porous Paving

Short, dense perennials are the ultimate edge plants to tidy up after repairs to eroding edges.
Artists learn early on that the most important parts of a line are the beginning and end points.  The quality of the start and end define the line’s value. No matter how light the line weight is between the two points, the line continuum will stay intact because the viewer will naturally […]

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Cultivate Beneficial Insects in the Garden

Ladybug adults and larvae (orange and black) waging war on black aphids!
 
Your garden is a battlefield with more life and death drama than the Serengeti during wildlife migrations.  Among your beautiful plants and flowers there is that age-old war playing out every day as the insect world fights over who eats what.  Some insects are pests that eat your plants – they are garden prey.  Other […]

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Plant a Cactus Fruit Garden

Prickly pear fruits are tangy and often deep red. (Opuntia ficus-indica shown)
Cactus fruit are a forgotten staple of hot climates where they ripen quickly with a very high sugar content.  Fruits are cooked down into syrups, squeezed into icy drinks, made into jam, or eaten fresh after peeling.  These native fruits of the American Southwest and Mexico are both a staple and a survival food, depending […]

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How to Transplant an Olive Tree

Fruiting olive trees make resilient landscape specimens for edible landscaping in the West.
Olives (Olea europaea)  originate from the Mediterranean region but have been important landscape trees in the American Southwest for the past 70 years, losing and gaining favor as trends change. After World War II, mature olive trees were transplanted to new family homes all over the West. Old trees were moved from California orchards […]

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5 Big, Beautiful Wildflowers for Dry Western Gardens

This relative of hollyhock loves growing along the dry edges of cactus and succulent gardens.
The American Southwest is rich in wildflowers, and a few have proved to be exceptional choices for arid gardens.  When wildflowers perform well and are beautiful, they are ideal candidates for home landscapes filled with existing drought resistant plants.  They also make exceptional problem solvers in desert gardens of cacti, succulents, and rocks where many […]

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The Best Pomegranates for Home and Garden

pome 2‘Wonderful’ is a popular orchard variety pomegranate that also grows well in home gardens.
Since antiquity the bright red seeds of the pomegranate (Punica granatum) have been likened to rubies.  The fleshy seeds are a sign of the nutritional treasure hidden inside the fruit’s tough, leathery rind. The covering of these Middle Eastern fruits protects them from birds and dehydration, unlike fully exposed stone fruits and berries.
The pomegranate […]

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The Well-Prepared Parterre Potager

villandry 1The grand French Chateau de Villandry Ornamental Parterre Garden is in the foreground with the Ornamental Kitchen Garden in the background.
As with most things French, even vegetable gardens can be decidedly beautiful.  What makes them so special are parterre potagers, a practice of creating symmetrical, geometric patterns with beds of vegetables of different colors and textures. Within the geometric beds, which are often lined with […]

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Blueberries for Western and Southern Gardens

tableNew, heat-tolerant blueberries should be enjoyed in more gardens south of the Mason Dixon Line and in the Southwest
Forget that blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are just a crop for the far north, because that’s changed.  Modern selection and breeding has resulted in a range of hybrids and varieties that extend blueberries into almost every growing zone.  What makes this such a great opportunity is that blueberries are […]

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Heirloom Vegetable Power: Why Old Seed is New Again

Bean-Diversity3A diverse collection of dried heirloom beans.
 
Every seed has a story.  When it comes to heirloom vegetable seeds, those with great stories have been nurtured for hundreds and thousands of years by diverse peoples worldwide. Many heirlooms have been lost in time, but some have been preserved, bringing with them wonderful traits that tell us something about the people who grew them and the […]

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Growing California Christmasberry

fruit foliageLarge sprays of bright red berry-like fruits mature in time for holiday decorating.
In my old High Sierra home, I decorated with my own native Christmasberry (Heteromeles arbutifolia, USDA Zone 8) fruit every winter for nearly 20 years. Also called California toyon, this shrub produces large sprays of bright red fruits that are so seasonally welcome, I wondered why it was not more popular in landscaping.
Christmasberry makes […]

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