Louie Werthmuller's home, Casa de Las Tortugas - House of Turtles - features more than the namesake creatures swimming in a backyard pond.
Werthmuller's yard is strewn with handmade creations: turquoise-painted lizards and hummingbirds, a pond that's purified when water percolates up through lava rocks, and a mesquite-and-saguaro-rib patio.
"It's like our own little oasis," Werthmuller said. "My wife and I love to sit out here in the mornings."
Werthmuller's oasis is one of 11 backyards featured in the Jefferson Park Garden Tour, an event that's meant to raise money for the neighborhood's efforts to gain national historic recognition.
Those who take the tour will get an intimate look into Jefferson Park, a neighborhood Anna Stattelman founded in 1898 just north of the University of Arizona.
"After seeing all these gardens I realize they are as eclectic as the people who live here," said Joan Daniels, president of the nonprofit Friends of Jefferson Park Inc. "They are all extremely different."
Georgina Lipsey, a Tucson architect and interior designer, recently finished a mural that stretches across her 110-foot backyard wall and is made entirely of recycled materials.
As owner of one of the stops on the tour, Lipsey will discuss how she salvaged tile, mirrors, rock and wood to create "The Spirit of Tucson."
The mural showcases Tucson's beauty - purple mountains, giant lizards and a mesquite tree - and the city's history as a border town.
The far-right edge of the mural depicts immigrants crawling across the border and one "unlucky guy who didn't make it," Lipsey said.
"Because of the materials, at different times of the day, my wall looks completely different than at other times," Lipsey said.
From water harvesting to solar energy, visitors will view the customized backyards and be provided with renovation tips, said Daniels.
With the funds raised, Jefferson Park's nonprofit organization will be one step closer to repaying the city a $37,000 loan the neighborhood received in 2007 to begin the historic nomination process.
Neighborhood designation on the National Register of Historic Places is extremely important to Daniels, who has been compiling oral histories from Jefferson Park's oldest residents.
Those histories will be featured at the first stop on the tour, the Ward 3 office at 1510 E. Grant Road.
"This is going to be an extremely nice way to get people walking around and looking at some of Tucson's important history," said Ward 3 Council Aide Holly Lachowicz.
Tour-goers can walk or drive to each garden tour location.
Jefferson Park has more than 800 properties, all within a one-mile radius. The neighborhood stretches from East Grant Road to East Lester Street and North Campbell Avenue to North Euclid Avenue.
Jefferson Park hopes to receive designation on the National Register of Historic Places by January, said Tucson Historic Preservation Officer Jonathan Mabry.
If You Go
• What: Jefferson Park Neighborhood Garden Tour.
• Where: The tour begins at the Ward 3 office, 1510 E. Grant Road.
• When: Noon to 5 p.m. April 18.
• Admission: $10 for adults; free for children under 12.
Contact reporter Megan Neighbor at 307-0579 or firstname.lastname@example.org