Thursday, July 31, 2014

Appreciating the Desert

When Del Webb built the first phase of Sun City, his target market was retirees from the upper Midwest, and he assumed they would want to buy houses that looked like transplanted bungalows from Minnesota or Wisconsin, complete with grass lawns and familiar shrubs.

Our church, too, was originally landscaped with grass that wasn’t removed until 1988.  That year the congregation embraced the concept of xeriscaping.  Merriam-Webster defines xeriscape as “a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques (as the use of drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficient irrigation),” and says the first known use of the word (if not the principle) was in 1985.  We were pioneers in that regard, appreciating our desert 26 years ago.

However, once the desert flora was in place, we started treating it like the plants we were used to in colder climates—trimming bushes into hedges and frequently overwatering them.  Some of this was necessary because the landscapers had planted many of the items in areas too small for the full-grown plants, too close together, or too close to the walkways.  Over the years quite a few of our plantings have become woody, over-grown, and unattractive.  It’s time to fix that.

Starting with a donation designated for landscaping, Master Gardener, Certified Arborist, and Certified Desert Landscaper Kris Coates is helping us to:

W Identify and remove the plants that have reached the end of their useful lives.

W “Stump back” salvageable plants that can regrow into more natural and attractive shapes.

W Replant with more eye-catching and appropriate types of foliage that will require less water and less maintenance.

W Train our Building Committee and the landscaper we use in how to care for the new plants.
Once the entire project is complete, we will save thousands of dollars in water and landscape maintenance costs every year, and our campus will be far more beautiful and desert-appropriate.

We are so fortunate that Zane and Martha Porter referred Kris to us; she is committing countless hours of her time and effort to this project free of charge, and with her help we will be able to buy most of the new plants we need at wholesale prices, almost 40% off retail.  If you see her around the grounds, be sure to thank her.  With her help, we will all be able to appreciate the desert in a whole new way.
“The desert, when the sun comes up...I couldn't tell where heaven stopped and the Earth began.” ~Tom Hanks

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thanks to Royal Oaks

Royal Oaks is in the middle of removing the “islands” from their traffic circles due to fire department requirements, and they have graciously agreed to let us have (for only the cost of transplanting them) quite a few mature yucca plants and two cacti that would otherwise have been destroyed.  Look to see these new plants soon on the 103rd side of the campus.

Monday, July 28, 2014

90+ Tea Help Needed

On Wednesday, August 6, First Presbyterian Church is hosting a tea at 10:00 am in Swain Hall for its members and regular attendees who are 90 years of age or older.  If you are a younger person willing to act as a host or hostess at one of the tables, or to chauffeur one or more of the attendees, please call Beth Mabee in the church office at 623.974.3605 or send an email to  Thank you!

Friday, July 25, 2014

PW Back to School Lunch

Here are the school supplies collected for the students of El Mirage Elementary school by the PW-sponsored Back to School Project.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lost and Found

If you have misplaced one of these items, stop by the church office to claim your property:

Blue metal water bottle
Small flashlight
Green crystal pierced earring
Woman’s white cap
Kokopelli charm

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In the Library

A new book I’d recommend is Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verchese.  It is with the new books on the round table in the library.

Also, this note is just a reminder that August 1 is my last day volunteering for the church library.  I’ll be happy to show anyone what a volunteer does to keep the library running smoothly.  It is not an overwhelming job.  In fact, it is kinda neat, if one likes books and enjoys reading.  If you are interested, call me at 623.974.9250.

~Muffy Keen