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Tempe gardener proves desert climate is no obstacle for planting

Posted at 8:08 AM, Aug 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-28 13:25:35-04

Friendship Village is a paid advertiser of Sonoran Living Live

With average high temperatures above 100 degrees, and only about one inch of rain, August in the Phoenix area doesn't sound like the ideal planting season. But Audrey Mawson swears you can garden yearlong in the desert, if you just know what to plant and how to care for it. Mawson is a gardener, former San Francisco State University botanist, and former landscape designer with 40 years of experience. Now she's on a mission to prove to fellow Valley of the Sun residents that you can garden in the desert.

Mawson, 81, began gardening as a little girl alongside her mother, and now collects seeds and grows everything from flowers and vegetables to trees and bushes. In fact, plants, flowers and trees are thriving at her garden home at Friendship Village Tempe retirement community, where she and her husband have lived since December 2012. When researching potential senior living communities, the Mawsons knew they wanted the security of a Life Care continuing care retirement community, but they also needed a home with space for her to be outside and tending a garden. After visiting a few communities, they decided a cottage home at Friendship Village Tempe would work perfectly.

Mawson brought nearly 30 potted plants to Friendship Village Tempe when she first moved in, and now keeps some in pots, some in the ground, and even tends to some of the trees planted by the community's landscapers near her yard. All year long, there's sure to be greenery surrounding the Mawson home.

While she enjoys the compliments, Mawson tires of hearing that she must just have a green thumb. If there is such a thing, she certainly has it, but swears that you don't need to be an expert to keep plants thriving in the Phoenix area.

There are many common misconceptions about desert gardening - the worst of which is that nothing grows here. Mawson says you can plant year-round in Arizona; just choose different plants for various times in the year. For example, tough plants will grow anytime, but save the tropical ones for winter. And when all else fails, roses are a great hardy option that do very well in the dry climate.

About Friendship Village Tempe
Since 1980, Friendship Village Tempe has set the standard in senior living and provided its residents with a fulfilling retirement lifestyle. The community offers 575 one- and two-bedroom independent living apartments and garden homes. As a Life Care community, Friendship Village Tempe also provides a full continuum of care, including on-site assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory support residences and services. Friendship Village is managed by Life Care Services™, a leading provider in life care retirement living. For more information about Friendship Village, call (480) 831-5000 or toll-free (800) 824-1112, or visit the community's website at     

Friendship Village is a paid advertiser of Sonoran Living Live