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Once again, it’s time to show off what’s blooming in and around my casa. Let’s start with the pretty flowers outside:

Indoors, the Euphorbia milii plants are still blooming like crazy. Here’s Elise:

And Sweetie with more adorable blossoms:

Finally, my Chlorophytum comosum, Sue, keeps on blooming:

Thanks to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day around the 15thish of each month.

What’s blooming in your gardens?

I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here.

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Hello sugarskulls, and happy Monday!

Yesterday afternoon was the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade in Albuquerque’s South Valley. It’s also known as the Marigold parade, because in Mexico, Marigolds are known as Flor de Muerto, or flower of the dead. The flowers are thought to attract the souls of the dead to the offerings or comments that the living have left for them. Facilitators, those Marigolds.

I’d never been to the parade, despite years of hearing how awesome it was. I brought my camera along, because I thought you’d like to see a little flavor of New Mexico (and regular Mexico).

One quick housekeeping note, these photos are not in strict chronological order (although I tried to keep the sunset ones together so it wouldn’t be jarring to your senses), they are in my personal aesthetics order.

If there was ever a parade that screamed “community love,” it was this one. The vibe was so friendly and warm, despite the scary makeup and death theme. Here, take a look:

One aspect of the parade that surprised me was that it was very political. Albuquerque style politics. I’m not sure why it surprised me, since everyone was just looking out for their families and neighbors, but it did. I grouped the messages together (they were more spread out along the parade route):

You won’t see a scene like that in New York. It felt like a privilege to witness all these folks walking together with a purpose.

There aren’t a lot of one percenters living in the South Valley:

I have to admit, I got a little teary eyed at seeing all the families and community activists. It was so heartwarming.

It was great to see so many people coming together for their community. Even the animals were in on the fun:

Mommies and babies, too!

Hey, it’s Rose (and her son) and Mary! You ladies looked great!

The stroller float was a collection of tricked-out strollers. Adorable!

This was easily the most colorful parade I’d ever seen.

It wouldn’t be Albuquerque without the hot rods:

Everyone was showing off, it was very funny.

Yes we are!

Such a great event. I hope the photos gave those of you who live elsewhere a sense of what this community is like.

I took many messages from the event, but I think one of the most important ones is that life itself should be a celebration. It’s terrible to lose a loved one, but how lucky are we that we got to know that person at all? That we got to love that person. That we get to continue loving people. Life is precious, life is fleeting. Yesterday’s parade was an exercise in living in the moment, and it was glorious.

I’ll be back manana, hope to see you here.

Hey tacos, Happy Monday!

So I thought I’d take you with me on a trip to a cool place here in New Mexico. It’s near Cochiti Lake, which is north of Albuquerque but south and to the west of Santa Fe. It’s a National Monument because of the funky rock formations, which are called Tent Rocks but look more like cones, mostly anyway – they’re really varied.

Anyway, I was going to give you some history. Like how right before he left office, President Bill Clinton designated lots of pieces of wilderness as National Monuments and that this is one of them. And that he also bought for the American people that which is now the Valle Caldera Nature Preserve – a stunning 95,000ish acres of land also right here in New Mexico.

But I didn’t want to invite any political discussions.

Then I was going to talk about how the rocks were made 6 or 7 million years ago when the volcanoes exploded and spewed pumice and ash everywhere. Wind and water (New Mexico was once underwater), and erosion, formed the rock formations we see today.

But I didn’t want to invite any batshit crazy discussions about how God put the Tent Rocks there 6,000 years ago to fool us.

My handful of regular readers are smart, they’re adorable, and they love Nature. So I can’t see any of them wanting to debate politics or evolution, and if they did, they’d be polite about it, and open to actual discussion (rather than trying to force one’s opinions down someone else’s throat).

But sometimes I worry about newcomers. What if they’re one of *those* people and decide to tell me I’m going to straight to hell? I find that unkind.

So as a preemptive strike, I’m just going to post a bunch of pretty photos without commentary. You make your own conclusions how or why these became National Monuments.

One quick note, I did not make any changes to the colors of these photos. The sky in New Mexico is almost always a delicious blue, but the sky in the mountains, particularly that day, the day after Thanksgiving, well, it looked just like it does in the photos. The variations depended on high we were (the photos are not in chronological order because I think they are more interesting that way).

Ok, a little commentary, because I can’t keep my mouth shut for more than about 5 seconds. This is the view the other direction, those are the Sandia Mountains off in the distance:

A cave where an ancestor stayed. You can see the soot from fire on the roof:

Some people say that rocks used to be sacred. Now we call people “dumb as rocks” as an insult.

We don’t have plants in the house because they clean the air. We have plants in the house to remind us that we’re a part of Nature. We’re interlocked, biologically, humans are animals.

Instead of embracing that, we collect rocks and seashells. Diamonds and pearls. We bring plants inside. We tell ourselves it’s important for the clean air, but that’s missing the point. We miss Nature.

For this last picture, I was going to make some cutesy remark about how I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. But that’s ridiculous. I know where I’ve been, and I know where I’m not going, and that’s plenty good enough for me.

I may not know exactly where I’m going, but I have a pretty good sense of it.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be back with another post manana, so I hope to see you here.

Cochiti Lake, NM

I’m very amused by this road. Each time I drive it, I’m like “oh no, here we go, off the edge of the wooooooooorld.” Haha, yes, I’m easily amused. And a little weird.

Hi petunias, and happy Tuesday. Welcome back to the Good To Grow site, and thanks for being here!

Remember when I took you on a secret tour of Kitty’s farm? And when I snuck my camera into Tiffany’s apartment while she was out of town?

Heh, heh, well, a few weeks ago, I went to visit Mom at her house in Cochiti Lake, New Mexico. That’s just under an hour north of Albuquerque, not quite as far north as Santa Fe. She’s an EMT and when I arrived, she was out on an ambulance call.

So I had some fun while she was gone. You see, no one is safe when I have my camera!

I took photos of some of my favorite things around her house. Starting with where it’s located, near the water:

The town of Cochiti Lake is located at the base of the Jemez Mountains. It’s gorgeous country:

I had the whole house to myself, so I wandered around looking at her beautiful landscaping. So many things were blooming, like this butterfly bush:

And the potentilla:

She’s got some great ornamental grasses as well, although I don’t know the specific name of them (sorry, I’m really bad with grass names):

Her yard is so colorful. Here’s her cherry sage:

Which looks nice near the red trim of the house:

I’m not a huge fan of hollyhocks, but they sure are cheerful looking flowers:

The mint is growing like crazy:

As is the honeysuckle in the back yard:

I love the smell of honeysuckle! It lines the wall in back of the house, so it smells divine back there.

Inside, there are lots of beautiful things I love. Like this pothos with giant leaves:

She’s got quite the green thumb. She has a variety of succulents that are so adorable:

My favorite things aren’t limited to the plants. I love her new clock:

I love her crowded windowsills:

She has the most adorable butter dish:

There’s so much artwork that I love, but in particular, this painting by Scott Momaday paired with this exquisite lamp makes me happy:

I love everything about these curtains:

Also a favorite, the barn swallows that have nests in the front of the house and the back. Here are the babies:

Every time my camera clicked, they shot up and screamed for food. Which was hilarious for me, but not so much for the nervous parents who seemed plenty annoyed at me:

I’m sure they were happy when I finished teasing the babies.

Of course, my favorite thing about Mom’s house is Mom, so I was happy when she returned from the ambulance and we could have lunch.

On my way back to Albuquerque, a huge storm developed over the town of Cochiti Lake. I took this photo on the drive home:

That’s why her garden is so lush – they get lots of rain in the mountains.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my favorite things about Mom’s house. She’s got great taste and a green thumb, and hopefully a good sense of humor about being surprised in a blog post. I love you, Mom! Thanks for letting me show off your stuff! Haha, not that you had much choice!

I’ll be back manana, until then, happy gardening!

Hi watermelon slices, and happy Tuesday!

Every once in awhile, I get out and go do something fun. Recently, I stayed at a cabin in Pecos, New Mexico. That’s about an hour northeast of Santa Fe, and it was gorgeous.

I hope you’ll come along as I show you what a beautiful state New Mexico is!

Wherever this road is going, I’m following. I took a walk with my camera, looking for wildflowers. They were everywhere.

Pecos itself is a village, with the Pecos River running through it, in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. It doesn’t feel like the desert when you’re at 7,000 feet. It also doesn’t feel like a village when you’re out in the woods.

It was a beautiful morning for a walk.

According to the village’s website, Pecos was a gateway town, used by Indian tribes and Spanish settlers, to get into Santa Fe and the Southern Rocky Mountains from the Great Plain states. It’s located on the Santa Fe Trail.

That New Mexico sky still kills me every time I see it. The Ponderosa Pines smelled like Northern Wisconsin though. (That’s a good thing.)

The village’s website also says, “Pecos is a place of senses for people who value their sense of place.”

I suppose that’s pretty accurate.

Ah, water my friend. It’s been too long since I’ve heard you rush like that.

Pecos has an average annual rainfall of 14 inches, snowfall is 32 inches. Albuquerque’s average rain is just under 10 inches per year. Obviously, Pecos wins.

The morning light makes everything look more adorable, doesn’t it?

Wild red raspberries. They were tiny, but delicious.

Our gracious host, Molly, in a war with a stubborn fish.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks dead trees look cool. I mean, I prefer living trees, of course. But dead trees have a beauty about them, too.

I can’t walk by a field of wildflowers and not take a photo. Especially in the morning.

I’m fairly useless when it comes to identifying wildflower names. This pretty pink plant reminded me of Indian Paintbrush, but it’s the wrong color and shape (so I’m not sure why it reminded me, but oh well). There were lots of the orange Paintbrushes, but I couldn’t get a decent shot of any of them.

I haven’t seen moss in ages!

We took an “eco-walk” later in the day, meaning, we picked up other peoples’ trash. Littering is my number one pet peeve, so the guys who initiated this walk are my new heroes. Thanks, guys!

Oh, where did my blue sky go? I guess Mother Nature needed to underscore how those fields of wildflowers got there.

On the way out of the woods, just to give you an idea of the landscape from the village.

I took about 8,000 photos of the flowers and plants in the mountains. You’re welcome for not sharing all of them. I hope you enjoyed the ones I picked.

I’ll be back manana, see you then!

Hi raspberries, and happy Tuesday!

Today I’d like to show you how a certain small town celebrated America’s birthday on Sunday. The town is Cochiti Lake, New Mexico. That’s where my Mom lives. It’s got about 400 residents. It’s north of Albuquerque but south of Santa Fe, at the base of the Jemez Mountains.

I’ll warn you: The following shots of the parade are themselves a parade of adorable small town Americana. If you’re grouchy, prepare to smile.

Haha, see, I told you – you’re smiling already, aren’t you? I know, it’s cute. I was riding in the lead fire truck.

This young man, Casey, had a grand time.

Uh-oh. One minute, you’re riding a bicycle built for two, the next minute, the back tire is shaped like a hexagon. I have no idea how that happened. We offered them a ride, but they declined.

Seriously, this made me laugh out loud. Someone was like, “I know, I’ll cover this wire garden trellis with patriotic paper plates, and it’ll look gorgeous.”

So, the parade started at town hall, and snaked through the little town (on roads with names like “Hoochaneesta Blvd”), then returned to town hall. The funny thing about the parade was that most everyone was already down at town hall when the parade began – we saw only a handful of people on the actual parade route. Those people got showered with candy.

Here we are at the end of the parade. That’s my brother making lots of noise behind the wheel.

I hopped out with my camera, they continued joyriding.

Who doesn’t love a hayride? I mean, other than people allergic to hay, that is.

This was funny – in their quest to get the most candy, the kids were oblivious to the gigantic trucks rolling by them. Luckily for everyone, the drivers were paying attention.

After the parade, there was a feast and live music. And a fairly frightening clown from Santa Fe. I’m not including any photos of her.

My thought on grills: The bigger, the better. As long as I don’t have to clean it. Ever.

I wonder if the tree felt ridiculous all dolled up like that. Or if she felt beautiful for the first time since Christmas.

Hahaha, people pouring out of the fire truck like it was a clown car. That cracked me up. Then, I’m easily amused.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. I’ll be back manana with another edition of the Plant Lady Chronicles. Until then, happy gardening!

Hi farm bread slices, and happy Wednesday. Thanks for being here, and welcome back.

Today I’m going to take you behind the scenes of my small plant care business, Good To Grow. The assignment? Pick out and plant flowers for the patio of a new client, Horse & Angel Tavern, here in Albuquerque. Haha – I know, I have such a rough life, planting flowers for a living.

I was lucky enough to have this account transferred to me by the lovely Shauna, who’s been the able steward of the flowers for the last few years. I was determined to do her proud.

I started by visiting my local Mom-n-Pop nursery, Corrales Road Greenhouse.

The best part of this job is that I began with a blank slate. I could pick out anything I wanted. The manager trusted me to pick out colors that would appeal to a broad swath of people, as opposed to say, using all pink flowers, but other than that, he had no specific flowers in mind.

This is what happened when I tried to get artsy in a plant nursery. Haha. My creative juices were flowing all over the place.

The patio had posts holding 14 baskets¹, 12 of which were grouped in threes. My plan was to pick out three colors that worked well together, and repeat them four times. Then for the odd two, I’d pick out a completely different color.

I started with the red Verbena (Lanai Dark Red Vervain), because everyone loves Verbena, right?

Then I added white Daisies and a Calibrachoa hybrid, Superbells Tequila Sunrise.

Nice, huh? I know, I’m proud. Honestly, when you have so many beautiful plants from which to choose, you can hardly screw it up.

I picked out two different purple Petunia baskets for the post with spots for only two baskets. Because everyone loves purple, right?

Hahaha, you wouldn’t believe how great it smelled on the 20-minute drive from the nursery to the tavern.

Ah, my canvas, Horse & Angel Tavern. Juan Tabo at Eubank.

All the baskets were already set up with irrigation. My job was to empty the old dirt and plant the new flowers in the baskets. It wasn’t the ideal day to do this, as the winds were gusting up to 30o miles per hour.

Each of the baskets I bought from Corrales Road Greenhouse was in a grower’s pot. I removed them, then broke up the roots:

You’re not going to hurt the plant by trimming its roots – think of it as a haircut.

I planted the flowers into the basket and added lots of soil, pressing down so I could pack as much soil in the basket as possible. Using my ladder, I hung them all.

As I said, it was really windy that day. I have a thousand pictures like this – poor flowers!

I did manage to capture a few photos that weren’t terrible.

My plan was to go back and get some better photos when it wasn’t windy. But it hasn’t not been windy since then. I’ll be checking on these flowers and deadheading them (pulling off the spent flowers) once a week, so I’m confident I can get better photos when the Spring winds are gone. If the *^%$#@ winds ever go away.

I hope you enjoyed this look at a day in the life of a small plant care business. It was a lot of fun for me to plant the flowers, and share the process with you here. Thanks Shauna, for passing the torch.

My dear friend Lynda suggested that I give some basics for houseplant novices like herself, so tomorrow I’ll return to my Plants 101 series. Then Friday, it’s another edition of Ask the Experts – there’s still time to vote on the plant puzzler. Hope to see you back here soon. Until then, happy gardening!

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¹ When I initially scoped out the patio, I counted 14 baskets that needed to be planted. Four groups of three, and one of two. It wasn’t until I showed up with the flowers that I realized it was supposed to be five groups of three. Duh. One basket was missing. So the purple Petunias don’t match the rest, but it’s ok, because everyone does love purple.

Hello my Iris blossoms, and happy Thursday.

Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, as started by Carol over at May Dreams Gardens. Today is all about pretty photos. Garden photos, photos of fresh flower bouquets, flowers in different light and with different backgrounds.

The same Iris, a few hours later. I really love playing with the light, and seeing how it affects the photos.

Different backgrounds make such a difference.

Blue Flax in the morning light.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another special edition of Ask the Experts. I’ll also reveal the answer to last week’s plant puzzler, in which I asked:

What’s wrong with this plant? You still have time to leaves your best guess in the comments section. There are no prizes for winning – duh – but the winner gets glory, bragging rights, and my gratitude for playing. I hope to see you back here tomorrow. Until then, happy gardening everyone!

Hello my little succulents out there, and happy Wednesday. Welcome to the Good to Grow plant blog, and thank you for being here.

As most of you know, I have a small plant care business (Good to Grow) here in Albuquerque. I take care of plants at offices and homes around town. I love it – I have a flexible schedule, my clients are fantastic, and the plants don’t talk back.

Usually, the job runs smoothly and there’s not much to it, other than being attentive to the plants’ needs (watering, fertilizing, dusting, pruning, soothing, cajoling, cheerleading). Sometimes, though, the plants present me with a problem that needs to be solved.

Like in the case of the cacti growing at the local television station.

I inherited this account a few years ago. One of the first things I noticed when I took over the care was the a few of the cacti were just about to hit the ceiling. Hmmm, I remember thinking, I wonder what will happen if those do hit the ceiling.

I was very interested to find out, so I left them alone (well, I kept watering and fertilizing, but I didn’t do any pruning). Turns out, they began growing sideways when they hit the ceiling. Cool! Well, not cool, because it can’t be particularly healthy for the cacti, but it was so cool for me to watch! I was fascinated – plants are amazing, aren’t they? It’s like the cactus said to itself, “that stupid ceiling isn’t going to stop me from growing!” Wow!

When one of the cacti fell over from its own weight, I knew I couldn’t let my experiment continue. It wasn’t fair of me to compromise the health of the plant just because I was curious to see what would happen.¹ It was time for me to get help.

That’s when I called my great friend Tina. You might recognize Tina from our Friday Ask the Experts panel. Here she is:

She’s so cute with her sunflower head! Tina also has a small plant business here in Albuquerque. I called her and told her I had some crazy cacti that had grown so big that they were growing sideways along the ceiling. I’ve never cut a cactus of that size before, and I definitely didn’t have the tools for it, so I asked if she could help. I was in over my head!

I brought her to the television station and showed her the cacti. Now, she’s never cut cacti of this size before either, but she did have tools – an electric saw being the most important.

So together, we set out to overhaul the atrium. The first step was to cut chunks of cacti off, then clean up the tangled mess of Euphorbias that had grown together while I was fixated on the other plants. There was also a huge Aloe in the atrium that had birthed dozens of babies – we had to separate those out as well.

I would’ve liked to photograph the actual cutting of these monsters, but I couldn’t because as she held the electric saw, I held the top of the cactus – HEAVY! I used a ladder to reach the tops as she cut away.

After each piece was cut, we used paper towels to soak up the goo oozing from the cactus. And believe me, there is a lot of goo. We were very careful to avoid getting any of the sap on our clothes or hands – it can be very toxic to skin and it will stain clothes.

I was amazed by how each cut cactus looked. I think this one is beautiful – a perfect star. Gooey, yes, but such a gorgeous shape!

I never liked geometry in high school, but these cacti have me loving it. How come Mr. Rehm couldn’t have made geometry this interesting in class? I don’t remember the last time I was so enthralled by a square. A square!

We made lots more cuts, using lots more paper towels to soak the goo. We also untangled the huge Aloe plant in the atrium and separated out several pieces. Most of those I transplanted into other containers. One big one we replanted in the middle of the atrium.

None of the pieces that were cut off went to waste. After a few days, the fresh cuts scarred over and I was able to plant them straight into the dirt – they didn’t need to root or anything.

This is what the atrium looked like yesterday. There is still much work to be done. The cactus on the right that is leaning against the wall will be staked to stand up straight, as will the Euphorbia on the left. Still, it’s so much healthier than it was a week ago.

Sadly, the electric saw was traumatic for the plants. When I checked on the atrium yesterday, three big branches had broken off in the days since our work. They couldn’t handle the jolting and shaking the saw caused.

I was fascinated to see the interior of the branch, but I felt badly for the cactus. I wouldn’t like it if one of my arms fell off! Especially with such a brutal tear and not a clean slice that comes with a blade.

I made a clean slice and set the branch aside. In a few days after it scars over, I’ll plant it in the atrium next to its parent cactus.

I love shiny things, so of course, I had to throw some colored glass around the ground to brighten up the atrium. Not that anyone but me will notice.

Whenever there is a big job like this, you can’t expect to complete it in one fell swoop. We didn’t want to chop the cacti down into little pieces – that would’ve been even more traumatic. Baby steps! I’ll be working on this atrium for weeks to come, but the hardest part is done. The cacti can breathe a sigh of relief – there are no saws in sight. Hopefully they can spend all of their energy putting new growth where the cuts were made.

I’ll keep a close eye and camera on this atrium in the coming months, and will show you how resilient plants are – there will be a ton of new growth in here. I’m excited for them – they can stretch and grow to their hearts’ content.

Have you ever cared for a plant that got too big for its own good? If so, what did you do? I hope you were as lucky as me to have a good friend you can call for help. Thanks again for your help, Tina! You rock!

Tomorrow is garden bloom day, so I’ll be back with lots of pretty pictures (yay, Spring!). Until then, happy gardening everyone!

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¹ Is it professional of me to let a couple of cacti hit the ceiling in the spirit of experimentation? No, not really. But quite frankly, I knew I could get away with it. No one pays any attention to this atrium. Sure, it’s next to the front door, but it may as well be invisible. Most employees use the back door, and the ones who do use the front door ignore the atrium. Now if I experimented with a plant in one of the offices, and that plant got say, one yellow leaf, I’d be told about it by 20 different employees: “This plant is DYING,” “Ohmigosh, you have to see this plant – it looks TERRIBLE,” “There’s something wrong with this plant – you have to HURRY and help it!” But some cacti hitting the ceiling in an atrium – not a peep from anyone. Go figure.

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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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