Sunday, October 21, 2012

De Colores

I recently took up the gauntlet (again) and packed in more things than I can do.

First - the Garden Writers Association annual conference in Tucson ("my favorite people will be there", "when will it be that close again?"). Second - after 5 days in Tucson, give 2 presentations at Desert Green and meet with client in Las Vegas, agreed to earlier in the year ("nice topic", "it's for Helen Stone!").

So.....some scenes from the Tucson part of the trip. Colorful Tucson!
Each day, the conference had various gardens and places to tour in the Tucson area. This is a private garden, and it used several blocky forms to sit on, display plants, or whatever, throughout the garden as we wound through it. All with nice colors evocative of the desert.

Including the colors of the cacti, bowl fountain, and other plantings.

Remember, Tucson is of the desert; Abq is merely in the desert. ("...so far from heaven, so close to ---")



The first morning, my friend Daphne and I were waiting for breakfast at Bobo's after a run. The food - mmmm! And colorful Sonoran scenes painted across the windows of prickly pears, saguaros, ocotillos, fall leaves, and writing.

And food such as 12" pancakes, bacon, hash browns, and so on, heightens one's' sense of color. Right?

At the Tucson Botanical Garden. Great wall colors and graphics.

I have been to Tucson countless times, and this is my first time there, unlike the other 2 botanic gardens there. A medium-sized town with 3 botanical gardens is my kind of town. I will definitely return.

Mexican Bush Sage / Salvia leucantha under a mesquite canopy, really showing itself 
off, compared to the glaring light beyond.

Some of us were glaring, since we almost got left behind by the tour buses changing their
scheduling from what they told us. A few of us lost each other.

I found this in a nice infill neighborhood S of the Rillito, off Country Club, just after I met with someone I know from their weather blog.

Everything "color I like here". No mistaking we are in a city that celebrates the real southwest. No overrated myths here!

Finishing my Tucson trip where I started - the home of Margaret West and Rick Hallick. She is quite a landscape designer, and loves the use of color. And does it with panache!

This makes function fun - seat wall contrasting fireplace contrasting chimney, and so on.

Even interesting tile work on the step risers.

I was taking my friend to the airport, and she spotted this - oh yeah! Weird lighting from the high cloud deck that day, but look what it did with the Blue Sotol and Palo Brea, all against that rusted screen.

Sotols pruned up into pineapples - unnecessary use of time and maintenance dollars, and usually unattractive.

18 comments:

  1. I love Tucson:

    Okay, first on the food front. Go to the Blue Willow on 2616 N Campbell with cross street E. Copper St. Great Breakfast place.

    The Blue Willow - Tucson Arizona

    Next for your days food planning, you need to have lunch at Mi Nidito Mexican Restaurant. This is the place Bill Clinton visited when he was in Tucson and also referenced in an older issue of Arizona Highways. Great food.

    Mi Nidito Mexican Restaurant - Tucson Arizona

    And finally you have to have dinner at Trail Dust Town in eastern Tucson where Pinnacle Peak Mesquite Bar-B-Q steaks are to be found.

    Trail Dust Town & Pinnacle Peak


    Depending on how long your stay is there, repeat each day as necessary.


    I love the clean landscapes of a desert southest design. These landscapes here in wet country to me are so weedy. what I mean is that everything grows so fast and much that gardening and landscaping here is a chore of continual cutting, chopping and hacking and yet trying all the while attempting to be artistically creative and neat. Of course Arizona has such places like on the north face of a mountain of in some slot canyon, but for the most part things if left alone are normally neatly spaced and manicured by nature. Well, at least until humans moved in.

    Plus I love all the earth tone colours and sun country subtropical decorative schemes that usually go into the hardscapes down or over there.

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    1. I drove past the Blue Willow several times, and others mentioned it...next time, I hope! Been to the others you mentioned, very good. I hear you on the open, zen-like appeal of a real desert landscape. Our oases are how you describe, discrete and surprising - not the whole space as a cottage garden, with 1 token cactus! And the colors...mmmm!

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  2. Great picks there David. Beautiful desert landscaping using color and local references with a sense of place and without overused and out-of-context cliches.

    That is interesting light, almost ghostly with the contrast of the rust.

    Sounds like quite a trip around the desert.

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    1. Well-said as always - they really get it there, even though their budgets are not quite Phoenix. More coming from that trip!

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  3. Looks like you all had a great time.

    I'm always struck by the choices to use bright colors, against the sometimes starkness of the desert. It just simply works.

    Love that turquoise door. Beautiful....

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    1. Yes, much to be had among the more mundane conference items - I always glean something from tours. And the colors were such a dominant theme in Tucson, even on tract homes - one of the few towns with that.

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  4. Thanks for the tour. You have some places I have not seen but are now on my list. I love the Botanical garden also. Now you know why I love to paint there with all that color!

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    1. That would inspire one to paint! Even though I'm just 6 hours from Tucson, I wish I could go and see more. Someday, I may have to move there?

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  5. Face it, you're just an overachiever.

    Tucson has atmosphere. I enjoyed your tour.

    Thanks for your comment at Hill Country Mysteries. I'm trying to write more garden articles for the newspaper. Folks would use more natives if they knew about the beauty and benefits.

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    1. Ha ha! I took a number of landscape and garden pics in Tucson, so stay tuned...not to mention, I have to post on some more of your area of the world.

      Your article was great and got passed on, of course.

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  6. Were you at the Desert Museum on Tuesday? I saw a sign for the group...we were there! We went to the Gila Monster/Rattlesnake demo in the opposite building. Small world!

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    1. I actually skipped the Tues tour, but that group may have been one of those from the GWA conference I was at. My friend was going on another tour, but I think missed that one, too! Intense, time-sucking conference in my mind, at least. Very small world - I haven't been to the Desert Museum since 2002 or 2004? Tucson is great!

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  7. Oh my oh my what a neat looking city! Love all the color...those tiles up the steps are really pretty. Also, is that a little hot tub or a pool? Interesting....
    You know of course what my favorite picture is...in love with the Blue Sotol and Palo Brea!
    And that little house/apartment looks super grooooovy! Man, you travel A LOT, eh?!!!!

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    1. Tucson nice - more posts from there, including past visits and Phoenix gardens. Many have no idea...they join the UK and E China / Japan as being one of the world's horticultural centers. That sotol / palo brea pic - glad my friend spotted it!

      It was, but I'm travelled out...but considering attending the Open Days tour in Austin.....

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  8. COOL! I hope to too - I would love to meet you David. If I ran into you and Pam, I think life would be complete :)

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    1. Ha ha! I'll make sure to wear my halo if I can go, otherwise you might not recognize me...

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  9. I don't get pineapple pruning either, but I still like that last image -- simple and striking. Tucson was pretty cool. Sounds like it's a model for Albuquerque, eh?

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    1. I agree, and I always leave with a smile. >15 years ago, I started taking photos of their landscapes for presentations, framed to crop out saguaros or palo verdes to look like what one could easily do in ABQ, without people getting hung up on what won't grow - it sort-of worked!

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