Glimpse Some Of Rim Country’S Best Gardens

Leo Lee's garden

Photo by Andy Towle. |

Leo Lee's garden


Get a glimpse of some of the best gardens in the Rim Country and learn some of the secrets of top gardeners at the annual Rim Area Gardeners Mogollon Garden Tour Saturday, June 16 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Each year, the Rim Area Garden Club seeks out area gardens to be featured on the annual Mogollon Garden Tour. This year’s tour includes gardens in Payson, Star Valley and Pine. In addition to the fabulous gardens, a variety of artists and musicians will share their talents.

Tickets cost $5 at Ace Hardware, the Payson and Pine public libraries, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, Payson

Jewelers, Plant Fair Nursery and Sweet Nostalgia.

The featured gardens belong to Leo Lee, Payson, who will be showcasing roses and the art of Jan Ransom; Barbara Boehm, Payson, who will showcase xeriscape and the works of Joe Prow and Louise Bossert; Gila Community College Payson Campus, another xeriscape showcase with artwork by Rita Pachert and Dick Crane; Reese and Debra Dennis, Star Valley, which includes orchards and vegetable gardens, plus plants for butterflies, trees for birds and more, the couple will host potter Dave Sanchez; Jim and Candy Bridges, Pine, a garden retreat from which to feast with the art of Bertica-Garciadubus; Dan and Median Griffith, Pine, a terraced, woodsy garden with perennials and music by the host.


A gurgling fountain welcomes visitors to the Breath of Life Retreat House in Pine, owned and operated by Jim and Candy Bridges.

Property of any size can be enhanced with planned plantings and accents, from the an institutional setting like the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden at Gila Community College’s Payson campus or intimate settings like the home of Leo and Phyllis Lee or Jim and Candy Bridges’ gardens at the Breath of Life Retreat House in Pine.

Leo and Phyllis Lee moved to Payson from the Valley 11 years ago and resolved to fill their home with the smell of roses. Leo said he thinks the property came with 23 rose bushes and over the years he has replaced only three — including a John F. Kennedy rose that he tried to transplant when they extended their patio.

“It died and Phyllis has never forgiven me,” Leo said.

The Lee property also has maples and lilies and lots of potted plants. But perhaps the most striking aspect of the Trailwood home is the meticulously raked red granite gravel.

Leo said gardening generally takes about four hours every day, mostly tending to the two dozen rose bushes.

He said the folks at Plant Fair Nursery — the most knowledgeable he knows — advised him to make sure the roses are watered with a slow, seeping method and don’t stand in water. They are on a drip irrigation system, but the slender, black tubing causes problems. Leo said it splits or the minerals in the water sometime clog it up, so he has to monitor it carefully. They constantly recruit new plants from Walmart, Home Depot and Plant Fair.

“It’s like going to a candy store for us,” Phyllis said.

“You can buy healthy plants all over, but Plant Fair is where you can get expert advice,” Leo said.

Featured gardens

Leo and Phyllis Lee

(905 W. Granada Way, Payson) Raked gravel showcases Leo’s rose collection and he has special names for them. He may share a story or two and welcomes questions on rose care. Rim Country artist Jan Ransom will be painting at the Lee residence.

To reach the Lee home, take Longhorn west to McLane and turn right. Follow McLane to Payson Parkway and turn left. Follow Payson Parkway to Pioneer Trail and turn right. At Heritage Lane turn left. Go to Granada Way and turn right. Watch for the thumb signs.

Barbara Boehm

(608 Boulder Ridge, Payson) This xeriscaped garden was professionally designed and creates a beautiful setting. Boehm will host two artists for the tour: Joe Prow, who will display his beautiful wooden bowls, and Louise Bossert, who makes rope and cloth bowls.

Take Pioneer Trail west to its end, turn west on Country Lane and take it to its end and then go right (north) on Boulder Ridge.

Gila Community College, Payson campus

Walk up the steps to the garden nestled between buildings. Garden art, xeriscape plants and structure, plus a kiosk with information all make this experience unique. Lois Hurd from the Xeriscape Council hosts. Artists include Rita Pachert, who does amazing things with gourds, and Dick Crane, who will display unique birdhouses and metal artwork.

At the intersection of Hwy. 87 and 260, go east on the Hwy. 260 to Mud Springs Road and turn left. Watch for the thumbs.

Reese and Debra Dennis

(500 Dealers Choice Lane, Star Valley) This country paradise features apple and pear trees, a vegetable garden, filaree, butterfly bush and salvia. The well-laid-out site includes a barn and corral for the horse, a purr-fect cat fence in back, a friendly dog and the remains of an old orchard where Marvin of B-Z-B Nursery sold his fruit many years ago. The Dennises keep organic methods a priority, as well as bird nesting sites. Potter David Sanchez will display his work.

To reach the site, go east on Hwy. 260 through Star Valley. Turn left on Dealer’s Choice (north) and continue to the property around the corner on the left.

Jim and Candy Bridges

(5659 W. Chaparral Lane, Pine) Part of The Breath of Life Retreat, this garden welcomes visitors, including animals, with a waterfall, pond and gardens. Spacious, orderly arrangement of water features, fruit trees, a vegetable patch and statuary are designed to refresh and renew. Painter Bertica-Garciadubus will exhibit her art in this garden.

Take Hwy. 87 north to Pine. Turn right on Whispering Pines Drive then turn left on Mistletoe Drive. Turn right onto Chaparral Lane. Watch for the thumbs.

Dan and Median Griffith

(6108 Skyview Cr., Pine) This garden has pleasant hillside walks and seating with mountain top views, with a terraced area with clever water storage. Nature rules in this woodsy garden with perennials. Host Dan Griffith is a musician and will be playing his guitar for all to enjoy.

Take Hwy. 87 north through Pine. Turn right (north) on Pine Creek Canyon Drive. Turn left (west) into Portal 3 and continue on Portal Drive, turn right (north) on Canyon Vista, first left (west) on Skyline and left (south) on Skyview.

Inspiration rules at the Breath of Life Retreat House in Pine belonging to Jim and Candy Bridges. Between 10 and 20 guests can be accommodated and it’s almost fully booked a year in advance. The retreat house also has a gift shop and visitors can purchase a number of inspirational items.


At the home of Leo and Phyllis Lee, sweet sculptures and overflowing ground cover entice passersby to linger a bit and enjoy the beauty. Both homes and four other gardens are featured in the 2012 Mogollon Garden Tour.

Candy has been a Pine resident since 2006, moving there after she lost her husband in a wrongful death. She first bought a home in Strawberry Hollow and tried to build a retreat house in Prescott. As things worked out, she found the perfect property for her dream of a retreat house in the Rim Country.

She has always loved the therapy of building and working in the yard. Much of the renovation was hands-on — she had the help of 14 friends and family members to make the initial dent in the overgrown landscape of the property. That work — over a long Labor Day weekend — cleared out a spot where the retreat house’s large water feature and landscaping orchard are located.

The orchard produced tons of pears and apples. It takes her an entire weekend to turn the harvest into pie filling, which she freezes and uses to treat her retreat guests to apple pies all year.

She also tends apricot and Italian plum, her personal favorite. A vegetable garden maintained with gray water produces enough tomatoes, peppers and more for institutional size batches of her family’s authentic spaghetti sauce.

She has storage tanks on site and hopes to someday add pillow bladders under the decks of the house with which to harvest more of the rain and snowmelt runoff from the roof. She also maintains plenty of bird houses and an animal feeding station.

“If you give them (the elk, deer, javelina) something to eat, they tend to leave your garden alone.” She noted that when the feeding station emptied during a recent absence, the elk and deer went after her roses. She keeps her fruit trees pruned up to limit their access


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.