November 14, 2008: The Frog Gardens...or..."Plant Your Butt on This Rock"

When we purchased our Arizona property in April of 2004, the only "decorative" plants were three Palo Verde trees, a couple of horrid mesquites, a nice palm tree and a lovely dwarf oleander hedge. One of the first things I did was go to a cactus dealer and spend way too much on cacti of all shapes and sizes, and a small lemon tree. These were promptly planted and carefully tended until mid June when we headed back home for the summer. We didn't have any way to keep the plants watered, and even cacti benefit from some moisture through the heat of the summer, so I hired a man to watch the plants and water weekly or as needed. When we returned the following October, nearly every cactus was dead but the palm tree and oleander hedge looked great. My man had decided cacti needed no water, and he evidently "forgot" about the lemon tree.

So I returned to the cactus dealer and purchased replacements for the ones I had lost, and bought another (larger) lemon tree. Then, when it was time to leave for the summer, I hired the same man to water the plants (I'm a slow learner). I explained to him that ALL the plants needed to be watered weekly, not just the palm and oleanders. Although he is mildly mentally challenged, he usually does a job well with repetition. But, alas the same thing happened again and I returned to more dead plants.

That is when I decided to place a rock in every spot where a plant had died, and glue a frog to each rock. Needless to say, my Frog Garden grew much faster than my cactus garden!

I have since given up on growing a lemon tree, but I haven't given up on growing cacti. I got smart, though. I bought some drip irrigation supplies and a timer, and it cost much less than I was paying someone to kill my plants each year.

I've grown fond of the frogs, sitting on their rocks, so they will stay and live among the cacti.


  1. who is smarter, man or drip irrigation... definitely drip irrigation.

    I grow a couple pots of succulent's and agave's. They of course come in from sept-may, I think they are worth the extra effort. My favorites would have to be any aeonium. I also grow the same agave that you have in your second photo.

  2. Dan, I believe that is a Blue Agave. I'm not very good at identifying the cacti and succulents. I just see something I like and buy it (or talk a neighbor out of a start). I have quite a few agave and aloe vera. I'm a bit like Mr. H when it comes to these desert plants...we like "the pointy ones", LOL!

    Annie and Otter found out how to pull the drip tubing out of the ground today. I think I'm going to have to cover it all with rock.

  3. I like your idea of putting a froggie wherever a plant has died. A nice little memorial. My mother in law left us a turtle collection that I've been thinking about using in the garden in some way.

  4. JGH, it can get away from you though. Those are just a few of the collection. I began buying them, then friends started adding to them, now I have so many frogs I don't know where to put them all!

  5. hmmmm, and I was going to send you another frog at Christmas. Maybe I'd better think of something else.

  6. Oh, Norma Zoe...I have lots of room for frogs here! I have over 1/2 acre for lots and lots of frogs! I wish you'd send me YOU for Christmas :-)

  7. Granny, I love the stories and the frogs. MUCH better than garden gnomes, that's for sure. Quite a chuckle they received here. Thanks!

    And I have to ask (as one who's weakness is lemon treats), why haven't you planted a lemon tree and set it up on your drip system? The zest alone is worth the trouble, hehe.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Oh, and I love how your blog roll has a snipet of the last post on it. You're so tech savy and I'm so not. Yet another amazing thing about you!

  8. Sinfonian, I would love nothing more than having a lovely lemon tree! (Pssst...don't tell anyone, but we've already killed three of them.) They are extremely difficult to grow here, and don't ask me why. Grapefruit and some varieties of oranges do quite well, bet even those seem to show up in the yards of people who live here year round so I'm assuming they take a lot more TLC than just a drip system provides. I think if I could afford a much more mature tree than I've been buying it might have a better chance of survival, but I hesitate to put out that much money on an iffy thing.

    And I'm a lemon treat lover, too...had the loveliest lemon cake for dessert last night. MMMmmm!!

  9. For me though, the more lemon the better. Strong but not too tart is perfect for me. hehe

    So sorry you can't grow one well. I know the pain of putting out tons of cash for a mature plant. It's insane in that climate you can't plant a lemon and let it grow. Grrr.