United States of America, Arizona, Maricopa, Scottsdale
Riggs Garden (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Located on 2.14 acres, this garden, located in the Sonoran Desert, was started in 1984. At that time an enclosed entry courtyard and multiple garden rooms surrounded a massive pool and area for entertaining. Plantings included native and non-native plants including shrubbery, peripheral trees, and a small patch of grass with orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit trees. After the current owners acquired the property in 2005, the garden had been neglected for a number of years. They added a multi-level water feature connecting to the swimming pool as well as many new plantings. A cactus garden was added, providing color, shape, and texture. Vegetables and herbs planted in a raised boat-shaped bed was located a few feet from the house. At the back of the house the citrus trees planted by the original owners remained on the grassy area by a shaded patio. A stucco wall with metal gates protect the trees from desert wildlife. The garden also features sculptures of a horn blower and buffalo, colored pebbles, and a mural.
Vertical plants including candelilla, desert milkweed, giant red and yellow hesperaloe parviflora, lady slipper, and ponytail palm were included to draw the eye upwards. Beloperone, octopus agave, sugar bush, globe mallow, native brittlebush, chocolate flower, and desert marigold helped added shape, texture, and color. A native velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina) replaced a weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) by the front door. Plants were chosen for their low maintenance and low water qualities and carefully considered to ensure they would survive the harsh desert climate. As such, the garden did take some trial and error in determining which plants fared best. In addition, steps were taken to provide safety and ease of maintenance. Handrails were installed near steps while plants with dangerous spines were moved away from the pool area. In total it took the current owners about six years to complete their desert garden.
Douglas and Ann Simonson (former owners, 1984-1987); Wayne and Pencie Culiver (former owners, 1987-2005); Gerald A. Doyle & Associates, (architects, 1984).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles, garden plans, and other information.
This property is featured in "Desert Transplant Flourishes: Former East Coast Gardener Makes North Scottsdale Yard Bloom" by Kara G. Morrison in The Arizona Republic March 24, 2012, pp. H0, H02; "Learning Curve" by Cathy Cromell in Phoenix Home & Garden January 2014; Desert Botanical Garden Patron's Circle Tour of Private Gardens and Luncheon March 29, 2015; Real Gardens for Real People 11th Annual Garden Tour March 31, 2012