People who claim that the desert landscape is boring have never been here in spring when the cacti blossom into a palette of many hues.
BY DEBBY LARSEN
Cacti are one of nature’s dichotomies; their thorny sculptural spheres, spiraling columns and flat paddles are paired with beautiful tissue-paper-like flowers, creating a glorious contrast.
Some species, such as the ubiquitous prickly pear, cover the landscape with displays ranging from yellow to pink. Most species of cacti bloom in April, while others are late bloomers, extending the colorful show.
Beavertail Prickly Pear (Opuntia)
Low-spreading and slow growing, this cactus has blue-gray pads covered in tiny brown barbs rather than spines. It displays lovely pink to magenta blooms.
Torch Cactus (Trichocereus)
Trichocereus hybrids are columnar cacti that are admired for their brilliant flowers in a range of colors. Some cultivars produce magnificent displays in flushes (the period when all of a plant’s flowers are in bloom) over time.
Hedgehog Cacti (Echinocereus)
Heavily spined and short statured, this cactus forms dense, low-clustered mounds. It produces large, brightly colored flowers, such as this variety, called Claret Cup.
Easily recognized as the iconic sentinel of the Sonoran Desert, this slow-growing, columnar giant reaches up to 50 feet. A corona of large, night-blooming, white flowers appears in May, followed by red edible fruit in June.
Fishhook Barrel (Ferocactus)
This basketball-shaped, long-lived cactus has ridges of curved red or yellow spines. Yellow or orange flowers form a crown, followed by a crop of yellow-pineapple-shaped fruit with many tiny black seeds.
Staghorn Cholla (Opuntia)
This very spiny, tree-like cactus has rod-shaped branches that are favored by native birds for nesting. The cholla species should not be planted in high-traffic landscape spaces!
Small and spherical in shape, this species is covered with tiny spines. A ring of pink flowers appears at one time, followed by a circle of oval-shaped, red fruit.
Santa Rita Prickly Pear (Opuntia)
This low-growing, clumping variety has flat, round, reddish-purple pads and fewer spines than others in its family. The pads’ hue deepens when stressed by drought or cold.
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.
One couple’s regular trip from Mexico to Tucson led them to take up residence in a new (old) community.
BY DEBBY LARSEN
PHOTOS BY AMY HASKELL
Over the years, Dhana and Gene Waken have owned houses in scenic places, including Napa, California, and Maui, Hawaii. But four years ago, while traveling between their Alamos and Tucson homes, they stopped in Tubac and discovered another place to put down roots. The drive from Alamos to Tucson sometimes seemed very long for the Wakens, and on one trip Gene joked, as they were approaching Tubac, “If we lived here, we’d be home by now!” They pulled off the interstate and took a quick drive through the newer Barrio de Tubac neighborhood, falling in love with — and eventually purchasing — a Spanish Colonial home on a quiet cul de sac. The village, known for its arts community, provides a tremendously convenient location for the couple — just 60 miles to Tucson and 17 miles to the border. Although they sold their Tucson property, they periodically visit the Old Pueblo to see their physicians, friends and acquaintances. The couple kept their Alamos home, too, and Dhana still has an antique shop in that area. When asked how she selects items for her shop, she notes, “I buy things I would love in my home and hope someone else is inspired by my finds.”
The couple’s dogs, Blue and Kikkoman, love to romp from the main house through the courtyard to visit Gene in his office.
The Frenchstyle graveled courtyard is a terrific space for outdoor entertaining.
It was Tubac’s scenery that drew them to the city, but they really fell for the house, which was featured on a recent home tour. Dhana has decorated their three-bedroom casa with treasures in a mix of styles from many cultures. “I love unusual pieces, such as a 15th century Bishop’s robe closet,” she says. She has found interesting and beautiful items in local shops, including Pancho’s Resource & Design, Angeles y Diablitos and Jane’s Attic. One of the appeals of the home is how interior and exterior spaces blend. “I love the inner courtyard and open floor plan,” says Dhana. “It has lots of windows and doors that lead to the center garden.” There’s even a casita for Gene’s office off the center space. He owned an engineering firm for more than four decades, and still consults. The couple’s dogs, Blue and Kikkoman, love to romp from the main house through the courtyard to visit him in his office. The backyard slants down toward the wooded Anza Trail on the Santa Cruz River. “We would like to build a bocce court in the backyard someday,” observes Dhana. The area is visited by local wildlife, and the Wakens have sighted deer, javelinas, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and coatimundi. In addition to being a Master Gardener and floral designer, Dhana also is a dedicated and enthusiastic hostess. Gene is of Lebanese heritage, and Dhana enjoys utilizing his family recipes in her entertaining (see Entertaining at Home on page 26 for some of her favorite recipes).
Tucson Lifestyle Magazine is Tucson's only glossy, monthly city magazine, targeting Southern Arizona’s affluent residents. With over 35 years of publishing experience, Tucson Lifestyle is committed to showcasing the people, places, local flavors, and attractions that make our city unique.
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