Desert island

A circular bed creates a focal point in a Tucson backyard

Desert island

A magnificent mesquite forms a shady canopy over wonderfully textured plantings of agaves and euphorbia.

Terrence Moore

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Surrounded by a series of outdoor rooms and riotous plantings, this lush island bed rises from the landscape, demanding attention. A rosy-hued flagstone patio and walkway flow gracefully through the garden, leading visitors to this eye-catching arrangement.

Anchored by a native mesquite that offers protection from summer scald and winter frostbite, the island features easy-care plants that form a striking blend of color and texture. It's exactly what homeowners Maryse and Werner Buck envisioned for their water-wise Tucson oasis, designed by landscape architect Philip Van Wyck.

Bordering the flagstone walkway, a dense planting of chartreuse-flowered Euphorbia rigida and purple lantana (far right) softens the sharp lines of bicolored Agave americana and A. weberii. Blue-gray leaves of Yucca recurvifolia poke out from behind the mesquite.

To the left of this handsome combination, dark green candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica) punctuates the bed. At rear, a mass of 2½- to 3-foot-tall chuparosa (Justicia californica) will provide a punch of color when bright red tubular blooms emerge in fall.

Design: Philip Van Wyck, Van Wyck & Associates, Tucson, AZ (520/731-8454)

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