The planting zone maps and descriptions like “high desert” and “foothills” don’t do Rim gardeners justice.
The Rim Country is full of microclimates that both challenge and inspire gardeners.
“Just about every plot of land is a microclimate,” says Elizabeth Hofstatter, one of seven area gardeners opening their homes for the 2009 Mogollon Garden Tour.
The tour, presented by the Rim Area Gardeners, allows an exploration of how the microclimates have been mastered.
For Hofstatter, who came to the Rim Country from New Jersey nine years ago, it has been trial and error.
While she had gardened for many years — she had more than 100 rose bushes at a previous home — the technique of Xeriscape was foreign to her.
“I haunted the nurseries and arboreta,” she said.
Her studies paid off — the entire front of Hofstatter’s property is done in Xeriscape. There are no drip lines in either the front or back, she said.
“I wanted a landscape that would minimize the need for added water,” she said. She also wanted plants to attract birds and butterflies, but also to blend with the forest.
The back of her property borders forest land and she and her neighbors had gone to great lengths to reduce the risk of fire to their lots. Hofstatter cleared the forest neighboring her property and made sure not to use foundation plantings at the rear of her home.
The plants she chose for the back yard are both drought resistant and frost hardy. She designed her planting beds to give a wild look to the landscape, while having blooms to attract the wildlife she wanted.
Her deck is a showcase for an amazing variety of cacti and succulents. And after being a rose gardener for so many years, she could not abandon the queen of flowers. She has about nine bushes, most of them planted in a sheltered spot between her deck stairs and the side of her home. They seem to be happy there — mounding up and starting to arch over part of the deck and scenting the warm air even several feet away.
Hofstatter’s garden started as a barren lot hosting some different cacti. As her home was built, she salvaged some of the cactus from both her lot and a neighbor’s. One salvaged from the neighbor’s property had even been cut and run over by heavy equipment, but she nursed it back to health and now it thrives in the granite.
It is her border garden in the back that she considers her greatest success. Through trial and error she was able to find the kind of flowers that thrive in her particular microclimate.
“While the growing instructions say a plant requires full sun, our sun here is a little too strong at this altitude and with our thinner air,” she said. So, she takes precautions.
On the flip side, she said probably her biggest failure has come from watering too much, especially when wintering over the cacti and succulents. She has to put her collection in the garage when temperatures are regularly below 70 degrees and has found the cacti and succulents don’t like a lot of water at that point.
The regular upkeep on her gardens — front and back — takes from four to six hours a week. Plus, usually in March, she spends a week doing a big cleanup, clearing out debris and cutting back the roses.
Hofstatter said she thinks of her garden as a spring garden and it is close to its peak right now, but many of the native plants bloom all season.
As part of the 2009 Mogollon Garden Tour there will be a special Artist in the Garden feature. Jan Ransom will be the artist at Hofstatter’s.
The event is a self-guided auto tour; the $5 ticket and maps are available at Ace Hardware, Plant Fair Nursery, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Payson and Pine libraries. The participating gardens will have “green thumb” directional signs for guidance.
While Hofstatter’s garden is a showcase for Xeriscape, the other gardens feature plants and landscaping reflecting different tastes. Other gardeners participating are: Julie Coleman; Bruce and Diane Branstrom; Roland and Phyllis Lee; John Patricia; Nancy Jones; and Elizabeth Sabo. Artists taking part are Bob and Sarah Gregor at the Coleman home; Carolee Jackson at the Branstrom home; Gary Houston at the Lee residence; Bob and Glenda Roark at the Patricia place; and Joe Prow and the Sabos’.
The tour is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 13. For additional information, call Ann Prow at (928) 468-1410.