Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Frozen Tucson Garden and a Friendly Garden Fort

Tucson was hit with freezing temperatures in late February, 2011, the likes of which this and the previous generation of Tucson gardeners have never experienced. In the Tucson Mountains, where our desert garden dwells, the temp dropped to 16 degrees - unbelievable. The potted flowering cactus to your left froze to the ground, as did many others in my garden and our region. Fortunately, the Sonoran Desert surrounding the Tucson area abounds with cactus of all types that did make it and we will survive. Generally you will find many articles in the paper this time of year by master gardeners instructing you on how to prune and rejuvenate plants that were damaged by frost. Not so this year. The most popular recommendations have been to replace your damaged plants with new ones and not bother with the severe pruning (and unsightliness) of trying to bring back a struggling survivor. I'll be replacing most of my potted plants (goodbye hibiscus) as well as several varieties of desert plants in my garden beds. My Turks Cap, which have been going great guns for several years now, DID survive, while other more hearty plants bit the dust (rhuelia, cassia, acacia and tacoma stans). No worries though, and I am looking forward to meeting the new plants I will be bringing into my garden this spring.
My granddaughters in front of their "fort" that I put together to entertain them last summer. It is made from inexpensive materials and was based on the vine trellis structures for my backyard raised bed vegetable garden (see my raised bed gardening posts in the index) Basically all you need is re bar, 1/2"metal electric conduit and pole connectors, reed fencing, plastic vine ties, clamps and shade cloth. I added some garden posts in the front to give it that rustic island look. The re bar is pounded into the ground and the hollow conduit is slipped over it to provide the frame - just like the shade structure of a raised bed garden. Reed fencing is then attached via the plastic vine ties to the frame and shade cloth draped over the top and attached with the same clamps used to keep the shade cloth in place over your raised bed. We poured sand on the floor which my youngest granddaughter uses as a sandbox. All of these materials you can get at Home Depot. The nice thing about this fort is it blends in with your garden. The fencing behind the fort is made from the branches of the ocotillo cactus and will be a topic for a later post. Saguaro later and Tanque Verde much!


The Sage Butterfly said...

I love the fort...what a great idea! So simple, and yet very effective!

The Smiths said...

Thank you for your post about a frozen garden. We too suffered plant loss. Our greatest concern is our young pomagranate tree. Planted last yr as a 5 gal. 7-8 feet tall but still a young tree. I trimmed back all of the dead looking branches. Still no new growth or leaves. At the base where the graft growth. Just not sure what to do. Any suggestions? Thanks, The Smiths, Three Points/Tucson

Rohrerbot said...

It was an incredible freeze here!!! Amazing the damage that was done. After our rain event today, I plan on going out and putting in our new cacti for the gardens. The night blooming cereus was a tough one to lose.....only two survived from the 8 that were placed around the property!!! Back to the drawing boards.....BUT I have to's fun:)

LucyS said...

I was happy to find your blog, because I am moving to Tucson in 3 weeks and plan to do some serious gardening in the desert. I see that it has been a while since you posted on your blog, so I hope you are going to continue it. (By the way, I noticed a typo in your heading: "amateur." I figured you would want to know.)