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Living in the desert of Phoenix Arizona

Many people imagine that the Arizona desert will look like a bunch of sand dunes. This is not the case. It is more of a dry, harsh land with many cacti, bushes, and trees growing there. The Phoenix metropolitan area is a mix of native plants and plants that are more traditionally seen in other areas of the United States.

When we first came to Arizona, one of the things that struck me was all the palm trees in the Phoenix area. I associated them more with California or Florida before I moved here. Palm trees are used in many gardens in the Phoenix area and do well here. There are also many citrus trees, typically lemon, orange, and grapefruit.

When low-water use native plants are used, it is considered a desert landscape. This can be attractive and quite easy to maintain. Common trees for desert landscaping are palo verde, acia, and mesquite. Various cacti and shrubs are also used.

There is a wide variety of birds that can be seen in Arizona and the Phoenix area. Of course, there are the common morning dove, the pigeon and the European starling. I also frequently see mockingbirds and hummingbirds in my garden and even a woodpecker has visited the garden from time to time. In some of the aquatic areas it is common to see a greater variety of birds such as stilts, egrets and cormorants. Gambel’s quail and roadrunners are always fun to see.

There is a variety of insect life. I’ve seen a surprising number of butterflies when taking walks in some of the parks just outside of the Phoenix metro area. Bees and wasps are regular visitors to our pool. We have found that if we leave them alone, they leave us alone. We occasionally have problems in the yard with fire ants. We try to leave them alone if possible unless they are in an area where we commonly walk. Fire ants bite, which often leaves a small itchy spot. One of the good things is that there are usually not many annoying flying insects like mosquitoes.

Yes, it is hot in summer. However, those of us who live here believe that the rest of the year more than makes up for the summer heat. There is also a much lower chance of natural disaster in the Phoenix area than in many other areas of the country. Fires are the biggest concern, but most occur in forested areas far from the main metropolitan area. Some of the people who live in small towns in Arizona near these forested areas may be affected.

Most of the time the weather is excellent for driving. There are no problems in the Phoenix area with heavy rain or snow and ice storms. We do have occasional dust storms that can affect visibility, but it’s usually easy to stop and wait as they don’t last long. So don’t shovel snow or scrape ice off your car in the morning!

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