Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tohono Chul Park

I recently traveled to Tucson to bring my parents’ belongings back to Oregon. When my parents were alive I tried to visit at least once a year and each time I included a trip to Tohono Chul Park, a 49 acre preserve of self guided trails and demonstration gardens. The park also contains a restaurant, art gallery, gift shops and a nursery offering native plants.

These designs are widely varied in theme from the whimsical to the serene...

A few years ago the park added the Desert Living Courtyard showcasing ten garden designs utilizing plants for arid climates. These designs are widely varied in theme from the whimsical to the serene and reflect the cultural sensibilities of the area. Each is intended as an outdoor living space offering relaxation and respite from the heat. They combine structural elements, art and water features with a wide array of plants suitable for different garden situations.

The garden rooms have matured over the past few years and each is filled with ideas for creating your own garden space. The basic design can be modified for your own climate by selecting appropriate plants. I was happy to discover that the plans for each design are available at the Park website. Each plan provides a planting diagram and plant list as well as detailed information about the structural and artistic components. The plant list is very informative, listing botanical and common names, spread, water requirements and landscape use. It even lets the reader know if the plant is available for purchase at the large park greenhouse.

Tohono Chul Park has always been a highlight of all my trips to Tucson. The addition of the Desert Living Courtyard added a creative dimension to my visits. These vignettes were obviously designed by gardeners who know that a garden space can offer much more than a collection of plants. Each is a little oasis offering a multi-sensory experience. The message I take from these gardens is captured by a quote found in the Moorish Garden: Nature is not a place to visit, it is home.