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Here's a respite from Tucson's sun-baked desert days: the Shade Oasis

Here's a respite from Tucson's sun-baked desert days: the Shade Oasis

Here’s a Tucson site that could become ever-more-attractive in the sun-baked days of late spring and summer: the Shade Oasis.

It’s a wonderfully shady garden area near the Pima County Cooperative Extension office at 4210 N. Campbell Ave.

A stroll through the oasis — with abundant shade from large mesquite trees, colorful shade-loving blooms, butterflies and an inviting bench — offers an outdoor respite from the glare of a desert day.

“You walk in and it’s cooler. It’s like you’ve been transported to a different place,” said Eric Johnson, coordinator of the Pima County Master Gardener Program. “It’s open to the public during daylight hours, and it’s free seven days a week.”

Johnson said the small site — about 2,500 square feet — was created in recent years by members of the Master Gardener Program.

“It initially was created by a master gardener named Terri Hersch,” he said. “That garden, believe it or not, used to be considered just the end of the driveway. Then, in 2013, Terri and others started working on it.

“Master gardeners Leslie Oley and Christina Biggs are the ones who have really taken Terri’s vision forward,” Johnson said. “Now it’s gorgeous. We have 14 gardens here, and by far the Shade Oasis is my favorite.”


Colorful vegetation thriving in the shady environment includes golden and blue columbine flowers and blooms of red lobelia and coral fountain plants.

A chaste tree produces brilliant purple-blue flowers, and succulents add another dimension to the landscape. Small signs identify many of the plants.

Butterflies flit from bloom to bloom. Lizards lounge on tree-shaded rocks. Birdsong provides a natural soundtrack.

“And much of the shade is thanks to those beautiful mesquite trees,” Johnson said.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz

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