Tag Archive for: Bisbee

The dog days of summer…

By the time midpoint of summer heat arrives, I am firmly in ‘summer hibernation’ mode. I have past all the garden needs in hot early summer and moved on to trying to find a cool spot with a nice glass of lemonade.

Why Summer Hibernation Mode in the Desert

While much of the country stays indoors during the cold of winter, we desert dwellers flip that and spend the hottest days of summer safely ensconced indoors in the comfort of A/C.

Of course, cabin fever can hit, making us venture outside of our homes. That’s where summer getaways come into play.

I’m fortunate that there are many spots in Arizona (where I live) that are just a few hours from my house where the summer temperatures are blessedly cooler.

When my husband and I were young, we couldn’t afford to stay overnight in out-of-town destinations. But, we could go for the day. We would pack up our two young daughters and go on day-long adventures to the cool mountains and pack a picnic lunch. Oh, what fun we had!

Nowadays my husband and I travel to cooler spots and spend a few days. One of our favorite places is the town of Bisbee in southeastern Arizona.

There is a lot of history in there and we love to explore while enjoying the cooler temps. The photo above is a part of Bisbee called Lowell, which is preserved in time from the 1950s.

Garden Concerns for Extreme Southwest Heat

Speaking about the heat, I’ve heard from a number of people in my membership club who are worried about the lack of flowers they see on their shrubs and groundcovers.

Perhaps you have similar worries…

I want to assure you that this is normal in summer – particularly when monsoon rains have been sporadic and not regular.

Intense heat and dryness tend to make flowering plants slow down and a heatwave can burn flowers of certain plants. There are also a lot of fuss-free plants you can choose for the summer garden that bloom and look beautiful all season long.

Rest assured that they will come back by summer’s end to provide beauty to your outdoor space.

Earlier this week, I have been sharing with you about our recent trip into the old, mining town of Bisbee, AZ.

From unique pieces of art, the friendly people, great food and endless stairways, our trip was so much fun.

Gardens of Bisbee

  What I haven’t shown you in my earlier posts are the plants and gardens of Bisbee, which deserve their own post.

Bisbee is located in zone 8a, which is means that it gets about 10 degrees colder then Phoenix and Tucson areas.  Because this historic town is also higher in the mountains, it doesn’t get as hot in the summer months.

Much of the plants were the same of what you would see growing throughout central and southern Arizona.  Missing were the more tropical plants such as bougainvillea, yellow bells and lantana, which struggle to survive the winters in this area.  

Gardens of Bisbee

The gardens in Bisbee often made use of old, antique pieces that intermingled almost seamlessly among garden plants.

Gardens of Bisbee

In this garden, the homeowner added a splash of color by using brightly-colored bottles to form an informal border along her raised beds.

old miner's pan

Up on her wire fence, she had an old miner’s pan and soup pot hanging from a post.

Historical Clawson House

The Historical Clawson House had a lovely planting arrangement that I particularly liked.

The Gardens of Bisbee

A large swath of flowering coreopsis contrasted beautifully with the gray/blue agave showing us that you don’t need a lot of different types of plants to make a statement in the garden – sometimes less is more effective.

jasmine vine

Walking along the main street, I saw the biggest star jasmine vine.

The Gardens of Bisbee

It grew up the metal fence and beyond, hugging this 3-story building.  Needless to say, the fragrance was intoxicating.

container plants

A brightly-colored building had an unusual pair of container plants.

Spinless prickly pear (Opuntia ellisiana)

Spinless prickly pear (Opuntia ellisiana) looked great in half-whiskey barrels.

The Gardens of Bisbee

Continuing our walk through town, I saw a small cafe which had an adjoining garden that can only be described as a grotto.

prickly pear cactus

Where else, but in the desert southwest would you see a prickly pear cactus growing along side a rose bush?

pink Iceberg roses

Speaking of roses, I spotted a hedge of pink Iceberg roses in full bloom.

*Iceberg roses are a typically used for providing an informal hedge and they do well in Arizona.

The Gardens of Bisbee

In front of the iconic courthouse, I spotted some flowering ocotillo, so I headed over for a closer look.

vermillion-colored flowers

I never tire of seeing the vermillion-colored flowers of ocotillo year after year.

My little ocotillo produced its first flower earlier this spring, after 4 years in the ground!  It can take while for newly planted ocotillo to flower, but 4 years was a little long to have to wait.

The Gardens of Bisbee

Alongside the ocotillo were santa-rita (purple) prickly pears in full bloom.

historic downtown

Continuing our walk through the historic downtown, I noticed murals painted along the Cochise County Cooperative Extension Building.

The Gardens of Bisbee

In the window of the building were some helpful plant tips.

The Gardens of Bisbee

What a great way to add ‘plants’ to an area where planting live plants isn’t feasible.

The Gardens of Bisbee

This small front garden had a naturalistic planting theme using white achillea with Mexican evening primrose.

The Gardens of Bisbee

A local store did add some live plants by training a pair of vines over the doorway.

The Gardens of Bisbee

As I passed by these large metal doors, I wondered what lay behind them…

The Gardens of Bisbee

I peeked through a crack and noticed a lovely, little garden.  I just wish that I could have seen more.

The Gardens of Bisbee

I have always liked small bungalows and their gardens.  Maybe I can have one someday when the kids are gone and we need less room.

 white Texas sage

Here is another bungalow garden filled with purple prickly pear, a white Texas sage and autumn sage.

The Gardens of Bisbee

The city park had a two rain barrels, painted with rainy themes.  It was a great way to demonstrate how homeowners can harvest their own rainwater.

**In closing, I would like to say that it isn’t easy traveling with me.  I am always stopping and taking small detours in order to take pictures of plants and landscapes.

The Gardens of Bisbee

My husband is always so patient and doesn’t hesitate to carry my purse for me when my hands are busy holding my camera taking pictures.

The Gardens of Bisbee

Another common occurrence when traveling with a horticulturist is having to stop the truck after passing a lovely (or sometimes bad) landscape.

Again, my husband doesn’t complain – he just pulls over and waits while I run out to take a picture.

The Gardens of Bisbee

In this case, it was a lovely metal fence that had small shelves for pots planted with red yucca, to rest on.  There were figures sculpted out of metal as well.  It was just lovely.

I hope you enjoyed this small tour of the gardens of Bisbee.  I cannot wait to return again someday.

On The Road to Bisbee…

Have you ever visited a place that took you a long time to get to?

I’m not talking about how long it takes to travel there but the length of time that you had wanted to visit a place before you finally got there.

On The Road to Bisbee

I have lived in Arizona for 28 years and during that time have visited the southwestern, western, northwestern, northern, northeastern, eastern and southern areas of our beautiful state.

However, I am embarrassed to say that I have never visited the southeastern part of Arizona.  I had wanted to visit Bisbee, AZ for years.  So, my husband and I decided to take a trip to Bisbee for our 28th wedding anniversary.

So, we packed our bags and headed out.  Our route took us through Tucson and then toward Tombstone, AZ where we had some fun adventures including viewing the “World’s Largest Rosebush”.

You can read about our Tombstone adventures, here.

After leaving Tombstone, we soon arrived in Bisbee.

old copper mining town

Bisbee is an old copper mining town.

old mining town

It has been often described as an old mining town with a European flair.

Mule Mountains

 Bisbee is situated within the Mule Mountains and built into the hillsides.

Road to Bisbee

100 year old buildings have been converted into art galleries, hotels, restaurants and shops.

copper mine

Bisbee’s existence is due to the now-closed, open-pit copper mine.

As you drive into the historic section of Bisbee, you can view the enormous open pit where they mined for years.

*To get an idea of the scale, look at the buildings to the left of the mine.  

Road to Bisbee

It is obvious, after spending a few minutes in Bisbee, that it is a community with many artists.

Concrete walls throughout the town displayed a variety of murals.

Road to Bisbee

This mural was just outside our 100-year old hotel, Canyon Rose Suites, which I highly recommend.

Road to Bisbee

I liked this garden mural of potted succulents along the Cochise County Cooperative Extension Office, which had gardening tips up in the window.

art galleries

As you walked past some of the art galleries, you could see examples of unique art, like the colorful doorway, across the street.

I walked across the street to see what was used to create this unique doorway…

plastic shopping bags and recycled bottles

It was a collection of colorful, plastic shopping bags and recycled bottles.

*Plastic bags are banned in Bisbee and stores charge you 5 cents for paper bags.  So, it’s easier to bring your own recyclable shopping bag with you.

zombie miner

We didn’t buy anything for our kids, although I was tempted to buy this ‘zombie miner’ shirt for my son.

old buildings

I enjoyed seeing the old buildings – some were a bit quirky like this storefront covered in bottle caps.

recycled materials

We passed by this interesting figure made from recycled materials.  His body is made from an old propane tank, his legs are made from rebar inserted into coils, the arms are made of rebar with plastic forks stuck to the ends and his head is an old bucket with washers for his eyes.

unique pieces of artwork

An empty lot along the main street had some unique pieces of artwork as well with an outdoor living room depicted.

As you can see, it is wise to expect the unexpected when walking through the historical sections of Bisbee.

One evening, we were walking along the main road after dinner, when I noticed something strange on the mountainside…

Road to Bisbee

Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting a skull and crossbones.  The hotel across the street, had a special light that shone onto the mountainside across the street.

*The next night the skull and crossbones had been replaced by the ‘bat signal’ from Batman fame.

Road to Bisbee

The residents of Bisbee are very friendly and the city proudly marches to beat of its own drummer.

Road to Bisbee

I saw this bumper sticker that I think described Bisbee pretty well.

The Bisbee Great Stair Climb

Because Bisbee is built up on a mountainside, there are a lot of stairways, which have led to an annual event known as “The Bisbee Great Stair Climb” where participants climb 1,000 stairs, distributed throughout different stairways.

The Bisbee Great Stair Climb

Each stairway is clearly designated throughout the city and the number of stairs in each stairway is indicated for tourists who want to try climbing the stairs for themselves.

The Bisbee Great Stair Climb

Here is another one.

The Bisbee Great Stair Climb

This one leads up to the city park and is 127 steps.

The Bisbee Great Stair Climb

This one was the most colorfully painted.

*My husband dared me to climb one of the longest stairways.  Click here to see which stairway he dared me to try and if I tried to scale the seemingly endless steps.

Screaming Banshee

Of course, a vital part of a vacation is enjoying good food.  We had lunch at the ‘Screaming Banshee’, which served delicious basil pesto breadsticks and great pizza.

We also enjoyed eating at Bisbee’s Table and Santiago’s Mexican restaurants.

Road to Bisbee

Walking through Bisbee is enjoyable, but bring comfortable shoes because you are either walking up or downhill.

Because Bisbee is 5,500 feet up in altitude, we got a good workout walking, which is a good thing because we ate a lot of great food!

Road to Bisbee

As you can see, we had a great time AND I haven’t even shown you the gardens yet!

Come back next time when I show some cute bungalow gardens, roses, cacti, hidden gardens and more 🙂

Earlier this month, my husband and I traveled to Bisbee, Arizona.

Bisbee, Arizona

For those of you who have never visited, Bisbee is a fun, quirky place that marches to the beat of its own drummer.  I had a great time!

Bisbee, Arizona

Bisbee, Arizona is an old, mining town built on a side of a mountain.  As a result, there are different stairways scattered throughout the historical district.  An annual event is held each year called, “The Great Stair Climb” where participants climb the stairways for a total of 1,000 steps.


Tourist are welcome to climb one or all of the stairways at any time of the year.

The Great Stair

Each stairway is marked with the number of steps that it has.  Some are rather long while others are less so.

The Great Stair

This stairway that led up to the city park was 127 steps.

longest stairways

While walking through the historical district, my husband dared me to climb one of the longest stairways.

I don’t think that my husband expected me to climb those stairs – he knows that I am not the athletic type.  BUT after 28 years of marriage, I decided to prove to him that I am still full of surprises, so I started up the stairway.

The Great Stair

I’m not sure why I took my purse with me.

The Great Stair

For those of you who may be scoffing at my labors at this point, I’d like to point out that this photo shot is zoomed in and doesn’t accurately show how many steps I had already climbed.

Bisbee, Arizona

It was getting pretty difficult at this point and I realized that we were at a high altitude of 5,500 feet, so I was beginning to huff quite a bit.

But, I wouldn’t quit unless I fainted.

Bisbee, Arizona

I am happy to say that I made it climbing 188 steps!

Can you see my arms raised in victory at the top?

Bisbee, Arizona

Here is a close-up.

Now I just had to walk down 188 steps.

I must admit that my legs felt shaky when I had climbed down, but I was happy that I had done it and surprised my husband at the same time.

After the climb, we walked to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Bisbee, Arizona

Along the way, we passed another stairway and my husband challenged me to climb that one.

Needless to say, I said “NO”.