A weekend of garden exploration awaits in Bisbee, Sierra Vista and Hereford Sept. 7-8.
With cooler climes, enchanting gardens, a concert in the park and plenty of galleries, shops and restaurants, Garden Tour Weekend holds the promise of a lovely late summer getaway.
It starts with the Bisbee Bloomers Garden Tour Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The self-guided tour of nine gardens starts in historic Brewery Gulch, continues up Tombstone Canyon to higher elevations and finishes in the Warren District.
Musical entertainment will be provided at some of the stops along the garden tour.
“You will see very diverse gardens – some are old and have been gardened for 20 to 30 years and some are newcomers, here for just a few years,” said Kay Lynn Cummins, Bisbee Bloomers president.
Tour-goers will take in diverse architectural styles, as well. “You will see renovated miners’ shacks and some turn-of-the-century homes,” Cummins said. “One on Clawson Street is one of the older homes in Bisbee, and most have been completely renovated, probably several times.”
Proceeds from the 12th annual Bisbee Bloomers tour help fund beautification projects in the mile-high city. The nonprofit organization of about 30 members helps keep up the gardens in public parks and at the library. They have donated park benches and engage in general maintenance.
As in Tucson, gardening in Cochise County can be challenging, with alkaline soil, dry winds in the spring and an especially cold winter.
“It’s a challenge but you can find some beautiful gardens here,” Cummins said.
The tour begins at Doublejack Guesthouse, a restored miner’s cottage built around 1895.
It ends at Calumet & Arizona Guest House, a bed and breakfast on Powell Street. The Spanish mission-style home was built in 1906 by noted Southwest architect Henry C. Trost for the family of Joseph E. Curry, chief clerk for the Calumet & Arizona Mining Co.
For the last 21 years, Joy and John Timbers have owned the bed and breakfast and have created an expansive garden, with a fish pond that is home to 200 fishy friends, a waterfall, babbling brook and serene gardens.
“I wanted the backyard to be a wow so that when you go out, the only thing you can say is ‘wow,’ ” Joy Timbers said.
The garden includes 35 tons of carefully placed rock and boulders from the Tombstone quarry, towering trees, patches of grass and colorful blooming plants that include moss rose, lantana and butterfly bushes.
At the first frost, Timbers pots her more delicate plants and cares for them throughout the colder months in a greenhouse.
An underground tank holds rainwater for irrigation, minimizing the need for city water.
Participants can take a break during the tour to lunch at one of Bisbee’s many restaurants, including High Desert Market and Café, The Table and Santiago’s Mexican Restaurant.
From 3 to 10 p.m., the Grassy Park Restoration Project Concert will be held at City Park in Brewery Gulch. The concert benefits the renovation of Copper Queen Plaza Park, also known as Grassy Park. Donations of $5 are accepted, and among the groups performing is Buzz & the Soul Senders.
On Sept. 8, four xeriscape gardens will be on display in the self-guided Water Wise/Master Gardener 16th annual Fall Xeriscape Tour. Do-it-yourself Urban and Mountain Landscapes is the theme.
The free, self-guided tour highlights landscapes that use less water than traditional landscapes, said Cado Daily, water resources coordinator of Water Wise. The program is offered through the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Cochise County Cooperative Extension.
Daily said using less water is critical as groundwater supplies in the area are being depleted. She said landscapes consume about 30 percent of residential water use.
Docents from the Cochise County Master Gardener Association will be at each of the four sites to answer questions about the use of xeriscapes as well as rainscapes – which are supported by rain and storm water only.
Two of the gardens are in Sierra Vista and two are in Hereford. One of the Hereford homes is recognized as a pollinator garden, with more than 200 mostly low-water native plants that attract 178 species of birds, 115 species of butterflies, 49 species of grasshoppers and 20 species of dragonflies, Daily said.
“When the owners began working on the property in 2003, it was a Bermuda grass lawn with little else,” she has said. “Now, it looks like a painter’s palette with flowers everywhere, great places for lizards to hide, trees for nesting and a small pond for the dragonflies.”
It is an example of the fact that “having a low water landscape doesn’t mean a no water landscape, but it lets us use an appropriate amount of water or water in the right place,” Daily said.
The array of gardens showcased in the two tours make for a pleasant experience, she added.
“People can make a whole fun garden tour weekend out of it.”