Curved bench between ironwood trees

Norm Plate

Manmade structures are a great way to bring sculptural elements into the garden. The challenge is to design structures that are comfortable, functional, and complement rather than dominate their setting. In the backyard, a curved bench snakes between two mature desert ironwood trees; new plantings of Aloe vera, Euphorbia rigida, and octopus agave help the structure blend into the surrounding landscape. Decked with cushions, it’s the perfect spot to gaze at the mountains’ ever-changing colors.

A second courtyard, in the front yard, includes a bench made from masonry blocks veneered with native boulders. A striking iron ramada merges into its surroundings, thanks to its simple design and organic rusty patina. To make the area feel more like a courtyard, two curved walls were added and an inviting flagstone path that leads into it.

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