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For The Garden

A Multi-Level Garden

Author: Gussie Fauntleroy
Issue: October, 2012, Page 92
Photos by Michael Woodall

An unusual fire feature constructed with rustic ranch stone is tucked into the base of a planting bed that ascends to a shaded dining area.

A Landscape Redesign Opens Up Views and Takes Outdoor Living to a Whole New Level

How’s this for a landscaping challenge? A born-and-bred Southerner moves to the Pacific Northwest. She craves warmth and sunshine, so she buys a second home in Scottsdale with magnificent views of rugged, sun-drenched Pinnacle Peak. Her Southern roots still long for lushness, however; her adopted Northwestern sensibility calls for a feeling of coolness; and her understanding of the desert tells her that those qualities cannot come in the form of green lawns or a high-water-use landscape.

As it turns out, Charlyn Jarrells’ vision of the perfect outdoor living environment was realized, thanks to an inspired creative collaboration with Donna Winters of Enchanted Garden Landscape Inc. In a major transformation of outdoor living areas, existing water features were upgraded, fire features and an outdoor television were added, a multilevel patio space was expanded, and planting areas were artistically designed. The result is comfort, year-round color and a strong visual and practical connection to the surrounding desert landscape and views.

When Jarrells purchased the seven-year-old home in 2010, the pool, waterfalls and hot tub already were in place. Designed by Steve Oliver of Creative Water Concepts—a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest—these features include a water-conserving recirculating system. But because the home’s previous owners were more interested in privacy than in views, plantings were overgrown, and the property did not take advantage of its extraordinary vistas.

On warm days, patio chairs can be moved from a poolside deck to a shallow under-water shelf. Peruvian totem pole, Mexican saguaro and other cacti provide vertical interest, while sweeping tree canopies soften the desert landscaping.
Winters, also a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest, enhanced the home’s relationship with natural landmarks that surround the property. For example, she framed the best visual angle of Pinnacle Peak by planting Mexican fence cacti, and the canopy of an existing native ironwood tree was raised to liberate the view. Other vegetation moves the eye between strong vertical forms, including ocotillo and saguaro, striking accent plants, and softer, layered textures and colors in thoughtfully placed gardens and containers.

While Jarrells contributed an overall vision and color themes—in elements such as the outdoor furniture and ceramic pots—Winters employed the artistic sensibility of her landscaping practice to fill in the canvas. At night, soft LED lighting in trees and saguaros creates a sparkling yet energy-wise setting for festive gatherings or quiet moments spent gazing at distant city lights. The garden’s practical elements also include a sophisticated irrigation system that waters by zone according to the needs of various types of arid-region plants. In a nod to Jarrells’ Southern roots, Winters incorporated rustic ranch stone quarried in Oklahoma in select spots.

Two years of enjoying the home’s resort-quality outdoor living areas have exceeded Jarrells’ expectations. Among her favorite activities in these spaces: mornings with coffee and a spectacular view, dinners accompanied by a soft breeze on the upper patio, and a treasured “girlfriend gathering” that brought together 10 friends from around the country. “It’s a wonderful oasis for family and friends,” she confirms. “I could not have asked for a more lovely, truly special area for beautiful memories to be made.”

The torch-like bloom of an Aloe ferox enlivens the home’s newly landscaped entrance.

Above a massive boulder, an outdoor fireplace is set into a stacked-stone wall; copper panels rise above it in a V-shape. A television, protected and hidden by copper shutters, was added on the adjacent wall.
A favorite gathering spot offers a picturesque view of Pinnacle Peak. Landscape architect Donna Winters incorporated numerous potted plants for accents and year-round color.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Landscape architect Donna Winters took care to create outdoor living areas with a color palette, rock work and layered plantings that complement the landscape while not dominating the views. • The property’s landscaping, previously overgrown, was opened up to reveal the expanse of natural beauty, along with a golf course view and city lights. In her approach to the redesign, Donna Winters says she felt like she was standing before a painter’s canvas onto which she could create a lyrical, balanced composition of color, contrasting textures and forms. A graceful metal sculpture left by the previous homeowner visually connects the outdoor living areas with the surrounding landscape. • Slabs of Oklahoma quarried stone and boulders around the spa’s perimeter create a naturalistic ambience. A small fire feature to the right of the spa mimics one at the yard’s entry. • Water-conserving, recirculating water features, including a small waterfall, add to the relaxing environment of the home’s outdoor living areas. Desert-adaptive plantings layered among boulders create a soft, lush feeling. Among these are ice plant (draping at right), lady slipper (vertical, at left) and pink-blooming salvia.
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