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moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Posted by fairylady_gardener 5 (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 23, 14 at 10:18

I love Wisconsin shade perennial gardening, collect hostas and ferns and have a beautiful moss garden. My husband and I are thinking of retiring in Arizona in the next few years. Will I regret this? What will my gardening future be? Is it all grasses and cactus? Anyone else make the move and have advice for re-learning gardening to grow in the sun and still enjoy it? Is it really goodbye to hostas and moss?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

You can grow pretty much anything in the Phoenix area (except a lot of the berries). Just add water and it grows.

That said, I'm afraid your moss and fern collection would have to go on the north side of the house however or under complete shade. And some undoubtedly will not take the summer heat regardless.

You likely will have to add organics (compost) to the soil. You may have to make summer overhead and/or western shade for things as the sun and heat is an enemy. But think of all the things you can grow that you could only dream of growing in a greenhouse back in Wisconsin. And you are going to want drip irrigation unless you move to a yard with flood irrigation. Few pest or disease problems. Year round growing.

http://www.phoenixpermaculture.org/

http://www.phoenixrose.org/ [This is just one of several Rose garden organizations.]

http://cals.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/general/hort.htm
http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1100.pdf
http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1304.pdf
http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1269/
http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1005.pdf
http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1435.pdf
http://cals.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/general/CitrusSupplement2011.pdf

http://www.phoenixponds.com/

http://azrfg.org/ [tropicals, more]

http://www.amwua.org/plants_index.html [low water using plants]

This post was edited by Fascist_Nation on Thu, Jan 23, 14 at 14:25


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

If you like 100-120 degrees for say half the year and freezing for a couple months, then move here. It's like living in h*ll but with nice people. It is nice weather for a couple days a yr. Ok I'm from CA. But you can build your own garden oasis.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

I was a Minnesota shade gardener and yes you will not be able to grow what you are used to growing. It is a hard transition to make or at least it was for me. Regardless of the shade the heat just doesn't let much of that kind of gardening possible.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Just forget everything you know about gardening in Wisconsin and you'll do fine. It's a different set of flora, but the natives are wonderful plants in their own right, as are the desert-adapted imports.

First thing: visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and the Desert Botanic Garden and see all the things that LIKE it here. Get a copy of Sunset's Western Garden book and check out all the stuff that likes Zone 13.

You can actually grow all kinds of things in light shade here ... aloes, sanseverias and many cacti. Jasmines too. Maybe not a hosta and fern garden, but there's a bunch of plants that make lush greenery if you give them a chance.

Ferns? How about asparagus fern, outside :)

Fresh basil, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano year round?
Tomatoes almost year round (all year if we have a mild winter)
Sweet peas in the winter, leafy green vegetables fall winter and spring.

Okra? Armenian Cucumbers? Peppers?

Here is a link that might be useful: Plants that grow here :)


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Thank you to everyone. I especially like the book suggestion. I guess I will have to let go of what I know but it'll give me fun in retirement to learn a new kind of gardening. For the most part I have some hope now that things besides cactus do grow there. I will miss my hosta collection, they have been my friends for many years... may give them away to friends instead of taking with and seeing them die.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

You might think of agaves as your new hosta collection. They remind me of them. Like everyone said you just have to forget everything you grew in your old life and look at all the really cool new stuff you can grow. Plus the winter trade off is wonderful!!


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

There are some Agave/Hosta hybrids in the works! :-)


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

I'm sorry but agaves put hostas to shame! The agave is a huge genus (208 different species) with jaw-dropping diversity and beauty, while the hostas few dozen species are all rather similar (except for the variegated ones).

Regardless of what the folks who complain that they can't bring the midwest to the Sonoran Desert say, the possibilities in Phoenix will far outshine those in Wisconsin. It's true that the transition might be difficult, and things like mosses and hostas may not do well, but who cares when you can grow hundreds and hundreds of different species of beautiful cacti and succulents alone, plus exotic flowering trees and shrubs, palms and cycads, and subtropical fruits? I'm biased because I love the plants that thrive in the low desert, but from an objective standpoint as well, the diversity of plant life speaks for itself.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

You can grow fantastic Citrus.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

fabaceae_native: +1. You almost sound like an Agaveville denizen. ;-)


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

To put things in perspective for you ... I just set out my chilis and tomatoes and I planted Armenian Cucumbers. Outside! In my shirtsleeves.

I have tomatillos, serrano chilis, sage and marjoram planted for later transplanting.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Native Seeds/SEARCH is a good website to check out to see some of the vegetable crops that will do well here, but in addition to that there are all sorts of fruit that you can grow: apples, citrus, peaches, plums, mangoes, grapes, pomegranates, blackberries, new low chill blueberries, etc.. Basically we have three growing seasons here, some say two but I say three, Spring, Fall and Winter. June July and August, most plants just try to survive.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

GermanStar: To tell the truth, I'm not even from Phoenix, but rather Santa Fe, NM, with a climate more like that of Flagstaff. Here there are only a half dozen or so agave species that can handle the cold, but they sure are beautiful! I've lived in both CA and AZ, and am still so enchanted by the plants that grow in the low desert in particular.

I hear the same things about making the transition to gardening in Santa Fe, even though it is less alien to an Easterner than Phoenix is. But I honestly believe that you only run into problems if you stubbornly insist on trying to grow all the same things you did in your more humid previous home. Instead I say, adapt and enjoy all of the new possibilities!!


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Amen to that.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

@fabaceae_native: I have a Website dedicated to succulents, and Agaves, in particular. You might enjoy it, lots of Arizona Agave habitat threads. We have trade lists there, and might be able to hook you up with some hardy Agaves you don't already have.

You're absolutely right about gardening issues. Stick with plants that thrive in your climate, or at least understand that you're experimenting with those that don't.

Here is a link that might be useful: Agaveville


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

And from another perspective, I'm still harvesting tomatoes, peppers and eggplant from last years spring plantings. Also eating assorted lettuces, green onions, radishes, kale, chard, bok choy, choy sum, spinach and basil. The late planting of turnips, beets, rapini and cabbages will be ready for harvest soon. In another month or so we can plant squash, beans and melons. The wildflowers are just beginning to bloom, the mums are fading but narcissus are blooming and daffodils will be soon followed by poppies, iris and daylilys. There will be adjustments to be made for sure, if you plan to visit the area before deciding maybe plan on taking advantage of one of the many home tours here throughout the year or just come out and plant to do a lot of driving around looking at yards. The Desert Botanical Garden would be a good destination, maybe check out the garden clubs and societies such as the pond society, iris society, mum society, rose societies etc. and check into attending a meeting or two.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Thank you everyone! I am very encouraged. Will have to relearn things, but that will be fun. Guess I am giving my hostas and moss away (but sounds like I can bring my daylillies and daffodil bulbs and perhaps heuchera collection with. I will miss my bleeding hearts and wildflowers but after THIS winter .... maybe not as much! I say as 3 to 6 inches of more snow fall outside in our below zero windchill. I have written down the book names and suggestions and appreciate it very much.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

fairlady, I moved here by way of Wisconsin over 40 years ago. I wasn't there long enough to garden, but I loved the beautiful greenery during my one spring and summer stay. I'm from MS and got to WI from a short stay in Tampa, FL, so all my plant know-how was of little use here. I'm not a die-hard gardener and have no interest in specialties or exotics. Still, to answer your question, yes, you'll go crazy and the longer you stay, the crazier you'll get! Just have fun with it.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Once you get settled, consider taking a free class from your local city water conservation office. The topics range from container gardening, composting, plant maintenance, landscaping for wildlife and a host of watering classes to help you learn about drip irrigation and our unique watering issues.

Here's a link to a list of those scheduled for spring. It will be updated for the fall later this year.

Here is a link that might be useful: Phoenix area free gardening and landscaping classes


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Hi I'm from Seattle where I had a similar collection to yours. I've been here a couple of years and I am having to learn all over how to garden and compost. It just doesn't work the way it did in Seattle. The people are wonderful here.. the 120 degree days are not. That being said I would love to hear what you decide to plant. I went out and picked a few prickley pear pads and threw them in my back yard and presto 2 years later I have fruit in September. It makes up for not having berry bushes anymore. Good luck!


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Sorry duplicate post

This post was edited by dillondoyle on Thu, Feb 13, 14 at 7:58


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Dillondoyle - funny since now my husband and I are considering Washington instead, because of my concerns about gardening in Arizona, and he has a sibling in Washington already. I just don't know if I can let go of my hostas and ferns and moss... hope I can take them with. We are going to take several trips and then a serious conversation to weigh all sides. I have really enjoyed everyone's thoughts, and like the comments with suggestions of resources to turn to. I am not sure now what direction my retirement adventure will take.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

If you decide to come to AZ, I'll volunteer to take your WI plants to WA for you! ;o)


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

There are hundreds of Washington license plates here in the winter months. Just food for thought.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Fairlady,
Ooh, now WA. That's a great state for gardening. So beautiful.

If you move here, just know you probably can't go outside and garden from May to September unless you can take the heat at 90-120 degrees. It's already in the 80s now.

Also the restaurants here aren't that great unless you like chain restaurants and there are both crazy drives and crazy cops here.

Just letting you know the reality, but if you move here, starting a garden will help keep you from going crazy.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Yes, and our cheese and sausage sucks too.

I don't know what that yellow plastic stuff you ship here from Wisconsin and label it cheese, but I am sure you laugh after you skim it off and ship it to Arizona where they know no better. After you taste real cheese and sausage in Wisconsin I am ready to declare war on them for what they send south.


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

i say forget about moss and berrys and think about citrus and bannana trees this was a mild winter here so about half of my tomatos and all of me habaneros survived after a good trimming and a little miracle grow i'll be set for spring and on'y have to plant my squash and cukes and melons and oh yeah okra. so just think of june through early september is our winter just like september through march in wi only we don't have to shovel sunshine


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Fairlady you might want to consider the Verde Valley (south of Sedona) It does not get as hot as the Phoenix area and the winters are cooler(dusting of snow maybe). Hardly any traffic and it smells good here. Lilacs/Lavender/calla lilies, all bulbs grow well here.
Just saying everyone to the south- no hard feelings.
Camp Verde


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RE: moving to Phoenix area - will I go crazy?

Fairy Lady,

In the past 11 years, my wife and I have moved from Phoenix to Shreveport, LA., back to Phoenix, then to Edinburgh Scotland, and now we're back in Phoenix. The learning curve is steep. Don't worry about what you're going to miss growing. Just think of all of the things that you're going to be able to grow when you get here.


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