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This past summer has been brutal in Phoenix! It shows in my patio garden. Here are a few photos of the carnage:

What a mess! Overgrown yellow bells. Almost dead Morning Glories. Summer annuals limping along.

I could gloss over the ugly garden and pretend like it doesn’t exist. But this isn’t Instagram. I think it’s important for people to know that no matter what your skill level is, gardens sometimes look like this. Especially at the end of a very hot, very dry summer. There’s no shame in that.

Still, it’s time to clean it up and plant for the new season. The weather is finally beginning to cool down. I can be outside for more than two minutes without being overcome by the oppressive heat. In the evenings, it’s lovely! My first task was to clear out the summer growth to make room for my fall plantings.

I cleared away the remains of the Morning Glories, and cut the Tecoma bells way back. Then I added a layer of soil to the bed.

I also cleared the summer annuals:

(I left the sunflower because I want to collect the seeds.)

Once the beds were cleared, the plan shifted to veggies. I decided to dedicate the big bed on the patio to only vegetables, with the side ones having both herbs and flowers. In a few weeks, I’ll add new annuals to my containers in front of the house.

For now, it’s beets, carrots and radishes, all from seeds. I’m also trying red onions, which may not have time to mature before it gets cold, but I’m giving it a shot.

I like to use string to help me “stay in the lines.” It’s not an exact science, haha! Besides the seeds, I also added one small tomato plant, an early ripening variety, and a strawberry plant.

It’s not much, but this garden makes me very happy.

What about you? Have you planted a fall/winter garden yet?

Heyyyyyy, look who it is!

This is Dottie and me on her 93rd birthday last August. She looks amazing, doesn’t she?

Today, she’s doing ok but not great. She’s been in and out of the hospital the last few months. She’s struggling to keep her body in shape – it’s hard to make it cooperate at her age. Her mind is still sharp as a chef’s knife, and her sense of humor is unrivaled. But dang, that old body of hers is giving her fits.

I thought now would be a great opportunity for you to send her well wishes and hellos. Leave a comment for her, and I’ll pass it along. I’m sure she would appreciate knowing what she’s meant to you.

Let’s review a few key aspects: She volunteered for the Red Cross Disaster Services for 50 years. 50 years! They don’t even have a pin for that, because no one has ever served that long. She grew victory gardens during WW2, and learned to weld to make up for the shortage of available men during that time. She worked her whole adult life. She gave birth to six children. She’s proudly Irish and unmistakably charismatic. She makes people laugh so hard that they almost pee their pants. She’s smart, and has been taking classes her whole life to be even smarter. And she’s kind. She told me that everyone deserves respect, and she’s absolutely correct about that. She also served as one of our favorite Experts in my “Ask the Experts” column on this blog every Friday for years.

This lady is one of a kind. Let’s let her know how much we love her. She’ll say thanks back, so I’ll say it now for her: Thank you!

I love you, Dottie!

Hey, look who’s alive and kicking, and definitely hasn’t croaked yet, haha. It’s our beloved National Treasure, Dottie.

Dottie and me, Good To Grow, Liza's photos

92. Can you believe it? She barely can! Still wearing purple, because it’s an awesome color.

We both live in Arizona, and during her birthday party yesterday (her birthday was Tuesday), we learned that Arizona Senator John McCain passed.

I didn’t agree politically with McCain on most subjects. But he was an honorable man in the sense that he was American first and foremost.  A veteran, a war hero, a father, a brother, a Patriot, he fought for our freedom. He mentored newcomers in Washington despite differences of opinions. He could agree to disagree with people without hating them. He seems to be the last of that breed, and that is heartbreaking to me.

I’ve been very upset about the divisiveness in America. It’s frustrating. It’s not helpful. It’s distracting from the genuine problems we face as a country and as humans.

We’re Americans. We should hold ourselves to a higher standard than everyone else. McCain did that. Dottie continues to do that. It’s all about doing what’s right.

What’s right? Making sure everyone has clean water to drink and clean air to breathe. Clean oceans to enjoy. National parks to marvel. Not treating women as property. A living wage, food on the table. A fulfilling job. An honest wage for an honest day’s work. Not going bankrupt because of medical costs. Not being homeless. Kindness. Compassion. Family. Friends. Fun and playfulness. Appreciation and awe for Nature and this planet. Love of animals and birds and the stars and sky. Sunrises and sunsets.

We are so lucky!

But sometimes it’s hard to feel lucky. When we’re stressed, when we’re depressed, when we’re emotional. When we’re pushed down again and again. When we’re human. When we work so hard for seemingly nothing.

And when we have people addicted to power trying to strip all of those qualities from us to pad their own wallets and egos. I’m sick of it.

You folks, my friends, my dear people, I want to reach out to every single one of you and ask, what do we do to fix these problems we face? I personally have no idea. It’s complex and befuddling. I’m just one person, a white girl from Indiana – what can I possibly do to make the world a better place?

I think the answer is to showcase people like Dottie and others who are much smarter than I am.

Dottie has dedicated her entire life to making the world a better place. I want to be just like her.

There are others on the same mission. It’s Sunday. Football day. And there will be controversies. Here is one man’s response to a valid concern that many Americans have about black athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem.

This is Beto O’Rourke of Texas:

Sorry for the ads, I don’t know how to avoid them.

He is thoughtful and considerate. I respect that.

I’m privileged by being born in America with the correct color skin. Many of my friends don’t understand the plight of everyone else, or care, or think about it. Some of them do care and they are as frustrated as I am.

One man cannot solve these complex problems. It’s going to take all of us, voicing our opinions without fear of hatred and death threats.

Don’t believe the hype, don’t believe the lies. We are Americans. And we are good. There is no need to make America great again. We’re already great.

We can do better and we will. I believe that.

Thank you.

 

I planted this little cutie at work today and it made me happy for multiple reasons.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Gazania flower

For one, I’m planting flowers in late October, because that’s life in Phoenix, Arizona. Another reason is that it’s such a cheerful flower – I love Gazanias! So cute!

Also, most importantly, Gazanias remind me of mr_subjunctive at Plants Are the Strangest People, because they are the official celebratory flower of that blog. I like thinking about mr_s, and I realized it’s been too long since I blogged myself or read other people’s blogs.

So thanks, little flower, for reminding me that it feels good to share the plant love.

…hear it for baby leaves. They’re amazing, right?

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, baby leaves are adorable

Grow, baby, grow!

You’re the most adorable thing I’ve seen all day! (Even cuter than the baby quails I saw today. Although it was close – baby quails are super sweet.)

Please say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our beloved Expert Dottie, who officially became a nonagenarian today.

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90 years old is an impressive feat. To do it with style and grace is extraordinary. Happy birthday Dottie! We love you!

(photos courtesy of Cindy Correll)

 

…certain plants in the garden, you should know their reproductive habits. Take Sage for example. Before you plant, you should find out how much Sage throws itself around the yard.

When I moved into this house, there was one Sage plant that a previous resident had planted. Since then, that one plant has multiplied. Quite a bit. Now that it is blooming, it’s easy to spot the babies.

Look at how many there are!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

Here’s a Sage:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

There’s a Sage:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

Everywhere a Sage, Sage:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage is prolific

I voted to pull them, my landlady voted to keep them. And so, this is one large family of Sage.

I guess I should be grateful it’s not Chamisa.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Sage galore

Do you have plants in your garden that are as prolific as my Sage? If you feel like sharing your experiences, please do so in the comments section.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be taking a break from the blog as I’m going to be traveling. I’ve taken some random photos around Albuquerque and I’ve scheduled to post one per day while I’m gone. Another blogcation. Feel free to comment on the photos – I’ll still be connected while I’m away from the Duke City. I’ll catch you on the flipside!

At the risk of making my readers on the East Coast unhappy, I’m going to show off photos from my recent trip to Puerto Rico. It was snowing in Albuquerque while I was on the island, so I understand if some of you want to punch me right now.

We started the trip in Old San Juan, exploring adorable streets like this one:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Buildings were colorful, the people very laid back.

Another typical street:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

We made our way to El Morro, an old fort on the tip of the island. There was a cool cemetery there.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

This is the view from the fort:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

And looking the other direction:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Strangely, this is the only photo I got of the actual fort:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination.

After exploring San Juan for a day, we boarded a tiny plane for two days on Culebra Island. It was a 30 minute flight. The pilot flew along the shore so I could take photos.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

This is the island of Culebra:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Coming in for a landing!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

It was a little dicey there at the end, but overall I loved that little plane ride.

Our hotel:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

The view from the hotel was lovely, a nice little bay:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

I didn’t take a lot of photos those couple of days…mostly because we were doing island things, like snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles.

But on our last day there, before boarding our flight, we drove the golf cart all over (the island is only seven miles long), and I brought my camera along for that.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

This was my favorite beach, Zoni – it was so beautiful, and a sea turtle nesting site:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

This was a view from the golf cart as we were leaving Zoni Beach:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Check out this incredible Bougainvillea hedge:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

It went on forever:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

Oh wait, I did get a photo of the fort, from the air on the way back to the main island:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

And now the plant portion of this blog post.

As you can imagine, there were lots of plants that I was unfamiliar with, and lots of plants that I recognized but couldn’t believe they were growing the way they were growing.

Like I’d never seen Fiddle Leaf Figs (Ficus lyrata) growing in the wild (I’ve only ever seen them as houseplants):

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacation getaway

I saw lots of plants growing outdoors that I’d only previously seen as indoor plants. Like these Tradescantia plants:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

And this Dracaena marginata:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Is this a Pothos (Epipremnum) growing outside?

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

So cool!

I wouldn’t have guessed these Dracaena reflexa ‘Song of India’ plants would be fine growing outdoors either, but there they were, happy as anything:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

And now, a few random island pics that I just found on my phone:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

And finally, before I go, a quick story. Before leaving the island of Culebra, we were eating lunch at Zaco’s Tacos. They had an upper patio, and a lower one – we were sitting on the upper patio. We were minding our own business, when suddenly we heard a big ruckus, followed by a waitress’s bloodcurdling scream.

Turned out, an iguana fell out of a tree, landed on the slanted roof, then slid off and landed with a thud on the lower patio, a couple of feet from the terrified waitress.

Lemme tell ya, nothing brings an entire restaurant together like an iguana falling from the sky.

He was quickly surrounded by cell phone cameras.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, vacay photos

He was unharmed, but no one could give him his dignity back.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, plant pride

I hereby decree Damianita daisy to be the Unconquerable Queen of All Downtrodden Places Forever and Always.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, silly flowers growing in a sidewalk

Your Honor, I salute you!

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.

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