We’re just back from a week-long trip to Sedona, Arizona where arresting views of red rock canyons is a feast for the eyes and provides an incredible and unique backdrop for home owners. (Lots of photos below!!!)
If you haven’t been to Sedona, this high desert paradise is a 2-hour drive from Phoenix (an easy flight from San Francisco and many places); and a 2-hour drive to the Grand Canyon, which makes it a wonderful place for you to visit.
Though our trip had been filled with incredible hikes and exploration, learning about the high desert flora was high on the list, and best way to get acquainted with the native plants is to visit a local botanical gardens (smallest one I’ve ever been to) and visit some local nurseries. Though the Sedona Botanical Gardens turned out to be helpful – it was no bigger than a bus shelter and many of the signs were missing. 🙁
Native plants on our hikes turned out to be a big part of the home owner plant list.
(No surprise!) Take, for example, the pinyon juniper woodland plant community below.
The Pinyon-Juniper Zone
A hike in Sedona’s canyons/mountains is to witness the beautiful pinyon-juniper woodlands. These woodlands generally occur between 4,500 to 7,500 feet in the southwest, and Sedona sits at around 4,500 feet. Annual precipitation ranges from 7 to 25 inches and mean annual temperatures range from 40 to 60 degrees F. Sedona’s USDA hardiness Zone is 8, with lows dipping to 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some of the trees in the Pinyon Juniper forest we saw included:
1, Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma)
2. Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica)
3. Pinyon pine (Pinus edulis)
4. Singleleaf Pinyon (Pinus monophylla)
Learn more about Pinyon Juniper Woodlands, Here.
Note that several home garden photos below include one of the four mentioned pinyon juniper woodland trees. Utah Juniper probably the most common.
Sedona’s Riparian Plant Community
And while trails are everywhere in Sedona the microclimates vary as do dry areas and riparian wet areas. Elevation plays a role too. Some trail hikes gain up to 2,300 foot elevation.
The drive up north towards Flagstaff and Grand Canyon follows the infamous Oak Creek Canyon. This riparian area is of great contrast to drier, high desert plant communities. In this zone trees are outstanding – especially leafless in winter silhouette! The Arizona sycamores (Platanus wrightii) are a highlight with whitish bark contrasting the darker, willows, cottonwoods, oak and alders. According to some resources at Red Rock State Park, “this riparian community is found in the dense and lushly green ribbon of vegetation growing along the creek and the man made drainage ditches. These areas are dependent on a consistent water supply and comprise less than one percent of all lands in Arizona.”
Back to Semi-Arid Sedona Native Plants
Two Agave family members native to the area include Agaves and Yucca. There are also several yucca-like plants such as like Dasyliron and Nolina. You’ll see them in nature on the trails, and you ‘ll see them used ornamentally in the xeriscaped Sedona home garden. These plants also grow well in dry gardens of the SF Bay Area!
Dry gardens and what is Xeriscaping ? In case you’re not familiar, it’s the process of landscaping or gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation.
Some other noteworthy semi arid plants include the cane cholla.
With Sedona’s small population of 10,000 we enjoyed seeing how locals live, native plants grow and how homes gardens and nature’s beauty coexist.
Here are Some Native and Non-Native Plants in the Sedona Garden
Red Canyons – The Template for Sedona’s Home + Garden Design
Sedona has strict building codes which includes height restrictions on homes and buildings. Also a strict range of colors that can be used — hues that match or complement the natural tones.
See this for info on sedona’s scenic beauty.
See this for info on sedona’s community character.
What Sedona’s take away is, is that through the lens of home architecture and garden design – the beautiful surrounding Red Rock Canyons and mountains dominate. Homes and businesses take clues and borrows from the surrounding.
Naturalistic landscape design is key in Sedona. It plays nice with the local wildlife too. While choosing to create a plant palette, natives and fitting non-native plants that do well in this climate and particular microclimates, showcases the astounding beauty found everywhere in Sedona.
If you like hiking, mountain biking and nature’s beauty Sedona, Arizona is well worth a visit!
To get additional information about plants that grow well and are adapted to high desert gardens, look for high desert plants. Native plants are an excellent choice as you can see from this post. Besides having homes and structures blending with Sedona’s beauty, Sedona is also a part of the International Dark Sky Community, so lighting design is thoughtfully done as well! What is this? Light fixtures are directed to the ground, not up into the sky where they can contribute to light pollution.
Hope you enjoyed this long post!