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For The Garden

Italian-Style Desert Garden

Author: Nancy Erdmann
Issue: May, 2012, Page 100
Photos by Michael Woodall

The entry courtyard was designed to have a lush, welcoming feel with layers of plants to stimulate the eye. A cozy dining patio with wicker furniture and a stone fireplace are visible in the background.


Layers of Plants and an Array of Greenery Intermingle in a Cozy Italian-Style Desert Garden

Wanting a truly special place in which to enjoy their retirement and entertain small groups of family and friends, the owners of this north Scottsdale home had one theme in mind when they purchased the vacant property: an Italian-style farmhouse with an amazing landscape and inviting outdoor living areas.

Constructed in 2009, the residence was designed by builder Tim Beringer to look as though it had been added on to over the years. “The homeowners wanted a house that was architecturally romantic and had a great deal of ambience,” he recalls. “It has so many interesting facets both indoors and out.”

Outdoor living spaces include an expansive front courtyard with a stacked-stone fireplace; a spa patio integrated into an infinity-edge pool; and a private “grotto” off the master bathroom with an outdoor shower, fountain and greenery.

Landscape architect Donna Winters of Enchanted Garden Landscape Inc. worked closely with Beringer to achieve the desired look for the grounds. “The garden needed to be relevant to the style of the house, which is rustic Tuscan farmhouse. We wanted it to feel like it was nestled within the landscape,” the Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest recalls. “Tim created the bones, and it was our job to cozy up the surrounding spaces.”

Lady Banks’ roses climb the arched entry to the front courtyard. The structure was constructed with cobblestone to resemble a wall that has weathered over time, says builder Tim Beringer.
Plants in a rich array of greens create layers of texture, while pots filled with seasonal flowering perennials move the eye through the yard, notes Winters. And because the home’s location has a cold microclimate, the vegetation needed to be able to handle temperature variations. Roses, sago palms, myrtle and liriope are just a few of the plants that flourish here.

The addition of fragrant flora and fresh herbs and vegetables also came into play, and the backyard dining ramada offered the ideal spot for incorporating such vegetation. “We wanted to embrace the dining table with warm colors and aromatic smells—just like cooking inside—and have vines and plantings for color and aroma,” says the husband.

The couple grows star jasmine and Lady Banks’ roses, along with pots for herbs, strawberries and dwarf Meyer lemon trees. They recently added a raised cedar planter for growing fresh greens and herbs. Because it is on casters, it can be easily moved for convenience or to gain or inhibit exposure to the elements.

The combination of verdant plantings and natural elements has resulted in a welcoming setting that looks as though it has been there for years. And that, say the homeowners, was their intention from the very start.

This enclosed “grotto” courtyard includes a cantera wall fountain and a copper planting box filled with geraniums. Foxtail fern and horsetail reed add textural interest. To the left of the door is an outdoor shower.
This south-facing poolside sitting area has “a perfect view of the golf course and city lights,” says Tim Beringer. Around a circular fire pit are teak chairs that can take the heat. Planted in the foreground are lavender and yellow-blooming damianita.
A dining pavilion offers unencumbered views of the pool and surrounding landscape. The stone-clad structure features an exposed-tile and wood-beam ceiling. A potted Meyer lemon tree “brings texture and aroma to the garden and great flavor to
barbecues and drinks,” say the homeowners.

This overview of the backyard reveals multiple sitting places, including this spa patio, which is located at a lower level to the pool and the rest of the yard. The cobblestone on the fire pit, spa and the pool’s water wall is the same material used to clad the home, providing continuity throughout.

Photos - From left: Gazanias and horsetail reeds fill a small garden bed. The dining pavilion is visible beyond. • Jasmine climbs a column next to blooming salvias. The couple’s black and yellow Labrador retrievers find contentment in this shady spot.

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