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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