Gardens. We love 'em, even if we're not particularly good at making them thrive ourselves.
But some of our fellow Nevadans are, and the arrival of spring moved us to seek out a few of the valley's nicest gardens.
Not prize-winning gardens, necessarily, and not necessarily large, ornate, elaborately designed and maintained gardens. Rather, we looked for gardens on average-sized lots that were designed by and are maintained by homeowners just like us.
To inspire your own horticultural dreams, we present a few of the valley's nicest home gardens created, incidentally, by some of our nicest home gardeners.
Amy Zeldenrust has been a plant lover and avid gardener for most of her life. Even during the years that she made her living as a decorative painter, she would apply her artistic talents to the yard as well.
So, when she moved from Ohio to Las Vegas in 2003, Zeldenrust began learning the ways of desert gardening. In 2009, her efforts brought her a first-place award in the Southern Nevada Water District's landscaping awards program.
Now, through her own firm, Avant-Gardener (www.amyzgardens.com) Zeldenrust helps others create yards to remember.
But here's the thing: In her heart, Zeldenrust is still your basic home gardener.
"I'm not one of those people ... who has 10 people working in his yard continuously," she says.
"I used to watch (the PBS series) 'Victory Garden' 25 years ago and go, 'Why are they showing these big landscapes with a whole crew working on the thing?' "
In fact, even her landscaping design and consulting career began serendipitously when, she recalls, people would see her garden and "say: 'Hey, did you do this? Can you come over and do my yard?' I'm, like, 'Well, I don't know what I'd be able to do ...' "
Zeldenrust's own home garden is an eclectic one, designed to offer a relaxing, secluded vibe.
"I've had people come in from the Mediterranean and say, 'This is like the yards in my village,' " she says.
There are vegetables and other plants and trees and herbs, and almonds and roses and succulents of various sorts. And when Zeldenrust considers adding plants to the existing array, she's as mindful of their scent as she is of their color.
Take her silverberry, a shrub that "starts blooming the first week of November and continues through January and fills the yard with a beautiful smell.
"Then, in January, the aloes start to bloom and hummingbirds come around. Because we've had such a mild winter, the lemon and orange trees are all blooming.
"It's a lot of different, interesting smells," Zeldenrust says. "It's so enjoyable to take a walk in the front of our yard. People pass by and say, 'What's that smell?' "
Zeldenrust also favors creating sections in her garden -- outdoor rooms of a sort -- that each contain plants suitable for different conditions, and breaking up a large garden via pathways.
That way, she says, "you get the opportunity to experience smells and see what's going on."
Yet, Zeldenrust sometimes fears that her wide-ranging passion for plants might help to make her garden a bit less appealing than it could be, "because I want one of everything."