FILLED WITH UNEXPECTED DELIGHTS, A SCOTTSDALE GARDEN REFLECTS THE SPLENDOR OF THE SONORAN DESERT
Mary and Richard Hormaechea wanted a garden that was “full of surprises” for their grandchildren. Landscape designer Mark Wdowiak knew exactly how to create one. “We’ve always been very aware of—and sensitive to—the environment,” says Mary. “The property around us will always be natural. We wanted to bring that in. We created pathways with little mounds and walkways and turns and corners . . . a feeling of walking through a mini-park.”
The couple’s 14-year-old Southwest-style home sits on an acre of natural desert in north Scottsdale. The backyard looks out to what the Hormaecheas call “the big boulder pile,” a reference to The Boulders Resort that is tucked into the other side of the rock formation. That, as well as Black Mountain and a nearby golf course, adds to the stunning desert vistas. Wdowiak, owner of Desert Foothills Landscape, along with design team member Greg Lowe, started with bare-bones landscaping and developed a long-term plan. “We started reshaping and prioritizing areas. Every year when the Hormaecheas came back for the winter, we would keep adding and upgrading,” says Wdowiak.
To meld the surrounding desertscape with the couple’s property, the design team used native flora and kept views open to The Boulders and the golf course. For added sizzle, Wdowiak expanded the plant palette, introducing exotic cacti and desert succulents from arid regions around the world. The setting remains natural, but on closer inspection there is more than meets the eye.
Cacti are tucked among dissimilar species to create little surprises. An Argentine giant cactus with huge night-blooming flowers, Moroccan mound, a variety of euphorbias, hybrid spineless totem pole, and columnar cacti from Mexico are among the treasures to be discovered. A favorite of the grandchildren is a cactus with “hair” on it, commonly called an old man cactus.
As with any desert setting, water is an important element. Wdowiak revamped water features that had been installed years before. At the front of the home, an in-ground boulder water feature disappears underground, then comes out on the other side of a walkway as a pond, appearing to be spring-fed.
The Hormaecheas, says Wdowiak, were willing to let their garden grow and evolve, rather than demanding a garden “right now.” Mary concurs. “We wanted to expose and enhance the natural beauty of the desert, truly letting the desert speak.”