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Archives for January 28, 2014

Home show a hit with vendors, attendees – Wilkes Barre Times

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St. Johns intersection island near Burgerville will see significant upgrades

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The ivy island outside the St. Johns Burgerville will soon become a landscaped gateway greenspace.

The St. Johns Main Street Coalition is partnering with Burgerville and DeSantis Landscaping to remove the invasive plants and replace them with native plants and gravel paths. They’re also planning to install benches.

PBOT owns but does not maintain the land at the intersection of North Ivanhoe and Philadelphia streets, and residents have reported spotting “some unsightly and unsanitary rodents” there.

Burgerville and its landscaper DeSantis approached the Main Street Coalition last year after the nonprofit redesigned the intersection at Richmond and Lombard. Working with the University of Portland, the coalition put 300 plants there last October.

Burgerville hoped the coalition could help it do something similar on the patch outside its property.

“St. Johns has what feels to residents a high number of unmaintained areas,” said Robin Wright, the coalition’s program director. “These two areas have often been a topic of conversation in the community. People wanted to see how we can turn those into a better welcome, how we can have the spaces communicate better the pride people have in St. Johns.”

The coalition began working with PBOT to finalize a maintenance agreement. The bureau has an adopt-a-landscape program. Once the agreement is finalized, Burgerville will take over the on-going maintenance.

The coalition’s design committee will hold an open house Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the coalition’s office, 8250 N. Lombard St. They’ll also present to the St. Johns Neighborhood Association on Feb. 10.
The groups will bring volunteers out to replant the site March 22. They’ll host two other volunteer days to clear debris and install hardscaping.

Burgerville and DeSantis both chipped in money for the project, and the Main Street Coalition won a Portland Development Commission district improvement grant for the work.

Project leaders are brainstorming ideas for the second phase of the redesign. If you have ideas, email

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In conversation with award-winning architect Pip Cheshire

The owner's brief was for powerful buildings, but which sat comfortably in the glorious landscape and looked like they had been there over time. Photo / Supplied
The owner’s brief was for powerful buildings, but which sat comfortably in the glorious landscape and looked like they had been there over time. Photo / Supplied

Modern architecture, historical importance and an outstanding landscape come together at The Landing. We talk to the architect behind the luxurious Bay of Islands haven, Pip Cheshire.

When you first arrived at the 400-hectare Bay Of Islands property, The Landing, what was your response?

The first few visits were always very intense – trying to unravel a complex landscape of bays and valleys all saturated with a long human occupation. It was very exciting, though the projects were a bit uncertain as to scope and focus at that stage.

With The Cooper Residence and The Boathouse what was your brief from Peter Cooper; what did he want to achieve from the sites/buildings/interiors?

There was not a discrete brief but there is an ongoing discourse as we understand more about the past, and the future possibilities for the land. There are common values that have informed the conversations and shaped each of the projects; the desire to honour the land by creating outstanding buildings fitting gently to their sites, generous facilities for occupants, and all superbly constructed using robust, naturally weathering materials.

What did you bring to the conversations, and how did these evolve throughout the process?

As understanding of the land and its use grew through discussion and visit, I explored, tested and developed ideas for specific projects. This was done through drawings, watercolours, computer renders, models and so on. These were annotated and sent to Peter to inform our discussions. In some cases sites were abandoned or projects set aside, in others ideas were discarded only to return some time later. The Hilltop House, for example, embodies ideas first discussed over a decade ago, yet realised only in the last few years.

What were the “gifts” the sites gave you – and the challenges?

The landform is very special with folds and ridges that offer interestingly complex outlooks – very beautiful views over the northern Bay of Islands but also those of the wetlands in the valley floors and the layered ridges of the Far North revealed in the low late afternoon sun. The peninsula is very visible from the Bay of Islands and we have worked hard to set some quite big buildings gently into the pastoral landscape.

It is, though, the human history that is one of the most potent “gifts” _ the sense that this was a very early Maori settlement and also a very early Pakeha one too.

Commanding the tip of the stunning Purerua Peninsula, The Landing offers the ultimate in private, luxury accommodation. Photo / Supplied
Commanding the tip of the stunning Purerua Peninsula, The Landing offers the ultimate in private, luxury accommodation. Photo / Supplied

Talk us through the materials you used?

We want powerful buildings, those that sit comfortably in that very visible landscape, yet not self-effacing, we want to stand strong on this potent place, one with a big history and one exposed to the extremes of our latitudes. Thus we have used materials and building forms that are robust in size and solidity, those that require minimal finishing and those that wear their age with elegance – these are timber, stone and concrete. Many of the spaces and walls run inside and out and so the material palettes are continuous in and out. Where those on the exterior are finished to resist the elements, those inside are carefully honed to be soft to the touch, to glow with reflected light and induce a sense of repose.

There is a unique farm with great historical value to the property; how did this influence your approach to design?

There are some places on the land we have chosen not to build on, special places where the sense of an earlier occupation is palpable. There are also markers of the land’s history – significant trees and landforms that we have used to help orientate buildings. The buildings we have done hold some of that history too, written records, and artefacts recovered from the site and which we use to evoke the early Maori and Pakeha occupation. This is a history of engagement in the land, not of touching it lightly, and we have made buildings that are firmly rooted in the land by their mass and robust enclosure.

As a guest staying in the property, every want and need, has been pre-thought, and met. As an architect how do you “get in the mindspace” of the future occupants?

Peter Cooper has assembled, inspired and challenged a team of experienced and thoughtful designers, builders, operators and managers who have worked together on a number of projects all aimed at creating extraordinary experiences. The projects at the Landing result from the combination of this experience and thoughtful review.

How did you go about achieving different personalities for the three properties?

Each project starts with the identification of critical values that will inform the design. These evolve from discussions with owners, the characteristics of site and climate and of a wider consideration of the project in terms of architecture’s discourse. This might include, for example, how one might build on historically important and visually sensitive land, what might a lodge on this outstanding landscape be like – a farm building, a station homestead etc?

The Boathouse was first and made use of an existing farm building on the water’s edge. that set a template for simple barn-like forms that we employed on the later projects. That building also established a way of making living spaces that had a strong sense of enclosure as a result of their high lofted roof spaces while at the same time having large openings horizontally to allow life to be lived on a continuum from in to out depending on weather, occasion etc.

The Gabriel House sits on a very benign site and is something of an observer, looking down Wairoa Bay to the Boathouse and over the string of ponds in the valley below and the inland farm paddocks beyond. It shares the Boathouse’s combination of enclosure and easy horizontal movement while the planning is organised around the requirements of an extended family, providing both privacy for family groups and big spaces for gathering together.

The Hilltop House is considered as a series of constructions that might have happened over time – an old stone tower butts against a later barn-like form which in turn supports two more contemporary pavilions. The programme of strong enclosure coupled with connection to the outdoors that underlies the other two buildings is repeated, though the forms more closely reflect these spatial differences. Thus the tower and barn are enclosed forms that suggest shelter and solidity while the pavilions are much more horizontally focused spaces. The location on the hill top presents certain challenges such as the need for a number of sheltered outdoor spaces orientated in different directions and of diminishing the building’s visual impact through material selection, sculptural massing of the forms and by using two large existing pohutukawas to break up the skyline.

The Cooper residence cellar. Photo / Supplied
The Cooper residence cellar. Photo / Supplied

What features from each properties are you most proud of?

I enjoy the Boathouse’s high, warm, wooden enveloping enclosure, with Wairoa Bay only a couple of metres away through big openings. The Gabriel House has a wonderful terrace that turns its back on the spectacular ocean views and delights in the rolling farmland- seems such a luxury to ignore the postcard view over your shoulder.

The Hilltop’s tower is a splendid folly from top level observatory to basement wine cellar – a looping geometry played for maximum dramatic impact.

Tell us about the overall building process?

It is pretty intense building this stuff – high stakes aesthetically, professionally, financially, personally and the humour tends to be small Kiwi irony that gets you though the tense bits that happen when people with great skills are doing their best work together.

Tell us about the centre you’ve designed for the Marsden Cross Historic reserve, which sits in the bay next to The Landing?

The project commemorates the bicentenary of Samuel Marsden arriving under the aegis of local chief Ruatara to deliver a sermon at Oihi on Christmas Day 1914. This is considered the first formal engagement of Maori and Pakeha and is commemorated by a cross on Oihi Beach erected in 1914.

Our project is an interpretive centre alongside the road at the head of the valley and just over the fence from The Landing. The centre overlooks the valley in which a mission station was established after the sermon. From the site you are able to see Ruatara’s pa and the cross on the beach below. The centre is comprised of a pair of high enclosing rammed earth walls forming a “u” shape looking down the valley and surmounted by a very thin folded and triangulated roof made of plastic composite material.

The form of this very sculptural building particularises a spot of open Northland hillside and does this by focusing the view toward the pa and beach, and by altering the acoustics. The massive walls cut out road noise and amplify the birdsong from the valley in front.

The construction is complete, requiring only landscaping to complete before its formal opening later in the year.


NZ Herald

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Learn how to prune landscape trees, shrubs and palms

The next “Saturday in the Garden,” a speaker series featuring Florida-friendly landscaping, is 10 a.m. Saturday.

The Lake County Extension Office of University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will present the program at the Lake County Agricultural Center, 1951 Woodlea Road, Tavares.

Brooke Moffis, residential horticulture agent, will present this month’s program, “Pruning Your Landscape.” Participants will learn how and when to prune landscape trees, shrubs and palms.

Participants are welcome to visit the Discovery Gardens at the center following the class. The outdoor learning center is on 3.5 acres, which features a variety of themed gardens.

Discovery Gardens will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the first Saturday of each month. The public is invited to visit the gardens. Admission is free.

The fee for the class is $5 for adults and free for children 16 and younger. To register, visit or call 352-343-4101, Ext. 2714.

Library programs

•Marion Baysinger Memorial Library, 756 W. Broad St. in Groveland, will present “Winter Car Care Tips and Tricks” at 11 a.m. Thursday. A representative from O’Reilly Auto Parts will present the free program.

There also will be door prizes. Details: Jennifer Moton, 352-429- 5840.

• The October Mountain Washtub Band will entertain with classic country, bluegrass, gospel, patriotic and pop music at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Leesburg Public Library, 100 E. Main St.

Seating is limited for the free event. Details: 352-728-9790 or

Affordable Care Act

The Tri-County Unified Progressives will host a presentation about how the Affordable Care Act works at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Marion County, 7280 S.E. 135th St., Summerfield.

Joseph Flynn, a retired insurance executive and business consultant, will be the speaker. Anna Wilson, a certified marketplace exchange navigator, will be available to help guide applicants through the enrollment process.

Spanish language assistance will be available.

Refreshments will be served. The event is open to the public. A $2 donation is suggested.

The Fellowship’s Community Service Committee is sponsoring the event.

Clam chowder tasting

A pre-Super Bowl party featuring Tony’s World Champion Chowder from Cedar Key is 7 p.m. Thursday in the office of Brian Kraus of the Clermont Raymond James Financial Services at the Clermont Financial Center, 1795 E. State Road 50, Suite A.

Participants are encouraged to wear their favorite football jersey.

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Did That Billionaire’s ‘Nazi’ Rant Begin With a Dispute … Over Landscaping?

By now millions of people have heard that Silicon Valley billionaire Tom Perkins compared progressive political speech to Kristallnacht, the night of religious violence that led to the death of 91 Jews and paved the way politically for the Nazi Reich and the Holocaust. Here’s what you probably don’t know: Perkins’ rage appears to have been fueled, at least in part, by a dispute over gardening.

That’s right: Gardening.

Perkins’ now-infamous screed for The Wall Street Journal is filled with bilious commentary about “the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.'” Bad as it is, Perkins is not the first billionaire to do that kind of thing. Hedge funder Stephen Schwarzman notoriously compared to a tax increase for people like him to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

Perkins continues to double down on his offensive comments. That proves that he is serious about these ugly opinions, and will lead many people to conclude that he is an unredeemable jerk. (See update below.) Kleiner Perkins, the investment firm Perkins help create, has already distanced itself from Perkins with an outraged tweet pointing out that he has long since left the organization. (The tweet might be interpreted thusly: Shut up, Tom.)

It’s important to understand, or at least attempt to understand, the mental state that produces such plutocratic rage. After all, our political and economic system gives billionaires an extraordinary influence over the lives of every individual in the country. It pays to investigate their emotional makeup, if only for our societal well-being.

Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times provided context to what he rightly described as Perkins’ “ghastly outburst,” pointing to his past offenses (which include writing a vanity romance-novel project called “Sex and the Single Zillionaire”). Paul Krugman responded to the Perkins controversy by pointing to the “paranoia of the plutocrats,” and that’s undoubtedly a large part of the problem. But that still leaves an unanswered question: Paranoia about what, exactly?

There were several curious things about the Perkins editorial (besides, that is, the delusional comparison of political speech with the mass murder of innocent people solely on the basis of religion). The first was the special effort Perkins took to attack the San Francisco Chronicle, which, while a fine newspaper, is hardly the People’s World. The second was the mention of romance author Danielle Steel, who Perkins describes as “our number-one celebrity.” Perkins says that Steel was subject to “libelous and cruel attacks” in the Chronicle — presumably on orders received from the Occupy movement’s high command.

It doesn’t take a lot of research to discover the Danielle Steel is Tom Perkins’ ex-wife, or that the couple has maintained a close and friendly relationship after their divorce. Good for them — and we mean that. I suppose it’s gallant of Perkins, at least in some way, to rush to his ex-wife’s defense.

But over what? What sort of “leftist” attacks were made on the romance author in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle? Here’s what we discovered: It criticized a hedge. Specifically, it criticized this hedge, in an entirely nonpolitical one-paragraph item in the paper’s “Cityscape” feature.  That piece describes Steel’s landscaping flourish as “comically off-putting” and bemoans its harmful effect on the ideal of “friendly streets.”

Not only is the item entirely nonpolitical, but “Cityscape” writer John King doesn’t seem entirely certain that Steel is the present owner. He opts instead for the vaguer language that the mansion was “later inhabited by best-selling novelist Danielle Steel.” King’s point seems clear, and anything but personal: Houses and their gardens shouldn’t intrude on public sidewalks, and this one does.

Afterwards a Chronicle reporter asked Steel about the controversy. Steel said that her “security people” had recommended the hedge for privacy, then added: “Sometimes, I think San Francisco hates successful people. No matter what I do, people say nasty stuff. I mean the world is falling apart and people complain about my hedge. It’s a mystery.”

Steel went on to complain about city residents’ sense of style, saying “There’s no style, nobody dresses up — you can’t be chic there. It’s all shorts and hiking boots and Tevas — it’s as if everyone is dressed to go on a camping trip.”

That drew a pithy response from Chronicle blogger C.W. Nevius, who called her a “snob” and argued that she shouldn’t live in a conspicuously public home if she wants privacy. Steel wrote a letter objecting to that characterization and pointing to her own charitable work as proof of her good character.

Let’s be clear on one point: We take her at her word on that. There’s no need to tear down Steel’s character.  (It should also be noted that Steel never frames this as an issue of the “left,” but rather addresses matters of tone.) Nor do we have any desire to be drawn into the hedge controversy. We cover the worlds of politics, economics, and big business — scant preparation for the really contentious fields of gardening and home improvement. We will make only this simple observation: Nobody in the Chronicle criticized Steel’s wealth. There is nothing even vaguely leftist about disliking someone’s landscaping, or even in calling them a “snob.”

So why does Perkins target the left? He should be going after the Better Homes and Gardens crowd instead.

Oddly, Perkins also says that his screed was written in response to a Wall Street Journal editorial about “censors on campus.” That editorial argued that schools who suppressed bigoted speech were violating basic constitutional rights. But Perkins isn’t agreeing with them. He’s creating his own list of censored speech, with criticism of his own crowd at the top of the list.

What’s ironic about that is that the apparently unpleasant Perkins (he boasts about his ego frequently) has been the subject of almost relentlessly flattering press attention. That includes a puff piece about his yachting adventures from 60 Minutes, a news organization that has long since transformed itself from a hard-hitting journalistic operation to a puff-piece factory for the billionaire set.

There’s a pattern here. Billionaires like Tom Perkins are accustomed to being flattered, no matter how silly or nasty they sound. They view every form of criticism of the social peers — even of gardening choices — as a vicious personal attack, no matter how mildly it’s framed. They appear to have lost all real empathy for people who must live with the consequences of their actions, whether it’s an unsightly and intrusive hedge (make up your own joke about “hedge funders”; we’re tired) or the tax breaks and other favorable policies they promote for themselves with their wealth and influence.

Perkins does allude to at least one serious matter: the recent outbreaks of violence against Google employees in San Francisco. But it’s possible to both reject that violence and understand the social forces which give rise to it.

Perkins either mischaracterizes or fails to understand the outrage at play there: People don’t object to Google’s buses, which it uses to transport its employees between San Francisco and its Peninsula headquarters. They object to those buses’ illegal use of taxpayer-funded bus stops, which is symbolic of the way noblesse oblige further discomfits a dying middle class. And the “rising real-estate prices which … ‘techno geeks’ can pay” are ruining lives, while robbing a city of diversity, livability, and character.

Even as global financial leaders fret over inequality at Davos, Tom Perkins is using extremist rhetoric to shut down such talk among his social inferiors. After an ugly screed, inspired in part by a gardening dispute, one hesitates to imagine what Perkins has in mind for more progressive-minded one-percenters like those at Davos and Kleiner Perkins — a Night of the Long Pruning Shears, perhaps?

Perkins may not like to hear it, but rising wealth inequality is shattering our society, as San Francisco’s plight so amply demonstrates. There is no room left for middle-class life in a society dominated by excessive wealth. Perkins may choose to become outraged over trivial as well as serious offenses, but he’s in the process of losing the one treasure which money can’t guarantee yet: the respect of others.

(UPDATE: After defending his comments, as of this writing Perkins is speaking on Bloomberg TV. He is expressing “regret” only for the use of the word Kristallnacht, and is continuing to adamantly defend his premise. He is describing a world in which the “creative one percent” is being persecuted. His solution? “Let the rich do what the rich do.” In other words, he remains steadfast in his hatred of progressives and his belief in the “job creator” myth. Perkins also confirmed that the hedge incident was the original inspiration for his commentary.)

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Ahmed Hassan from DIY Network’s ‘Yard Crashers’ coming to Great Big Home …

View full sizeLandscape expert Ahmed Hassan of DIY Network’s “Yard Crashers” is among the celebrity guests at the Great Big Home Garden Show at the I-X Center, Feb. 8-16, 2014. 

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Landscaping expert Ahmed Hassan knew at an early age that he wanted to be just like his father, a landscaper in Compton, Calif. “I grew up knowing I wanted to work with my hands, wearing jeans and smelling like diesel fuel,” Hassan said.

Fast forward a few decades, and Hassan has matured into a professional landscaper who funneled his passion for horticulture into hosting DIY Network’s “Yard Crashers” and its spin-off “Turf War.”

Hassan is one of the celebrity guests at the Great Big Home Garden Show, Saturday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb. 16 at the I-X Center in Cleveland. The show, known for injecting a welcome burst of color into the drab Northeast Ohio winter, offers home decorating and home-improvement inspiration.

His appearances will be at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8; and noon and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9.

The Great Big Home Garden Show will also include these highlights:

Frank Fritz of the History Channel’s “American Pickers” is scheduled to appear Saturday, Feb. 15.

The Idea Home, sponsored by Perrino Builders Interiors, shows off trends for building, remodeling and decorating. The ranch house melds traditional and contemporary styles and has beamed 12-foot ceilings, a master spa bath and a “Jack and Jill” bathroom.

The Garden Showcase features international-themed gardens created by some of the area’s top landscapers.

The Dream Basement showcase highlights an audiovisual theater designed by Xtend Technologies.

Celebrity Designer Rooms feature interiors created by local designers and inspired by local television or radio celebrities.

Visitors to the Home Garden Show will leave with extravagant ideas for their backyards – only a few of which are feasible.

In the past few years, Hassan, 40, has seen his landscaping company’s jobs expand from traditional designs that cost about $20,000 to designs that incorporate up to $90,000 in outdoor kitchens, fire and water features. Clients want outdoor televisions and stereo systems, dimmable lights, foggers and automated irrigation, which requires Hassan to oversee electricians, welders and plumbers to get the job done.

“They want bells and whistles,” he said. “It’s a lot more complex.”

Some clients insist on a specific plant without considering whether it will do well in their yard, Hassan said. It’s his job to educate the client about better botanical choices.

Hassan was hired by DIY Network in the mid-2000s, a time when the network was trying to get the husbands of its female viewers to watch its shows. Hassan, who was hosting an obscure gardening show on DIY at the time, got the nod to host “Yard Crashers,” which followed the familiar format of client ambush, two-day makeover and reveal. (You can catch the show, with co-host and licensed contractor Matt Blashaw, at 11 p.m. Mondays on DIY.)

“Yard Crashers” spawned a spin-off, “Turf War,” a competition that pitted landscapers against homeowners and a ticking clock. “It took landscaping and turned it into a sport,” he said. Episodes of “Turf War” and “Yard Crashers” also aired on DIY’s sister station, HGTV.

Hassan left both shows at the end of 2011 because he was frustrated by their formatted nature. He wanted variety in every episode but “apparently that’s not the way TV works,” he said.

Hassan lives in Sacramento and produces industrial videos and web content for the horticulture industry, and he runs his landscape company. He still loves working outdoors doing landscaping, wielding chain saws and climbing trees, although he doesn’t get his hands dirty as much as he used to.

“Landscaping has always been an art form, not work, for me,” he said.


The Great Big Home Garden ShowHome improvement inspiration with international-themed garden showcase, Idea Home, cooking stage, special guests and more.

When: Saturday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb. 16

Where:  The I-X Center, 6200 Riverside Drive, Cleveland.

Hours10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, Feb. 10-14; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16.

Tickets: $14, adults; $10, seniors (Monday-Thursday only); free for children 5 and younger. 


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Designing Tips for your Desert Home Oasis

5 Designing Tips for Your Desert Home Oasis



on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Robellini Palm Creates a Tropical Look

  • The Potted Desert
  • Robellini Palm Creates a Tropical Look

Designing Tips for your Desert Home Oasis

1. Plan your tropical garden near your home, part of your seating area. Since the majority of the plants require heavily filtered light, you can make the garden be part of your outdoor living area as you appreciate similar conditions.

2. Plan the flooring to be as cool as possible. Non-reflective colors in earthtone or blue hues work well. You might add an outdoor carpet to the seating area.

3. Think in levels or layers of plantings as you would see in a tropical garden. Low plantings around the seating areas in low pots will do well. Also bordering walkways. Then mid-height plants in taller pots or pots up on pedestals or pots with trellises for some vines.

Thinking in Levels

  • The Potted Desert
  • Thinking in Levels

4. Further back towards walls or further from the patio, you can think about larger plants and trees, still trying to keep the layered effect of the three heights of plants in the landscape. Perhaps a couple citrus or palm trees or an evergreen Pistache tree with a mixture of hibiscus and a blue leafed agave such as the Agave colorata. And definitely keep in mind your Bougainvillea and Birds of Paradise- both tropical (shade) and Mexican (sun)!!

5. Be sure to add a water feature to your garden. It will add much to your tropical paradise in the desert.

[Photo:.water feature picture; Caption: Add a Water Feature to your Oasis]

Want to keep your money out of the compost heap? Sign up for the Desert Potted View and our Free Monthly Potted Garden tips – sign up at Potted Desert Newsletter.

Marylee is the founder and former owner of Tucson’s The Contained Gardener. With more than 15 years of successfully designing and growing potted gardens in the desert’s challenging and oftentimes harsh climate, Marylee has become known as the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Marylee is available for in-home or digital consultations and you can always email her with your questions and comments. Follow The Potted Desert on Facebook! Marylee is also available for business growth counseling

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