A tranquil retreat, beautiful to the eye and fragrant to the smell, is what master gardener Thom Berger and his partner, Bill Maynard, looked to create in the backyard of their Moon Valley home.
When they bought the north Phoenix property 1 1/2 years ago, the yard was in shambles after years of neglect. Less talented, less ambitious gardeners would have walked away from such a nightmare. But the two envisioned great things on their third of an acre. Closing on the property, Berger and Maynard planned, dug and planted. Then they did it some more.
”We wanted a tropical feel emphasizing blues and purples,” says Berger, who received his master gardener certification from the University of Arizona Maricopa County Extension in Phoenix. That concept was carried out immediately around the swimming pool. Then, through elevated planters and sweeping hills, Berger and Maynard incorporated other styles of vegetation — and smells — to offset the central theme.
The result is a colorful, perfumed paradise evoking calm. Even Nigel, the couple’s talkative Siamese, has little desire to escape the idyllic setting.
A tour of the yard, experiencing the colors and fragrances, reveals why. That tour begins at the pond, complete with goldfish, upon which are found numerous tropical water lilies. A faint, sweet smell emanates from the soft white flowers. Nearby, against a mocha-colored wall, is a passiflora vine, distinct flowers with purple petals and a white interior. A spicy aroma comes from this direction. The flowers are also butterfly magnets.
“We wanted butterflies and hummingbirds in our yard,” explains Berger. Plus, they wanted bees. The orange, grapefruit and lemon trees lining the east side of the property attract plenty. And there’s an intoxicating smell every spring. Nearby Tecoma, with its orange trumpetlike clusters that bloom yearround, can be admired. This shrub overlooks the fragrant herb garden containing parsley, thyme, sage and basil.
On the other side of the yard, located on a raised planter, is the rose garden — hybrids Purple Passion and Ingrid Bergman and the climber the Fourth of July. The sweet, distinct aromas from these blooms can be appreciated at a distance of several feet. Nearby is the soothing scent of lavender.
“Living here, you can have things in bloom all yearround,” says Berger.
Which means you can have fragrance throughout the year, too.
That’s something gardeners in other states can only dream of.