Tucson, Arizona: In the heart of the desert

This garden blends architecture with the natural environment.
Lauren Bonar Swezey

Nestled between two washes in the core of the Southwest desert, this natural garden, surrounded by saguaros, palo verdes, and thick native vegetation, takes full advantage of its impressive surroundings.

Using a minimalist approach, designer Jeffrey Trent developed a series of garden spaces that gently blend the house's architecture with the environment. To preserve and enhance the landscape required insight and careful planning, despite its deceptively casual appearance. "It's a simple, perfectly executed solution with some unexpected surprises," noted a juror.

Looking out from the back porch, an angular flagstone patio edged with a low wall for seating directs attention to the distant mountains. Broad steps lead visitors into the garden. Like archaeological ruins, fragments of rock walls built from stones excavated during house construction frame the patio and echo colors and forms in the adjacent hills.

In keeping with the desert landscape, Trent used primarily native plants to enhance areas outside the patio. Closer to the house, he chose salvias, fairy dusters, and other more colorful desert-adapted varieties. Potted cactus accent the patio.

DESIGNER: Jeffrey Trent, Natural Order, Tucson (520/792-9274)