The desert landscape is delicate, unforgiving and will demand your patience.  

I learned that the hard way.  Everything about it seems to be trial and mostly error. And my attempts at muscling through were met with laughter. This was tough. I became a familiar face and favorite customer at Summerwinds Nursery.

No…I never asked any questions because surely I knew better.

I was wrong. Frustrated and disappointed that the garden would be quite happy to do without my meddling, I needed a plan B.

So like everything else in life,  this new battle was not going to sit me on a lounge chair with a colorful drink.  It would be about coming to terms with my ignorance, and embracing that B. And as cliche as it sounds, knowledge is power.

I enrolled in a Landscape Design School at the Botanical Garden  which gave me the tools I needed for a healthy garden.  I won’t bore you with the botany, entomology or soil science that the nerd in me loves.  Instead, I will take you to The Phoenix Garden Home Tour that brought it all together for me. 

Design Elements of a Desert Landscape

Shape/Form/Pattern/Texture: Note the lines throughout the plant life and the hardscape. Squares and lines often contribute to a formal garden. Here the lines in the cacti seems to soften the space. The fountain brings us a garden oasis, and the splashes of color bring it balance.

Layering: Layering adds depths and interest to a garden. Note the smaller plants near the walkway and the taller plants towards the back. The deliberate placement creates the walkway, helping it appear wider and longer. Look again and notice how the front appears to be framed. I can count at least three framed areas. You?

Focal Points: Focal Points draw the eye to a certain area. They can be sculptures, unique plants, murals or doors. The photo above masters that concept and here we visit an art studio where the artist randomly places her work throughout her property.

Color: Color is often a focal point as well. In the next photo the wall matches the pink Bougainvillea, allowing us to notice the different shapes of the pots.

Know your Space: Are you making a vegetable garden, fostering xeriscape, or creating a shaded walkway? It is all possible with a reminder that we live in the desert. I love pulling vegetables out of my garden in the winter now, and I have herbs all year long. The walkway below is a great example of how to use nature to your advantage. Most of the plants are native to our Sonoran Desert.

I still think the best gardens are probably those we don’t meddle with. My yard is not privy to that, and is still a work in progress. It isn’t as elaborate as the homes from The Tour. I don’t want it to be. Instead, it is exactly as it is meant to be…home.

There is always a Plan B…

Wind Kisses, Donna

Thank you Patti for your inspiration: Shape and Design