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home : features : real estate & home life May 4, 2016

5/3/2013 6:00:00 AM
Good advice vital if your thumb isn't green
BUTCH MERIWETHER/CourtesyMike Turner and daughter Marcie of Island Palms Nursery.

Mike Turner and daughter Marcie of Island Palms Nursery.

Butch Meriwether
Butch's Brew

I'll bet this scenario sounds familiar. It has happened to me more times than I can count on all of my fingers and toes. I'll buy a flower, shrub or a tree, take it home, dig a hole in my yard and plant it - and about 30 to 60 days later, it's dead. Making it worse, the plant is dead even though I gave it what I believed was enough care, love and water.

The problem as I see it is that there are way too many people who profess to be experts in the field of horticulture and they provide advice to customers even though they honestly don't know the difference between the various trees and flora, what is drought-tolerant and what isn't.

Many retail outlets do provide a guarantee that if the trees and vegetation you purchased from them die within one year, they will replace it for free. But the biggest problem is you have to dig it back up and drive it back to the location where you purchased it and, hopefully, they still have that particular tree or plant in stock. Oh, don't forget the sales receipt or you're out of luck with the exchange.

My wife, Chris, has more of a green thumb than I could ever have. I honestly think she can stick a dead twig into the ground, give it some water and plant food, and it'll grow into a beautiful tree.

However, there are those who do not have the luxury of a wife or husband who is an expert in trees, plants and other drought-tolerant species that will tolerate our harsh desert sun and cold winter nights.

Because I don't want to have to contend with every Tom, Dick, Harry and Susie showing up on my front porch seeking horticulture advice from my wife, I decided to do some research to find a local expert who can provide sound advice on what and what not to plant in our area.

I didn't have to travel too far to figure out Mike Turner and his daughter, Marcie Turner, of the family-owned and operated Island Palms Nursery in Golden Valley, are extremely knowledgeable in regard to what plants will survive our hot, arid summers and the temperature extremes of winter.

"Here in Golden Valley, we are at a 2,800 feet elevation and the two communities closest to us are Kingman (about 3,500 feet) and Bullhead City (about 500 feet),' said Marcie Turner. "The climate here is Mediterranean. Dry weather is the norm, but it also freezes here."

According to Turner, there are a wide variety of drought-tolerant trees that will survive our diversified weather patterns. A few of the trees that are hardy enough to do well in our area include the mesquite, acacia, palo verde, chaste, Australian bottle, Chinese elm, Chinese pistache, eucalyptus, honey locust, fruitless olive, desert willow, Mondel pine, Italian stone pine, Mediterranean fan palm, California fan palm, Mexican fan palm and date palm.

She said some of the more hardy flora that will survive our weather are the Texas Ranger sage, bush morning glory, dwarf myrtle, firethorn pyrocantha, Pittosporum, jojoba, Mexican bird of paradise, Mexican honeysuckle, pomegranite, melaleuca, rosemary, cassia, Texas mountain laurel and Texas sage.

"Most of the cactus and other desert plants such as agave, Argentine giants, beavertail, desert spoon, opuntia, purple prickly pear, saguaro, yellow barrel and yucca are well suited for our environment and won't have a problem of surviving with minimal care," Turner said.

Before starting that "do it yourself" project in your yard, save a lot of heartache and self-induced stress by seeking expert advice about the different types of trees and other vegetation that will survive in our area.

Also, please remember that drought-tolerant does not mean rabbit proof. That's a whole other story.

Island Palms Nursery is located at 6300 W. Supai Drive in Golden Valley and their telephone number is (928) 279-0178.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013
Article comment by: My Garden

For every living plant on my property, I've probably killed 5-10 of them trying to learn how to grow 'em. The litany of problems in this area definitely make it a challenge. From extremely poor soil to a barrage of pests, fungus, viruses and bacterial infestations leaves me with a hobby that keeps ,me plenty busy.
However, All that work is starting to pay off. My yard is vaguely beginning to resemble an nice garden.

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