Southwestern Deserts

January, 2008
Regional Report

Books

Design Advice
f you're looking for inspiration, this sumptuously photographed book will provide it. Author Noel Kingsbury (Timber Press, 2005; $34.95) interviewed 25 innovative landscape designers for Gardens by Design: Expert Advice from the World's Leading Garden Designers. He distilled their thoughts on the creative process into 4-page sections that are easily read or perused but pack a wealth of ideas. Many topics relate to the concept of sustainability, which the author defines as "the use of materials and techniques that minimize negative impacts on the wider environment and promote bio-diversity." One section -- "Using Native Plants" -- is by Isabelle Greene, who creates colorful, water-thrifty landscapes in southern California where they have periodic droughts. Another is "Habitat Planning," by Beth Chatto, who is the godmother of matching plants with the habitat they'll be growing in. Although Chatto gardens in Britain, her idea is instrumental for gardening success in the low desert, with its unique and challenging growing conditions.

Speaking of low desert, we are fortunate to be represented in the book by Steve Martino, an award-winning landscape architect from Phoenix. He contributes ideas on "Outdoor Living Spaces." Martino is well-known for his use of stunning colored walls, incorporating the desert's fabulous views, and using native plant material to attract wildlife. If this book doesn't inspire the gardener in you, it might be time to take up a new hobby!

Clever Gardening Technique

Plant Bare-Root Roses
Soak the bare-root rose in a bucket of water overnight before planting. This helps hydrate it. Roses require full sun to bloom, even in the desert. If available, choose a spot that has morning sun and protection from summer's intense hot afternoon sun. Dig a hole that's 18 to 30 inches wide and deep. Mix nitrogen and phosphorus into the bottom of the planting hole according to package instructions. Make a cone of soil in the bottom of the hole, set the rose on top, and drape the roots over the cone. This helps roots grow outwards into the soil, rather than become rootbound. The bud union (a slight raised area where the rose is grafted to the rootstock) should be 2 inches above the soil line. Amend the backfill with half compost or other organic matter. Water well.

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