Artful teamwork created the lush 3-year-old desert garden at Bob and Judy Schumann's Oro Valley home.

They worked not just with landscape designer Scott Calhoun, owner of Zona Gardens, but with each other.

Artist Judy and mechanical engineer Bob added their own landscape touches to Calhoun's plant palette of succulents, yuccas, bushes and grasses.

Bob "does metal shop in the garage," Judy explains. "I have an art degree. We were inspired by Home Depot."

Their home is among three in Saturday's garden tour by the Tucson Botanical Gardens. It's an escorted excursion by bus that starts with brunch at the gardens. It ends at a fourth home for refreshments before returning to the gardens.

Landscape designers and architects will join the homeowners in showing off the landscapes and answering questions. Some stops include a look into the hosts' homes.

The retired couple from Kansas expect that their gabion pedestals will delight tour visitors. Using Calhoun's vision, they built three of varying heights. Each has a gabion base of rocks contained in heavy-wire forms and topped with a dark metal box that holds small succulents or annuals.

The couple also put together the butcher block-style dining table for six and chair-side tables of metal or wood.

A piece of concrete reinforcing mesh acts as the canvas for Judy's large metal geometric art piece hung on the sitting-area wall.

They also crafted three bee condos of burnt wood and metal.

A stand of slipper plants acts as a "shower curtain" next to the outdoor shower that Bob designed and installed near the swimming pool, Judy says.

The pair hopes tour visitors leave with a couple of other general ideas.

"I like to see integrating smaller plants with a large plant," says Bob. It keeps specimen plants, usually focal points in a yard, from looking isolated from the rest of the landscape.

"I hope people take away that they should put some structure in their gardens," says Judy. Instead of planting vegetation and be done, she suggests adding different surfaces, pots and textures. "You have to add interest," she says.

Here are details on other stops:

Diana and John Osborne's midtown garden demonstrates permaculture principles with a 20,000-gallon, underground cistern. The rainwater it collects irrigates fruit trees, the vegetable garden and large native plants.

The yard also boasts a full kitchen, a human-sized chess board and a saltwater pool.

After their foothills home suffered a fire four years ago, Boyd and Kristen Ashdown rebuilt it and the garden at the same time. That allowed them to create a unifying look between the two.

Kristen loves cobalt blue, which colors the accents that tie indoors with outdoors.

If you go

• What: "Out & About: Day Tripping to Glorious Gardens" escorted tour.

• When: 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Start and end at Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

• Admission: $140, $125 for members, $240 for couples.

• To order tickets: 326-9686, Ext. 10, or online at

Contact Tucson freelance writer Elena Acoba at