Welcome to the Website of Mary Irish
Horticultural Information and Communications Services
Consulting | Speaking | Horticultural Writing | Teaching
Gardening on the Dry Side
Gardening in the Southwest is a delight to me and I want to share my enthusiasm for all the great plants, native and otherwise, that can be grown in Southwestern gardens.
For 25 years, I lived, worked and gardened in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The building of that garden and all the lessons learned there are the subject of my book Intertwined Lives (in press, University of Arizona Press). Arizona and that garden, as well the gardens of good friends there, gave me a strong appreciation for how many exquisite plants there are that are tough enough to thrive with the twin challenges of drought and heat.
In 2012, I moved to Castroville (just west of San Antonio), Texas at the tail end of the greatest drought Texas had ever recorded. This part of Texas marks the eastern end of what I have long considered the warm, low elevation portion of the Southwest; a region that extends from the southern California to Central and South Texas. While the western end, where I lived for many years, is drier and hotter than the eastern edge where I now live, the entire region shares a wide array of species that thrive in gardens and landscapes in the region. For years, I have worked with horticulturalists, designers, nursery owners and gardeners throughout this region, and three of my books were written for use throughout the entire area.
I strive to provide through my writing, teaching and consulting work quality information on the plants that thrive where it is hot and dry, from the deserts of California and Arizona to the hills and plains of central and south Texas. I am currently working part time at the San Antonio Botanical Garden managing its plant sales program and working with a group of wonderful volunteers for that program. See the San Antonio Botanical Garden's Event Calendar which contains the dates of the plants sales. I hope to see you at one or all of them!
I hope you enjoy the site and visit often.
The Texas Getting Started Garden Guide was designed to give Texas gardeners a set of plants well-adapted to the vagaries and range of Texas’ many growing conditions and fickle climate. With profiles of 170 species, the book includes traditional regional specialties, as well less commonly seen choices. Many are native, but all are well-suited to their zone. Each profile includes a photograph, information on where to plant, tips on care as well as icons to indicate Texas natives, drought tolerance, preference for sun or shade and attraction butterflies and humming birds. The book also includes sections on coping with deer, dealing with invasive plants and the location of public gardens in the state. With the increasing emphasis on water conservation, Texas Getting Started Garden Guide offers help to both new and experience gardeners on water saving strategies in the garden as well as how to reduce or replace a lawn. I hope Texas gardeners find in this book a mix of plants that help them save precious water and still create an exuberant garden.
A Place All Our Own - From The University of Arizona Press - 2012
we transformed it into a lively and lovely spot that reflected both its place in the world—hot, dry, and
often hostile to gardeners who don't understand its ways—and our particular passions. Of course, not
everything went as planned, and the garden talked back as much as it obeyed. But for us, the unexpected
outcome is one of gardening's great pleasures.
Read an interview with Mary - about the writing of A Place All Our Own from the AZCentral website
A Place All Our Own awarded 2013 best Gardening Book for New Mexico and Arizona by the New Mexico Book Co-op
A Video Interview with Mary
Mary talks about her book Texas Getting Started Garden Guide at KLRU, Austin Texas
Mary Irish part of Award Winning Design Team - Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects
won the 2012 Honor Award for Design from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Mary Irish was the Horticultural Consultant on the team lead by the firm of The Office
of James Burnett of Solana Beach California. The team developed a world class garden at the
Visitors Center, adjacent to the 200 acre desert estate of Walter and Leonore Annenberg. The ASLA
awards jury recognized the stunning design developed by the team but also the extensive
horticultural knowledge and experience required for the design and development of the
“This is all about the plants and they are spectacular, adding texture
and color to the desert and lawns. This shows a real knowledge of
plants. The feeling is lush and the colors are fabulous.”
—2012 Professional Awards Jury
For More Information - and to view a slide show of the project
see the Project Profile on the ASLA Website
A secluded spot in the Garden
Photo by Dillon Diers, Office of James Burnett
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