GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2008 show34
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Show #34/1308
Arizona Oasis


Introduction
IN THIS EPISODE GARDEN SMART VISITS THE SONORAN DESERT. Dr. Mark Bierner is the Director of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and welcomes Garden Smart to this wonderful spot. Boyce Thompson Arboretum is about 55 miles outside Phoenix in what is called the Upland Sonoran Desert. It is an authentic Arizona experience. Although it's desert it is higher in altitude than the desert floor of Phoenix, for example. Because of this there are a lot of different plants. In addition there have been a lot of trees planted here, so it is an arboretum, a place one finds trees. They think of it more as an Arizona oasis than a desert botanical garden because they have water here. With water comes other things - things like big trees, thus shade, birds and hummingbirds, insects and butterflies.

Click here for more info

Cactus
NEXT IS A PLANT WITH A LOT OF NICKNAMES AND A FEARSOME REPUTATION. The reality is it's more gentile than one might expect. It is Opuntia Cylindroppuntia fulgida Jumping Cholla. In Spanish the double LL is pronounced like a Y. It's a member of the Opuntia family. Nicknames are: Chain Fruit Cholla, the Jumping Cholla and the Teddy Bear Cholla. It is called Jumping Cholla because some think the joints seem to jump to stick in you.

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Eucalyptus Trees
JOE AND PAUL MOVE ON. At Paul's suggestion Joe looks up. About 160 feet in the air stands the top of a Eucalyptus, actually Eucalyptus camaldulensis Red Gum Tree. It is a variety of Eucalyptus tree native to Australia. This is part of their Australian Forest that was planted back in 1926 when the Arboretum was founded. It was a skinny little sapling then, now it's a160 feet tall and they call it Mr. Big. They have Eucalyptus in several different varieties. There is Iron Bark as well as Red Gum. The bark has a beautiful look with green and grey and white patches.

Click here for more info

Herb Garden
SMELL IS ONE OF THE THINGS DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS GARDEN, touch is another. Before they had to be careful not to touch the cactus, for example. Here that's not the case, it's more tactile. For example, one can drag their hand through the Thyme. It's like an Italian kitchen. They have Society Garlic, Oregano, some Mint but they also have some Sonoran desert plants as well. They have jojoba, chinensis Jojoba. In Spanish the J is pronounced like an H. Thus Jojoba is pronounced Ho-Hoba. Jojoba is used in lotions and shampoo. The oil is squeezed from the nuts.

Click here for more info


Olive Trees
JOE AND PAUL LEAVE THE HERB GARDEN AND VISIT AN AREA WITH UNUSUAL TREES. The first they notice is Olea europaea Common Olive Tree. These trees are phenomenal shade trees. They're popular in Phoenix and Tucson as a landscaping plant. They are controversial though because Olives produce pollen as well as fruit. Certain cultivars have been outlawed in sections of those cities for use in landscaping because of the wind borne pollen. Green and black Olives come from the same tree, the difference is in how they're cured.

Click here for more info


Palm Trees
JOE WANTS TO MOVE ON AND SEE THE PALM TREES. Palms are divided into 2 main categories. Those categories refer to the leaf structure. Palmates, are like the fingers and palms of your hand and Pinnate are like a feather. Phoenix canariensis Canary Date Palm is an example of the Pinnate or feather-like structure of the fronds.

Click here for more info


Demonstration Garden and Xeriscaping
THE DEMONSTRATION GARDEN. It's about 2 and 1/2 acres and is designed to show off landscaping techniques and ideas that people can take home and adapt to their own landscapes. There is a tremendous color selection in this area. Penstemon fremonti var. parryi Parry's Penstamens has a hot pink flower. It is a native and is often seen growing alongside the road. Verbena has a wonderful purple flower. There are Desert Marigolds. In addition they have Agaves and Cactus, Yucca. There is a wide selection of color and shape and form in this garden. This garden showcases Xeriscaping techniques and low water usage. Low water usage is one of the guiding tenets of the arboretum and one of the things they try to emphasize to understand the desert in the southwest. Xeriscaping is derived from the Greek word Xeri, or dry. So, Xeriscaping is dry landscaping. Xeriscaping is not zero-scaping and not zero watering. People often have the impression that desert landscaping is no more than rocks and sand and Cactus. This walk proves that Xeriscaping can have color and shape in abundance.

Click here for more info

 


LINKS:

Arizona Biltmore

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Garden Smart Plant List



Complete transcript of the show.

Show #34/1308 - Arizona Oasis
IN THIS EPISODE GARDEN SMART VISITS THE SONORAN DESERT. Dr. Mark Bierner is the Director of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and welcomes Garden Smart to this wonderful spot. Boyce Thompson Arboretum is about 55 miles outside Phoenix in what is called the Upland Sonoran Desert. It is an authentic Arizona experience. Although it's desert it is higher in altitude than the desert floor of Phoenix, for example. Because of this there are a lot of different plants. In addition there have been a lot of trees planted here, so it is an arboretum, a place one finds trees. They think of it more as an Arizona oasis than a desert botanical garden because they have water here. With water comes other things - things like big trees, thus shade, birds and hummingbirds, insects and butterflies. One gets the feeling when approaching that you're leaving the desert because it becomes very lush. Although Boyce Thompson Arboretum is an authentic Arizona experience they also exhibit arid plants from throughout the world. They have an Australian area, a South American area, an Asian area and they are developing a South African area. In these areas one can see what it would look like if you were to visit these other parts of the world, areas with a similar climate. This is what one might experience. It's the best of 2 worlds.
Dr. Bierner first visited here in the late 60's as a graduate student and has continued to visit. He has been a member for over 20 years even though he's been the Director for only 1 and 1/2 years. This Arboretum means a lot to him and it's been a part of people's lives in the area for years, really since it opened in 1929.
Joe next meets Paul Wolterbeck the information specialist at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. His story is similar to Mark's. He was a visitor and annual member for years before joining the staff. He and his wife moved here in 1994 but he grew up on a farm in New Hampshire. He then lived in Maine for a few years. Thus he's had to adjust his gardening habits. He doesn't grow tomatoes anymore and has learned to live on a lot less water. Now, he eats cactus fruits and cactus pads.
Paul welcomes Joe saying he feels it's an absolutely perfect day to be here. There are probably a half dozen different birds singing down at Queen Creek. And wildflowers are in bloom, it's truly a gorgeous day.
The reason this arboretum is here is because of Queen Creek. It is a perennial stream that supports a beautiful riparian zone of Cottonwood and Mesquite trees, as well as other native trees. Water is pumped from Queen Creek to Air Lake which irrigates the lower gardens. Queen Creek is why Colonel Thompson chose this location for the Arboretum. Colonel Thompson was the man that inhabited the fantastic Pick a Post House and it was his winter home. He was a self made millionaire in the 1920's who made his fortune in the copper market, then invested wisely in the stock market before it crashed. The town of Superior and also the cities of Globe and Miami which are about 45 miles to the east owe Col. Thompson quite a bit for the rich legacy of mining and this Arboretum that he founded. He was politically active and led a mercy mission to Russia during WWI to keep the Russian government in the war effort. While traveling to Russia, at the behest of the Red Cross, he became convinced of the importance of desert plants and how incredibly dependent we are upon them. Thus he started Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
Joe and Paul decide to take a closer look. Paul feels one can't talk about gardening in Arizona without first talking about water. Next to Queen Creek is a flower most never get to see. It is Mimulus guttatus Yellow Monkey Flower. If you crouch down you can see the monkey's face in the yellow petals. It's a wildflower and it can only seen around good water sources in the springtime.
They next decide to look at a completely different environment and head over to the Cactus Garden where there are Prickly Pears, Cholla and Solaras. On the way they pass some Fishhook Barrels. The name says it all. They have thorns like hooks and will get into your skin.
They get up close to a Opuntia Prickly Pear Cactus. Paul gardens with these, uses them for landscaping. They're easy to grow. All is needed is to take a pair of metal barbeque tongs, grab a leaf, cut it where the 2 joints meet, let the cut edge scab over and heal for a couple of days and dry. Then put it in sandy soil, it'll put out roots within a few weeks and form a clone plant from the original parent plant. The fruit is delicious. Squeeze the fruit and juice them, they make great margaritas.
Top

NEXT IS A PLANT WITH A LOT OF NICKNAMES AND A FEARSOME REPUTATION. The reality is it's more gentile than one might expect. It is Opuntia Cylindroppuntia fulgida Jumping Cholla. In Spanish the double LL is pronounced like a Y. It's a member of the Opuntia family. Nicknames are: Chain Fruit Cholla, the Jumping Cholla and the Teddy Bear Cholla. It is called Jumping Cholla because some think the joints seem to jump to stick in you. If you brush against that joint it can get lodged in your skin or on your shirt. The best way to get it out is to take a comb, stick the barb between the joint of the comb and flick it off. But flick it fast. Other names for this plant are Chain Fruit Cholla, one can see that because it has chains of fruit hanging down. Teddy Bear cholla because all the spines give it a soft looking glow in the right kind of light. Many think they're lovable, birds do. Paul counts 4 different nests in this plant. There is a Cactus Wren nest, a Curve Billed Thrasher nest and he thinks a Verdin nest. It's spectacular.
Joe and Paul next stop by a Barrel Cactus and several desert wildflowers. The first is a Baileya multiradiata Desert Marigold, and there is a Commelina dianthifolia Western Day Flower which is just about to bloom. It will be bluish purple in the next few days. Ferocactus wislizeni Fish-Hook Barrel, Barrel Cactus are great for landscaping, they have beautiful flowers which should be flowering anytime. There's some misinformation about Barrel Cactus. One is the myth that people can get water from cactus. Not likely. The absolutely mature Cactus are so loaded with oxalic acid that it would not be healthy to get water from them. The Barrel Cactus is one readily available in gift shops or home improvement stores, although smaller than this plant. They're excellent for landscaping as long as they're put in sandy, well drained soils. The biggest mistake that we as homeowners make is to take it home and over water it.
Echinopsis oxygona Easter Lily Cactus is a beautiful cactus. The giant white blossoms are about the size of a desert plate. This is the start of the Cactus flowering season and these will have white flowers within the next few weeks. Then the Opuntia species will come in. The Prickly Pears will have big, beautiful yellow blossoms, very lush. The Cholla flower is red and will change from red to magenta. By about May and June the Suguaro, the Sentinel of the Desert, will bloom and those are white, like little tea cups perched at the end of their branches. For about 9 months of the year Cactus are fairly nondescript but for 3 months they're spectacular. Like the ugly duckling and the beautiful swan.
Top

JOE AND PAUL MOVE ON. At Paul's suggestion Joe looks up. About 160 feet in the air stands the top of a Eucalyptus, actually Eucalyptus camaldulensis Red Gum Tree. It is a variety of Eucalyptus tree native to Australia. This is part of their Australian Forest that was planted back in 1926 when the Arboretum was founded. It was a skinny little sapling then, now it's a 160 feet tall and they call it Mr. Big. They have Eucalyptus in several different varieties. There is Iron Bark as well as Red Gum. The bark has a beautiful look with green and grey and white patches. Very attractive. They are popular for shade trees and landscaping around Arizona, often seen in Tucson and Phoenix. Paul recounts that the musical instrument the didgeridoo is an Australian instrument made from the hollowed out tree branches of the Eucalyptus tree. They're hollowed out by termites and Australian Aborigines play it like a woodwind.
We next visit the Herb Garden. It is certainly more familiar to a lot of people. Unlike the outdoor Cactus Garden that only grows in certain parts of the country, an herb garden can grow all across the country. Joe smelled orange blossoms on the way in. It's a Citrus Tree at its peak and is gorgeous.
Top

SMELL IS ONE OF THE THINGS DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS GARDEN, touch is another. Before they had to be careful not to touch the cactus, for example. Here that's not the case, it's more tactile. For example, one can drag their hand through the Thyme. It's like an Italian kitchen. They have Society Garlic, Oregano, some Mint but they also have some Sonoran desert plants as well. They have jojoba, chinensis Jojoba. In Spanish the J is pronounced like an H. Thus Jojoba is pronounced Ho-Hoba. Jojoba is used in lotions and shampoo. The oil is squeezed from the nuts. Jojoba helped bring about the decline of the whaling industry because Jojoba became a substitute for whale oil. Rosemary grows like a weed here, growing thick and robust. It smells fantastic and is aromatic. Paul's Mom lives in New Hampshire and can barely grow Rosemary. Paul next shows Joe a little yellow flower called Berlandiera lyrata Chocolate Flower and when getting close it actually smells like chocolate. Paul had an awful summer cold several summers ago. So, he tried another herb - Eriodictyon californicum Yerba Santa. It is known for its medicinal properties. He made a tea from the leaves. It wasn't tasty but was effective.
Top

JOE AND PAUL LEAVE THE HERB GARDEN AND VISIT AN AREA WITH UNUSUAL TREES. The first they notice is Olea europaea Common Olive Tree. These trees are phenomenal shade trees. They're popular in Phoenix and Tucson as a landscaping plant. They are controversial though because Olives produce pollen as well as fruit. Certain cultivars have been outlawed in sections of those cities for use in landscaping because of the wind borne pollen. Green and black Olives come from the same tree, the difference is in how they're cured. When they're ripe they're black but rather pithy and bitter. They need to be cured. To do this they are soaked in salt and possibly lye, that's how they are made edible. They're cured differently, but they're the same, the black and green Olives. If looking for Olive trees acceptable for landscaping and the desert eco system one can buy varieties of Olive trees that don't produce fruit and also don't produce pollen.
Top

JOE WANTS TO MOVE ON AND SEE THE PALM TREES. Palms are divided into 2 main categories. Those categories refer to the leaf structure. Palmates, are like the fingers and palms of your hand and Pinnate are like a feather. Phoenix canariensis Canary Date Palm is an example of the Pinnate or feather-like structure of the fronds. These trees are favored by Orioles, those gorgeous yellow and black birds that are migrants and come here in the spring. They actually weave a basket the size of a baseball from the Palm and make their nests in there. These trees are an important food source. The Canary Island Date Palm produces dates but they must be hand pollinated because they're very sensitive. Some of these Palms are over 40 feet tall.
Top

THE DEMONSTRATION GARDEN, we've just visited the Palm trees and the Olive Grove now we're in another oasis. It's about 2 and 1/2 acres and is designed to show off landscaping techniques and ideas that people can take home and adapt to their own landscapes. There is a tremendous color selection in this area. Penstemon fremonti var. parryi Parry's Penstamens has a hot pink flower. It is a native and is often seen growing alongside the road. Verbena has a wonderful purple flower. There are Desert Marigolds. In addition they have Agaves and Cactus, Yucca. There is a wide selection of color and shape and form in this garden. This garden showcases Xeriscaping techniques and low water usage. Low water usage is one of the guiding tenets of the arboretum and one of the things they try to emphasize to understand the desert in the southwest. Xeriscaping is derived from the Greek word Xeri, or dry. So, Xeriscaping is dry landscaping. Xeriscaping is not zero-scaping and not zero watering. People often have the impression that desert landscaping is no more than rocks and sand and Cactus. This walk proves that Xeriscaping can have color and shape in abundance. Xeriscaping is not about a type of plant, more the techniques that are applied, no matter where one lives whether it be the desert southwest or the Pacific northwest, one must learn about the right plant for the right location. One can have a Xeriscape landscape wherever they live and it can be beautiful. And these techniques can adapt to a big garden, a big flower garden or a postage sized back yard.
Joe and Paul comment on all the birds calling in the area. Paul hears a Northern Cardinal, Lesser Goldfinch and Hummingbirds, it's a great garden for birds and flowers.
They next view a Penstemon eatonii Firecracker Penstamen, it's as red as the Northern Cardinal and as beautiful. They're very desert adapted and often seen growing along the roadsides. And, they don't take a lot of water. The garden also has some Globe Mallow, this is pink but they also come in orange. It also has Verbena and Desert Marigold. There is lot of color. They have brought in some indigenous rock for the hardscape. It adds variety, some interest year round when some of these plants aren't in bloom and they fit with the landscape. They've utilized Rhyolite, a native stone that was quarried about a half mile away.
The guys next look at a smaller Demonstration Garden. It is an example of what can be done in a small space and possibly something for someone with physical limitations. It is one small bed but has a variety of plants. It has everything from succulents, such as a beautiful Ice Plant which is flowering to Agaves. Paul's favorite Agave is Queen Victoria agave, Agave victoriae-reginae. They have beautiful lines. There are other Cacti in here, for example Red Spine Barrel, which is about to flower. There are many other plants in the area which shows how much variety can be packed into a small space. Because it's a raised bed it's easy to come in and work, it has easy access which could be most helpful for an older person or someone with physical limitations. It also has lights which allows one to enjoy the garden at night. This area shows that one doesn't need a lot of space to have a lot of impact and a beautiful garden.
Joe thanks Paul for showing us Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It has been a wonderful experience and Paul has been a wonderful tour guide. We'll long remember this Arboretum and hope many in our audience will get the opportunity to visit.
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LINKS:

Arizona Biltmore

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Garden Smart Plant List



   
 
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