GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2012 show37
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Show #37/2911. Gardening Lessons In Palm Springs

Frank Morgan House - Front Yard
IN THE FRONT YARD, DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE FRONT DOOR there is a wonderful vignette in a relatively small space yet there is a lot of interest here. Paul feels this is an excellent example of what desert landscaping can be. There are different succulent plants - Opuntia basilaris Beavertail, different kinds of Agavaceae Agave, other Cacti, Euphorbia pulcherrima; all in a confined space but used in an interesting manner. Some basic landscape techniques are being utilized. Smaller plants are in the front then moving back there are larger plants, some specimen and accent plants, then further back even larger plants. Mixed in all around is color. There are Verbena bonariensis, Gaillardia pulchella Indian Blanket flower, there are purple flowers in the cactus. The textures and layering is very attractive.
Click here for more info

Perennials Add Color
JOE NOTICES THAT COLOR IS ALSO PROVIDED BY PERENNIALS. Many often feel that annuals are needed for color. That is a challenge in the Coachella Valley because in this climate that means one might need to change annuals out 3 times a year. Paul likes to introduce perennials to his clients that will provide color year round. Some may not last perennially, but some do. He likes the fact that rather than changing the plants out 3 times a year, year after year, these plants will provide color and beauty for a much longer period of time. And that's a lesson that applies all across the country.
Click here for more info

Backyard
JOE AND PAUL MOVE TO THE BACKYARD. As one comes out the backdoor they're greeted with the wonderful backdrop of the mountains and the lovely pool, there is a paver area, the patio area, a little bit of turf and then beautifully landscaped beds. Joe appreciates turf, it softens some of the hardscapes but wonders how Paul feels about turf. Paul tries to discourage turf because they live in a desert and water is a precious commodity. Turf requires an incredible amount of water.
Click here for more info

Unifying Plant Material
JOE NOTICES THAT THIS BED UTILIZES SOME OF THE SAME PLANT MATERIAL IN THE FRONT AND BACK. This unifies the areas. There is also different plant material but it has the same design philosophy. One beautiful bed is readily seen when coming out the back door. Again it has lower plants in the front and as one works back the taller plants. There is a specimen Fouquieria spendens Ocotillo and there is a mix of color and a mix of textures. It's quite beautiful. There are red tubular flowers from the aloes and red tubular flowers from the Ocotillo, both are great sources to draw hummingbirds in to the garden.
Click here for more info

Substitute Plants
WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO GROW ALOE OR OCOTILLO FOR RED TUBULAR FLOWERS WHEREVER WE LIVE BUT WE CAN SUBSTITUTE PLANTS AND GET THE SAME RESULTS. For more information on drawing hummingbirds to the garden, click here.
Click here for more info

Advantages of Native Plants
PAUL LIKES USING NATIVE PLANTS because there is relatively little maintenance required when the plants are used properly. In this bed, as an example, there is irrigation which is key but must be done properly. The only other plant maintenance that's required is a little bit of pruning. For example with the Aloe when the flowers dry up and die, simply cut the stalk down and that's it. No fertilizing is required, nothing else is required to keep this garden looking great.
Click here for more info

Side Yard
The guys visit another garden area. THIS IS ALONG THE DRIVEWAY, as one comes up the driveway and gets out of the car one sees this beautiful garden. It does a nice job of conveying the concepts discussed earlier. There is layering, there isn't a lot of different flower color, especially from annuals. One can visit botanical gardens, hike in the mountains, view plants growing naturally but it all comes together here. Apply the layering concepts, use color without relying on annuals, all of this can be applied at home.
Click here for more info

Scott's New Home - Developing a Plan
HE PURCHASED THIS BRAND NEW HOME WHICH CAME WITH A CONTRACTOR'S PACKAGE of very limited landscaping which included some grass in front and just dirt and Ficus trees in the back. Because it can freeze here the Ficus trees froze solid during the cold winter 2 years ago. At that point Scott decided to take matters into his own hands. He did research to determine how to proceed, not wanting to make too many mistakes, he contacted the local master gardeners, a couple of nurseries and visited the Coachella Valley Water District headquarters because they have a demonstration garden with desert landscaping, complete with plants and description. He took pictures, made notes, contacted the University of Arizona who has some expertise in desert landscaping because their climate is similar to this climate. After doing his research he decided on native plants and tried to avoid the problems from the past.
Click here for more info

Backyard
HIS FIRST OBJECTIVE IN THE BACKYARD was to put in a pool with a waterfall in the back and make that the focus when coming in from the front door then going to the backyard. He then wanted a landscape around that and wanted to create functional areas within the backyard area. And, he wanted to utilize desert landscaping. He was successful. There is a lot going on in a relatively small space.
Click here for more info

Hydrozoning - Area Close To The House
SCOTT STARTS THE TOUR IN AN AREA CLOSE TO THE HOUSE. He likes this area for several reasons. It breaks up the hardscapes - he has a lot of decking in this area - and it provides color. He planted some annuals, a small amount, thus the water use isn't much. In doing his research he discovered a term called "hydrozoning." With this concept one groups plants according to their water use. The higher water usage plants are closer to the house and as one moves away from the house the plants require less and less water as one goes out. This is an excellent way to conserve resources. In this case the "water hogs," the annuals, those with higher water and maintenance requirements are close to the house where there is easy access to water, then when working ones way to the back of the area the plants require less water.
Click here for more info

Transition Zone
IN THE TRANSITION ZONE ARE PLANTS THAT REQUIRE A LITTLE LESS WATER. For example, he has utilized Justicia spicigera Mexican honeysuckle and Tecoma capensis 'Red' Cape honeysuckle. Both have great color and have bird friendly blooms.
Click here for more info

Arid Zone
THE LAST ZONE IS THE ARID ZONE. It's the furthest from the house, on the outside with the most sun exposure. Here he's selected plants that require the least amount of water. One of his favorites is the Parkinson aculeata hybrid Palo Verde Desert Museum. In nature the only water they get is what Mother Nature provides, certainly no supplemental watering. Scott also has a Citrus x paradisi Grapefruit tree. It is loaded with beautiful fruit. This is a Ruby Red Grapefruit and has been very productive and a nice visual accent plant.
Click here for more info

Overview Of The Backyard
JOE FEELS THE WHOLE BACKYARD IS A VISUAL ACCENT. When coming through the front door, then through the house, then through the French doors which open onto the patio it's stunning. And Scott has gotten over 100 people in this area and they didn't feel crowded because of the traffic flow. There are no dead ends. And there are rooms throughout. There is an area to cook and several different areas to congregate. It's an intimate feeling in a small space, yet feels very open.
Click here for more info

Before - The Front Yard
And, we haven't seen the front yard. THIS TOO WAS DIFFERENT WHEN SCOTT MOVED IN. Then it was all sod grass. Very plain, no features, high maintenance. Scott wanted to reduce the maintenance, thus reduced the sod and wanted to incorporate some interesting features but still wanted to utilize the hydrozoning. Thus selected plants that were native.
Click here for more info

Closest To The House
STARTING CLOSEST TO THE HOUSE, thus, in the mini oasis zone he has planted some Rosa Roses and some Lantana montevidensis for color. When moving into the transition zone and then the arid zone he has different plants including different types of Palms and Cactus.
Click here for more info

Arid Zone
THERE ARE SOME INTERESTING FEATURES BY THE STREET, which is the arid zone. Here Scott has planted the Mulga tree or Acacia anerua. It is drought tolerant, it's evergreen and has beautiful color. Next to that is the Pindo Palm which is another accent plant that's fiercely growing but very appropriate in this area. Scott has Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary shrubs. The herbs love this dry soil.
Click here for more info

Creek Bed
SCOTT HAS ALSO DESIGNED A CREEK BED. This is consistent with desert views, one frequently sees the auroras of the dry creek beds. It makes a nice visual impact but more than that it's a very functional part of the landscaping, great for water conservation. Even though they're in a desert several years ago they had record rainfall. It rained a tremendous amount. With the creek bed the water doesn't just run off the property, it percolates down into the water table, not into the street and into the sewer system. Water always wants to go somewhere and goes to the lowest point. The dry creek bed helps retain the water on ones property. It not only looks great but provides an important function.
Click here for more info

Joe's Take Away
BOTH HOMES IN THE PALM SPRINGS AREA WERE DIFFERENT BUT BOTH PROVIDED MANY GREAT GARDENING LESSONS NO MATTER WHERE ONE LIVES. One of the reasons Garden Smart travels across the country every week is to show our viewers, how gardeners across the country deal with challenges and their solutions. Most of the time those solutions can be applied no matter where we live. In this show we saw how the use of layering creates a naturalistic landscape and how important it was to utilize native plants as a way to minimize the use of natural resources and as a way to attract wildlife. Then at Scott's house, he introduced an important concept called hydrozoning - the grouping of certain plants based on their water needs. And he introduced us to dry creek beds, a wonderful way to retain water on your property, allowing it to be absorbed into the ground and into the ground water keeping it from running off your property. So, the only unique thing was the type of plants used. The solutions can be applied, no matter where you live. Two very different private gardens but both were doing some pretty important things to conserve natural resources. All provide food for thought for gardeners all across the country.
Click here for more info

LINKS:

Show #37/2911. Gardening Lessons In Palm Springs

Complete transcript of the show.

When traveling to a new city Garden Smart is always looking for great gardens and impressive gardeners. We found both in Palm Springs California.

Shirley Brenon is the garden writer for The Desert Sun and provides gardening background for the area. Shirley says that there are 360 sunny days a year in Palm Springs and there are more gardeners and pool men here than anything else. Everyone is out working on their garden and enjoying their flowers. But, there are challenges as well. Summers average 106 to 108 with an average of 105 degrees. So one must know what to plant and how to care for those plants. It's very important to mulch the ground and keep plants under shade when possible. Also, many plants that may be perennials in other parts of the country are annuals here because they can't make it through the summer. One doesn't see Tulips here unless they're refrigerated for 6 weeks at a time because they just don't have enough cold. Wintertime temperatures range from 50 to 80 degrees. There are water challenges as well. In the lower areas they average just a few inches of rain a year yet not far away, in the mountains, they receive much more precipitation - rain and snow. Because of this they have an aquifer. But they've experienced drought conditions lately. Normal rainfall is about 2-5 inches a year, but their year is coming to a close and they've received only 3 inches of rain. So they encourage people to plant desert natives, low water plants so they can conserve water. In her column Shirley does a great job of promoting low water use plants.

Shirley suggests we meet Paul Ortega, a wonderful landscaper, with all kinds of great information. Joe is off to meet Paul.

While it's interesting to see plants in their native habitats, the challenge always is how do we bring that home and apply it in our own personal landscapes. Paul will help us with that task. Paul is a landscape designer in the Palm Springs area and has been doing this for about 5 years. He is co-founder and chair of the Desert Horticultural Society of Coachella Valley. Their main mission is to introduce people to and help them understand how to use more desert and native plants in the local landscape. Paul's design philosophy is just that - there are many native plants and plants from other deserts that are quite beautiful and quite colorful but most don't know about them or don't know how to use them. Part of his job is to introduce them to this plant palette. For the most part people here, the Coachella Valley, come from somewhere else - the midwest, Seattle, Canada or the coast so they're not aware of what is available and how beautiful native plants can be. Many have the idea that desert landscaping is boulders, gravel, a couple of palm trees, some cactus and then complain there is nothing else, no color, no texture. Paul's job is to show them otherwise.

Paul introduces us to this house and property. It has an interesting story. It was built in the 1930's by Frank Morgan. He was an actor in Hollywood and best known as the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz. This was his place to get away from Hollywood life when he wasn't working. This property is now recognized by the City of Rancho Mirage with an architectural award of merit from the 1930's.

IN THE FRONT YARD, DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE FRONT DOOR there is a wonderful vignette in a relatively small space yet there is a lot of interest here. Paul feels this is an excellent example of what desert landscaping can be. There are different succulent plants - Opuntia basilaris Beavertail, different kinds of Agavaceae Agave, other Cacti, Euphorbia pulcherrima; all in a confined space but used in an interesting manner. Some basic landscape techniques are being utilized. Smaller plants are in the front then moving back there are larger plants, some specimen and accent plants, then further back even larger plants. Mixed in all around is color. There are Verbena bonariensis, Gaillardia pulchella Indian Blanket flower, there are purple flowers in the cactus. The textures and layering is very attractive. The leaves can add color. For example, the white variegated Agave and a yellow variegated Agave, both prove that there are great ways to incorporate different colors with desert plants.
Top

JOE NOTICES THAT COLOR IS ALSO PROVIDED BY PERENNIALS. Many often feel that annuals are needed for color. That is a challenge in the Coachella Valley because in this climate that means one might need to change annuals out 3 times a year. Paul likes to introduce perennials to his clients that will provide color year round. Some may not last perennially, but some do. He likes the fact that rather than changing the plants out 3 times a year, year after year, these plants will provide color and beauty for a much longer period of time. And that's a lesson that applies all across the country.
Top

JOE AND PAUL MOVE TO THE BACKYARD. As one comes out the backdoor they're greeted with the wonderful backdrop of the mountains and the lovely pool, there is a paver area, the patio area, a little bit of turf and then beautifully landscaped beds. Joe appreciates turf, it softens some of the hardscapes but wonders how Paul feels about turf. Paul tries to discourage turf because they live in a desert and water is a precious commodity. Turf requires an incredible amount of water. However he understands that if one has children or dogs, or if one wants to soften the edge of the hardscape that turf does have its purpose. Paul tries to encourage his clients to use a little less turf and a bigger landscape bed.
Top

JOE NOTICES THAT THIS BED UTILIZES SOME OF THE SAME PLANT MATERIAL IN THE FRONT AND BACK. This unifies the areas. There is also different plant material but it has the same design philosophy. One beautiful bed is readily seen when coming out the back door. Again it has lower plants in the front and as one works back the taller plants. There is a specimen Fouquieria spendens Ocotillo and there is a mix of color and a mix of textures. It's quite beautiful. There are red tubular flowers from the aloes and red tubular flowers from the Ocotillo both are great sources to draw hummingbirds in to the garden.

Joe asks about hummingbird feeders. Paul feels most hummingbird feeders are just like giving hummingbirds junk food because it's primarily sugar water. What birds are getting when they stick their beaks into the tubular flowers is protein. They're looking for insects and that is protein and protein is much better for the birds.
Top

WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO GROW ALOE OR OCOTILLO FOR RED TUBULAR FLOWERS WHEREVER WE LIVE BUT WE CAN SUBSTITUTE PLANTS AND GET THE SAME RESULTS. For more information on drawing hummingbirds to the garden, click here.
Top

PAUL LIKES USING NATIVE PLANTS because there is relatively little maintenance required when the plants are used properly. In this bed, as an example, there is irrigation which is key but must be done properly. The only other plant maintenance that's required is a little bit of pruning. For example with the Aloe when the flowers dry up and die, simply cut the stalk down and that's it. No fertilizing is required, nothing else is required to keep this garden looking great. And even though there is irrigation, natives frequently are more drought tolerant, thus irrigation requirements aren't as heavy.
Top

The guys visit another garden area. THIS IS ALONG THE DRIVEWAY, as one comes up the driveway and gets out of the car one sees this beautiful garden. It does a nice job of conveying the concepts discussed earlier. There is layering, there isn't a lot of different flower color, especially from annuals. One can visit botanical gardens, hike in the mountains, view plants growing naturally but it all comes together here. Apply the layering concepts, use color without relying on annuals, all of this can be applied at home.

Joe thanks Paul. This was most enjoyable but he has another yard and garden to see.

From an 80 year old house on a larger lot to a newer home on a smaller lot, both face similar landscaping challenges and both have practical solutions to conserve resources.

Joe has learned from his time in Palm Springs that most people here aren't from here. Scott is the homeowner and is originally from North Carolina. He spent most of his career in Northern California and moved here 4 years ago for retirement living. He loves the climate and likes the culture.
Top

HE PURCHASED THIS BRAND NEW HOME WHICH CAME WITH A CONTRACTOR'S PACKAGE of very limited landscaping which included some grass in front and just dirt and Ficus trees in the back. Because it can freeze here the Ficus trees froze solid during the cold winter 2 years ago. At that point Scott decided to take matters into his own hands. He did research to determine how to proceed, not wanting to make too many mistakes, he contacted the local master gardeners, a couple of nurseries and visited the Coachella Valley Water District headquarters because they have a demonstration garden with desert landscaping, complete with plants and description. He took pictures, made notes, contacted the University of Arizona who has some expertise in desert landscaping because their climate is similar to this climate. After doing his research he decided on native plants and tried to avoid the problems from the past.
Top

HIS FIRST OBJECTIVE IN THE BACKYARD was to put in a pool with a waterfall in the back and make that the focus when coming in from the front door then going to the backyard. He then wanted a landscape around that and wanted to create functional areas within the backyard area. And, he wanted to utilize desert landscaping. He was successful. There is a lot going on in a relatively small space.
Top

SCOTT STARTS THE TOUR IN AN AREA CLOSE TO THE HOUSE. He likes this area for several reasons. It breaks up the hardscapes - he has a lot of decking in this area - and it provides color. He planted some annuals, a small amount, thus the water use isn't much. In doing his research he discovered a term called "hydrozoning." With this concept one groups plants according to their water use. The higher water usage plants are closer to the house and as one moves away from the house the plants require less and less water as one goes out. This is an excellent way to conserve resources. In this case the "water hogs," the annuals, those with higher water and maintenance requirements are close to the house where there is easy access to water, then when working ones way to the back of the area the plants require less water.

Joe first notices a turf area. Yet he thought Scott was conserving water. Well, this is artificial. They've obviously gotten much better making this product. There is about 200 feet here, it's pet friendly, is obviously drought tolerant as well as pest and disease resistant. And it is located in a mini oasis just like the annuals. Scott also planted a tree here to provide shade.
Top

IN THE TRANSITION ZONE ARE PLANTS THAT REQUIRE A LITTLE LESS WATER. For example, he has utilized Justicia spicigera Mexican honeysuckle and Tecoma capensis 'Red' Cape honeysuckle. Both have great color and have bird friendly blooms.

Again, there are 3 zones. The mini oasis, like the annual bed, which is the highest water use and close to the house and the highest water use, then the transitional zone, after that it transitions to an area that for the most part can live with the water Mother Nature provides. He uses the same irrigation system just changes irrigation heads. He goes from the adjustable bubblers down to mini-micro lines and drip emitters. It's the same line, he just adjusts the flow rate with the heads and emitters.
Top

THE LAST ZONE IS THE ARID ZONE. It's the furthest from the house, on the outside with the most sun exposure. Here he's selected plants that require the least amount of water. One of his favorites is the Parkinson aculeata hybrid Palo Verde Desert Museum. In nature the only water they get is what Mother Nature provides, certainly no supplemental watering. Scott also has a Citrus x paradisi Grapefruit tree. It is loaded with beautiful fruit. This is a Ruby Red Grapefruit and has been very productive and a nice visual accent plant.
Top

JOE FEELS THE WHOLE BACKYARD IS A VISUAL ACCENT. When coming through the front door, then through the house, then through the French doors which open onto the patio it's stunning. And Scott has gotten over 100 people in this area and they didn't feel crowded because of the traffic flow. There are no dead ends. And there are rooms throughout. There is an area to cook and several different areas to congregate. It's an intimate feeling in a small space, yet feels very open.
Top

And, we haven't seen the front yard. THIS TOO WAS DIFFERENT WHEN SCOTT MOVED IN. Then it was all sod grass. Very plain, no features, high maintenance. Scott wanted to reduce the maintenance, thus reduced the sod and wanted to incorporate some interesting features but still wanted to utilize the hydrozoning. Thus selected plants that were native.
Top

STARTING CLOSEST TO THE HOUSE, thus, in the mini oasis zone he has planted some Rosa Roses and some Lantana montevidensis for color. When moving into the transition zone and then the arid zone he has different plants including different types of Palms and Cactus.
Top

THERE ARE SOME INTERESTING FEATURES BY THE STREET, which is the arid zone. Here Scott has planted the Mulga tree or Acacia anerua. It is drought tolerant, it's evergreen and has beautiful color. Next to that is the Pindo Palm which is another accent plant that's fiercely growing but very appropriate in this area. Scott has Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary shrubs. The herbs love this dry soil.
Top

SCOTT HAS ALSO DESIGNED A CREEK BED. This is consistent with desert views, one frequently sees the auroras of the dry creek beds. It makes a nice visual impact but more than that it's a very functional part of the landscaping, great for water conservation. Even though they're in a desert several years ago they had record rainfall. It rained a tremendous amount. With the creek bed the water doesn't just run off the property, it percolates down into the water table, not into the street and into the sewer system. Water always wants to go somewhere and goes to the lowest point. The dry creek bed helps retain the water on ones property. It not only looks great but provides an important function.
Nice job Scott. We've enjoyed our visit.
Top

BOTH HOMES IN THE PALM SPRINGS AREA WERE DIFFERENT BUT BOTH PROVIDED MANY GREAT GARDENING LESSONS NO MATTER WHERE ONE LIVES. One of the reasons Garden Smart travels across the country every week is to show our viewers, how gardeners across the country deal with challenges and their solutions. Most of the time those solutions can be applied no matter where we live. In this show we saw how the use of layering creates a naturalistic landscape and how important it was to utilize native plants as a way to minimize the use of natural resources and as a way to attract wildlife. Then at Scott's house, he introduced an important concept called hydrozoning - the grouping of certain plants based on their water needs. And he introduced us to dry creek beds, a wonderful way to retain water on your property, allowing it to be absorbed into the ground and into the ground water keeping it from running off your property. So, the only unique thing was the type of plants used. The solutions can be applied, no matter where you live. Two very different private gardens but both were doing some pretty important things to conserve natural resources. All provide food for thought for gardeners all across the country.
Top

LINKS:


   
 
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