Tucson Lifestyle Home and Garden September 2012 : Page 26
EntErtaining a renovation A backyard makeover of epic proportions resulted in the perfect spot to entertain.
Entertaining A Renovation
For Georgia Pisciotta, remodeling is evolution in action. Twenty-eight years in the home she and her husband Ray built in one of Tucson’s premier neighborhoods has allowed her to see where things could be improved. And, as well, how a family home and its landscape could be tailored for an outgoing empty-nest couple who love to entertain.<br /> <br /> The Pisciottas, owners of Brakemax Car Care Centers throughout Tucson, were choosey three decades ago about the site for the house, and purchased a lot with superb views. A pool and primary patio were built to take full advantage of this huge vista. Renovations had to include updating this area.<br /> <br /> “We decided to push back a wall to create an elegant small patio and courtyard for intimate gatherings. It grew to be three connected courtyards with the same flooring, raised planters, Italianate fountains, a combination of herbs, tropical plants, citrus and succulents. We recently went back in and added a hand-crafted, woodburning pizza oven.” <br /> <br /> Next, they tackled the existing pool. Georgia wanted a more sculptural one and a more serene atmosphere. Because this area was home to the primary outdoor kitchen and very important when the couple entertained, they plunged excitedly into a substantial undertaking.<br /> <br /> Pool builder Doug Staples, owner of Cimarron Circle Construction Company, worked with landscape architect Paul Serra to plan the project and surrounding gardens. To start out, a few key actions were agreed upon.<br /> <br /> “First,” says Staples, “the existing pool was going to have to be removed. Second, we were going to have to bring the grade of the new one and patio area up to that of the highest existing covered porch. This meant bringing in fill and building retaining walls where necessary. And third, to give Georgia the flow she wanted, the middle masonry column holding up the porch roof needed to be removed because it obstructed access to the pool, and it made the porch feel constricted. This meant a lot of structural work to maintain the integrity of the porch. These were all big issues.” <br /> <br /> Whatever it took, it was all worth it. The finished pool and patio seem to float amid a tropical meditation garden. Georgia suggested that where the two meet there be so-called wet edges like those she had seen in Asia. In such applications, the pool coping is just barely submerged in the water, making the patio seem to merge into it.<br /> <br /> When Staples suggested that the above-ground end of the pool be made from aquarium-style glass, instead of conventional materials, this water feature moved into one-of-a-kind territory. To further heighten its impact, Georgia nestled a large statue of a reclining Buddha among the plantings along one side. The tropical retreat includes plantings of papyrus, Mexican weeping bamboo, giant timber bamboo, horsetail reed, canna lilies, sago palms, Peruvian daffodils and Mediterranean fan palms.<br /> <br /> Stairs lead down past the spa to a sunset patio and fireplace. The view is to the southwest, but also back toward the aquarium wall. With sculptural plants like pedilanthus and agaves in the planting bed alongside it, this flourish seems bold indeed. A small putting green rounds out this lower level of the landscape.<br /> <br /> “When we rebuilt the pool, we enclosed the rest of the property,” Georgia says. “It was our chance to include an entry courtyard with a shady patio and another fountain. We created a terraced rock garden for succulents, so you can take stone steps through them to the fire pit for cookouts with the grandkids.” <br /> <br /> Georgia marvels at the micro-climates resulting from the new landscape walls and the humidity that exists in the planting beds nearest the pool. An avid experimenter, she’s growing things that shouldn’t work in Tucson: tropical birds of paradise in full sun; angel trumpets that don’t freeze; California succulents not given constant attention; and notably touchy, non-native perennials that come back year after year.<br /> <br /> “I just keep adding. I keep changing,” Georgia says. “Things evolve. And honestly, we love projects.” <br /> <br /> Judith Ratliff, MLA, is a Tucson landscape designer. She can be reached at 577-7391 for comments.<br /> <br /> Sources:<br /> <br /> Furniture: House ‘N Garden; www.housengarden.com<br /> Pool redesign: Cimarron Circle Construction Company Inc.; www.cimarroncircle.com<br /> Landscape designer: Paul Serra, 406-3033<br /> Sculptures: Colors by Nature; www.colorsbynature.net<br /> Fountain & pool surround paving: Cantera Custom Creations;<br /> www.canteracustomcreations.com<br /> Plants: Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery, 721-8600
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