Cathy Cromell

Southwestern Deserts Editor

Cathy Cromell
Phoenix, AZ

Yellowbells (Tecoma stans) grows into a large shrub in our region featuring bright yellow flowers.

What's a desert garden without a flowering prickly pear cactus.

One of my favorite white lilies.

Baby greens are ready to eat!

Cathy learned to garden growing up in northern Minnesota with her mom and dad, and credits them with her life-long love of plants and nature. Her tasks as a child included deadheading pansies and picking peas. Alas, for the rest of the family, few peas made it indoors to the kitchen by the time she finished grazing on the irresistibly sweet pods. She still loves to eat peas fresh from the vine, and pansy faces remain her favorite flower.

Although desert gardening conditions differ radically from the Midwest's, the basics of creating healthy soil to grow healthy plants apply everywhere, and Cathy likes nothing better than sniffing a handful of organic-rich soil. (Okay, she doesn't get out much....)

After moving to Phoenix, Cathy completed the Master Gardener course offered by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County Urban Horticulture Department. They offered her a position to create and manage Arizona Master Gardener Press, which publishes books and materials specific to Southwestern gardening.

To date, the Press has published five books: Desert Water Gardening for Beginners, Earth-Friendly Desert Gardening, Desert Landscaping for Beginners, Desert Gardening for Beginners, and Success With School Gardens: How to Create a Learning Oasis in the Desert. The Press has won numerous awards including Best First Book by a New Publisher from the Arizona Book Publishing Association.

Earth-Friendly Desert Gardening also received two prestigious Glyph Awards from the Arizona Book Publishing Association at the 2005 Awards ceremony in the categories of "Best Gardening/Agriculture" and "Best Cover Design larger than 6 x 9."

The book previously received the Western Regional Communications Award of Excellence from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and an Environmental Excellence award from the Valley Forward Association.

Cathy authored Composting for Dummies. She was also a writer for the latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens New Garden Book and contributing writer for Sunset's Gardening in the Southwest. As Garden Editor-at-Large for Phoenix Home & Garden magazine, Cathy enjoys sharing gardening information, especially for new residents confused by desert conditions, in her monthly yard work column. However, her particular favorite is the "Home Gardener" profile of a local gardener. "There are so many people with intriguing horticultural passions. They continue to inspire and teach me, even after my life-long love of plants."


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