Agave Farms (AF) – An Urban Desert Experience – Part 2

In Part 1 of my story about the Master Gardener’s visit to Agave Farms, I mentioned the large size of the facility. Many of the sections have stone walls creating raised beds that are also very large.

Agave Farm picture

If you visit the area near the informal entrance you may be able to find a variety of plantings, pots, etc. to provide ideas and inspiration such as this large planting of Euphorbia tirucalli is commonly referred to as a ‘Sticks on Fire’ or another similar name.

Agave Farm picture

As previously noted, AF grows vegetables, cacti, succulents and a host of other plants. Another of their specialties is roses. Whenever I mention rose growing in the desert to my friends from other areas, they are surprised, but Arizona is one of the largest exporters of roses in the US.

Agave Farm picture

AF carries a large variety of roses. They have a three-fold brochure listing the names of their roses so gardeners can more easily find a particular variety.

Agave Farm picture

If there is a color you are seeking, you will most likely find it at AF. Interestingly enough, they grow many of their roses in mesh-like bags which are environmentally friendly. I had never seen these before, but they seemed to work well.

Agave Farm picture

I was seeking a very particular climbing rose that does well in our zone, Golden Showers, and sure enough, I was able to find the plant at AF and it is now doing well in our courtyard landscape.

I did not get the specific name of the plant pictured below, but it was somewhat unique for our area. I particularly liked the leaf form and the white-ish tips at the end of the flowers.

Agave Farm picture

Flowers and vegetables are planted in groupings and interspersed. This may be to deter certain pests or perhaps just to develop a more colorful display.

Agave Farm picture

In one section of the farm, they were demonstrating hay bale gardening for those who don’t have a fertile plot or otherwise find this an acceptable alternative.

Agave Farm picture

More cool weather veggies and flowers.

Agave Farm picture

Agave Farm picture

It was fun just to walk around. Up against a fence, I saw this half-column ornament which was different!

Agave Farm picture

There are constant reminders that AF is in the middle of the city as apartments surround it and can be seen across from this water retention pond.

Agave Farm picture

A chicken coop constructed from an old truck cargo area was another interesting stop.

Agave Farm picture

Agave Farm picture

Just before I left the farm to head home, I saw this unique bicycle cart. Isn’t the color wonderful?!

Agave Farm picture

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

 
See previous posts about life in the desert HERE or gardening HERE.

Agave Farms – An Urban Desert Experience – Part 1

In Phoenix, AZ (the Sonoran Desert) gardening is unlike most other places. One thing more difficult than gardening in the desert is creating a successful garden retail business and that is why it is always exciting when a new option appears.

As part of the Maricopa County Master Gardener program, we took a field trip to visit Agave Farms in central Phoenix.

    4300 N Central Ave,
    Phoenix, AZ 85012
    (602) 374-6553

Agave Farm picture

What renders Agave Farms somewhat different is that it is a cross between a community farm and garden center. It is landlocked by urban landscape and serves as a welcome oasis for those in the immediate area.

Agave Farm picture

When visitors enter the center, they are first struck by the vastness of the farm. Although it appears as one city block, it is a big one.

Agave Farm picture

At times there can be a flurry of activity taking place so naturally, there needs to be some guidelines for the safety of the visitors and the care of the plants and other items for sale..

Agave Farm picture

Here is an artistic signpost explaining where most areas of interest are located.

Agave Farm picture

Gardeners should take their time to look around and study the displays and floral groupings. These can spur creative gardening thoughts for home use.

Agave Farm picture

Agave Farms (AF) appears to invite group visits such as ours. They have a small picnic table and barbecue area just behind the office building near the parking lot.

Agave Farm picture

For inspiration, there are small and large displays to get guests into that gardening mood.

Agave Farm picture

AF even offers plants that are impossible to kill, i.e. metal sculptures. (Note – I am not sure these particular specimens are for sale, but if interested, I think AF can provide the contact information of a supplier).

Agave Farm picture

Many people who have desert gardens like to use rebar, metal objects, etc. in their garden design. I have learned to appreciate rebar and rust as a featured element of a Sonoran Desert garden design. This portion of a rebar gate focuses attention on flowers on the picnic area’s patio.

Agave Farm picture

Below is a picture of a nice, artsy petunia display. Keep in mind that these photographs were taken the second week in January at a time when there are still cool-to-cold temperatures and danger of frost. This is our early spring in the Valley of the Sun. This season is not a time to find, full lush gardens in the desert. It is however, a good time to begin thinking about plans and planting for the upcoming season.

Agave Farm picture

There are some interesting, some may say humorous, touches at AF such as this doctor statue standing in the middle of a future planting area.

Agave Farm picture

We cannot forget that this is a desert-based farm and landscape center and as such there are desert plants for sale. These cactus plants have cups covering their sensitive growing tips should a frost occur. It does look a bit unusual to those from other areas, but quite common in the desert.

Agave Farm picture

In a previous JBRish post, I depicted another unusual aspect to winter protection of sensitive desert plants. You can check out the post, Cactus Ghosts in the Desert.

Large specimens are often sold in planting boxes. These are a bit tricky to use for those who are uninitiated and usually require a specialist or someone who has developed the appropriate skills. There is a definite technique to releasing a plant from one of these wooden planting boxes and keeping the root ball intact.

Agave Farm picture

There are live agaves to be seen at AF, but this particular fountain sculpture can serve as a signature for this post and a fine end to Part 1 of our visit to Agave Farms.

Agave Farm picture

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

 
See previous posts about life in the desert HERE or gardening HERE.

Showy Queen’s Wreath – October, 2015

Readers of JBRish know that we do quite a bit of gardening in our Sonoran Desert home. One of the showiest plants we have is our Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus). This is an easy-to-care-for vine that asks little more than enough water and fertilization with a standard blooming plant variety enhancer.

While the plant blooms through much of the growing season, it reaches a full flush at one point which is generally late summer or early fall. It is a stunner. Below is a picture of our coral Queen’s Wreath that we have covering an arched trellis.

Read more about the Queen’s Wreath here:

 

Stunning Coral Queen's Wreath



JBRish.com originally published this post

Desert Bloom – Tecoma ‘Orange Jubilee’


Tecoma - Orange Jubilee

Another interesting and worthwhile plant to have in the desert garden is Orange Jubilee (also called Orange Esperanza or Orange bells) or any of its variants.

How it grows in my garden:

The plant is trimmed to between three and four feet tall (+/-) because it grows in a large container. If grown in the ground, it will be much larger. It extends to about six feet wide. The showy orange flowers bloom in clusters at the end of the branches as you can see in the photographs. When I notice seed pods, I remove them to extend the long blooming period even more.


Tecoma - Orange Jubilee Closeup

Hardiness range (depending on where it is grown): 0 to 40 F. The key with desert plants is to wait until all danger of frost has ended before pruning any damaged branches as the new growing season begins.

How it grows in my garden:

Exposure: Almost full sun (8-10 hours per day during the hot desert summer). Our shrub has afternoon shade coming from the west courtesy of a nearby Foothills Palo Verde.

In General: The plant is trimmed in stages at the beginning of the growing season. I remove very long and spindly branches and watch for the new growth. Once it starts to get bushy again, I trim more to maintain an even shape. Another tenet of xeriscape gardening is to keep trimming to no more than one third of the total growth. I try to keep it a bit less than that as these plants will be under stress during the upcoming hot weather.

Watering: During the winter the plant gets watered once or twice a week. When the spring active growing season begins, it is watered every few days until the end of April, then every other day or so until the end of May and then every day until the end of September. Watering tapers off from there.(Remember, this watering schedule reflects our desert environment.)

Fertilizer: I use a standard desert tree and shrub fertilizer (16-8-8) along with a tablespoon of a “super bloom” – type to add extra elements.

The plant receives fertilizer on or about:

Valentine’s Day
Memorial Day
Labor Day


Tecoma - Orange Jubilee

If you like these orange clusters and a nice green, bushy plant give Orange Jubilee a try!

Read More:

My Texas Flower Garden

Via East Valley Tribune – (The pictures don’t do it justice)