Frontier Rotary used Watters Garden Center for its annual 'Grapes 4 Grades' fundraiser that benefits the PUSD Reading & Math Clinics. The greenhouses were a magical setting for much food and wine, and many generous participants. This was the organization’s best event to date and truly the talk of the town.
Some 250 people attended and raised almost $21,000 for their community. When it was announced that $200 would sponsor a child for the next reading clinic, many attendees generously stepped up to accept the challenge! Kris Frost, director of this year’s clinic, was emotionally taken by the generosity. A deep-felt thank you goes out for support of a passion that Lisa and I hold dear.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
This is the time of year when all of us homeowners are thankful for our shade trees. There is a direct correlation between leaf count in the yard and the cost of cooling a home. After providing cooling shade in the summer, deciduous trees then lose their foliage allowing the sun to warm our houses. When planted on the south and west sides of our houses, shade trees dramatically influence the internal temperatures of our homes.
Shorter trees, which mature at about 25', are good to plant at the street, down driveways, or as courtyard accents. They are recommended for smaller patio homes, condos, or the backyards of town homes.
An umbrella-shaped tree that quickly comes to mind is the chocolate mimosa. It grows very fast with beautiful chocolate bronze leaves that at first glance appear to be large ferns. Scented clusters of powder puff pink blooms are attractive to butterflies and people alike. It is the perfect front yard accent for sitting under and is stunning when gazed upon from an upper story deck. I use it in my own gardens to filter sun over my flowerbeds. This drought hardy tree likes to be planted during the heat of summer.
I could write a book about mountain trees. Look at our very own Arizona native the 'Desert Willow' in bloom from Skull Valley to Dewey. Autumn Hawthorn, Flamingo Box Elder and wilder Serviceberry also make great mountain choices.
Trees are the single most important investment of any landscape; they add value and bring comfort and visual appeal to our homes. Because trees are once-in-a-lifetime investments that outlive us by hundreds of years, it pays to put more money into each choice. It makes sense to reduce the number or size of our landscape shrubs so more of the budget can be dedicated to the purchase of trees. Also, upgrading the sizes of trees delivers a mature look to any landscape.
Buy good quality trees! Do not settle for average just to pinch a few pennies when it comes to trees. Only put your money, sweat, and mental energy into the perfect specimen. Don’t plan to nurse a poor quality tree back to health; an ugly tree stays ugly for life. A broken branch from shipping is OK, but never accept leaf spots, wilting, thin or wispy branches, or a root structure that is overgrown and root bound from being left in its pot too long. Each element has a negative affect on a plant, especially a tree.
Wind is a factor for spacing shade trees that mature at 25 to 40 feet; these are good-sized trees that need space to grow. Right now there are so many great choices at garden centers in this category. Look at the raywood ash, autumn blaze maple, and the purple robe or sunburst locusts. All have nice structures, and tolerate our unrelenting wind or winter snow and ice without breaking. They are moderate to fast growers that adapt well to our heavy mountain soils.
A quick napkin sketch and digital camera photos of a landscape make it easy for a horticulturalist to suggest tree placement, and most garden centers gladly offer garden advice for free. It's well worth the exercise in order to avoid very expensive mistakes.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Plant of the Week - The plant in this week’s picture is the Minerva Rose of Sharon. Gardeners know that Rose of Sharon is a hardy form of hibiscus, but Minerva is an outstanding new variety. Large saucer-shaped clear blue flowers with red centers bloom non-stop through summer into fall, with foliage that is equally attractive. More sun results in more flowers, but Minerva gladly tolerates half-day shade and poor soils. At a height of 6 feet and easy to grow, this medium-sized shrub makes a superior mountain hedge, screen, or specimen to soften fences and courtyards. This summer bloomer prefers to be planted during our summer monsoon heat.
~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Free Garden Class - This Saturday’s gardening class meets at 9:30 a.m., and is entitled 'Vibrant Green Lawns to Life'. Next week’s class, on July 28th, is ‘Joys of Gardening in the High Country ’. Classes are free, informative, and a lot of fun, consider this a personal invitation to come and learn.
Until next week, I’ll see you in the garden center.