GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2004 show9
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Show #9

Today we visit the eclectic town of Bisbee, Arizona and tour some unique gardens. Some of their Southwestern ideas can be incorporated into backyards all across the country.

The Bisbee Bloomers are a local gardening club and sponsor the tour. The Bloomers are working not only in their own yards but beautifying the city as well. They find the work satisfying, it helps attract visitors and the tour is a way to say "you're welcome to come to our place, to see how we live and see some of the very unique growing conditions in Bisbee."

Joy Timbers is first on our tour today. Twenty seven years ago she and her husband married and bought the house on the tour today. They redid the inside and outside. She has found that by planting slowly things evolve and develop better than anticipated. She wants people that visit her garden to feel comfortable, relaxed, sit down and enjoy in a quiet environment, away from the busy world.

A friend was an architectural engineer and liked to design gardens. After talking with Joy and her husband he gave them his ideas, they then went around the neighborhood and saw what plants they liked and what plants grew well in the area. They then started with the walls bringing in tons of fill. They had irrigation installed and even had extra pipes added so they could pull things through at a later date if plans change.

This garden is unique because it has a lot of opposites. There is masonry and hardscape but lushness as well. She likes lots of different shades of green and textures. They have spiky things, yet fine textures as well and plants that flower at different times. The fine textures create restful feelings and areas. They have a garden with tailored areas and plants; yet others that are softer and relaxing. The garden is large, over 100 people can comfortably mingle. It's designed with different terraces, with little nooks adding to the sense of space. One can't see more than one small area at a time and that's a good strategy for intimate spaces. In these small spaces she has brought in lots of smaller scale items. One space has a seating area on a wall, adding height and seating.

The garden has many personal qualities. Originally there was a wall that went around the front of the house. They took that down, saved the bricks, from Coffeeville, Kansas, cleaned them and used them in the patio. They've tried to keep maintenance to a minimum, for example, the irrigation is on a timer and they've used pavers to define a clear edge making pruning easier.

Joy has many plants that reseed and others that live throughout the winter, staying green during that time. In the spring she buys bright colored plants, putting them in planters. This allows the colors to be concentrated in areas where people typically congregate.

If you want to screen an unattractive view or your neighbors yard Dr. Rick looks at an interesting strategy using a cyclone or galvanized fence. In this case they've woven Pyrocantha or Evergreen Vine into the fence. It is two dimensional, doesn't take up a lot of room, yet provides a large screen. The key is weaving the plant back and forth through the metal creating a solid screen. Occasionally it will need pruned to keep it two dimensional but it's a great way to create a lot of height, a lot of screen without a lot of depth.

Audrey Sutton came to Bisbee 4 1/2 years ago and wanted to create a jungle in the desert because she loves to be surrounded by green. She grew up on a farm and loves plants. Hers' is a unique property with a dramatic elevation change of 75 feet or more. Audrey went to Temple University, then the University of Pennsylvania graduate school. Her background as a fluid mechanical engineer has been a real help with this home, planting the irrigation system and determining erosion control areas. There are 34 stairs from the bottom up to the house, along the way she has included nooks and crannies so that when one goes around a corner, one finds a surprise. It makes the trip fun. As well it takes into consideration micro climate zones that are located throughout the property. Some areas are shady, some colder than others, some windier. There is a distinct temperature difference from the bottom to the top. Audrey has a beautiful view and took that into consideration in planning. Each area has a different view of the property and community, she enjoys sitting in each one, they all have a special feeling for her. Lines of sight are important to any garden, when creating gathering areas or seating areas they should not only look good up close but offer a great view across the garden or off site. When a spot like that is found it is a good place for seating areas.

Audrey has used lots of containers. In many cases she ran into Caliche, the hard rock like substance. She tried drilling through but gave up and put containers on top. In other areas she would put containers on patios. Containers were used next to the house so the roots wouldn't interfere with the foundation of the house. And some areas had rocky soil making planting questionable. She has put Bamboo in containers, this keeps the invasive plant in a controlled area. Audrey has incorporated large plant material, things like Catalpa and Fig Trees, in some containers. They don't usually do well in containers but these are thriving. For this to be successful a large container is needed, water it well and keep the tree pruned. A tree that normally could be 30 feet tall can grow in a pot if pruned to a height of 8-10 feet tall. She has been growing in containers for years. Her secret is to start with a premium potting mix, something with a light consistency. Audrey has taken advantage of every square foot of space and it's turned out beautifully.

One strategy of garden design is to keep things simple. Simplicity in garden design breeds elegance and that is especially important in regards to color. Concentrate on the foliage rather than on the flowers. Incorporate fine textures, have interesting forms but keep the color scheme monochromatic, green is a great choice. Different tints and shades can tie everything together.

The next garden is very young, in fact it was finished the day before. The paintings on the walls make it special, it doesn't look newly planted because of the dimension the paintings provide. There are a lot of Roses. Roses love the desert, particularly the high desert in Bisbee. All they have to do is add water. Since there is low humidity, many Rose problems don't exist. They don't have mildew, for example.

The pond and waterfall is a dominant feature in this garden. Water in the desert is particularly refreshing. This pond has a bridge that crosses over and provides a good view of the fish. To keep out critters - wild pigs, deer and snakes - a wall is necessary.

Judy Perry is the artist responsible for the painted walls. The owner has collected Judy's paintings in the past and asked her to put a few designs on the walls. When she first saw the garden with its' walls and shapes it reminded her of the Yucatan and some of its' architectural sites. She started with Yucatan artwork, took some of the designs, played with them to make them look more desert like and pulled in the colors that were already on the walls. The wall painting, although intense, doesn't overwhelm the plants. Her plan was to blend the walls in with what had already been done. Under the ramada it is shadier so she decided to use darker colors and duplicate a palm tree. In the desert they use an elastimaric paint, it's a stretchy, rubbery paint. She used that paint, took tints from the paint and mixed it to get different tones. The paint shouldn't peel, it's permanent. The design seems to evolve or change from one wall to the next. Judy worked on this project at different times of the day because the colors seemed to change. The colors on the walls also change as one goes around. It ranges from pinks to purples to provide variety. Stucco tears brushes so use inexpensive brushes. The painting on the walls adds another dimension and is an attractive addition to this garden.

Doug Dunn retired from the University of Arizona cooperative extension service. Because Bisbee has a history of mining and because Doug has been an antique dealer and collector he has incorporated mining primitives into his garden along with many perennial flowers. He bought this nice historic home 10 years ago.

Xeriscaping is an important topic to Doug and his yard embraces Xeriscaping principles. He has mature trees that shade and cool the house and reduce energy costs. As one moves away from the house, there are elements which require less water, rocks for example. Water harvesting is important. Think about the water that falls on ones property, how can every drop be maximized. Everything that comes off the roof should be used and not run into the street, thus lost. He's modified gutters to deliver water where it is needed The peripheries of the property are higher than the center so everything comes into the center and is utilized. Doug has used rock as mulch, but don't put rock right up to the home, it then tends to serve as a solar collector, a mirror and the sun and heat radiate into the front window and the home. He has used a little green grass, it has a cooling impact on the home. They eat many meals outside and the grass adds to the ambiance.

Our thanks this week to everyone in Bisbee. The garden tour was wonderful, the town delightful. Particular thanks go to Carole Beauchamp, she was instrumental in arranging this show. Thanks Carole and Bisbee.

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