This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

January 12, 2018

How to make a hyacinth bloom indoors in the winter

It's mid-January, and even though it's chilly outside, you can still enjoy a blooming hyacinth. Actually, you can do this with any flowering plant that grows from a bulb. It's called "forcing", and in spite of that name, it requires no effort at all. This how you do it:

I recommend buying the bulb and the pot together, like this one, which is on my windowsill. This was $2.99 at the grocery store, and while the plant itself will fade away after it blooms, you can keep the pot, and just buy a bulb next year. If this is your first time, I recommend getting the whole package.

As you can see, the bulb sits into the space at the top of the pot, and the roots grow into the water. By the way, I just noticed as I was writing this that the water level was going down, so I just went and added more water. That's all you have to do. Well, it has to go on a sunny windowsill. I turn it every few days to keep the bloom looking even, but you really don't have to. It wants to grow towards the sun, of course.

As you can see, the blooms start to open up from the bottom up. I wish you smell this, it's wonderful, it perfumes my dining room, and I can smell it as I walk by into the kitchen to make my coffee.

So there you go. You can do this all winter. Enjoy!

Two days later, in full bloom

January 8, 2018

Why you should have artificial turf (fake grass)

I love the look of my backyard. There are interesting plants to look at, a table where I can sit and ponder this and that, and plenty of space for my tiny little dachshund. And I especially like the artificial turf (the fake grass).

If you have a small backyard like mine, I recommend artificial turf. When I first moved here there was grass, and as nice as grass is, it's annoying to care for, and keep looking nice. Plus you can't put furniture on it the way you can with artificial turf. And while it's still just plastic, and can't possibly be as soft as real grass, it's a whole lot softer than paving or concrete. I've seen backyards with hard surfaces and I think they're just awful. The heat and glare, especially in areas like Phoenix, is just horrible, and they start to look terrible just about right away. They need to be constantly swept, or they look messy. My artificial turf actually looks better with a few fallen leaves on it - makes it look more natural. And the only maintenance I do is with a small hand-held blower, and it takes about ten minutes. I blow the leaves up into the garden, where they become mulch. The tree's roots are starting to bulge the far area over there, and with paving it would be making a mess, with the turf, the grass just moves with it, and looks natural. Look right where Macintosh is looking.

As of this writing, the artificial turf will be eleven years old this year, a year younger than my dog. And yes, it was an investment. I had it professionally installed and even this tiny area cost me a couple thousand dollars. Whether I saved that amount over the years not dealing with grass doesn't matter to me, it's been a pleasure to have.

No, I'm not getting a kick-back from an artificial turf company, I just like seeing it. Just like I like seeing gardens. I like the idea that you can make your little corner of the world a more beautiful place. My garden is my favorite place to be. There was a time when I just pictured a "Tropical Paradise" in my backyard, and now it's a reality.

Excuse me, I'm going to take my coffee outside and look around. And I'm pretty sure that my dog will help me! We like it there.