Tuesday, December 7, 2010


"Why, YES, of course!" says Queen creek Olive Mill. And now I am hoping to get on board. You see I have an Olive tree that I absolutely love, however, I have always seen the actual olives as either: 1. a mess OR 2. a cost to spray so the tree does not produce olives. After learning to make Spanish Tortilla from my brother (long story) and picking up on the passion of good Olive Oil and cooking from a dear friend, I gained a whole new and long overdue appreciation for Olives. So I wondered, "What can I do with all these Olives? There must be SOMETHING!" I started to research to learn about what type of Olive tree I had and what purpose the fruit could serve. I had a tough time finding any good info. Even the all powerful google didn't seem to know. Then I remembered a nice visit to the Queen Creek Olive Mill this year for lunch. I had a great time there sampling wine and olive oil. I was truly just reveling in the fact that a local business here in Phoenix was actually producing foods all itself and promoting sustainable farming, etc. In my travels I had seen many places like this but never here in my own town!
OK, I am beginning to ramble. Just check it out. I will be trying to have them press my olives this year and I guess they split the oil with you. Exiting. No mess, an nice excuse to be outside in the yard, AND a really great holiday cooking bonus! Happy Holidays!


PS: ON a landscaping note, Olive trees are no less than AMAZING. Very clean (you can get fruitless Olives too), very nice, versatile style, low water, easy to maintain, totally reliable, and..... get this.... they can lived over a thousand years old, needing less and less water as they mature. Planting them is really, really good for the future of this valley ! Why they are not used more by cities, homeowners , and businesses always surprises me. (I must add, that there are some allergy issues, so look into that before planting)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Arizona "Fall" And Outdoor Living

If one can create a good environment, sitting outside in Arizona in late October can be very, very comfortable. Things somehow even seem a bit more quiet now that we are not baking in the concrete oven. The pool that was attractive in May has been long off the radar since late August when "taking a warm bath" didn't seem all that appealing. So now its the the patios, the fire pit, and, especially, the plants that will draw us into enjoying the landscape. Even though they do fine in the summer, many of the more tropical plants are starting to seem more relaxed or something. Like they too understand the relief and celebration of the "end of summer" here in the desert. This Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta) has the right idea. "Ah. . . . . . ."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

One of my favorite trees, the Tipuana Tipu

The Tipu Tree is easily one of my favorite trees to plant in Arizona. Besides being about the fastest growing tree I have ever seen, the Tipu has a very unique shape and structure. It can blend in nicely with a desert landscape or even compliment a sub-tropical landscape. It is important to know that with any fast growing tree such as Tipu, Sissoo, Mesquite, and Acacia, the proper maintenance of the tree's structure is essential. This is especially important during the 1st few years when the main branches are easily accessable and the ground work is being layed out for the long term shape of the tree. I once planted a 24" box Tipu for a client (7 ft tall, 3 ft wide canopy) and with good watering and care, I watched that tree become a huge assest to the landscape in about 2 years when it reached about 20 ft high and 15 ft wide. These trees continue to amaze me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Vibrant Desert Landscape Design

This Scottsdale Landscape Design completed by Ultimate Landscapes in the summer of 2008 shows the power of multiple textures, colors, and shapes in the landscape. The plants range from desert to sub-tropical and the goal was certainly to create a unique desert landscape - but a bit more lush and tropical looking. This landscape is very low water use and low maintenance as well.

The rock/ground finish used is called 1/4" minus "Madison Gold." The boulders are real, collected surface boulders that were built into the natural flagstone walkway. The landscape lighting fixtures are "Sedona Brown" in color and made by FX Luminaire. "Saguaro Pettite" is the style of the path lights used.

Some Plants pictured above: Aloe Striata (foreground, right side), Totem Pole Cactus (small "knobby" green cactus in the middle), Bougainvillea (bright pink in the background, right), Yucca Aliofolia (straight center), Twisted Myrtle (right side, dark green) Angelita Daisy (small, yellow flowers). These are all some personal favorites of ours.

Thanks to the homeowner and the crew! I can't wait to see this beautiful landscape thrive and mature for years to come.

Adam Bruce
Ultimate Landscapes
"Family Owned and Operated"

Friday, May 7, 2010

Desert Museum Palo Verde; What a tree!

Desert Museum Palo Verdes are a real marvel of science. With a succession that includes the Blue Palo Verde (Cercidium Floridum), the Foothills (Cercidium microphyllum), the Mexican (Parkinsonia aculeate), and the Sonoran/Palo Brea (Parkinsonia praecox). The DMPV takes great qualities from each of these which makes it faster growing, totally thornless, smooth trunked, have enhanced flowering, more cold resistant, basically a super tree ! This sometimes doesn't seem fair to other Palo Verdes. But don't worry, they all have a place in the landscape and we still use most varieties at one time or another. This particular tree just tends suit more "human" needs which is important. I have been at war with Palo Brea and Blue Palo Verde, those thorns cut right into your skull! Now you really know why the DM's are one of my favorite trees to plant in Arizona !

Phoenix Landscape Design

This Phoenix area home, designed and installed by Ultimate Landscapes, really encompasses the flavor of the native desert while spicing it up a bit with some cacti/plants from around the world. In the foreground above, one of my favorites, the "Argentine Giant" (Echinopsis candicans) is pictured in full bloom.

The native rock (2" to 8"grey stone you see) was used to really preserve the natural theme of the area. Gold 1/4" minus was put over the exposed dirt areas to give it a cleaner look but all effort was taken to use native colors.

In the background, you can see the specimen Saguaro (a real beauty that added its weight in gold) and specimen Yucca right in front of it. The hybrid "Desert Museum" Palo Verde was used as a shade tree for the home and the front courtyard. The Acker Stone Pavers really blend in with the home's theme and style. With the steep slope, we had to be creative but this paver driveway turned out to be a huge asset to this landscape.

The crew, the homeowner, myself, and even the HOA all worked together well from start to finish and we were able to complete this front yard project in about 12 working days @ site. (2.5 weeks) I appreciate when a project is really allowed to become what it was meant to become through creativity, hard work, and trust from the clients.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Phoenix, Arizona Landscape Remodel - Desert Landscape weaved with Mediterranean

This Phoenix/Scottsdale area front yard landscape was recently completed by Ultimate Landscapes Inc. Many of our clients really enjoy the Mediterranean and Tuscan style landscape. Fortunately in the Arizona Desert, we are able to create a similar feel, while still staying true to the spirit of the surrounding area and water usage, etc. I really enjoy designing Desert landscapes with a Mediterranean influence.

Many of the new or remodeled homes we landscape have strong Mediterranean tones. The great thing about Arizona is that the spectrum of plant life and origin that we have to work with is seemingly endless. The above landscape features a tree from Brazil/Bolivia - Tipuana Tipu, a palm from Southwestern Europe (Mediterranean Fan Palm), a cactus from Central Mexico (Mexican Fence Post), the native Ocotillo and Golden Barrel, along with many others of course. Most require little to no water and all are easy to grow and very consistent.

This landscape is a testimony to the value of hardscapes, elevation changes, boulders, and natural materials. When I say hardscapes, I mean boulders, stone, masonry, granite, and grading. Although they require more time and resources, they are permanent and require no resources to maintain once finished. When panning a project, compare the hardscape to the base coat or primer coat in painting. With a great base, the colors, textures, and feel come through crystal clear.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Wonderful Rocky Pt (Malephora luteola) and Copper Ice Plant (Malephora crocea)

The yellow flowering Rocky Point Ice plant (Malephora Luteola) and pink -flowering Copper Ice Plant (Malephora Crocea) can be magnificent, colorful ground covers for Arizona Desert Landscaping. I can think of no other ground cover that will bloom as frequently and heavily as these do.

Last year (Jan 09) I planted two 1 gal Rocky Pts. in my own front yard and they bloomed gorgeous yellow flowers all the way until July. The flowers close at night and re-open every morning. They have a curiously perfect round shape like the one pictured if they have room to grow.

A plant that flowers almost year round, requires little to no water except for the hottest parts of summer and blends in great with the desert landscapes. Seems perfect. There is one issue though.. They seem to have a "hit or miss" JULY/AUGUST. Of the 2 I planted, 1 died very quickly in the midst of the summer and the other stressed out for about a month and returned to health in Sept. That surviving one is still blooming now (Mar 2010) and really has not stopped since I planted it over a year ago. We have planted over 1000 of these for clients the last 2-3 years (all 1gal) and there are probably 400 left.

Many of our clients are only in Arizona for the winter, so that makes this plant's solid winter color very valuable to them -most AZ plants bloom in Spring and Summer.

So, what will I leave you with ? If you choose to plant either of these Ice plants -or many others for that matter - Carpabrotus and Desert Ice are 2 other good ones we use - understand that they have a 50/50 chance to make it through the 1st summer and sometimes they just can't handle the heat. Their year round color is so powerful that this does not bother me nor does it bother a fair amount of our clients. So give them a chance and see what they do for your garden.

Tips: Plant in an area that gets at least at least 4 hours sun to full sun. Avoid high traffic areas. Water very little in the colder months (1-2 times per week - if that) Remember they are a succulents and by design retain water quite well. Water frequently in EXTREME heat only(95+) (3-5 times per week) and cross your fingers... if they make it through one summer, they seem to be a lot tougher next time around :) Good luck


Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Powerful Affects of Contouring, Boulders, and Wash Scenes

This landscape remodel is a perfect example of the power of creative contouring, use of boulders and different types of granite and rip rap. Creating dimension and contrast in the hardscape and prep work really makes the plants/cacti/succulents blend in and look more natural. We have granite/boulders ranging from 1" to 3 ft wide and everything in between with an assortment of colors.

This Chandler landscape design requires very little maintenance but still provides a great deal of character to the home.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP