Scottsdale and Phoenix have a fitness and hiking culture to accompany their polished, go-getter attitude, racing down broad arterial streets and smooth freeways in cars like Maserati, Porsche, Lotus, or Bentley.
And there’s garden design inspiration, notably arid regions
This is the trailhead I access a few quick, workout hikes when I’m up there, in fitting with their preferred vehicles. Photos from 4/15/20:
Lexus or Mercedes are as common there as Ford or Chevy monster pickup trucks are where I live.
The Gateway Trailhead at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is more than just several parking spaces along a residential street. It was designed to be in harmony with the functional forms of the Sonoran Desert, earning LEED Platinum certification!
What rules here? Rammed earth columns, an arroyo spanned by a steel bridge to begin most trails, and some focal points.
Small mountain ranges or individual peaks and buttes offer low relief but are visible from the Valley of the Sun’s flat terrain. Miles of desert hills, arroyos, and a mountain range have been preserved for outdoor recreation, including hiking and mountain biking – 56 square miles or 36,400 acres, actually.
Partnership and consideration show between the owner, the conservancy, and the entire architect-led design team including the landscape architect. I could even do a post or two on the parking lot design!
“Stick ’em up”, Sheriff Saguaro said to the Barrel Bandit.
Meanwhile, I continued the start of my hike – in a long-sleeve tee. I can’t imagine that now!
Though I was and am limited on where I can hike, with no mountain biking, by doctor’s orders, there’s much to see on variations to my 2 mile loop. That’s like the similar loop trails near my home in Las Cruces.
The Compass Barrel / Ferocactus cylindraceus right and the Foothills Palo Verde / Parkinsonia microphylla left, combine to frame the view and direct one where to walk.
This large grouping or mass of Cylindropuntia bigelovii / Teddybear Cholla has plenty of space and softer shrubs surrounding. This hike-mountain bike trail was sited back from the flowering Engelmann Hedgehog / Echinocereus engelmannii, nicely separated by the more daunting chollas by a low swale and scattered woody shrubs.
That natural scene is similar to how one would use this viciously-spined cholla cactus. Not crowded into a too-small space and too close to walkers.
Though their Sonoran Desert is hotter with few freezes compared to my Chihuahuan Desert, both are bold landscapes with similar processes and patterns unique to arid regions.
Any client or designer worth their salt embraces such a difference as an opportunity, not loathes it as a limit or ignores it to blindly copy it elsewhere.
Adapt the use to the environment, then skillfully adapt the environment to the use.
Land ethic and informed design meet!
The foothills palo verdes are still flowering with their more understated yellow color than Parkinsonia florida display. They provide a pleasant backdrop to some young saguaros and a barrel in front. While older, taller saguaros stand sentinel on the hillside beyond.
Another design vignette for a large space, but that could also be scaled into a tighter area though perhaps not a small property.
That’s the foothills of the Sonoran Desert.
If you live elsewhere, what design effects and locally-native plants in the wild could be used well but aren’t? Which plants do you have that resemble or are from similar genera?