Gardens Founded in 2001 - Home in 2002

Echinacea - Photo by Laura Davis

The garden began in 2001 with the help of Norm Erickson, a Northland Hospice volunteer, at the corner of Switzer Canyon Drive and Turquoise. At that time the home had not been completed but a beautiful sign was placed on the corner. Norm continued to work on the beds on the east side of the sidewalk along Switzer Canyon Drive and in front of the home, until 2008. The rest of the gardens were developed by a core of Coconino County Master Gardeners initially led by Laura Davis and since 2007 by Loni Shapiro.

The garden crew is active from April-October and sometimes in November weather permitting. Work happens weekly throughout the garden season on Monday and Thursday mornings from 8:00 am-12:00 pm. It also is scheduled for one Saturday a month from April through October. Cancellations due to weather will be posted by 6:00 am of the workday on this blog. You must attend a spring orientation to the garden and Northland Hospice & Palliative Care in order to work. A summary of the work that has been done is included on the blog. Look for weekly postings on this blog during the garden season.

Volunteering in the Garden

2015 Calendar

April 13, 11:30-1:30 Lunch and orientation for new volunteers at hospice and TB testing for all

April 16, 9:15-10 TB tests read and 10:00 garden orientation. First Thursday workday 9-12

April 20, First Monday workday 9-12

May 2, Saturday workday 9-12

If you are interested in volunteering, please email

Please note: TB testing is required annually for all garden volunteers.

If you have current TB results that were done by a physician or at a hospital, these may be submitted to Northland Hospice.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, please contact the volunteer coordinator Kathy Simmons ( to schedule a time for testing and orientation.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Week of June 22

Lots of blooms in the garden. The plants are strong and healthy in spite of the hot weather and lack of rain. Thanks to our wonderful garden crew for all of their help!

Week of June 15

Dana Prom Smith visited the garden on Thursday and talked about the McCormick Rose. We have two in the garden. While it isn't a showy rose, it does have an interesting history. All of us were impressed by Dana's themes of civilization, class, love, and tragedy. We all wanted one for our own garden. Read all of Dana's story below.

The Rev. Dana Prom Smith, S.T.D., Ph.D.
A touch of class, a hint of civilization, a love story, and a tragedy, these are the themes entwined in the tale of the McCormick Rose, a cutting of which graces the bottom of the steps into Old Main at the North Campus of NAU. The first McCormick Rose was brought as a cutting by Margaret Hunt McCormick, the bride of Richard McCormick, Arizona's Second Territorial Governor, to Prescott in November 1865. A French Boursaid (Rosa gallica), an ancient French hybrid, this pink rose was the first cultivated rose in Arizona.
The McCormick Rose at Old Main is the granddaughter of the grande dame original McCormick Rose. The rose at Old Main was a cutting of the McCormick Rose at the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, which was in turn a cutting from the original rose planted by Margaret McCormick by front door of the Governor's Mansion in Prescott. The Class of 1934 planted the third generation cutting at Old Main. As one of the three campus roses of the Alumni Rose Collection, it is also a part of the Arboretum at NAU, which will be offering rooted great granddaughter cuttings or fourth generation McCormick Roses for sale through its on-line gift shop.
The McCormick Rose began its journey in Margaret McCormick's trousseau luggage as she and Richard made their way to Arizona. First, the cutting accompanied them by steamship from New York to Jamaica and thence to Aspinwall at the Isthmus of Panama. Next, the cutting went with them overland on mule back to the Pacific Coast where they and the cutting again boarded a steamship for Acapulco. Richard and Margaret spent a couple of days touring the deserted city (the French Army had chased the Mexicans out of their city). Finally, the cutting went with them to Los Angeles.
After a few days rest in Los Angeles, they and the cutting took a stagecoach to Yuma where they boarded a steamer for a trip up the Colorado River to Ehrenburg. Then as Margaret described the last leg of the journey, it was "two ambulances, six government wagons, and two private baggage wagons" crossing the Mohave Desert to Prescott. Needless to say, the McCormick Rose has demonstrated itself a hearty cultivar and flourishes today after years of benign neglect in Prescott, at Old Main, and at Cline Library.
Prescott had barely become Prescott at the time. Before that it was a single hastily built, ramshackle log cabin on the banks of Granite Creek, called Fort Misery by John Goodwin, the First Territorial Governor. The Governor's Mansion to which Richard McCormick brought his well-bred, well-educated, New Jersey bride was a long cabin with dirt floors and windows without glass. Happily, Margaret was the first First Lady and was given carte blanche on improvements, furnishings, and decorations. She had furniture made from pine logs.
The McCormick Rose was but a symbol of the civilization and class Margaret brought to Prescott. She transformed the rude log cabin into a frontier mansion where she made a home for Richard and herself, an office for him, and accommodations for guests. She threw levees, entertained guests, and bade visitors and strangers welcome. Margaret wrote of her "own dear home" to her friend Emma in New Jersey, "We danced in the house" and "served cold roast beef & veal, pies & cakes in variety, almonds, raisins, jellies, coffee, lemonade, & wine."
A considerable horsewoman, Margaret accompanied Richard on many of his trips throughout the Territory, becoming acquainted with many of the pioneers, impressing them with her grace. Well-loved, she touched the frontier settlement with her charm.
Prescott at the time was a jumping off place for what Richard McCormick called “terra incognita”, an unknown and unmapped land, a land fit for only "daring trappers and adventuresome gold seekers." The log cabin Governor's Mansion was a mansion only in comparison to the tents, shacks, lean-tos, and wagons making up the rest of the settlement.
In another letter to her friend Emma, she wrote that she "was never so happy in her life," and that Richard "acts much more the 'lover' now, than he did before we were married."
On her return from a trip with Richard to San Francisco, she gave birth to a stillborn child. Thought to have been recovering well, she suddenly lapsed into a violent sickness and died one day short of her 24th birthday. She was buried with her stillborn child in her arms in the forest near the mansion. Her grave was strewn with wildflowers.
The Prescott Arizona Miner in May 3, 1867 wrote that Margaret was "a greatly loved woman," whose death had "cast gloom over the community," adding that "no woman in the Territory was more happy."
So when is a rose a rose? When it has a story to tell.

Copyright © Dana Prom Smith 2005

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Week of June 1

Rebecca Davis and Sue Meyn were back in the garden for the first time this year on Thursday. It was good to see them in the garden again. Rebecca weeded the beds along Switzer and helped Joe Harte set up the fountain. It's wonderful to hear the water again. Sue thinned bell flower and other ground covers in the Rose Perimeter and Judi Manoogian did the same near the gazebo. This is a never ending chore, but we are trying to get them under control this year. Ed Skiba planted tomatoes and some other veggies that Loni Shapiro and Vic Hudenko donated. Carol Chicci continued fertilizing roses. Vic and Carol Hudenko weeded Switzer corner. Later in the morning Vic and Sue helped Crys  Wells plant annuals in the hanging pots

The irises are blooming everywhere. I didn't realize that we had so many different colors of irises. This has been one of the best years for them; especially surprising since we found frosted buds earlier in the year. The Austrian Copper roses are blooming - they are usually the first ones to burst. We were happy to see them because the black spot was so bad last year that we weren't sure they would come back. Next week the garden should be even more lovely with all the nice rain we had on Friday.

Week of May 25

We all took a day off and enjoyed Memorial Day. Most of us were in the garden on Thursday working hard. Things are really starting to grow and we see changes every day. Ed Skiba planted two of our raised beds with CSA leftovers that Loni Shapiro donated. It was especially nice to see Loni in the garden again! Crys Wells bought annuals and Vic and Carol Hudenko helped her fill the pots in front of the house. Joe Harte brought his post hole digger and buried piping for the garden signs. Hopefully this will stabilize them better than in the past and we shouldn't have to dig new holes each year. Hope Gibbs brought new garden art for the Tea Garden and also helped to plant the sensory pots. These have been abandoned since Loni left and it's nice to get them going again. Carol Chicci started fertilizing roses and Judi Manoogian continued working on pruning and thinning in the rock garden and south of the gazebo. I started work on redesigning the drip irrigation in the Fairy Garden. Hope has transformed it so much that we decided to make a better watering plan.

Loni was so impressed with the Fairy Garden that she invited us to participate in the garden tour on July 25. I hope you can all participate and see what we've managed to do this year.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Week of May 18

We had beautiful spring weather all week and the garden is looking lovely! On Monday Carol Chicci started removing mulch from the roses. She will do only half now and then remove the rest once danger of freeze is past. Carol also thinned ground cover around the rose trellis with help from Becky Lewis and Katarina Karjala. Vic and Carol Hudenko worked on Switzer Corner and moved some transplants down there from elsewhere in the garden.

We had a big crew on Thursday. Judi Manoogian and Brenda Mitchell continued thinning ground cover and other plants growing where they shouldn't. This seems never ending, but the hard work is beginning to pay off. The remaining plants look so much better now that they aren't so crowded. Carol Chicci finished removing half of the mulch from the roses. Hope Gibbs continued her transformation of the Fairy Garden. She repainted some of our existing yard art and made new miniatures. It is so cute - you need to stop by and see it. Joe Harte set up birdbaths, benches and other hardscape. It's finally starting to look like a garden with all of our yard art in place. Ed Skiba planted the first vegetable bed ala square foot gardening. I am interested to see how it turns out. The plants are much closer than I am used to putting them. I worked on drip irrigation. There are always so many repairs after the winter. We should have everything working by next week. In the meantime, we will hope for more rain. Judi and Carol brought homemade goodies for our break time.

 The iris and clematis were especially beautiful this week. Unfortunately, we don't have pictures to post because Crys Wells was out of town. Hopefully we will have even more blooms next week.

The garden will be closed on Memorial Day May 25th. Back to normal schedule on Thursday.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Week of May 11

This week, the weather was beautiful on Monday, but rainy on Thursday. The good news is that we didn't suffer much damage from the freeze over the weekend. I usually judge spring by the gambel oaks, which had leafed out at my house. Unfortunately, it was too early for them there and they completely froze back. But they are hardy and should be fine in the long run. It must have been warmer at Olivia White because all the trees look fine.

On Monday, Carol Chicci and Brenda Mitchell weeded in the Rose Circle garden. Katarina Karjala fed and watered the irises and did some more weeding. Hope Gibbs worked in the fairy garden and Becky Lewis weeded cheat grass throughout the garden. On Thursday, we had a small and very wet crew. Carol and Vic Hudenko brought treats for us all and thinned ground cover in the North Inferno Strip. Ed Skiba worked on amending the vegetable beds and he should be planting there soon. Joe Harte trimmed some trees and finished setting up the rain barrels, which are now full. Crys Wells weeded in the House Back area while I weeded and thinned in the Half Circle Garden.

Crys took pictures of our Thursday crew.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Week of May 4

We had another good week in the Olivia White Hospice Garden. It was raining on Monday, but Carol and Vic Hudenko bravely showed up to help Becky Lewis with winter clean-up and weeding.

On Thursday, Carol Chicci finally finished pruning the roses and started on the grapes. Hope Gibbs starting bringing out the hardscape and the garden looks much livelier with all of our garden decorations in place. Joe Harte pruned shrubs and cleaned up the rain barrels. Ed Skiba brought in some lovely new garden soil and wonderful compost for the vegetable beds. We should get a good crop of veggies this year with all of those goodies for the soil. Judi Manoogian continued beautifying the rock garden area and Brenda Mitchell worked on ground cover. They are both trying to define plant space to give a more planned appearance to the garden. Many of our plants, while desirable, have taken over more than their allotted area. Crys Wells ordered the new standing vegetable bed and I starting working on the drip system.

Here are some blooms from the garden. The choke cherry is usually beautiful in the spring, but this year it seems especially showy. Two weeks ago, we thought we'd lost all of our lilac blooms because most of the buds seemed to have been killed in a frost, but this week they are back. Crys and I tried to identify the orange flower. An internet search suggests that it is helianthemum, also known as sunrose. it is supposed to be a summer bloomer, but it certainly looks good now!