The High Country Xeriscape Council of Arizona is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation dedicated to educating our communities about water-wise gardening. For additional information write:


4397 E AZ Highway 260

 Payson,  AZ  85541


Information regarding current projects of the Xeriscape Council What We're Doing Now

2007 2008 2009 2010


May 8, 2010 we had a booth at the Wildlife Fair at Green Valley Park. The event is sponsored by Arizona Game & Fish and they invited the Council to participate. Here volunteer Donna, is answering questions about water wise plants. It was also an opportunity to sell raffle tickets for the porch swing generously donated by Mr. Alvarez and his woodworking class at Payson High School.

The Dean at Gila Community College asked the Council to plant appropriate flowers in these concrete pots near the entry way. A group of volunteers showed up and worked together to get 7 large pots planted with water wise flowering perennials. Each pot was unique with various plants. The pots looked real good when they were finished. The bright colors added a lot of interest for all who walked up to the main entry of the college.
After the pots were planted, Glen, of Plant Fair Nursery watered them well to help settle any air pockets and give them a good drink. The next morning after planting, there were no flowers on top of these stems. An elk had come in during the night and eaten these yarrow flowers as well as others. A solution to the elk problem was to hang bottles of mountain lion urine at an elk's "nose level" along the path it had taken to reach the pots. It worked!
In preparation for the 3rd annual Water Wise Mini Conference, Donna and Diane replaced some of the plants that didn't winter over. This little bird built a nest in the kiosk and as we were working, she peaked out of the top of her nest at us to see what we were doing. We didn't disturb her. The Mexican Feather Grass looked real good with its bright yellow tops. It is a wonderful Xeric plant - easy to grow and adds color & texture to the landscape

Mini Conference, May 22

Guests were greeted and asked to sign in. On display is the porch swing being raffled off in a drawing at the end of the conference. Chef Gary Bedsworth was on hand with his barbeque grill to serve up some delicious brats and dogs from Charlie's Meats with grilled onions and peppers. This little gal was only a few months old and her parents brought her to look around and enjoy the plants. She finally found a good place for a nice nap.
During the breaks the attendees looked around the patio area at the demonstration garden. They also visited the various information booths that had been set up and were able to get their questions answered. Also, it was a good time for a brat. Town of Payson Mayor, Kenny Evans gave a warm welcome speech to the attendees to get things started.
The Speakers
Chris Jones, of the Gila County Extension Service talked about selecting water wise plants for the Rim Country to create an eye-catching landscape. Dr. James Riley, Associate Professor at the University Arizona talked about rain harvesting, describing various methods and benefits. Payson Fire Chief, Marti deMasi, talked about the importance of making your landscape fire wise and the importance of  selecting plants that will not burn easily.
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John, organizer of the Payson Farmer's Market, takes a few minutes to explain to Chris Jones the plans for the 2010 Farmer's Market. The Town of Payson's Water Department's booth had a lot of excellent literature and information for saving water in all aspects around the home. The Gila County Extension Service had very interesting displays that were well worth the time to stop and read. They handed out free literature.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, left, takes a few minutes to watch Bruce Wales explain his PowerPoint presentation on water harvesting. Heaven Bound Plumbing displayed various energy saving devices that can easily be retrofitted into existing homes to help cut down on power usage. In & Out Landscape Services had an excellent display of drip systems and components. A drip system is one of the very best water saving systems.
Mogollon Stone brought samples of manmade materials that are easy to work with but look like real stone for a natural look that blends well with the landscape. Plant Fair Nursery displayed a number of colorful water wise shrubs, trees, and flowers. They also handed out literature on water wise planting. Mountain States Wholesale Nursery, a premier grower of native plants, brought a number of beautiful water wise plants that are hardy for the Rim Country.
The Payson High School Woodworking Class had a booth to sell bird houses and deck chairs. All the items were hand made by special needs students and proceeds went to benefit the Council. Wayne Todd worked tirelessly all day providing quite a variety of music. He sang for the crowds while accompanying himself on his guitar. He donated his time to help out the Council. One of the attendees looks over the free literature in the kiosk. The purpose of the High Country Xeriscape Council is to educate people on water wise methods and there are a number of handouts here.


pine nuts
In February a call went out to members to do a general cleanup on the garden. everyone pitched in and made it easy The pinion tree had dropped it cones and they opened to show their tasty nuts. Squirrels and birds love them. The golden yucca was coming out from under the snow cover. Its golden leaves were a bright spot in the garden
Here the cotoneaster is peaking out from under the snow. It's gray green leaves and arching branches add nice texture to the landscape. Glen & Diane are discussing whether it was time to cut the grass back, and if so, how far. They decided it was time and Diane gave it a winter "haircut" The golden Mexican feather grass, green juniper, berry colored creeping thyme and the gray leafed plant provide interesting colors and textures all year

On Saturday, May 9th, Arizona Game & Fish had a Wildlife Fair at Green Valley Park. They invited the Xeriscape Council to have a booth to hand out information regarding water wise gardening and landscaping. Volunteer Council members manned the booth and answered questions regarding water wise plant material, how to conserve water, and how to co-exist with native wildlife.

Mini Conference

 On Saturday, May 30, 2009 the High Country Xeriscape Council of Arizona hosted a Mini conference at the Ed Lydic Memorial Garden located on the grounds of the Gila Community College, Payson Campus. The purpose of the conference was to continue to provide continuing education in water wise practices that will provide a sustainable landscape.

Jan & Candice asked everyone to sign in at the registration desk and they were given a ticket for the drawings for door prizes It was a beautiful day. Huge billowy clouds against a blue sky made for a great backdrop to the plants in the garden Town of Payson Mayor Kenny Evans welcomed all in attendance and kindly stressed the importance of conservation
The Speakers
Bart Worthington of Mountain States Wholesale Nursery had a fascinating PowerPoint Presentation of water wise plants and how to care for them Bruce Wales, who specializes in water harvesting, wowed the audience with how much water can be collected from rainfall. His motto: "Water is Life" Mary Irish spoke about cold hardy agaves and yuccas. She had some awesome pictures and explained how to identify yuccas and agaves
Everyone listened attentively to the speakers. After each presentation, people were able to ask questions A number of businesses & nurseries donated door prizes to be given away. Drawings were held all during the day and a total of 20 door prizes were handed out. A big thanks to all the businesses that supported the event by their generous donations

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Mary Irish, along with her husband Gary, has written a number of books about the plants of the southwest. She had a book signing for all who were interested. The Mountain States Nursery booth was popular as it showcased a number of the hardy, water wise plants that Bart spoke about during his presentation Attendees gathered free information from the information booths. There was information on firewise landscaping, drip systems, and gray water systems
This desert marigold, brought by Mountain States Nursery shined in all its glory. It was a favorite among the crowd. Plant Fair Nursery had this wonderful Artemesia on their table and the sign invited everyone to feel how soft it is The plant booths were popular as they showcased a number of beautiful, hardy, and water wise plants.
Chef Gary Bedsworth, assisted by his wife Diane, prepared brats and hot dogs with all the fixings. They were a big hit. During the lunch break, people gathered around the food booth. The smells from the grilled onions and peppers were wonderful A favorite booth was "Scoops". They are a locally owned ice cream shop and showed up with some of their delicious flavors


Waterwise Seminar
On Saturday, May 31, 2008 the High Country Xeriscape Council of Arizona hosted a Waterwise Seminar at the Ed Lydic Memorial Garden located on the grounds of the Gila Community College, Payson Campus. The Mexican Primrose, Yarrow, Coreopsis, and Potentilla were in full bloom in the entry way garden delighting visitors as they walked up to the registration desk.
Karen put up signs along the major streets to point people to the Seminar People were asked to sign in at the registration desk and everyone was given a ticket for the drawings for door prizes A large poster was at the entrance with the times, the speaker's names and the subjects they would be addressing

The Speakers

Bruce Wales, a local resident, spoke first regarding rainwater harvesting. He used a PowerPoint presentation to show how he has successfully harvested large amounts of rainwater to sustain the waterwise landscape and benefit wildlife Chris Jones, Gila County Extension Agent, spoke about Maintaining a Firewise Landscape. His PowerPoint presentation had a number of photos that showed fire wise plants, as well as materials and landscape design that make a property firewise Dennis Swartzwell of Mountain States Wholesale Nursery brought a number of waterwise plants to show attendees. His PowerPoint presentation had photos of  these plants showing how they would look when mature. His handout listed the plants along with information regarding each one
Door Prizes
Door Prizes: A great number of businesses and local artist, Jan Ransom, donated items to be given away as door prizes. There were a total of 30 prizes and everyone was delighted with the generous gifts Mountain States Wholesale Nursery generously donated all the plants they brought with them for their booth and Dennis' presentation

Information Booths

Ace Hardware: Harvey Clifford talked to attendees about the advantages of using drip systems to save time, water, and money when taking care of waterwise plants

David Wise, a local resident spoke to people about the practability of gray water systems to conserve water. He had photographs of his system and handouts with tips for the homeowner Jim Dougherty of Perennial Golf Scapes:  brought samples of artificial turf and was happy to answer any questions regarding the benefits of artificial turf. It looked so good even this little dog was impressed

Plant Fair Nursery brought a number of low water use plants that do well in the Rim Country. Also on display were products to help protect plants from foraging wildlife

Martin deMasi, Town of Payson Fire Chief was on hand to talk to people about firewise landscaping, living with fire, importance of defensible space and resources to help homeowners.

The Town of Payson Water Department was well represented by Karen Probert and Viki Holmes. They had a lot of free information as well as a number of free gifts to encourage water wise living

During the Breaks

During the breaks people meandered through the demonstration garden to seek inspiration

The kiosk at the garden has a number of free handouts, pictures, and information

Another view of the garden and the information booths set up in the shade

The Food

There were free donuts, coffee and tea in the morning and they were very popular

Chef Gary Bedsworth of the High Country Xeriscape Council grilled brats and hot dogs to be served for lunch for a nominal fee along with all the fixings. They were lip smacking good!


The local Xeriscape Council recently received a grant from The Arizona State Land Department in order to expand the plant pallet and drip system in the garden. Council members continue to work hard to maintain and update the garden. All members are volunteers and freely give of their time to work on the garden. The public and anyone wanting to learn about Xeric landscaping is welcome to come and help with any of our workshops.

Watch the home page of this site for notices of the next workshop or call Karen Probert of the Town of Payson Water Department at 474-5245, ext.2235.

On Saturday May 19th, a group of volunteers worked to prune, weed and inventory the existing plants in preparation for future workshops.



While some pruned, others worked on the existing drip system which will be expanded as more plants are installed in the near future.

The newly planted Gaillardias (Blanket Flower) were immediately hooked up to the existing drip lines.

A large group of people showed up on Saturday, June 30th to plant some of the new perennials which will give the garden vibrant color when they bloom.

Monty is Jan's Labradoodle and he came along to all the workshops and patiently waited and watched while the volunteers dug holes and installed the drip irrigation.

In some places the digging was hard but all worked together to dig the holes, add mulch for the new plants and water them well after they were planted.

After the plants were installed, other volunteers hooked them up to the expanded drip system.

Drip systems are easy to install. The lines bend around corners so cutting and connecting lines is kept to a minimum. All that is required is punching a hole in the main line and inserting a connector with the small tubing that goes to the plant. No gluing is necessary.

Local potter, Linda Nannizzi, created this small basin to provide water for the small wildlife in the garden. A dripper in the basin insures it will get water every time the system turns on. Creeping Thyme and Grey Santolina provide shelter for the little guys. Lois, 2007 Chairwoman of the Xeriscape Council, says the lizards love laying in it in the hot afternoon. Unfortunately, there weren't any enjoying it while our photographer was there.

A black butterfly was enjoying the purple flower of this Verbena Rigida while everyone was busy working around it

While the volunteers were putting the final touches on the new plantings and hooking up the drip system on July 28th, some welcome visitors stopped by to ask questions about the plants

There are a number of hummingbirds that enjoy the various flowers in the garden. This one was very busy working the Agave blooms.



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