Saturday, April 23, 2011

Create a Container Water Garden

Written by:

Maybe you've dreamed of having your own water garden but prefer to dip your toes into this wonderful gardening hobby before diving in head first. Let these photos inspire you to create some fascinating container water gardens.

A small brass leaf drips water into this orange pot nestled in between striking coneflowers.

Old washtubs rescued from the garden shed take on new life when a little water and pretty aquatic plants are added.

Beautiful waterlilies pop out from this ceramic cobalt blue bowl.

A copper pot provides a sturdy home for dainty water lettuce, creeping jenny and waterlilies.

A large, blue urn is the perfect foil against the weathered, brick patio. Aquatic plants rise from the stately urn while annuals dance in the wind in their soil-filled terra cotta pots.

Even if you already have a large water garden in your yard, you can still enjoy the simple beauty that a container water garden provides.

A container water garden can be a small investment. This small planter sports a few water lettuce. Quaint and simple fills the bill for this cottage garden.

Stately Taro stand at attention in this concrete urn, welcoming visitors to the backyard.

A plain, terra cotta pot gets dressed up with some moss and a decorative globe. A small, underground reservoir catches the dripping water and is pumped back up through the pot to repeat its cycle.

What type of container water garden will you create?

This blog was originally from:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Master Gardeners Help with Desert Gardening

Land Lovers: Grow How

Help with your desert garden is just an email or phone call away

Staff Writer
Maricopa Monitor
TriValley Central

Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 9:20 AM MST
Meet University of Arizona Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners - I think it helps our business that people, falsely or truly, think we might know what we are talking about.” - Phil Bond
Adele Wolyn had lived 50 years in the San Francisco Bay area and thought people in Arizona grew nothing but cactus.

Hugh Meier had been a gardener and landscaper in New York and New Hampshire.

Phil Bond had been an agriculture teacher and FFA sponsor for 13 years in Coolidge.

Now they — and 55 others — are master gardeners with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, helping other residents with Sonoran Desert gardening and landscape problems.

“Master gardeners are absolutely critical to the long-term viability of our gardens and landscapes in Pinal County,” said County Extension Director Rick Gibson.

“The reason I say that is because since 2000 our population has doubled in the county, and I’m just one person. What I did in 1981, I simply cannot do today. I’ve got tremendous amounts of emails and phone calls and samples that come in. The only way I can even begin to stay up is because these volunteers provide the services that they do.”

Gibson said master gardeners volunteered 5,656 hours of service in 2010. He estimates the value of their assistance at more than $100,000 last year.

Anyone can call the Master Gardener Hotline at 836-5221, ext. 204, and speak to a master gardener, if one is in the office, or leave a recorded message to be answered when someone returns. There is no charge, and free printed materials are available.

Meet University of Arizona Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners - "When they call us master gardeners, I feel like I’m anything but. All I wanted to do was learn enough not to kill too many things.” - Adele Wolyn

Retired art teacher Meier said the extension office is a nice place to volunteer.

“The atmosphere is great,” he said. “The people are friendly and helpful.”

He started gardening when he was a child in Plainview, N.Y., on Long Island. He worked on farms and nurseries, landscaped and groomed yards, even raised Christmas trees in New Hampshire — but he had no experience with desert gardening until he moved to Casa Grande.

“I had a garden, and I loved to garden,” he said, “and well, we kind of gave that up when we hit the road.”

After retiring as an art teacher, Meier and his wife, Norma, left their home in New Hampshire to travel. That’s how they found Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort.

“And we kept coming back each winter,” he said, “and we decided, ‘Well, we like it here.’ We ... decided to get a park model, so we could have a little more elbow room.”

Meier heard about the Master Gardener program during a presentation at the Casa Grande Public Library and took the Gardening & Landscape Short Course in 2005.

Gardening in the Sonoran Desert is so different than gardening in New York or New Hampshire, he said. Even the soil is different.

Meet University of Arizona Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners - "I look at it as a continuing education for myself. When I’m looking for something for someone else, I’m learning.” - Hugh Meier

“In New York and New Hampshire, the soil is so rich,” he said. “In Plainview, we had a foot of black topsoil, and it was well filtered, clay and sand underneath it. It was beautiful. ... You could practically drop a seed, and it would grow — and of course, we had rain.”

Spring temperatures are more extreme in Casa Grande, too, he said.

“Sometimes it’s too cold to get seeds to grow and then of course, you are limited as to how long into the season you can grow because of the heat.”

Meier deals with the short springs by starting his tomatoes in January, surrounding them with water-filled plastic “teepees” that warm in the sunlight and release their warmth at night.

His vegetable garden is five plastic EarthBox patio container gardens, each 14 inches wide, 30 inches long and 12 inches high with 4 inches of water in the bottom. A grid keeps the soil out of the water but allows roots to grow into it.

“We’ve grown basil,” Meier said. “This year I’ve got cucumbers and zucchini, and I had peas. I’ve got radishes and beets and carrots and herbs. ... It gives me a chance to have my little garden here.”

Meier is one of the people who answer questions at the Cooperative Extension. If he doesn’t know an answer, he looks it up.

“I look at it as a continuing education for myself,” he said. “When I’m looking for something for someone else, I’m learning.”

Sometimes the questions are amusing, he added.

A man had a palm tree that provided very nice shade but was growing too tall. He asked if he could cut the top off. (No!)

A woman said all her plants were turning brown and the leaves were falling off. Meier asked how she watered them.

“Well, someone told me I don’t have to water here in the winter,” she said. (Not true!)

‘Good learning process’

Wolyn, who lives in Eloy’s Robson Ranch, took the short course in 2007.

“I happened to see the article in the newspaper, and I thought: ‘Well, I don’t know anything about desert gardening or cactus.’ So I thought it would be a good idea to take the class.’”

The course seemed expensive, she said, until she learned that it lasted for 12 weeks.

“The class is in essence free,” she said. “You are paying for the materials, and they hope that you will volunteer some time.”

When the course was over, she realized she had just scratched the surface when it came to desert gardening and landscaping.

“Now you know how much you really don’t know,” she said. “It’s an ongoing thing. When they call us master gardeners, I feel like I’m anything but. All I wanted to do was learn enough not to kill too many things.”

But the class and volunteer work have been fascinating, she said, because the growing season is so different in Pinal County. If people plant by the schedules they used in other parts of the country, “they are not going to have very good success.”

Wolyn also volunteers in the extension office in Casa Grande.

“I thought it was a good way to kind of get to know the community and get to know some of the people here rather than just sort of isolating myself out there. I really enjoy it. So I go in every Wednesday morning and help with whatever kinds of things they need.”

She works on the monthly newsletter, helps with information booths at community events and assembles information packets for newcomers and some about specific gardening and landscape topics.

“Rick Gibson runs an article every week and tells people to call if they have questions,” she said. “And they do.”

People also bring plant samples or insects to the extension office for identification.

“So it’s a real good learning process for us.”

One caller said her bougainvillea had strings hanging in it.

“So I went over there and, sure enough, she had these two gorgeous bougainvillea, and one had all these things hanging like strings in it. So I brought a piece back and learned it’s dodder [a plant parasite]. I’d never seen it before. Well, she had it, and she had to try to remove it all by hand and keep removing pieces and branches to get rid of it.”

Nursery owner, Bond, was in the first Garden & Landscape Short Course taught in Pinal County in 1982.

Today he is owner of the Avocado Nursery near Signal Peak. He started the nursery after taking the short course and is still active in the Master Gardener program. He even teaches the short course class on Sonoran Desert plants.

“The program that the University of Arizona offers is just amazing,” Bond said. “It’s serves many, many functions through the extension agency. It’s a very, very service oriented organization.”

Bond said the course covers many areas in a short time, and its guest speakers are knowledgeable in their fields.

“You might have to take 12 college classes to equal what they do with their 12 meetings, because each one is so specialized.”

Sometimes calls to the extension office are forwarded to Bond’s nursery.

A woman’s 18-foot saguaro had toppled over after a rain. He told her to replant it at the same depth and brace it with 2-by-4s. Then he recommended someone with the right equipment to lift the giant cactus into place.

“The Master Gardening program — a lot of phone calls are transferred through us,” he said, “but it’s voluntary, and I do that in exchange for the training they give me.

“Those that take the course are asked to reimburse their training by community service in some way. So in my particular way, I’m very fortunate, I get to give a lot of talks, and I do it on behalf of the Master Gardening program. When I go somewhere, it’s usually as a master gardener, not as the owner of a business.”

Bond said five of the people who work at the Avocado also are master gardeners.

“So we know how beneficial it is. Our main management team is almost all master gardeners, so they can answer these phones just as skillfully as I do. And that’s why we get sometimes 40 or 50 calls a day [master gardener questions and business calls]. I think it helps our business that people, falsely or truly, think we might know what we are talking about.”

Steven King/Dispatch, Hugh Meier had been a gardener and landscaper in New York and New Hampshire. He is shown in his garden in the Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande.

Learn Gardening, Then Pass the Knowledge onto Others

Anyone can take the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension’s Garden & Landscape Short Course. The classes meet one night a week for three hours with a different topic each week for 12 weeks.

The next classes will begin after Labor Day at 9 a.m. Thursdays in Casa Grande or 6:30 p.m. Thursdays in Maricopa.

The registration fee is $90 a person, which covers the cost of materials, or $110 for two who share materials. Topics include basic botany, soils, cactuses and succulents, vegetable gardening, citrus, arboriculture (trees and shrubs), irrigation, integrated pest management, weeds, diagnosis, desert adapted plants, landscape design and applied learning experience. For more information, call the county extension office at 836-5221.

Those who want to become master gardeners must take the short course, pass a written test and volunteer 50 hours in the first 11⁄2 years.

To maintain certification, master gardeners donate 30 hours of volunteer work yearly. As long as they are certified, the university covers liability for activities conducted as a master gardener.

Fifty-eight master gardeners are currently certified in Pinal County. Members of the Superstition Mountain working group volunteer at schools, the Boys & Girls Club, Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, Meals on Wheels and Silly Mountain (a popular hiking area). They put on clinics and educational programs and teach in the short course. The SaddleBrooke working group puts on plant clinics, answers landscape questions and teaches.

Master gardeners in the Casa Grande area volunteer at the UA Cooperative Extension office, answer gardening questions, prepare free bulletins and email newsletters, schedule training activities and staff booths at community events.

Volunteers in Maricopa are revitalizing an old fruit orchard at the UA’s Maricopa Agricultural Center and creating a demonstration vegetable garden with drip irrigation, raised garden beds, straw-bale beds, square-foot gardens and gardens in the round. A volunteer in Oracle is doing research with worm composting. A volunteer in Florence, a certified arborist, teaches arboriculture in the short course.

For more info, click this link to the UofA Master Gardeners website.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Maricopa County Home Shows supports interior design!

Be inspired viewing the beautiful interior design rooms created by the most talented up and coming Student Designers in AZ at the April 29, 30 and May 1, Maricopa County Home Show at the AZ State Fairgrounds 10th Annual Student Interior Design Competition.  The Home Show sent out a call to all local design colleges to have their students send entries to compete in this once a year competition.  Seven entries were accepted based on their resume, sketch of their room, and paragraph description.  Students will have 48 hours to build and design their room according to their sketch and description.   Qualified interior design judges will rank their favorites based on design plan, sketch presentation, implementation in relation to the original sketch, functional space, use of materials, furnishing, color and the students overall creativity and originality.  All students receive price money, and the winning student receives a substantial $5,000.00. All said, the Home Show awards over $11,500.00 in prize money to help these students further their career in the design field. for more info.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

7 Things You Should Know About Stardust Building Supplies

Author:  Taz Loomans

1.  How Stardust Building Supplies got started:
The stars aligned and two guys who had the same idea at the same time came together and went for it.  The first guy, an investment banker, saw his neighbor remodeling his home.  He noticed that his neighbor was tossing perfectly good cabinets in the dumpster.  When he was driving out and about, through poorer neighborhoods, he thought, what a shame, these people could really have used those cabinets!
The second guy was demolishing his house to build a new one.  The day he and his wife were moving out, their maid came to them and said one of her relatives was in need of a refrigerator and asked if she could take theirs.  They said sure! The next day she asked for their stove.  They told her that whatever she needed, she could have.  A few days later, they came back to find lots of things gone from their house, such as doors, cabinets, and appliances.  They realized that people could really make use of these used building materials.  His wife remarked, what a service this would be!  And he, being a big money guy, said no, what a business this could be.
So the first guy vaguely knew of this second guy and he called him up to discuss his business idea.  They had lunch and sparks flew!  They both had had the same idea at the same time, in different places.  The first guy asked the second guy for $50,000 to get started.  Second guy said no.
He said, I’ll give you a credit line of $500,000 because I want this done right.  I want good stores and good service.
The rest is history!
I asked for the names of the two founders, but no luck! They’re flying under the radar, on purpose.

2.  The Stardust Building Supplies Stores:
There are 2 of them.  One is on 4240 W. Camelback Rd. and the second is on 1720 W. Broadway Rd.  What’s in these stores?  Well buidings supplies, duh!  Anything from windows to faucets.  Everything except raw building supplies such as plywood, masonry, roofing and things like that.
The stores are supplied with donated materials.  Eighty percent of the goods in the stores are used materials donated by homeowners or remodeling contractors.  The rest are things manufacturers or distributors will donate that they can’t use, such as off-size windows or window coverings, or the wrong color floor tile.

3.  Deconstruction Services:
Do you have plans to remodel your home or know of someone who is?  Did you know Stardust will come to your house for FREE and deconstruct whatever it is you want removed and haul it away?  For example, if you are redoing your kitchen, they will remove your old cabinets, your old sink, stove, oven and refrigerator, as long as they can keep them and sell them at their stores.
So forget paying your contractor for demo, just call Stardust!

4.  Pick-up Service:
Did you replace your old toilet and now you need to get rid of your old one?  Not to worry!  Just call Stardust and they will come pick it up with their truck.

5. Angels on Call:
Did you know that Stardust actually goes out and repairs homes in distress fro FREE?  They won’t do cosmetic remodeling, but they will repair homes for basic safety, security or quality of life issues.  They take referrals for homes from churches, social service agencies, civic groups or other charitable organizations.
The executive director of Stardust, Todd Stingley, tells me that they will even accept direct applications for help. So if you know if someone who is in dire need of home repair and they can’t afford to do it, they might have a chance to get free services from Stardust.

6.  Annual Extreme Makeover
Once a year, they take a home and a homeowner who live in a badly dilapidated or damaged home and can’t afford to fix it up, and they will go in and renovate it!  They are just about to start this year’s home which is located on 5836 W. Elm St. in Maryvale on Monday.  They will replace the roof, the kitchen, and the flooring among other things for the lucky homeowner, who is a single, struggling grandmother taking care of her grand kids because their mother left them.

7.  Why I love Stardust Building Supplies
The organization is both an environmental and social hero!  They save tons of usable, durable building products from the landfill and they make them available at 50-80% off the retail price, making it much easier for economically disadvantaged people to fix their homes.  Plus, it’s not a bad place for us treasure hunters.
They are self-sufficient, using the income from their stores to operate the non-profit and fund all their other charitable endeavors, such as the deconstruction and angels on call services.  Need I say more?

Photo credit: Our shed at 3 Palms shortly after we completed renovations filled with the old fans, lights, toilet, sink, stove and other goodies that we donated!


Taz Loomans

Taz Loomans - who has written 158 posts on Blooming Rock.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Protect Your Most Vulnerable Entrances! Article by First Impressions Security Doors a preferred vendor of the Maricopa County Home Shows

Article by First Impressions Security Doors a preferred vendor of the Maricopa County Home Shows
Arcadia/French Doors
IntruderDid you know that an intruder's preferred entry method is a sliding back patio door? Why not consider Arcadia/French security doors for your home to improve both security and aesthetics?

An Arcadia door is an attractive security door that will protect your home in the same way that a front security door would.  It's a double door that opens on hinges and is custom made in our factory to fit your specific door measurements.  We offer a variety of styles and pricing, along with quality that surpasses any other door manufacturer, guaranteed.

French Door 
We can build security screen doors for your patio doors that protect your home from thieves, yet still provides the light and open look and feel that sliding glass normally give the homeowner. Both Arcadia and French security doors are available in sets of two so that they are wide enough for your entryway. 

We are offering a special this month to save 20% off on select designs so take advantage now of these money saving offers by visiting our specials page

Pool Fences
Pool FenceIf the recent warmer temperatures are anything to go on, summer is on its way and it will be time to open your pool in no time!  If you have young children in your home a pool fence is a necessity and may be required by law in your town or city.

First Impression Security Doors is pleased to offer an entire collection of pool fences from traditional iron fences to glass panel designs.

And take a look at the installation process of a First Impression pool fence.  Our installers are standing by! 

Pool Fence Installation
Pool Fence Installation
Take an Inside Look at First Impression

We pride ourselves on precision engineering of our quality doors, gates, fences and window products and take pleasure in a job well done.  Here's a quick look inside our factory.
Inside Look at First Impression
Inside Look at First Impression
Look at what our customers are saying!  

"Your crew installed our new iron and glass double front doors the week of Christmas. As I sit here the sun is streaming in and lighting up the entry. It used to be a dark space - now we feel like we've actually gained another room. They have truly changed our house. The doors are gorgeous and their quality makes such an improvement to the exterior and interior look of our home.

Terry Hardin was great to work with - she was very patient and worked with us to get just what we wanted. She never rushed us, gave us good advice, and explained the whole sale to installation process to us so there were no surprises.

The installation crew did a really great job. We required hard construction for the new doors and by the time they finished up - nothing was left undone. Our new front doorway looks as though it has always been there. We thought it would be a 4 day job, but they finished on Dec. 23rd - so we had the job done in time for Christmas.

I will recommend First Impressions to our friends and neighbors and please don't hesitate to use us as references. I would be happy to discuss our experience with any prospective buyers you may have.

We wish you all at First Impressions a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Thank you for contributing beauty and quality to the Phoenix metro area." 
Kate and Mike
Scottsdale, AZ

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1415 N Mondel Dr.
Gilbert, AZ 85233

West Phoenix Showroom
9299 W. Olive Ave, Building 8
Olive Business Park, Suite 801
Peoria, AZ 85345

New Tucson Showroom
6811 North Thornydale Road #101
Tucson, AZ 85741

Save 20% with
Designs of the Month 
Design of the Month Special 

Every month we will feature new designs that will be discounted 20%!  Discounts are valid for a limited time.  

Example of how much you could save;
If you were to purchase French Security Doors with the current Design of the Month, you could save hundreds of dollars! 
For example:
Regular Price:  $1000 x 2 doors = $2000
Special Price:  $ 800 x 2 doors = $1600!!
That's a savings of $400!

Design of the month  

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Join Us At These Upcoming Events

Maricopa Home Show  
Arizona State Fairgrounds
1826 W McDowell Road
Phoenix, 85007
(19th Ave & McDowell Rd)
April 29th - May 1st 2011
Friday - Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm
Booth numbers 237, 239, 241, 336, 338, 340 in Exhibit Building