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Water Management

2002 Contest Winners

Tohono Chul Park collaborated with the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) on the Second Annual Xeriscape Landscaping Contest for the Tucson metropolitan area. The contest was open to both professional designers and homeowners who have designed and installed their home landscape.  Awards are given in recognition of the work of designers and property owners who have made innovative and appropriate use of native and low-water use plants, water harvesting, gray water and efficient irrigation systems.


2002 Community Xeriscape Leader


Greg Starr receiving awardGreg Starr -2002 Community Xeriscape Leader

Greg is one of the foremost proponents of Xeriscape in the Southwest. He is well known as an expert on low water use plants, and has spent most of his life popularizing and promoting the use of Xeric plants such as Agave, Leucophyllum, Dalea and many of the now common species used in Xeriscapes.

Greg owns and operates Starr Nursery which specialized in Agaves, cacti and a limited number of Xeric shrub species for many years.  He participated in collecting “expeditions” to Mexico with Warren Jones in the early 1980’s and with Ron Gass and other prominent growers and designers in the late 1980- 90’s.  His work included the domestication of Dalea capitata, Dalea lutea, Dalea versicolor and Dalea frutescens.  He was instrumental in bringing Agaves such as Agave schidigera, Agave striata, Agave wocomahi and others into cultivation.

He is a prolific writer and has written numerous articles for many respected horticultural publications.  Greg holds a B.S. and a M.S. in Plant Sciences from the U of A and has spent most of his adult life developing and promoting low-water use plants, which are on most plant palettes of Xeriscape landscapes in Southern Arizona.

Homeowner Category

These entries must be substantially designed and installed by the homeowners themselves.

Frink Merrick backyard ramadaFirst Place –Tag Merrick and Kelly Frink

Tag and Kelly said in their application that they have dedicated the last seven years planting and building the garden areas and structures that make up their one-acre landscape.  Their dedication shows.  The judges said that this entry:

  • offered “good human scale,”
  • was an “excellent example of a non-lawn yard with high interest”
  • has “lots of whimsy” and
  • used water harvesting effectively


Homeowner Second Place:  Jenny Coniglio

mini oasis area with rainwater barrelfront landscaping

The second place homeowner has been making her landscape “HER” garden since 1999.  She inherited a few vines, some daleas and a myoporum from previous owners of the house and has since added more drought-tolerant plants and colorful pots to create her masterpiece.  The judge’s response:

  • Shade garden is very attractive and draws hummingbirds
  • Beautiful pot combinations
  • Good use of desert plants


Judges Award for “Most Water-Efficient Landscape” Sheilah Jaramillo and Fabian Gomez

This landscape included a variety of scenarios to draw your interest, but what was most noticeable to the judges were the extraordinary efforts these homeowners took to use water efficiently.  From the wells around the trees to the water harvesting off the roof, it is apparent that these homeowners are aware of the importance of water when gardening and landscaping in the desert. 


2002 Photo Gallery, Homeowner Category

Professional Residential Category


“Best Retrofit of a High-Water Using Landscape”, Margaret West for the Kennedy/Prebis Residence

Colorful walls add interest and frame planting areasThe homeowners at this residence wanted to redesign their landscaping to create a more “native look.”  The previous homeowners had a large lawn in the back yard and two mature mesquites in the front, both severely neglected.  The conversion came in the form of some self-sowing perennials, Chihuahuan Desert natives and small regional cacti in the front yard. 

In the back yard, a small portion of the lawn was retained and more drought-tolerant plants like salvias, ocotillos, golden fire barrels, and echinopsis were planted.  This entry is being awarded the best retro-fit of a high-water using landscape because it reduces water use with flair.  According to the judges, it contains good interspersing of small plants with flagstone near spa, an attractive combination of desert perennials, and it utilized great use of hardscape and brightly colored walls in back.

Judges Award for “Attracting Urban Wildlife” Clay Thompson, for the Herr Residence

The goal for this residence was to blend in plantings to enhance and maintain the integrity of the natural desert around the house.  Planting Salvia, Justicia, penstemons, Lantana, Hesperaloe and Anisicanthus provide masses of color and also attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  Plantings of Berberis trifoliate and Chihuahuan sage provide a backdrop against the existing creosote and provides habitat extensions for quail and doves.  The beautiful, large palo verde in the back yard draws bees when in bloom and nesting birds all year round.  These are just some of the features that make this landscape the judges’ choice for the Attracting Urban Wildlife Award.


Judges award for “Best Low- Maintenance Landscape” John M. Harlow, Jr., Landscape Designer, Harlow Gardens for the Wetlaufer Residence

backyard viewOwner wanted low maintenance yardThe owner’s requirement for this landscape was that there be no leaves to clean up or find laying at the bottom of the pool.  To achieve this effect, this designer used a variety of cacti to create diverse shapes and colors when in bloom.  The judges were impressed, saying the landscape included a good mix of cacti & agaves, good variation of color and forms, and is very nice, clean and has lots of interest.


2002 Photo Gallery, Professional Residential Category

Commercial Category

Owl clover and desert marigold in bloomDistinguished Xeriscape Award & "Best Use of Native Plants to Attract Wildlife" - John Chinnock for The Nature Conservancy’s Tucson Conservation Center 

The premise for the Distinguished Xeriscape Award is that the winner’s entry incorporates all the principles of Xeriscape, for example, water harvesting, use of pervious pavement in a commercial setting and use of a variety of low-water use plants, zoned by water use.  This project included enhancing water harvesting through depressed rock-lined swales at downspouts to direct runoff through planting areas and parking lots, using 100% Chihuahuan and Sonoran Desert natives in an aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-maintain manner and using GravelPave to improve water harvesting and as an alternative to asphalt paving.  The judges enjoyed the large variety of plants used and felt these created a colorful and inviting space that is consistent with the organization’s biodiversity goal.

This landscape designer worked with a committee of staff from the Nature Conservancy to create a landscape design that reflected the conservation mission and community values of the Conservancy.  The project used only plants that are native to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts in a creative way.  The judges felt the landscape exhibited a colorful use of native plants and that it was nice to see the large variety of plants that were used to create this effect.

"Best Revegetation of Disturbed Desert"- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

former pathway revegetated with natives for natural look

This organization had the task of re-vegetating an area on their property that had been disturbed by the creation of footpaths that were no longer needed.  The goal was to blend the area in with the surrounding undisturbed vegetation so that you could not tell that there was ever a path there.  The project was a great success as can be heard in the words of the judges:

  • Almost undetectable…perfect match of natural materials
  • Grounds prepared to look like adjacent areas and contoured to match
  • This kind of landscape is most successful when you can’t tell where it starts and
  • ends…superb!

2002 Photo Gallery, Commercial Category


Public Education

Girl Scout amphitheaterFirst Place - Sage Landscape Architecture for the Saguaro Girl Scout Hacienda

The Girl Scouts wanted to create a nature trail, outdoor amphitheater, donor recognition wall and also needed some habitat restoration in their retreat.  SAGE assisted them in creating these components and blending them in nicely with the existing landscape. 

The Judges felt that SAGE did a nice job of locating the amphitheater, keeping the existing mesquites and the view of the mountains. As a  backdrop to the stage. They said combining the native mesquites with the wall to screen the river view works well.

Second Place - Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Interpretation and education is what this organization is known for.  Visitors come from all over the world to learn about the Sonoran Desert, its plants and animals in this museum.  You’ve already heard what a fabulous job they did with their re-vegetation, and the interpretation of this re-vegetation is worth an award as well. 

When this re-vegetation project was created, a publication was developed entitled “Gardening the Desert Museum Way”, which details the processes the Desert Museum utilizes to for re-vegetation and their general philosophy for planting in desert regions.  It provides guidance and inspiration to anyone wanting to re-vegetate their plot of land.

2002 Photo Gallery, Public Education Category


J.D. DiMeglio - “Artistry in Landscaping” Award

J.D DiMeglio inspired everyone he met to embrace the beauty of the Sonoran Desert and to appreciate the natural artistry alive in the native landscape. This award is given in his memory to the landscape that the judges feel has the most artistic flair with plant selection and placement, creative use of space, color, and art in the landscape.

J.D. DiMeglio Award- Kelly Frink & Tag Merrick

Kelly and Tag have created a landscape that is not only beautiful and inviting, but also inspirational.  Their mix of native and arid-adapted plants, art pieces and hardscape makes you want to sit in their gardens all day and enjoy the peace and serenity of the Sonoran Desert.  For this reason, we are proud to honor them with this, our highest award.


More Photos, 2002 Artistry in Landscaping Award


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