In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
January, 2006
Regional Report

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Garden inspiration comes in various packages!

Inspiration in the Garden

Where does your gardening inspiration come from? I'm gearing up to redo parts of my garden and luckily have been bombarded with ideas from all angles. Here are a few sources of inspiration for me:

Other Gardeners: I used to put plants in any container that was empty, until I visited a garden gal who made combining plants and pots into an art form. Not only did she have dozens of uniquely crafted pots, but she was deft at putting plants into pots that enhanced their color. Last week, I searched several nurseries until I found a deep blue container to show off three golden barrel cacti. The yellow spines are so much more vivid against the blue than against red clay pots.

Public Gardens: I love to visit gardens in other regions. It doesn't matter if the plants won't grow in the low desert. If I see a great color combination, I can try to recreate it with desert-adapted plants. Sometimes, the inspiration can be less tangible. For example, whenever I look at a certain rabbit sculpture at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, I'm inspired to create that sense of exuberance in my garden.

Books: Books are my inspiration and sometimes my downfall. Literally. Sometimes I have so many piled around my chair that I am in danger of falling if I stand up too quickly!

Plants: Sometimes even a troublesome plant can inspire. A New Year's Resolution: "I promise to prevent the kudzu-impersonating pink trumpet vine from sealing off entrance to the backyard." I think I made this resolution last year, too. It is more imperative than ever, as last fall this Podranea ricasoliana was so overgrown that I had to crawl on hands and knees to get by, just barely avoiding strangulation. Its vigorous vines reach and spread over other plants, creating arches and secret passages, which are really cool, until they collapse from their own weight. (Hence the crawling.) It would make more sense to plant a different vine, but I admire its tenacity. I planted it 15 years ago from a 1-gallon pot, haven't watered it in 12 years, chop it back without mercy, and still it shoots forth 20-foot vines covered with blooms. I always recommend choosing the right plant for the right place, so I'm guilty of not doing as I say. But I'm inspired to devise the ultimate industrial-strength trellis!

Here's to your New Year filled with inspired gardening!


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