Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ted DeGrazia's Garden

There is something I love about the "back-to-nature" vibe in Ted DeGrazia's garden.


It is not easy in the desert to landscape, or to grow anything at all.  Without sufficient rainfall, without a plentiful water source and, for 6 months of the year too much sun, it requires a different and persistent personality to create a restful garden.

 His is not the best I have seen, but it is very good and I can just imagine life here before paved roads and nearby shopping centers.

There are only rocks and native plants with touches of discarded whimsey.

These metal flowers are all from aluminum cans.

My friends that knew him said he loved to entertain and often had barbecues here.

This old stove was fitted to connect a propane tank--perfect for a pot of beans.  

These loose-hanging limbs of dried cactus are actually a wind chime.  A slight breeze sets up a pleasant, natural, non-intrusive harmony.

These sun protected areas are called 'Ramadas'. (Now you know where the hotel chain got its name)

The little courtyard was perfect to eat my sandwich.  The only thing missing was a hammock.

"The Corn Dancer"

He often had visiting artists that would stay for a while and he built small studios for them to work.

This is a "Sahuaro Shoe".  It is caused by a hole or injury being formed in the side of a sahuaro cactus.  The cactus repairs the breach by surrounding it with a hard coating (like a scab) and as the hole enlarges (caused often by birds or insects) it creates this shoe-shape.  Cactus wrens love to build nests in the shoes.  Then, when the cactus falls over, dies, and disintegrates, all that is left will be the skeleton ribs and a shoe.

There are many discarded instruments in the garden and I remembered that he had been a musician; music often accompanied his barbecues.

DeGrazia was born in 1907 and died in 1982.  His parents were Italian immigrants who settled in Morenci, Arizona where he was born.

During the height of his popularity he was known as, "The world's most reproduced artist."  Today I suspect that title goes  to Thomas Kincaid.

Uh Oh, I take back what I said.  I don't think nasturtiums are native plants.

photo by Sonoflightning
I found this photo on Wikipedia and it was much better than any I had taken of the chapel.

And this was his home.

His first wife divorced him and I would bet it had to do with this house.

Back-to-nature is fine…

Until you start having large dinner parties ….

And someone has to do the dishes.

I think my little RV might have been easier than entertaining here.

The bedrooms were okay...

but there were lots of gaps under the doors that led me to believe the desert critters might have been a problem.  And there was a vast expanse of desert right out the back door.

A friend recently asked me to describe what I thought  was "good art".  To me it has to be something that invokes an emotion, a mood, a memory.  And it has to continue to do so for the length of its life.  Gardens should do the same.  Mr. DeGrazia's garden did that for me.

Between the house and the gallery is this cairn….

and people have left money all over it.

Right beside it is his grave.

(Once again I am struggling with this blog.  The pictures are smaller than I would like them to be.  They can be enlarged by just clicking on them.)


  1. Thanks for the posts about DeGrazia's garden and studio. It's on my list for a visit the next time we're in Tucson!

  2. That is such a beautiful place.
    For a while I was able to post only 3 photos at a time, but now it's OK on my service, which I pay for. But nonetheless I post no more than five at a time. My favorite pic is the one of the courtyard.

  3. Karen, Tony and Hattie
    Whenever or if ever you get to Tucson email me…