Arizona. Safe to say that most of my readers have moved here from somewhere else. A few of you grew up here.
Either way, it is no news to you that Arizona is a really special place. In fact, Arizona is like no place else on earth.
Arizona has desert. We have Chihuahuan Desert in the southeast corner. Sonoran Desert predominates in the southwest and central part of the state. In the northwest corner of the state we have a patch of Mojave Desert. Plus there are interzones where the desert vegetations meet and mingle.
Arizona has elevation. Elevations range from almost sea level to over 11,000 feet. The variations in elevation give us high, middle and low deserts. Plus within those deserts we have soil variations that lead to high, middle and low desert dune areas, or other special soil areas.
If desert vegetation is not enough, elevational changes mimic going from Arizona to the Arctic. There are belts of vegetation zones as you increase elevation. We have our deserts, plus grasslands, oak forests, pinyon-juniper forests, pine forests, fir forests, and areas above timberline, not to mention riparian habitats along rivers and in mountain canyons.
With all these different types of areas for plants to grow in, we have almost as many different species of plants native to the state as the number of plant species found in an equivalent area in the tropical rainforests of Brazil. The book "Arizona Flora" has over 1,000 pages of plants in it. But that is not the point of my column this week.
I point out the uniqueness of Arizona to encourage you to get plants for your yard that come from here. Not necessarily native plants, although that is a great idea, but rather Arizona-grown plants.
Actually, I should say it with capital letters. "Arizona Grown" plants. Our state Agricultural Department started a campaign to encourage residents to support our local economy by purchasing agricultural products grown within the state. Agricultural products include food, fiber, beverages and other agricultural products. Plants for landscape and garden fall into the "other" category.
The Arizona Department of Agriculture launched the "Arizona Grown" program several years ago. The goal of the program is to make it easier for consumers, retailers and restaurants to identify and purchase Arizona products. Marked by a bright orange and yellow logo, the idea is that the distinctive logo series will help everyone easily identify Arizona products.
Companies can not simply slap a sticker on their products. To use the logo, companies must … "submit a license agreement verifying their eligibility and agreeing to comply with … [some] … guidelines." Since it adds hassle to their life, hopefully you will help support the Arizona companies who go to the effort to get the certificate.
But why plant Arizona Grown plants? Horticulturally speaking, the very best plant to plant in any landscape is a plant that has grown up in an environment as similar as possible to that landscape. Because any nursery grown plant is going to be a pampered darling, it is best to get a pampered darling that had to put up with our unique deserts. Intense summer sun, baking summer heat, freezing winter conditions, and low humidity. No where else on earth is quite like Arizona.
Plants grown in Arizona have survived in the environment you are going to want them to survive and thrive in. Arizona Grown plants are the ones best adapted to do it. California grown plants are mostly grown in areas of higher humidity, less heat and no freezes. Californian grown plants may not make it if you plant them in your yard.
Yes, you can purchase plants cheaper from a chain place that ships them in by the truckload from somewhere else. You do the math. It takes a great deal of effort to dig a hole, go to the store, buy the plant, and some soil amendment, get plant and mulch home, plant the plant, water it, watch it die, rip it out and start all over again. Grandpa used to remind me, "Buy cheap, buy twice."
If all these reasons are not enough, think of the "green" aspects of buying Arizona Grown plants. Besides eliminating the need for vast amounts of transportation fuel needed to ship products, your money stays in the state and helps our state economy. Your money goes to Arizona companies who pay Arizona workers for their time, who spend their money in our state, further helping our economy. Forgive me for including another old saying, "Charity begins at home." Let's help our own state before we help others.
For more information on the Arizona Grown program you can contact: Arizona Department of Agriculture 1688 W. Adams, Phoenix, Az., 85007; Phone (602) 542-6408, or use the website: http://www.azda.gov/Main/logo.htm
It is easy to add a room or two onto your home by creating outdoor rooms with a planned landscape. It need not cost very much either. Turn your yard into delightful outdoor rooms with lush, desert adapted plants. To find out which plants to use and where, call for a private consultation. Call me, Jacqueline, at 292-0504. Please leave a voice message.