Maureen Gilmer

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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Planting a Barrel Cactus Safely

FullSizeRender (2)The ferocious spines of the golden barrel cactus make them very difficult to pot. (Image by Jessie Keith)
 
The golden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii) is America’s favorite cactus. All over the Southwest it has become a coveted living ornament in landscapes. When back lit by the sun, the bright canary-yellow spines literally glow, creating high drama against blue agaves and succulents. A big yellow cactus potted […]

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Rehab Raised Beds Inside and Out

density-1024x768Raised-bed hoops and row covers can help you protect crops from harsh growing conditions and winter cold.
Second gardens are always better than first gardens.  When those first gardens were your raised beds, then maybe it’s time to raise the bar.  Bigger, better, and more prolific are garden characteristics that all gardeners want, so perhaps it’s time to rehab and expand in preparation for next year’s summer garden.
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Late-Summer Seed Sowing

chard-kaleLacinato kale and Swiss chard are two great crops for fall growing.
It’s absolutely counterintuitive to plant anything in August or September, but intuition is not always right.  Go against your instincts, and sow cool-season seeds right now.  Do it soon, and you’ll get your fall and winter garden started just in time.
Starting Fall Vegetables
If you’re a beginner and have never grown food outside the strict summer […]

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