READERS' PICK: Our readers choose Mesquite Valley Growers for the huge selection of healthy perennials, both mundane and esoteric, the locally grown annuals that can survive our summer climate, the friendly staff of true plant experts, the inspiring fountain area at the entrance, the awesome variety of herbs, and the convenient location near Pantano Road and Speedway Boulevard. We also like it for the cats that prowl the place. Call it puss 'n' roots.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Harlow Gardens, 4520 E. Pima St. This longtime winner in our readers' poll has added "gardens" to its recognizable name, and that's an apt description for this retail midtown nursery (to be distinguished from Harlow's other branch in landscaping design and maintenance). A shady place to wander and try on colors and fragrances before taking them home to your own garden, Harlow's offers a wide variety of trees and shrubs, flowering desert plants, exotics, seed packets, and the necessary equipment to break ground and keep it irrigated. A friendly staff and a library of literature ensure you'll have plenty of information at your disposal to help you decide on a plant palette that fits your lifestyle and personality, and will therefore thrive for years to come.
LOOSE CHANGE: Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to grow gorgeous gardens without guzzling gallons of water. There's no excuse for dehydrating the desert any further when such a selection of drought-resistant options is available to all. The desert has a beauty all its own with wildflowers in almost every color in the rainbow, and you can get an eyeful of them here. Pots of hot pink penstemon, Mexican gold poppy, pale lavender spice, deep purple Mealy Cup sage and bright blue salvia abound, along with a plethora of peppers and herbs. You can even bring problem plants in for a free consultation. We're not kidding.