planting outside of my comfort zone.

I had planned to get out to the botanical garden at Ethel M’s while I was out at my mom’s house last week.  I thought it would make a great ‘Sunday mornings in the garden’ post.

If you aren’t familiar with Ethel M chocolates, first of all they are named after Ethel Mars.  She was Forrest Mars Sr.’s mother, and he is the founder of Mars, Inc.  So many brands are under the Mars umbrella, including Snickers and M & M’s, but Ethel M is their fresh-crafted gourmet chocolate line and they make them in Henderson, NV.

You can tour the factory to see where they are made, and to try a free sample.  But I go for the botanical garden outside.

I have to admit, I’m not really a big fan of desert scenery.  I tend to prefer a much more lush look.  But the Ethel M garden shows how beautiful cacti and other desert plants can be.

All of that being said, I didn’t actually get out there this time.  All of those pics are from my visit last year.  My mom came down with bronchitis just before I arrived last week, and she wasn’t feeling up for much.  So I basically spent the week laying low with her.  Honestly, I was quite lazy and didn’t accomplish much.

However, I did do some planting for her.

She has a few pots on her patio, and I tend to plant those up with annuals each time I visit.  When I was out in February I put in some pansies.

They were still looking OK, but with hot weather just around the corner for her, I knew they weren’t going to last much longer.  I wanted to replace them with some moss roses, which did extremely well for her last summer, but they weren’t available at her local Lowe’s yet.

So I left most of the pansies in place and decided to plant a few things right in the ground for her this time around.

Here’s the thing, my mom lives in a townhome.  They have a rock landscape with irrigation spots here and there for specimen plants.  As plants have died over time, it seems that her HOA is not replacing them.  So there are lots of spots that have a functioning irrigation drip, but no plant.

I’m not usually a rule breaker, technically my mom is supposed to get approval to do any planting in the ground.  But … well … I didn’t have time to wait around for approval.  I planted anyway.

The first challenge for me was figuring out what to plant in her zone 9a, which is a long ways from my own zone 4b garden.  I started out with the yellow lantana.  There are already several of these in the ground in her complex, so I figured they were a safe bet.  I also thought maybe the HOA wouldn’t notice them since they would just blend in with existing plantings.

I grabbed that plant in the back of the photo above with the bright pink flowers because I thought it might attract hummingbirds.  My mom has a hummingbird feeder just outside her sliding glass doors and she loves to watch the birds.

It’s a Chiapas Sage which grows best in full sun and is drought tolerant so I’m hoping it will do well, and draw in lots more hummingbirds.

I also grabbed a gardenia while shopping.  When my family lived in Florida we had a gardenia and my mom loved it, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I wasn’t sure it would do well in the ground with their once a week drip irrigation, so I decided to put it in one of her pots where it would be easy for her to water.

The tag said it would do best with 3 to 4 hours of morning sun, but with protection from the intense afternoon sun.  I was able to place the pot in the perfect location on her patio for that.

I had to laugh when digging through the boxes of stuff in my mom’s garage looking for plant food because I found some vintage garden tools.

She was never much of a gardener, so I was surprised to find this.  If I came across it at a garage sale I’d probably pick it up to use as a photo prop!  Who knows when the last time was that this tool was actually used.  I may have to sneak it into my suitcase the next time I visit.

For now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything I planted survives.

How about you, do you ever garden outside of your zone?  Leave a comment and let me know.


9 thoughts on “planting outside of my comfort zone.

  1. Yes,I learned to plant out of my comfort zone many years ago. We live in Georgia and have had a cabin in Maine for the past 15 years. Talk about a zone change, holy cow! I basically planted the same perennials that I could see were doing well in neighbors’ yards. They needed to be hardy and extremely low maintenance and shade-loving since it was basically in the woods. The strategy worked and most have survived nicely.


    1. Oh boy, that is a big change! You suffer some deer damage in those Maine woods too. I’m glad you’ve found things that work for you, and I’m also super envious of your cabin in Maine. I bet it’s fabulous!


  2. Oh, a gardenia! I also had a huge gardenia bush in Florida. It grew just outside my bedroom window. It smelled magnificent! I miss those.
    Thanks for the photos. It helps while we wait for Spring.


  3. Linda, thanks so much for the desert pics. We’ve been in Fountain Hills AZ for the past few months and when the desert blooms, it’s beautiful! This past year has been very wet and so Spring has been producing gorgeous color. In fact, the desert floor is full of flowers and color. (California Poppies and some sort of purple/blue lupines) They call it a super bloom. I believe the same thing has happened in California this year. It’s worth looking up to see the stunning pictures online.
    It really makes you think when you’re used to the MN zone and then need to plant in the desert.


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