It will be a year ago in May that we closed on our new home in Tucson. It was a move that we had considered for several years and when the housing market went crazy we knew it was time to go. We put our Colorado house of 22 years on the market and booked it down to Arizona. We went from a high-altitude semi-arid climate to a desert. Gardening is not the same!
Our home here in Tucson is a new build and the yard? A block of dirt. Not just any kind of dirt, but concrete-like dirt. A pick ax does not cut it here. A shovel? Forget it. Needless to say, when I planned out my new gardens I didn’t expect to have to use a drill to make a dent in the soil. I also knew nothing about planting a garden in the desert.
In Colorado I did pretty well with my flower beds and a tree or four. I had three flower beds, rescued a tree that started out under a fence, and a honeysuckle that grew to twenty five feet with a perfect crown. I’m not totally sure how I managed the perfect honeysuckle, but I think it had a lot to do with luck.
Years ago I lived in the Mojave desert so I knew what to expect from the heat but, back then I wasn’t much for planting anything. So, when we first arrived to this dirt patch I thought the best way to go about things is to plant rock gardens in one corner of our half acre lot. Then I went crazy at the nursey (Green Things is my favorite place).
I was soon busy drilling, hacking, pounding, and turning the horrible stuff they call dirt into something cactus could grow in. In a few short weeks, through 90-100 degree days, I had three gardens.
All went pretty smoothly until the winter months came – along with the gophers. It was a disaster. Tucson had an unusually cold winter this year and where we live is usually 3-4 degrees colder than the city. When the temperatures were hitting 35 degrees in town we were closer to 30. There were a couple of mornings that it dipped to 28.
I spent half the winter covering and uncovering the gardens. The Elephants Food was the first to freeze. It was a battle that I was determined to win so I just had to stay on top of the weather forecasts to be sure nothing else froze. Then came the snow. Three snow storms came through but I battled on. The Mangave was looking sad along with the Aloe, yet I knew I could stay ahead of the weather.
Then the gophers came. They killed the Fern Tree, ate the roots of an Arizona Rosewood, and started working on the gardens. That did me in. I threw in the towel, dug up everything that was still alive in the gardens, and moved them inside. One of my recycling bins turned into a holding box. Planter boxes I planned to donate were pulled out of storage. It was a fiasco.
Now it is spring time here in the desert. The temperatures are warming up and my recycling box/planter has been moved outside. The gardens? The one garden with the penstemons survived (they are hardy down to -10) so it will be joined by a couple of new penstemons. The other two? I haven’t decided what to do with them, but they certainly won’t have any Aloe in them.
This post brought to you by A to Z Blogging Challenge and the letter G.