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For The Garden

Mediterranean-Inspired Garden

Author: Roberta Landman
Issue: February, 2013, Page 102
Photos by Richard Maack

A manicured lawn, beds overflowing with blooms, and potted San Diego Red bougainvilleas trained as standards, establish a lush Mediterranean mood near the courtyard entry of this Phoenix home.

Once in Disarray, a Residential Landscape Becomes a Thing of Beauty

The owner of this verdant 2-acre Arcadia-area property speaks of happy times spent as a boy in his grandparents’ citrus grove. “I was raised around citrus trees,” the third-generation Arizonan recalls. “I used to help take care of thousands of them.”

Citrus—albeit in lesser quantities—plus a kaleidoscope of colorful plants lend his and his wife’s residential acreage a Garden of Eden quality.

The landscape was featured on Phoenix Home & Garden’s 2012 Grand Tour of Gardens. However, it was far from a paradise when the couple bought the site. That was before landscape architect Greg Trutza, ASLA, of New Directions in Landscape Architecture came on board, recalls the man of the house. “Greg had a vision of what we wanted to see.”

The existing landscape consisted largely of dead citrus on a problematic slope, and an existing dwelling that was in disrepair, had to be razed. Working in conjunction with landscape contractor Mike Karmo and general contractor Jaime Ziparo, Trutza made the property more livable and enjoyable in many ways, notes the homeowner.

Along with creating the planting schemes, Trutza designed multiple outdoor rooms and courtyards, and a pool area with a unique water feature. He also chose exterior materials, such as Kansas rubble stone, travertine and antique brick inlays, to complement the new French-influenced Mediterranean Country-style house. “The rustic vernacular was selected to provide a timeless charm to the home and hardscape,” he explains.

A spillway—part of the pool’s multilevel network of fountains—becomes the backdrop for one of many well-tended garden areas on the sprawling property. Defined by a path of bricks set in a basket-weave pattern, the formal bed contains red geraniums and blue salvia bordered by clouds of white alyssum.
Throughout the grounds, plantings are placed in arrangements similar to those one might find in the Mediterranean region, and these provide “formal touches of authenticity,” states Trutza, a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest. For example, clipped hedges of dwarf olive set off a variety of beds containing color-rich blooms. Yaupon holly trained to spiral, Italian cypress, and palm trees, including a showy Bismarck, are other classic elements.

“The Mediterranean palette of vegetation ranges from date palms to figs,” Trutza says. “Unusual specimens provide an evergreen backdrop, along with the bonus of fruit and fragrance.” He credits Karmo with the long-term health of the plants. “He did a masterful job of installation and soil amendments, which ensured their success.”

The homeowner is himself a gardener of merit. Adding a raised bed for his homegrown vegetables and herbs was part of the plan. In addition to a bountiful cabbage crop, basil flourishes to the point that some local restaurateurs stop by from time to time to harvest it. Other edibles include figs, calamondin and a variety of citrus.

One might say the homeowner has come full circle from his boyhood years helping out on a family citrus farm, for Arcadia had its origins in such groves before it became residential. His 2 acres have also evolved. Once in disarray, they now contain welcoming outdoor spaces, sensory-stirring delights and good things to eat.

A fringe of palm trees, including the showy Bismarck palm, creates an attractive backdrop at a poolside setting made cozy with cushioned lounges, plus lanterns to light the way for an evening swim. A profusion of colorful plantings highlights a raised stone-faced bed.

Making structural changes to the sloping grounds allowed landscape architect Greg Trutza to create the indoor/outdoor livability the homeowners desired, seen here in the resortlike pool, stone-clad pool/guest house and elevated garden beds. “The primary challenge that I was able to turn into an asset was the 7-foot drop in grade from the rear of the property to the front,” relates Trutza. “This provided an opportunity for multiple terraces and rolling terrain.”
Shaded by trees, this courtyard at the front of the house boasts a centerpiece stone-faced fireplace and brick flooring laid in a herringbone pattern. A copper vessel on iron legs serves as a side table.

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Bougainvilleas offer a spot of color, and vining trellised plants provide touches of cool green in a border against a wall of the house. A sculpture by Gary Lee Price titled Journeys of the Imagination invites the eye to linger. • Artist Gary Lee Price’s bronze sculpture of children playing with water called Nature’s Friends, offers visual and auditory delights. Nearby, raised vegetable beds produce an array of edibles. • The home’s French-influenced Mediterranean Country style is evident in this patio’s rustic stone-encrusted arches and high ceiling studded with reclaimed antique brick halves. • “A spacious 2-acre lot provided ample opportunity for many outdoor rooms and private destinations,” notes landscape architect Greg Trutza. An example is the guest house’s well-appointed patio. This “quintessential outdoor room” is separated from the guest quarters’ main living areas by automatic sliding glass doors, which, when open, allow a seamless flow between interior and exterior, he explains.
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