Harmony in the Garden Blog

A Colorful Garden in Tucson

While visiting Arizona last month I couldn’t wait to tour a few private gardens to see first-hand how these determined and creative gardeners deal with All. That. Heat.

Driving through Tucson’s wide suburban streets, where the homes and landscaping tend to blend together, my heart skipped a beat when I noticed this garden’s ‘fence’.

Not your typical suburban garden.

Welcome to Alan Richard’s colorful paradise!


Walk inside the front courtyard and you’re immediately hit with a blast of brilliant color.

Not just any color, but deep, rich shades that counteract the sun’s tendency to create a sea of washed out browns and grays.

I love the color and placement of this recycled window, creatively bridging the gap between these asymmetric walls.

It keeps the critters out, while allowing you to peek beyond into the surrounding areas – brilliant!

No two walls are the same size, shape or color yet all of them act as the perfect backdrop for his collection of arid and structural plants.

Scattered throughout the garden are plenty of asymmetric concrete seating areas, all brightly colored, all strategically placed beneath the shade of many of the tall and wispy trees.Enter Alan’s rear garden, and you’re hit with many shades of blue, taking the form of more seating areas, fountains, large and small containers, even the plants within the containers.


Don’t you feel cooler just looking at all the blue?

A clever solution to help the mind deal with All. That. Heat. Even the artwork was created with ample doses of blue, like this tower of stacked, broken wine tops reaching for the sky.

A very clever interpretation of the many vertical cactus throughout the garden.It should come as no surprise that even the dragonflies are colorful in this garden!

While there’s something to be said for a green and serene, lush oasis of a garden, it’s gardens like these that tend to leave such a lasting impression.

Now that I’ve returned home, I’m more inspired than ever to start adding bolder colors to the gardens I design.  Let’s hope my clients are willing to have some fun!

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  • This is an amazing garden with something interesting in each corner. Such a clever way of using hard conditions and impossible weather to make something fantastic. The blue in the garden has a wonderful cooling effect, and the variety of cacti is amazing. I love the small concrete bowl in which the fountain resides – so perfect for a small garden. This garden should win a prize for creativity and beauty!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the garden as much as I did, Leah. Like you, I really appreciate it when someone can make something beautiful out of seemingly impossible conditions. And let me tell you – it’s HOT out there!! 😉

  • This is certanly a different garden style that what I’m used to, but then the natural elements are very different from here as well. I’m just not sure… is it ok if I think about this for awhile??

    • Think about it as long as you like! I think half the fun of seeing new gardens, especially those in different parts of the country, is to see what creative gardeners have done working within their area’s climate. I’m glad you stopped by….

  • That’s a good closing statement, on clients being more open to color in the hardscape. Living here in the desert, that also makes sense to use more cool colors. Great capture of a garden I didn’t capture too well!

    • You’re so right, David. Most of my clients are a little hesitant using color like this and really ‘go out on a limb’ with a purple or blue pot. I probably fall into this category as well. I looove this garden and the color he used throughout. Glad you enjoyed seeing it all over again!

  • Thank You Rebecca! Alan’s garden is downright amazing… the vivid color pallet is mesmerizing and takes the mind away from a minimal ‘garden’ space. I totally love this and I hope that Alan doesn’t mind if I steal his idea for putting a piece of flagstone under some of my pots! Excellent idea…


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