Originally Published: September 3, 2005 7:16 a.m.
Leave it to an artist to find a way to combine an organic garden, a vintage 1883 home and interests of bookmaking, paper making, teaching and philanthropy! Alta Vista Garden Club has awarded the August Garden-of-the-Month to one such artist, Ann Alexander, whose collage is located at 204 North McCormick.
You probably already know the place, the one with the giant topiary bird surrounded by a forest of cheery sunflowers located at the junction of Willis and McCormick. The sunflowers are descendants of six plants sown in gardener’s faith 10 years ago.
Today, the vista includes sunflowers of all colors ... lemon yellow petals packed densely around the centers, strong primary yellow with Bette Davis eyes, and the unexpected, deep, blood red.
Ann harvests these sunflowers, places them in a simple, white container on the street along with a small poster proclaiming their purpose. The dollar-a-stem donation given on the honor system goes toward providing dental care for the homeless, a fitting way for the blooms to provide sunshine long after their petals are gone.
But sunflowers aren’t the only crop on this half-acre site. An organic vegetable garden of tomatoes, eggplant, rhubarb, chard, asparagus and various herbs interspersed with marigolds and Rose of Sharon also thrives here. Since javelina traditionally visit her garden only occasionally, Ann isn’t worried about her unfenced plants. She accepts these buffet-crashers as one of the hazards of growing things in Prescott.
Ann has planted with a knowing eye to the site. Ferns, fibrous begonias, impatiens, four o’clocks and cactus create a green oasis under the Arizona cypress in the patio area.
Sun coaxes blooms from marigolds, zinnias and vinca on a high wall outside the kitchen window. Organic art accents are planted everywhere. An “Ann Original” lnukshuk anchors the main entrance garden of hosta, yarrow and hollyhocks. Perhaps the strongest manmade feature of this place is the flight of 94 steps that allowed the children living on the east side of Prescott to access Sacred Heart School. The steps, built by the city in 1910, were sold to Byrdie Sullivan for $1 in 1960. They are now closed to foot traffic, but Ann has plans to continue building her garden all the way to the top, thus creating a true gardener’s heaven.