Exploring My World – Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake is located 20 miles Northeast of Mesa, AZ.  It’s has a marina and several boat ramps.   And three roads into the area.   There are marked trails for hiking, atv’s and horses. This is part of Tonto Forest area and daily passes are sold off site year round in places like Ft McDowell, Mesa, and Jake’s Corners

And being there at the beginning of March, there are wildflowers. The area is loaded with cacti and cholla.

California Poppies
Wild Lupine

Trees Part 9

The end of my best guesses at what iis growing as a tree or shrub.  There have been 53 so far.  I keep forgetting some shrubs are tender vegetation and get carried inside.  Which means pot bound.  Some take forever to bloom or show fruit.

Rose of Sharon, a glorious weed by any other name surely would not smell as sweet.  Ok, that maybe a bit harsh.  I hated these things when I had a small yard.   You have a thousand seedlings every year it seems.   They with take over easily.   But they can be kept as a hedge.  They will bloom continuously from July til frost.  Every year I cut them back to about two feet tall and they come back really thick.   Left alone they could reach about 6-7 feet tall.   They are a favorite of Japanese Beetles, and may require spaying. 

Hibiscus are a tropical breed.  Hardy ones do exist and require luck this far North.  We have ones that go in for the winter. These are braided as “trees”. They need feed well to stay pretty.  If you let them go dry, It takes awhile to talk them back to blooming.  Once they start they will bloom most of the summer.

The Bay Tree is a Mediterranean staple.  Here it’s a basement plant and acts like it will melt in the Sunshine for the first month its back outside.  This is about four weeks later.  The leaves are usable for seasoning.   Even can be dried and sprinkled around the counter/floor to repeal ants. This can get seven feet tall and if you leave side branches it’ll look a lot better.  It’ll look much better in another month!

Another Florida native, Lantana is at home in sand and loose soils.  But with enough water, it’ll grow in hard soil.  In nature they are 3-4 feet tall,  in a pot or the ground 2-3 feet is big.   This is another spend winter inside plant.  The blooms have multiple colors on most.  Combinations can be red, orange, & yellow, or pink, purple, & cream.  Even solid white or yellow are common. It’s a nice compact shrub.  If you take care of it, all summer it blooms.

The Sargeant Crabapple is another Arbor Day tree.  It had a decent growth rate.   There are male and female trees.  The females bear fruit.  Not edible type for people though.  The tall one is almost ten feet tall, the shorter one six feet.  The foliage is dense enough for a nest or two.  They prefer soil with drainage but can stand wet soil for part of the year.  Just make sure it’s in the Sun.

Trees Part 8


The Black Locust is the main stay of the front yard. It’s a tree that looks more dead than alive most of the year. These are signs of poor soil. They grew in places with standing water, hard compacted clay and will grow with little light. They tend to cluster, partially become they were others won’t. They do actually look good in May because they bloom for a few days or until it rains. The blooms are very fragile.

The Peony is very common shrub. It had really nice blooms that look good for than a week. The plant then proceeds to fall face first to the ground. This one is tied up. It has topped out at less than 3 feet tall.


This Bush Fushia is a tender plant. It’s more plant than shrub. It will get as large as six feet if I lived in Hawaii. Here in Ohio, it lives in the basement for half the year. The flowers are magnets for hummingbirds. They bloom all year. Like the hanging plant relative,this needs lot of water and fertilizer to stay happy.

The Rug Juniper is a spreading evergreen. It will never be more than six inches tall but can stretch out 3-5 feet in two directions. Usually they are long and about a foot wide. They make great accents to demarcate a bed from the yard. This one has a future job doing that!


The Florida Weigela is the most common Weigela. It had red flowers that may have stopped for an unknown reason. It’s battling day lilies for space in a bed. Although, it should be 5-6 feet tall and wide, this one is a bit small. At 2 feet tall, it’s been buried alive for the first couple months is good weather.

Mark Builds Arbor for Grapes

In my tree series,you may have noticed I buy clearance plants. One advantage of this is the plants aren’t expected to do much on the first year. If they live we have success. Well year two rolls around abs all of a sudden my bargain grapes  are attacking the garden and the yard simultaneously.

Now I was left with two choices. I started with explaining that World War II future changed with the opening of the Eastern front, leading German forces to split their strength against superior numbers.  The grapes didn’t listen. The attack on the grass got worse on the “Mars” variety of grape. I wasn’t surprised somehow.  Choice two build it and they will climb.  A Trellis.


I appropriated five 2″x2″, seven brackets, a bunch of #8 wood screws, four eyelet hooks, four open hooks, 100 feet of 20 gauge spooled wire, 8  1/8″ wire clips, and four turnbuckles.  And three single hole cinder blocks and a bag of fast setting concrete.  Other party favorites needed were a drill, a couple of drill bits (7/64″ and 1/4″), tape measure, level, needle nose pliers, screwdriver (or bit for drill)


I measured my grapes and found that the node where the vines split at was about 18″ of the ground.  I drill holes for attaching hardware with the 7/64 bit and in middle post with the 1/4″ bit for passing the wire through. The height of the wires can be customized, or evenly spaced.  I placed a bracket at the top of two posts and two on a third that will be the middle post. I placed one 2″x2″ in place like an L shape to mark the resting place.  By placing the bracket in place and using a pen to mark where the screws will be placed.  Once all piece are marked, the small bit will create a pilot hoke for screws.  Be careful not to drill completely through the posts. From the bracket measure out the spacing you wish for your wires.  I choose uneven to match where my grapes branch now. I have over six feet of height after installed,even spacing would be about 15″ apart as the too would potential be another support.  Measure these four point out on post.  Drill partially through on the end with small bit.  The center piece is drilled all the way through for the wire to pass through with the larger drill bit.  Attach the hooks into the end pieces by hand.


The cinder blocks are dug in.  The holes dug here used are not the same depth.  The land slopes and for final Arbor to level this maybe necessary.   You can start with same depth and back fill to make the top level.  It helps to have a second person.  But if you are alone put two posts a piece linking them.  Place the cinder blocks in holes, then attach the top piece.  Put a level on the top and check to see what adjustment is need. Once you get the first two done repeat with the third, but disconnect the first post only use two at a time or you may crack the wood or twist a bracket.


If we are level, no we,a reddis the concrete.  The fast setting concrete takes about a gallon of water.  The small cinder blocks will allow for a single bag to cover all is them.   Place a ppst inside then pour enough concrete mix to fill the inside of block 2/3 and add about a quart of water.  Pivot the post side to side a bit without lifting.  Fill the rest of the block up.   You can sandwich the post between two buckets filled with water to hold in place.  You could add another piece of wood to support it as well by temporary screwing another piece to be a leg.  Two ensure the second post is spaced perfectly, I put the piece that would fit on top between the posts in the middle.  It can rest on the eye hooks of the first post.  But let the first post sit for about half hour to hour for concrete to set.  Repeat for last post. Once all posts are set you add the wood pieces on top to complete the frame.


The wire that will support the vines needs to be connected.   The best way are wire clips.  They are U-bolts made really small. The clip goes on top of wire, you thread wire through loop and bring wire back through the U-bolts, then tighten.  The picture shows turnbuckle, but process is the same for the closed loops I started at the closed loop on our end side lowest on the post.  I threaded through the center post and then attached it to the turnbuckle as shown above.  The turnbuckle will slip on the opening hook on far post.  As shown, the wire is actually tightened by turning the turnbuckle.   After you install all the wires, you may need to retighten the first one.   You have created tension  across all the pieces and may have drawn the posts closer together.


We have completed an Arbor.  I used a soft wire covered strapping to tie the grape vines to the wires.   The leaves will look flipped over but they will straighten out.  The grapes will need a little attention to keep them in their right place.   Once the vines are supported,  I will weed and pave a weed barrier and mulch to keep the vines happy.


A Day visit to Hilo

 The Big Island of Hawaii has two sides.  Most of us tourists stay on the Kona side.  There are far more places to stay there.  There are more restaurants.  There’s more people.  Don’t feel bad about Hilo, it gets more rain!  Well, that means more waterfalls!  Several parks are either in or within half hour of Hilo.  These are reasonable things you can do with a day in Hilo.  

A half hour North of Hilo is a very special place.  As you need a four wheel drive truck to go in special.  You rental car will take you to a great vantage point overlooking Waipio Valley.  A tube shaped valley framed bit steep walls.  Inside the roads are streams.  Ribbon waterfalls are everywhere.  A black beach is down there too.  Important part here.  The locals hate you.  If you get the chance to go down the hill, make a right at the bottom of the road between a pair of guard rails.  There may not be any good signage.  Currently the area is closed due to dengue fever.  The picture used is from Wikipedia.

The drive there and back offer fantastic blue oceans, farms, and hills.  There are a few small villages but not much else.  Side trips like scenic drives are even signed for you.

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