As the weather warms, we Tucsonans get busy in our gardens.
Plant color annuals such as pansies, petunias, larkspur and primrose. Plant warm-season flowering bulbs such as canna, dahlia, daylily and gladiolus. Set out warm-season annuals such as cosmos, four o’clock, globe amaranth, gloriosa daisy, lisianthus, marigold, portulaca, vinca, zinnia, celosia, sal-via, sunflower, gaillardia, beans, okra, cucumber, peanut, pumpkin, melon and squash. Plant seedlings of pepper, tomatoes, squash, eggplant and green onion. Sow seeds for warm-season flowers such as hollyhock, salvia, sunflowers, tithonia and zinnia in garden beds.
Look for new growth on native and desert-adapted plants. Prune winter-damaged plant parts. Allow flower stalks on spring bulbs to brown and die back naturally. When spent, clip off at the base.
Always water before and after applying any fertilizer. Feed Bermuda grass with high-nitrogen fertilizer.
Feed roses every two weeks or use a slow-release fertilizer for longer season intervals during spring’s peak bloom.
Reap flower seeds. Allow wildflowers and cool-season annual flowers to dry and scatter seed; or collect dry seed and store to sow next fall.
Adjust drip-irrigation systems to accommodate new plants and the warming temperatures.
Plant red bird of paradise, ageratum, eupatorium, passion vine, desert hackberry and datura to attract butterflies.
Plant container-grown roses.
Plant new citrus and protect trunks from sunburn.
Plant desert landscape shrubs, cacti and succulents so that the roots reestablish before the summer heat.
Tip of the Month
Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea), a Mediterranean native, can add a touch of nostalgia to your garden. This old-fashioned favorite can make a spectacular display of tall spikes with rows of colorful blooms. Plant along a fence or wall. Hollyhocks are among about 60 species in the mallow family. They are easily grown from seeds, which many gardeners save and plant the following year. The double cultivar’s seeds may revert to singles the next year, and some cross pollinate.
They are short-lived perennials that produce only leaves the first year, so purchase the crowns from a nursery to have blooms that year. They prefer well-drained, rich soil and full sun. Provide drip irrigation to provide at least one inch of water a week in the spring. Remove flowers as they fade.
Despite being located in the desert, the Old Pueblo sports exemplary seafood in restaurants all over town. Here is a tasty sampling of dishes at some popular spots.
Written by Kimberly Schmitz | Photography by Thomas Veneklasen
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill offers boldly flavored wood-fired steak and seafood in a warm, modestly refined space at La Encantada. For an appetizer or an excellent accompaniment to a signature martini, dip a chip in the luscious lobster spinach queso, featuring ample lobster, baby spinach, tomatoes, and pepper jack cheese. As a starter to share or a meal, seafood lovers will enjoy the seared tuna superfoods salad, with seared sushi-grade red tuna over spinach, organic ancient grains, cucumbers, avocado, grilled corn, edamame and radish, tossed with avocado green goddess dressing. Another good choice is the wood-grilled salmon salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, San Saba Farms
spiced pecans and cilantro-lime vinaigrette. Bounty of the sea fans also will surely enjoy Firebirds’
signature wood grilled salmon basted in Key lime butter, and fresh vegetables, or the delectable sesame-encrusted salmon served with ginger mustard aioli, and fried spinach. Diners interested in more turf than surf may enhance any cut of beef on the menu with a half-pound lobster tail or wood-fired shrimp. Chef Mario Soto presents a new feature menu every few months. Be sure to ask about the hottest new items. 2985 E. Skyline Drive,577-0747www.tucson.firebirdsrestaurants.com
This shabby chic hotspot offers up its regional specialties with unexpected twists — and the fish offerings are no exception.
Being the only Southern fusion gastropub game in town doesn’t mean The Parish’s coowners Steve Dunn, Bryce Zeakler, and Chef Travis Peters rest on their laurels. This shabby chic hotspot offers up its regional specialties with unexpected twists — and the fish offerings are no exception. Whether you’re looking for a simple nosh with a drink or to kick off a full Southern comfort meal in style, the Crawfish Hushpuppies — “sweet and spicy orbs of deepfried perfection”— won’t disappoint. Guests looking to ride the crustacean train to the last stop will find the Burgundy angel hair pasta with lobster broth-bathed shrimp and crawfish, in saffron red pepper cream sauce an excellent choice. Also not to be missed is the best seller shrimp and grits made heavenly with Creole barbecue cream sauce, white cheddar grit cake, and served with a side of greens. Diners seeking a fresh water swimmer will thoroughly enjoy the pecan smoked ruby red trout served with roasted garlic, red onion marmalade, candied pecans and Creole mustard. Guests may choose to wash down these delicacies with a selection from more than 40 craft beers, an assortment of unique seasonal cocktails or house-infused vodka, rum, tequila, gin or bourbon.
Executive Chef and Owner Ken Foy delivers a no-holds-barred menu born of his East Coast classical training and a passion for regional flavors and ingredients. His working philosophy of “food made from food” barely offers a glimpse into the gastronomic delights served until the wee hours at Dante’s Fire.
Dip your toes in the Fire’s waters with oysters Rockefeller. The tasty little mollusks take their final swim in a thick, soupy reduction of Pernod, rendered bacon and heavy cream with spinach and asiago cheese and are topped with candied bacon. Channel your inner Dante and try tequila-cured salmon gravlax paired with sliced olives, avocado, grapefruit, and Parmesan foam. The salmon — vacuum sealed with lime, cilantro and tequila — is a modern, Tucson-twist on a Norwegian specialty, also known as “salmon from the grave” because it is traditionally buried to cure. Diners interested in something sourced closer to home should try the ruby red trout — a sustainable, farm-raised Apache trout replica, pan seared, broiled and properly dressed in pesto and topped with crab meat and asparagus tomato succotash. Choose a locally crafted beer or find the perfectly paired cocktail for any of these creations on the Pride, Lust, Heresy or Fraud cocktail lists.
For diners interested in taking an open sea culinary cruise with garlic as the co-captain, Wild Garlic Grill is a solid port stop. Tucson native Chef Steven Schultz and his wife Maudi Gourdin treat guests like family at the recently relocated Foothills restaurant. Chef creates a menu with California French accent cuisine, conceived after years of training under French, German, Austrian, and Swiss executive chefs. For starters, it will be tough to choose between the grilled garlic shrimp with warm Brie, grilled vegetables and roasted corn salsa, in a beurre blanc sauce and the steamed Prince Edward Island mussels in white wine garlic tomato beurre blanc. Choices don’t get easier for the entrée course, with treasures like herb-basted Alaskan cod fillet, oven-poached in white wine, with garlic, tomato fondue, basil beurre blanc; and San Francisco pier stew with white fish, shrimp, mussels and roasted peppers in a garlic, tomato basil, chardonnay broth. There also are a slew of daily specials with dizzyingly complex flavor profiles and delectable fresh ingredients. To accompany any choice, Chef Schultz personally selected over 90 sparkling, white, and red boutique wines from family owned vineyards as mainstays on the wine list. Plaza Colonial, 2870 E. Skyline Drive, Suite 120, 206-0017www.wildgarlicgrill.com
JPS Seafood Market and Restaurant
This southside hybrid has a dine-in/take-out menu that includes everything from soups, to tacos, to combo platters. But if you’re a seafood- seeking foodie preferring to stay in, JPS has just what the home chef ordered. A family owned and operated importer and distributor of fresh and frozen seafood, JPS specializes in bringing fresh product from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez harbors including Kino Bay, Guaymas, and Puerto Peñasco. Pick up prepared family sized portions of breaded fish, breaded shrimp, chiles Marlin, with salad and corn tortillas to feed the home or office crew. Or patrons may don the proverbial chef’s hat and choose a perfect cut of fresh or fresh-frozen trigger fish, cochito, shark, flounder, stingray, swai fish, tilapia, salmon, and shrimp to prepare themselves. Any selection is sure to please even the most finicky fish fan at the table. 5550 S. 12th Ave., #100, 270-3600www.jpsseafood.com
This project began with a need for privacy for the homeowners and turned into an award-winning full-on renovation.
By Debby Larsen | Photography by Colin Catron
Allen Denomy of Denomy Designs tackled multiple challenges for this landscape renovation at a foothills home. The complex project, which entailed the construction of several different new features, won an award from the Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association in 2016.
First up in the project was solving a privacy problem with a nearby property. A rammed earth wall consisting of five, nine-foot walls, spaced one foot apart was built to create a visual screen. Not only was the wall functional, it added artistic interest to the new patio.
Each wall is two feet thick, constructed of a mix containing 90 percent native soil and 10 percent concrete. Integral color was added to the mixture in many shades, the wavy patterns mimicking a mountain silhouette. An LED strip for nighttime illumination was recessed inside an opening in the center wall.
The pool’s shape, interior finish and tile were not altered. However, the original coping and Kool Deck were replaced with concrete pavers that simulate natural flagstone.
The steps and the patio near the spa were expanded. A dramatic ground-level metal fire feature was added above the pool. Curved blue glass tiles were installed on the spa overflow section, resulting in a bright focal point. Three synthetic turf areas offer green relief from the flagstone patios and became play spaces for the dog.
The homeowners enjoy cooking outdoors, and a new kitchen — with granite countertops, a cantilevered bar area, and a built-in grill and smoker — was an important feature of the renovation.
Elsewhere in the re-do, custom designed metal trellises help to screen pool equipment, and a purple plant palette became a focal point. Lantana, Texas ranger, Texas mountain laurel and lilac vines added a touch of color to the landscape plan.
A cactus-inspired sculpture from Stone Cactus Water Features, from a local artist David Weinert, incorporates soothing sounds. Queen and ponytail palms gave the yard a touch of the tropics.
The homeowners have told Denomy, “Now we want to spend more time in our new, improved space!”
When foothills homeowners approached Pro Remodeling to replace their existing pool, they also had the firm build a pool house.
By Romi Carrell Wittman | Photography by Robin Stancliff
The owners of a beautiful Catalina foothills home wanted to have a nicer pool to replace their existing one. They also decided to
add a pool/guest house. The project was designed by local architect Jake Boen of In Place Architecture. Local contractor John Almond of Pro Remodeling, Inc. completed the construction.
The homeowners wanted the new structure to be built near the pool, so they could relax after a refreshing dip. It also would serve as an inviting spot for entertaining, as well as accommodating overnight guests. Accent lighting, travertine pool decking and the interesting patio overhang design make this a truly special addition.
The first phase of construction involved tearing out the old pool and prepping the land. The pool house was new construction, so additional utilities had to be run to the site. Heavy rocks and caliche made the job more difficult.
“That stage took big equipment to level and buttress the ground,” Almond explains. Extensive rip rap retaining walls had to be removed and, as a precaution, the crew cut a new road onto the property to avoid destroying the homeowner’s existing driveway with all the heavy equipment.
The center-piece of the house is a row of tall windows that make up an entire wall of the home.
Once the ground was ready for the pool construction to begin, Almond and his crew stepped aside as the subcontractor completed his work. “The pool is between the residence and guest house so it had to go in first,” Almond adds. “We had to work with each other so we weren’t getting in their way, but we worked well together.”
The finished product is a stunning backyard retreat. The pool house features a kitchenette and a bedroom with full bath, making it perfect for outdoor entertaining as well as hosting overnight guests. The centerpiece of the house is a row of tall windows that make up an entire wall of the home. They fold back, effectively disappearing, creating a seamless indoor/outdoor space ideal for temperate days.
“The windows are 10 feet tall and have a mechanism that makes them very easy to operate,” Almond says.
For cooler evenings, the pool house has a Rumford fireplace, a specialty hearth that is tall and shallow, reflecting more heat than a traditional fireplace. The fireplace surround is stacked travertine.
Custom-made cabinetry and natural stonework can be found throughout the house. “The homeowner picked the colors and the finishes, and we used Chris Trainor, a former employee of ours who is now a custom cabinet maker,” he notes.
Almond says the job, which took about 10 months to complete, is one of his personal favorites and is a signature project for his company. “I enjoy the awesome look of it. The finished product is so nice,” he adds.
A dark and dull outdoor area was transformed into spaces of openness and light.
By Elena Acoba | Photography by Matt Vacca
Beach serenity and desert views. Lightness and shade. Openness and intimacy. The desires of a couple changing their Foothills home’s backyard appeared to pull in different directions. But landscape designer Elizabeth Przygoda-Montgomery, APLD, saw the potential of meeting them all in the redo of the 1993 hacienda-style home.
The pool’s facelift includes a cantilevered edge and light-blue paint job. New pool edging is accented with a border of black beach stones.
“They were just a pleasure to work with,” Przygoda-Montgomery says of the homeowners, she a Canyon Ranch employee, he a University of Arizona professor.
“She really drove the bus,” Przygoda-Montgomery adds. “She was adamant about being very involved with the color choices.”
The palette leans toward light and monochrome, the direct opposite of the old landscape that was filled with red brick, green grass, dark wood and a dark-blue pool surface.
To the homeowners, that old color combination said hot and overbearing. With a south-facing backyard that already was subject to intense sun, it wasn’t the relaxing feel they were after. “They wanted to take advantage of their city views and lush vegetation,” the designer explains about the desired ambiance.
There were several other landscaping issues that the couple wanted to tackle after living in the house for two years. A gathering area with a non-functioning fireplace was enclosed on two sides by a solid wall, and a ramada made it so dark and isolated that Przygoda-Montgomery called it a cave.
Additionally, a solid wall extended the length of the backyard, obscuring the mature eucalyptus and the desert beyond the barrier. There were other issues, as well. Even the plants were surrounded by walls that visually blocked the bottom of the planters and chopped up the space. The grass was contrary to the homeowners’ desire to conserve water. Lastly, the pool had been abandoned.
Grass, brick, the planter walls and the ramada were taken out. A big section of the wall perpendicular to the fireplace was cut out, allowing light to flow in and providing a view of the pool, the planters and the rest of the yard on the other side of the pool and to the desert in the distance.
Small windows on the wall with the fireplace added more light.
Both walls were covered in raw concrete stucco, providing texture and a neutral gray background for colorful pillows and potted plants. The fireplace was repaired so that it burns either gas or wood, and a built-in concrete bench was installed.
A light-colored rug dresses up the area around the dining table, which is surrounded by six white molded-plastic chairs.
Brick pavers have been replaced with ivory-colored ones, in which pearlized shells are embedded. They cool down the space, both to the eye and to the touch. By using a color palette of white, gray and blue, Przygoda-Montgomery bucked the trend of adding accents in vibrant Southwest hues that pop in the design.
“When you do reds and oranges, you’re seeing those hot colors,” she says. “I really love bringing in agave blues and seaside colors. It’s a relief to the eyes.”
The outdoor kitchen, a new feature, is of minimal size since a place to cook wasn’t a priority. “She wanted the tiniest barbecue,” the designer says of her client. A short countertop, made of recycled glass, surrounds the 24-inch-long barbecue.
The stunning feature that commands attention is the replacement for the ramada. White-painted wood beams radiate from the fireplace wall and end well past the dining area and over the kitchen.
They are held up by cross beams that seem to float above the walls. It’s engineered so that only one slim post was added, keeping the space open.
They’re topped by a five-sided piece of corrugated metal designed to provide as much shade as possible during the times the couple are likely to use the space. Przygoda-Montgomery says she was glad she was able to add this bit of rustic feel to the modern, minimal design. “Maybe it’s the Bohemian girl in me,” she says, “but I love the sound of the rain on a tin roof. It’s like a musical instrument.”
The pool was put back into service and given a facelift with a new cantilever edge and a light-blue paint job.
Next to it is a new gathering spot that features a square concrete fire pit. The area is defined by groundcover of stabilized decomposed granite.
Part of the back wall was cut away at this spot so that nighttime city views can be enjoyed by those seated in white Acapulco chairs or big pillows. It also allows the professor to see out of the yard from his home-office window.
With the planter walls gone, Przygoda-Montgomery could add low-growing cacti and flowering shrubs to complement larger trees and cacti.
A few stair steps from the fire pit is a lounge area with furniture that mirrors the pool in color and the dining area in style. Strings of light snake up the mesquites on this side of the yard, as well as hang from the beams of the metal roof at the fireplace. Globes of white light in the dining area and in the pool provide soft illumination for nighttime gatherings.
The project was completed nearly two years ago and the designer feels it has held up well. “What I love about this design is that it’s relatable for most people,” she says. “Sometimes designs can be so over the top that most people couldn’t afford it. This is practical, beautiful and affordable design.
“I call it barefoot luxury.”
…and the Winner is…
2018 HGTV Ultimate Outdoor Awards. As the editors’ pick in the Stunning Scriptures category, the project is described as a “backyard turned private paradise,” according to the HGTV website. “This outdoor space…seems like something out of a dream.”
2018 Landscape Design Awards. The project earned a gold award – the highest of three levels of recognition – from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. The international program honors excellence in landscape design.
2017 Gardenista Considered Design Awards. A panel of judges picked the finalists, who then were voted on by the public. As the winner of the best Hardscape Project, the project was described by judge Deborah Needleman this way: “This striking hardscape creates a sense of place.”
TOP A large opening in the wall created a window for additional light and views of the surrounding garden.
RIGHT Cacti and succulents add texture and sculptural forms against the patio’s hardscape.
Elizabeth Przygoda-Montgomery, APLD,
Boxhill Design, boxhilldesign.com
Pavers: Artistic Pavers Mfg.,
Accessories: Today’s Patio,
Installation: Turf Tek, LLC,
Shade Structure: Made for Shade,
Pool tile: Noble Tile Supply, nobletile.com
Photo Styling Assistant: Hot Cool Vintage,
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