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Editor’s Letter for April/May 2024

Photography by Carl Schultz

Just over a year ago, I began taking morning walks. I like starting my days off on a good note, out the door just before sunrise. These are not leisurely strolls. I’m walking at about the same clip as if I’m in an airport concerned that I might miss a connecting flight. My route takes me through residential neighborhoods and off the pavement into the rugged trails around Papago Park, where coyotes and the occasional snake dart across my path as the sun comes up and the rays of first light stretch across the hills and fields. And where, with disconcerting frequency and complete lack of dignity, I’ve nearly wiped out stepping on loose rocks or tripping over a random fallen branch, as nearby wildlife snickers while my arms windmill and I struggle to regain my footing. 

I’ve logged miles observing the seasonal changes of the landscapes I pass every day. I’ve watched everything from well-tended yards, to complete transformations, to absolute neglect, but I always like seeing how desert plants grow and change and trying to understand why they sometimes struggle, falter and fail. I also love traversing the natural desert, an endless source of sense-engaging wonder.

As any Arizonan who has dug a hole and put a plant in it knows, gardening in the Southwest isn’t always easy. There is a lot to learn, and the Valley’s landscape architects and designers can show you how to do it (or do it for you). This issue is devoted to gardens, and on the pages ahead we share stories, information and images to dazzle you—and hopefully inspire you to make the most of your own patch of ground.

I’m grateful for my daily habit of clearing my head, breathing the air and getting closer to nature. If you’re an early riser and are out and about and happen to spy a tall, ungainly looking editor falling down or skidding on gravel, please avert your gaze. I’ll be fine.

John Roark
Editor in chief

P.S. For another source of inspiration—and the opportunity to experience some of Arizona’s finest landscapes—join us at the annual Phoenix Home & Garden 2024 Garden Tour, on Saturday, April 20. For tickets, visit


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