Flower Magazine

MAY-JUN 2018

Browse "flower" to learn techniques from established and up-and-coming designers, be inspired by the floral decor of weddings, galas, and flower and garden shows, and infuse your lifestyle with chic floral fashion and home decor.

Issue link: http://digital.flowermag.com/i/969738

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Page 35 of 91

CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT: Landscape designer Steve Martino • A steel sculpture by American artist Fletcher Benton anchors the perpendicular east–west axis in this Phoenix home. Intense late-afternoon sunlight pours through the sculpture's openings, casting constantly changing shadows. • Blue Palo Verde trees, the state tree of Arizona, are reflected in the pool. They bloom every spring when desert plants come alive with brilliant colors. You must have bumped up against this philosophy frequently when you began your career. I remember one of my first jobs was working for an architecture firm on a town house in Phoenix. We were using all the common Mediterranean plants popular at the time, none of which were native and all of which were going to require a great deal of water. I noticed that the vacant lot next door had desert plants growing like crazy with no irrigation at all. I thought, "What's wrong with this picture?" I asked the head architect, "How come we don't use these plants that are growing on their own?" He said, "Oh, those are weeds." Relying on native plants was really difficult in the beginning of my career, but it seemed right. I like to say after 20 years, I was an overnight success. When you were starting your career, you had a hard time finding native plant species in Phoenix nurseries, so you backpacked around Arizona and northern Mexico with a horticulturalist to gather seeds. Can you talk about those trips? The horticulturalist, a man named Ron Gass, has an encyclopedic knowledge when it comes to plants of the Sonoran Desert. We'd go out and collect seeds in our backpacks; then he'd come back and try to grow them, and I'd use them in my designs. Ron continues to be my secret weapon. It must have been gratifying to be able to source native plants for your own projects. I originally used native plants just for their looks. Then I noticed that they bring along an entourage—pollinators, predators—and suddenly the garden becomes a habitat. Seeing that got me hooked on desert plants, and my mission became bringing them back into the city. Looking at your work, I'm struck by the way the desert landscape strips things down I use the sun like a sundial, so we can program shadows and make it part of the design. That's one reason I love cactus—they make their own shadow. —STEVE MARTINO 34 | M AY/J U N E 2 0 1 8 FRESH STYLE I garden

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