Mon, June 24

Arizona Botanical

Everybody talks about the drought but nobody does anything about it. Except, of course, the folks at Arizona Botanical.

While they can't coax water from the sky, they can help area residents make the most of that increasingly precious resource. Say adios to imported leafy shrubs and patches of lawn soaking up H2O like a sponge, then begging for more. Time to go native.

"We continually try to inform people of the importance of moving towards low-water, low-maintenance xeriscape applications," says Jason Lavelle, manager at Arizona Botanical.

Xeriscaping, from the Greek word xeros, which means dry, is simply a water conservative approach to landscaping.

"Plants that are native or adaptive to the region are more disease and pest resistant. They take less effort because homeowners don't need to fertilize or amend the soil as much. Minimal water use and minimal effort is what we're shooting for," says Lavelle.

Translation: reduce your water bill and sweat output. And if you believe water thrifty landscaping means nothing more than scattering a few boulders around a prickly pear, you haven't toured Arizona Botanical. Nestled in a scenic parcel alongside the highway to Jerome, the nursery and landscape company boasts lush greenhouses and lavish gardens.

When wandering amidst rows of cacti, agaves, succulents and shrubs, pay attention to the details. The sculptural specifics of an Indian fig, the sad elegance of chain fruit cholla, the spindly triumph of ocotillo, all reminders of the diverse beauty of plant life thriving in this climate.

Such variety allows homeowners to define their yards however they choose. Create a landscape splashy with color, a habitat for wildlife, a multi-textured transition zone, or a dense screen for privacy. Arizona Botanical can help.

"If someone has an idea of what they're looking for, I can coach them along the lines of what possibilities exist," says Lavelle. "For any plant they come at me with, I can offer up a comparable low-water plant that works as well. We're geared towards retail sales but we want to be an informative resource as well."

Now if only they can figure out how to make it rain.

Arizona Botanical ­ 1601 Arizona 89A, Clarkdale, 634-2166.