‘Juniper Rose’ makes the desert bloom | NevadaAppeal.com

‘Juniper Rose’ makes the desert bloom

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

Karen Wright, aka Juniper Rose, author of "The Bloomin' Desert" worked as a reporter for the Evening Gazette and the Comstock Chronicle. Wright is the gardener for the Gold Hill Hotel Gardens. BRAD HORN/ Nevada Appeal

Karen Wright, also known as Juniper Rose, says love of nature fuels her desire to garden.

“Cleaning up the earth can only be done one garden at a time,” she said.

Wright will be bringing her gardening expertise to Dayton.

She’ll give a talk and book signing at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Dayton Community Center, 170 Pike St. in Old Town.

Wright is the author of “The Bloomin’ Desert,” and she specializes in gardening in the high desert where little water is available.

She gave a lecture Tuesday at the Gold Hill Hotel, whose gardens she tends, and told listeners that loving the earth was the first step to successful gardening.

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“As the world becomes more technological, we lose the joy of digging in the dirt,” she said.

The Comstock native has been gardening in the high desert for 40 years, and acknowledged that cultivating in the desert is a challenge.

“Nothing about gardening here is easy,” she said. “You have to excavate tons of rock before you put in a flower bed. But obstacles can be overcome by simple measures.”

She quotes her hero, Thomas Jefferson, third president and gardener. “Gardens are not made by saying how beautiful it is and then sitting in the shade.”

Wright said all it takes to be a good gardener is elbow grease, common sense, patience and practice, and remembering your place in nature.

“Humans are not important,” she said. “If we all died tomorrow, the plants, which we get air food and water from, would not care one bit. But if all the plants died, where would we be?”

People should have gardens because paving raises the temperature, she said.

“Correctly placed gardens can help reduce heat and cooling costs around your home,” she said. “It will create a place of peace and tranquility in an overcrowded and increasingly tense world.

She said there is a lot of personal satisfaction in cultivating the desert.

“If you get a beautiful Dahlia or tomato to grow here, you have accomplished more,” she said. “Gardening is not a luxury when done correctly.”

She advises not to yank sagebrush because it looks beautiful with drought resistant plants that grow well in Nevada. Other important aspects are prepping the soil properly to keep pests away, using mulch or straw to prevent erosion and to be careful with water.

“We all guzzle water,” she said. “A half-acre lawn uses 13,577 gallons of water a month.”

Wright recommends a timed drip or soaker system for watering, rather than sprinklers, which, she said, are less effective, since about one-third of the water evaporates.

She also suggests creating zones, with water-needy plants nearer the house, less needy plants in the next outer zone and the drought-resistant plants the farthest away from the house.

“Resist the temptation to plant merely for aesthetics,” she said. “Don’t plant roses and juniper together.”

Wright also emphasized the need for fire-safe habits, particularly of having 30 feet of defensible space and keeping hoses and shovels handy.

Her book has tips on fighting pests, plant disease and noxious weeds, as well as a history of gardening and heirloom seeds, or seeds passed down through generations that are not hybrid.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or at 882-2111 ext. 351.

If you go

What: Book signing by Karen Wright, also known as Juniper Rose

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Where: Dayton Community Center, 170 Pike St. in Old Town