BY LINDA BENTLEY | MARCH 2, 2011 | Sonoran News

Carefree resident Mark Wdowiak, who owns Desert Foothills Landscape with his wife Juanita, after being approached by Carefree residents and master gardeners Marilyn Maloney and June Reilly, offered to enhance the landscaping in Carefree Town Center Gardens at no cost to the town.

During the March 1 council meeting, Town Administrator Gary Neiss said Maloney and Reilly had approached the town regarding their desire to further enhance the gardens.

Those conversations resulted in their contacting Wdowiak to see what level of interest he might have in participating in the project.

Wdowiak responded by saying he would like to upgrade and enhance the gardens at his expense.

He is proposing introducing boulders, earth berming, and planting additional specimens of cactus, agave and an assortment of other low-water use plants that would bloom at different times of the year.

He said, “I want to make it spectacular and give people a reason to come back to Carefree.”  Maloney said the town center is a beautiful focal point.

Reilly said her parents retired in Carefree 40 years ago and she and her husband were now doing the same.

She noted Wdowiak’s work has appeared in Phoenix Home and Garden magazine countless times and read praise of his work by the magazine’s editor.

Neiss, who Councilman Bob Gemmill pointed out has a degree in landscape architecture, said the gardens were approaching their 10th anniversary and while some plants have thrived, others have not done so well.

Gemmill called the garden a “jewel” and compared it to the Desert Botanical Gardens and another garden in a gated community in Scottsdale.

Wdowiak referred to his unconditional offer as “spiritual” and said it was a unique opportunity for him to give back to a community which has supported his business over the past 15 years.

He said he could start the project after the danger of frost was over with a target date of Nov. 1 for completion.

Councilwoman Susan Vanik stated the gardens would require upkeep and the town would need to budget accordingly.

Mayor David Schwan said the town was working on next year’s budget and would keep that in mind.

Council voted unanimously in favor of the garden enhancement plan.