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Meet Our Community: Noelle Johnson, desert gardener, designer, and teacher

Let’s get to know each other!

Since we’re not able to meet up in person this year, let’s meet online. Every week we’re introducing a member* of our Fling community here and on Instagram, in their own words. We’re excited to see what everyone’s talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you’d like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)

Noelle Johnson

Gardening in the desert is challenging, and traditional garden media tends to ignore our area. There’s a widespread myth that cactus and rocks are the only things you can grow in the desert. As a horticulturist, I love dispelling that notion and showing people what’s possible.

My website AZ Plant Lady is a one-stop resource for those who want to learn how to create, grow, and maintain a beautiful garden that thrives in a hot, dry climate. Within the site, people can learn about desert gardening on my blog, set up a landscape consultation, learn where I am speaking next, or sign up for one of my online classes.

I garden in the low desert of Phoenix, Arizona, and I love flowering plants and BLUE pots! I’ve also recently become enamored with a variety of succulents and a few different cacti. I don’t like high-maintenance plants, with the exception of my roses. My goal is to use plants that need pruning once or twice a year at most. In landscapes I design, I mix the textures of spiky succulents with the softer, mounded shapes of shrubs, ornamental grasses, and groundcovers. Many lush, green flowering shrubs and groundcovers are well adapted to hot, arid climates.

My favorite plant is probably desert willow, a small tree native to the Southwest that produces pink flowers spring through summer. There are several new varieties, and ‘Bubba’ is my current favorite. I’m growing five different desert willows in my garden.

When I was growing up in Southern California, my parents would take me to The Huntington Library and its gardens in Pasadena. It’s still one of my favorite places to visit. I like their focus on drought-tolerant gardening and spectacular landscape design.

I have an active Facebook group called The ‘Dirt’ on Desert Gardening. I’ve also been featured by the filmmakers at PlantPop. And if you’re interested in my online courses you can find them here.


Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Noelle! You can follow Noelle on Facebook, on Instagram, and at her blog AZ Plant Lady.

Photographs courtesy of Noelle Johnson.


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