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Rosemary Is For Winter and Gifting

Fill pretty, recycled jars with freshly-dried rosemary for holiday gifts for foodies (and pet lovers too, see below).
When I first came to the Southern California desert, I was shocked at how well traditional rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, USDA Hardiness Zones 8-10) shrubs survived through 120ᵒ F summer days. When provided good drainage and some water, these plants thrive in dry, mild-winter locations and reach mammoth […]

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Overcoming Problems With Ornamental Grasses

In-ground, grasses are perfect for planting in dry stream beds and among wildflowers. (Photo by Maureen Gilmer)
When landscape grasses take on full autumn color in the western states, they are always the focal point of the late season. It is the driest part of the year when their life cycle peaks after flowers pollinate, seeds form and are finally released into the wind to repopulate […]

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Grey and Silver Garden Plants for Arid Gardens

Cascading licorice plant, feathery Artemisia, and large-leaved silver plectranthus show textural comparisons. (Image by Maureen Gilmer)

Raising a pubescent teen can feel like being pecked to death by a duck. But it’s a lot more pleasant when it comes to plants. Here pubescence is “a covering of soft down or […]

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Sweetgum for Fall Sunset Color Out West



“Red oaks are supposed to turn red in the fall, not brown.” People always ask why their eastern tree colors turn dull and crispy by Thanksgiving in California. “Are you sure you planted the same species I requested?”
I’ve repeated this mistake way too many times to newcomers to […]

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Southwestern Sustainable Farmscaping: Planting for Home Livestock

 
The right plants can provide needed cover for livestock, repel insects, and serve as forage.
Everywhere across the American Southwest, folks are raising chickens, milking goats, horses, and grazing their own cattle. The rural way of life is evolving towards animal care and organic gardening. Dependence on livestock is creeping into the suburbs, too, where clean, efficient animal keeping is bumping up against the traditional backyard. […]

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The Dos and Don’ts of Hand Watering

Don’t get water on plant leaves in hot, direct sunlight. The droplets can act as magnifying glasses and damage leaf tissues.
Successful gardening always comes back to the basics: soil, sun, oxygen, plants, and, most of all, water.  Hand watering is the key to everything in the garden world out West.  Get it right and your garden goes crazy.  Blow it and plants languish.  Water facilitates […]

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Pool Planting Tips from Hollywood’s Heyday

A Palm Springs mid-century modern was restored for climate change using artificial turf and some agaves. (Image by Maureen Gilmer)
In Hollywood’s heyday, stars drove from Los Angeles to the desert resort of Palm Springs to party and tan in the quiet comfort of desert living.  The swimming pool came of age here as the focus of every landscape where its year-around usability became integral to […]

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Desert Gold Poppy: Create a Superbloom in Your Backyard

Desert poppies stay low on windy hilltops.
In the wave of Superbloom in California, a rare wildflower is making a massive appearance.  Desert gold poppy (Eschscholzia glyptosperma) is a smaller cousin of the famous California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) because it grows only in the desert. Virtually every aspect of the plant is dwarfed, a natural mechanism for greater efficiency in a very harsh, dry climate.
This year […]

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Garden Shrines: Dedicate Your Own Hallowed Ground


The pagans of Europe were the first to establish the notion of hallowed ground, an outdoor place set apart as holy.  Druid priests designated the very oldest oak in the ancient forest as an oracle, particularly when spring was close by. The priest would listen to the voices of the spirits in the gurgling of the spring and the whispers of the oak leaves, which […]

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DIY Seed Starting: Seed Packets (Part 1 of 6)

Read the back of your seed packet to find details essential to successful germination.
Starting seed indoors is the best way to get your garden off to an early start. It also provides for earlier and longer harvest by extending the growing season. Not all plants are suitable to start indoors–these include large-seeded or fast-growing vegetables that produce quickly, such as beets, radishes, squash, and melons […]

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