I begin with an act of full disclosure. I am a transplant.
Let me explain. Before I moved to St. George last summer (Yeah. I know. Who moves here in the summer?) I lived in the Midwest. Michigan to be exact. It was where I learned to garden through, or sometimes in spite of, the changing seasons of the year. There were Springs in which I gambled against a late season frost ravaging my young plants; Summers that ran hot and hotter and nearly always so humid even my wood trellises wilted; Falls that could be counted on to lie: one day warm and sunny, the next blustery and blowing. And then there was Winter. Snow, sleet, ice, wind. Always some dastardly combination thereof. Weeks of nothing but gray. Gray skies, gray mushy snow, gray gloom. A sunny day was a cause for celebration. I’d pull on my boots, wrap myself in as many layers as I was capable supporting without fear of heart attack and waddle to my garden in fanciful search of some sweet sign of vegetative life buried beneath the snowdrifts brought in by the aforementioned wind. Few sites make a Midwest gardener more hopeful than the slightest hint of green poking through an endless sea of white, even if later in the spring you discover it’s the hand trowel you neglected to put away after planting the bulbs in October.
Then, last year, beloved husband and I followed our grandchildren and their families to the Great Southwest. While they are in Salt Lake and points north of there, and we settled in St. George, it feels good to say we now reside in the same time zone.
One glance around me, however, was all it took for me to realize I wasn’t in Michigan any more. Perhaps I was expecting the landscapes of the Saturday afternoon Westerns that mesmerized me as a kid. Sagebrush and tumbleweed, menacing looking cacti and dust, dust and more dust.
Imagine my surprise. Color everywhere, and not wimpy colors. Oranges, corals, whites, blood-reds Rose bushes so vibrant and so full of blooms all I could do was stare. Other plants offered up spikes of red, bursts of yellow and shades of green that ran the gamut of the color wheel. And the trees! Here were trees with leaves that fell off in the Fall just like in Michigan. Fir trees that grabbed the few flakes of snow we saw and sent me running to bake Christmas cookies.
My fingers twitched with nervous anticipation. I was ready to dig in. Gardening in the desert, here I come.
But wait. A small problem wriggles itself into my state of horticultural frenzy.
I don’t know squat about desert gardening.
Questions flood my brain.
First of all, what zone are we in? When something is labeled heat-tolerant, does that mean even in triple digit heat? Is it wrong to water more than once a day? What do the terms annual, biennial and perennial mean when there is no killing snow? How does one fertilize a cactus? Do they even need it? Fall growing season? What’s that? What are those red spiky things and do they like being transplanted? Moreover, how does one actually dig in out here? Jack hammer? What is a trickle system? Which are the ‘good’ bug guys and the ‘bad’ bug guys? I could go on.
And I will. I figure I’m not the only transplant around here who has questions like these. Do you?
I’m not afraid to ask the most basic questions, and some that might not even occur to those who have been gardening here and loving it.
So, keep dropping by, and if you have a question, I’ll do my best to find out the answers.