A happy meeting of native and nondesert plants

Contrasting elements coexist happily in this garden

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A happy meeting of native and nondesert plants

Charles Mann

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  • A happy meeting of native and nondesert plants

  • A happy meeting of native and nondesert plants

The owners of this new home in Paradise Valley, Arizona, wanted their landscape to reflect the surrounding desert. But they also wanted to incorporate some nondesert elements, including a vegetable garden and citrus trees. Landscape architect Steve Martino of Phoenix accommodated these seemingly disparate desires by using walls and well-placed plants to screen non-native plantings and visually emphasize desert plants.

Along the house's south side, which faces a street, Martino created a series of 3- to 4-foot-tall curving walls that separate more lush plantings closer to the house from more natural plantings at the perimeter of the property. On the street side, where the site had been scraped bare during construction, Martino revegetated the ground by hydro-seeding with a mixture including brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), creosote bush, desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), and globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua). The desert marigolds readily adapted to the sunny site.

Martino hid a small vegetable garden and citrus orchard behind curving walls. In this garden, which can't be seen from the street or from inside the house, the owners grow artichokes, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, and other crops in raised beds with waist-high railings that can be draped with shadecloth or frostproof blankets to protect plants as needed. Roses also grow in this enclosed space, along with grapefruit, lemon, and orange trees, which are shaded by several specimens of blue palo verde (Cercidium floridum).

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