Our Blog


By Tom McDonald Frost is the most common type of cold weather plant injury in our area. When low temperatures combine with humidity and calm, clear nights, surfaces such as leaves and car windshields cool faster than the surrounding air, hence frost. Young plants,...

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Hawk Moth July 2018

Hawk moths, also known as a hummingbird or sphinx moths, are widespread around the world and are quite active in the Sonoran desert. This moth is one of the largest flying insects with a wingspan of two to five inches. The distinct white lines on the forewing and...

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Sacred Datura

By Tom McDonald  Also known as the southwestern thorn apple, sacred Datura might be recognized by many as jimson weed, a noxious plant that thrives in disturbed soil and is poisonous to humans, livestock, and pets. Datura wrightii, our desert species, is also used in...

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Euphorbia AKA Spurge

By Tom McDonald A large diverse family, euphorbia are often found in our Sonoran Desert gardens. Many have a poisonous sap as protection from herbivores, making them ideal in gardens plagued by critters; however, this irritating sap affects humans and their pets as...

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By Tom McDonald The palm family includes the most interesting and distinct plants in our Sonoran Desert landscapes but not all palms are suitable either for the desert or small spaces.  Of the two hundred genera of palms found the world over, less than a dozen are...

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The Flying Tiger

AKA Great Horned Owl / Bubo virginianus By Tom McDonald A few weeks ago, my wife walked out the door just as a large predator swooped down and perched on the fence around our pool.  The bird, a great horned owl, allowed himself to be admired than, with a blink of an...

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Desert Broom

The Scourge of Gold Canyon By Tom McDonald If I were the type of person that could hate plants, desert broom [Baccharis sarothroides] would be at the top of the list.  A native to the southwest and member of the sunflower family, desert broom can reach a height and...

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Rock squirrel

[Spermophilus varigatus] By Tom McDonald Ladies and Gentlemen!  Here in this corner, weighing in at 1.5 lbs. is the Sonoran Desert native rock squirrel!  One of the largest North American squirrels, its coat is speckled grayish–brown, lighter in front than the rear,...

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By Tom McDonald If you know what a Cardon is without reading any further, congratulations, you can count yourself as a bonafide Sonoran Desert plant geek.  Cardons [Pachycerus pringlei] look very much like their cousins the Saguaros [Carnegiea gigantia] with the...

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Smiling Dog Landscapes

6499 S. Kings Ranch Rd. Ste 6-#52
Gold Canyon, AZ 85118