Friday, April 30, 2021

Inside the House


The Phoenix Home and Garden tour guests got to see the inside of the home with "the secret garden."  And as you might expect, the inside tended to mirror the exotic nature of the garden.

Above and to the left are just two examples of the presence of Buddha in the home.  There were many more.  

This living space had floor to ceiling windows that looked out on the garden and mirrored panels that help to make the room look extra big.  

The dining room was furnished with wood walls and display cases that were apparently salvaged from some castle in Europe.  That room also had floor to ceiling windows looking out on the garden.

More mirrors lined the entrance hall along with more Buddhas and other statues. 

All of this was hidden behind a very simple facade.  If you drove past this house, you would never even guess what was inside and in the yard.  

This one was well worth the visit.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Two Pools and Peacocks


I'm returning to "The Secret Garden" that I introduced yesterday.  This was certainly an unexpected environment and quite delightful to see.

This one of the swimming pools in the yard.  This one fits in perfectly with the strong Asian theme.  I love that elaborate gate at one end.

The other pool was on the opposite side of the yard and to be perfectly fair, it actually belongs to the house next door that at some point in time became part of the same property.  

There Was an alligator living in one of the ponds.  Fortunately, he was made of stone.

And Buddhas were found all over the garden.

I saw a group of people looking up toward the roof so I glanced up to see this peacock prancing around trying to impress his mate who seemed to be totally disinterested.

As you can see from these and yesterday's photos, this is quite a place.  I'm so glad I got to see it.  

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

And Now For Something Different


I'm returning to the Phoenix Home and Garden tour with the fifth home we visited.  This time it was something totally unexpected.  The tour hosts called this place "The Secret Garden" and it was indeed a big secret.  In fact, touring this garden felt like we had actually left Arizona all together.  

Walking around this garden felt a lot like we had been whisked away to some foreign land.  We learned that this house was originally owned by a reclusive, well-known artist who over decades created a wonderland embellished with mosaic pathways and sculptures collected from around the world.

Do you know that old saying "it's a jungle out there"?  Well this was quite literally a jungle in there.  

The garden was a dense landscape of bamboo, mulberry, palms, ferns and roses along with a few other plants here and there.

The microclimate created in this environment keeps it a good 12 degrees cooler than the surrounding areas.

The vast yard contained fountains, bridges, ponds and pathways in addition to swimming pools of which there were two.  

All of this was hidden behind a very normal looking middle class home located in a north Phoenix middle class neighborhood.  I didn't get a photo of the outside of the house but one of these days I'll drive up there again and take a photo and post it just so you can see how ordinary it looks from the outside.

This garden was so vast with so much to see that I'm going to create another post with more photos of the garden area.  We actually got to visit the inside of this house too and there will be a third post to feature the inside decor.  This house was a complete surprise.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Enjoying Nature


Sunday morning was perfect for a long walk at the Desert Botanical Garden.  I started at 7:00 AM for the members only hour but I stayed until after 10:00.  I'm so glad I did because temperatures are predicted to warm up by the end of this week.  I was lucky to see this gorgeous cactus bloom before it fades during the day.  

I also saw lots and lots of desert creatures who were also out enjoying the perfect weather.  This little hummingbird was watching everything from his perch in a Palo Verde tree.

This desert spiny lizard looks like he's hanging on to a cliff but it was just a small rock.  He stayed there and watched me taking his photo from different angles.  He was most cooperative.

This Gila Woodpecker was calling out to a friend who was sitting on another saguaro down the trail a little way.  He soon flew off to join his friend.

I once saw a great horned owl in this tree so I always make a point of looking to see if it has returned.  I was surprised to find this heron sitting in the same place the owl sometimes sits.  That was a totally unexpected sight.

There was a lot to see, the weather was perfect and the garden was quiet.  What more could I ask for?

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Fourth House on the Tour


I'm back to the Phoenix Home and Garden Tour from a week ago.  This one was the fourth house we visited and it had several unusual attractions.

This lovely seating area was off to the side of the front of the house.  It was a little unusual to see an area like this at the front of the house but the house was on a very quiet street and was protected by the landscape and hedges.  

There was a little hill to one side of the house where a pond and waterfall were located.  Behind that waterfall was a big surprise, a vineyard...of all things. You can see the grapevines growing over the top of the table in the photo to the left. We asked what kind of grapes they were growing but no one seemed to know.

It was a tiny little vineyard so I'm not sure how many grapes they could actually harvest.  However, it made me wonder if the owner likes to dabble in a little wine-making.  

As with all the homes we visited, there was a very nice pool.  

Way back in one corner of the yard was a chicken coop.  Yes, there were chickens in it.  Along with grapes, this family gets fresh eggs to enjoy.  Another very interesting house.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

April Art Challenge


My Art Challenge group met on Friday evening in person for the first time in a year.  It was so good to see each other in person for a change.  The challenge for April was "Jewels".  I took a photo of a blue glow agave and had it printed on canvas and then I "bedazzled" it with little jewel-like tear-drops.  

My official piece was the canvas above but I also brought along this photo that I had printed on metal.  I thought the photo editing I did gave it a jewel-like look so I included it as an extra.

Here is our little group of "artists" and friends on the patio at Julie & Dave's house.  Julie was taking the photo so she's not in it.  We have our fingers crossed that the pandemic numbers continue their downward trend so we can meet in person once again next month.  The new art challenge for May is "Climate Change".

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm featuring a 'back roads' drive in Missouri.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Third Stop on the Tour


The third place we stopped on the Phoenix Home & Garden Tour was at this home dubbed the "Family Fort".  It was truly a home built with the whole family in mind.

The yard was full of fun and games starting with the beautiful playhouse pictured above.  I had a playhouse when I was a kid growing up but I have to admit, it was a lot more rustic than this model.  

On the other end of the yard was a hammock tied between two tall pine trees.  A wonderful, shady spot for an afternoon siesta.

The pool was in-between the two parts of the yard and it had a good sized shelf on one end.  Perfect for dangling feet in the water while sipping a cool drink.  

As we left this house, we were treated to a refreshing glass of lemonade served from the Bubbles and Brews van.  I had never seen this little van before.   Apparently they can be hired to serve Prosecco and draft beer for parties and events.  What a great idea for when we can have parties again.

Friday, April 23, 2021

#2 on the Home & Garden Tour


Here is the second house we visited on the Phoenix Home & Garden tour.  This one was given the title of "Sonoran Resort".  

This house had a pool that was slightly elevated with a hot tub/spa on one end.  There was a rock waterfall at the other end.  

At the very back of the yard was a Bocce Ball court.  Now that's something you don't often see here in Arizona.

As usual, it was the smaller things that caught my eye like this tall pot overflowing with greenery.

The yard had several of these blue hibiscus plants.  I like these very much.  The color of the blooms are one of my favorite shades of purple.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day 2021


Today is Earth Day, a day we celebrate the place we call home.  I thought I'd do just that by showing a variety scenes from the great state of Arizona.  This first one is a desert scene from just north of the Phoenix city limits.

This shot was taken on hike in the wooded area around Flagstaff Arizona up in the northern part of our state.

This shot was taken east of the metropolitan area.  The mountains in the background show the formation we call "four peaks".  

This last photo was also taken on the east side of the valley, this time near the town of Apache Junction.  The jagged rock formation is part of the Superstition Mountains.

There are so many beautiful and varied places on this wonderful planet.  Here's hoping we can figure out how to take better care of our home.  It's the only one we've got.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Phoenix Home & Garden Tour


Last Saturday, I joined my good friends Julie and Dave to go on the Phoenix Home & Garden tour.  It's an annual event that is always a fun way to get a peek at how the one percent live. 😊 The tour was canceled last year for the obvious reason.  It was a perfect day for the tour.  We got to tour the yards of 6 different homes with some very interesting landscape plans.  I'll show some photos for each one over the next week or two.  The first one we toured was describe as "Lush High Desert".  Above is the gorgeous pool.

There were two seating areas, one with a fire pit and the other without.  Both looked inviting.

In one spot in the yard was this sculptural saguaro with lights on it.

I spied a putting green through this tree.  The tree itself was full of Solari bells that were on loan from Cosanti.

I was particularly fond of this plant with the pretty purple blooms so I snapped a photo of it too.