Imagine a visiting a place where you find yourself stepping back in time surrounded by small adobe homes and large gardens. 

The Phoenix Homesteads District dates back to the 1930’s and is the only adobe neighborhood in Phoenix.  The streets are lined with mature pine trees interspersed with Mexican fan palms creating a green tunnel that beckons you to explore further.

Small adobe homes sit on large lots surrounded by large, mature trees and shrubs.  

The adobe homes and their large lots were built so residents could grow much of their own food and own small livestock in the 1930’s and 40’s.

The purpose of my journey to this historic neighborhood was to visit a local artist and her picturesque gardens. 

This historic garden jewel was located on ‘Flower Street’.

I came to visit this special place at the recommendation of a client who told me about a resident artist, Suzanne Bracker, who not only had a beautiful garden but creates wonderful pieces of art.  As I pulled up to her home, little did I know at the time that the garden was just the beginning of the wonderful things I would see.

Suzanne met me by the curb in front of her home and I began a journey filled with inspiration and discovery. 

Just a few steps into the garden, it was apparent that Suzanne loved to repurpose items in her garden.  The curved pathway at the garden entrance was edged with broken concrete, often referred to as ‘urbanite’.

Suzanne’s property consisted of two 1/4 acre lots.  The adobe structure that used to serve as a garage/shed, straddles the original property line. 

Queen’s wreath vine (Antigonon leptopus) and lantana grew on large river rocks enclosed in wire (gabion walls).  The bright blooms of bougainvillea provided a welcome pop of color.

A old, gnarled tree root set among the vines added both color and texture contrast.

Against the wall a Peruvian apple cactus (Cereus peruviana) could be seen growing through a giant bush lantana (Lantana camara), which had been trained upward.

After only having spent 5 minutes in this artist’s large garden, I could tell that it would be a journey of the unexpected and I could hardly wait to discover more.

The garage/shed had been converted into an artist’s studio where pieces of Suzanne’s work was  displayed.

The original adobe wall could be seen inside the studio.  Adobe walls (the ultimate sustainable building material made from mud and straw) kept buildings cool in summer.

You could see the bits of straw mixed in with the adobe.  There was also a small note stored in a crevice in the wall just waiting to be discovered and read.

Evidence of Suzanne’s interest in a variety of artistic mediums was immediately apparent.

From mosaics…

to paper…


 and old jewelry – her talent was evident in almost everything she touched.

As we ventured back outdoors, Suzanne showed me a special spot that she affectionately called her “graveyard”.

Located underneath the shade of a large carob tree,  the ‘graveyard’ was an area where the broken clay heads from Suzanne’s clay art, found a place to rest. 

This was definitely a novel way to repurpose items that otherwise would have been thrown in the trash.

Weights from old windows, from her historic house, hung from the metal trellises alongside snail vine.

Small crystals that used to decorate chandeliers now hung from the trellis where they cast small rainbows wherever they caught the sun’s rays.

Peach-faced parrots, who live on their own in this area of Phoenix, stopped by the bird feeder underneath the carob tree.  

Sprays of delicate purple flowers from a large skyflower (Duranta erecta) shrub, arched over the garden path. 

Walking along flagstone pathways toward the house, I noticed a flash of blue and green color.  The talent of Suzanne was so evident to me in the small touches in her garden – where most of us may have simply thrown out a few leftover glass beads, she used them in between flagstone for an unexpected touch of whimsy.

Entering her home, my attention was caught by the original kitchen.

Although small, this 1930’s kitchen is functional and very cute, in my opinion.

Walking back outdoors, there was more to see in the garden.

 Plants weren’t the only thing adding color to this garden – the buildings were painted in vibrant shades of blue and purple.

 Old oil cans, a kettle and creamers found new life as garden art.

Continuing on through the garden, we came upon a shady oasis, created by the huge canopy of an old Lady Bank’s rose.  This is the same type of rose as the famous Tombstone Rose.

A colorful rooster and his chickens were enjoying the shade from the rose.

Gold lantana grew among round step stones.  The variety of sizes and location of these step stones, that were poured in place, added another artistic element to the landscape.

One of the many enjoyable aspects of this garden is the many ‘garden rooms’ interspersed among the two homes and garage/shed on the property. 

Walking through the winding garden paths, there is always something to discover like these old, antique, toy cars.  According to Suzanne, they were found in the garden when she moved into the house.  She simply put them on top of an old palm tree stump where they add another fun element to the garden.

Nearing the end of our garden journey, we passed by a jujube (Ziziphus jujube) tree, which fruits taste a little like apple.  

The second house on the property has a flowering Rose of Sharon tree in front along with some interesting garden art.

True to the historic roots of this home, the concrete pipes that decorate the front are made from old irrigation pipes that were used for the flood irrigation that was common throughout parts of Phoenix and is still used in some areas.

In fact, this garden is still watered using flood irrigation as it was back in the 1930’s.

As I got ready to leave, I passed by the blossoms of a small, Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) whose flowers change color depending on their age.

Gardens that both surprise and inspire us are a true treasure – especially when found in the middle of a city.

Suzanne’s garden is an historic jewel and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have met this special woman and observe how her artistic talent extends to everything she touches.

You can visit Suzanne’s wonderful garden and view her creative art at an open house that she is hosting on Saturday, October 17th from 10 – 5 at 2527 E. Flower St. Phoenix, AZ 85016


Earlier this spring, I happened upon another garden in a historic district, blocks from downtown Phoenix, which was bursting with blooming flowers.  Click here to discover more about this hidden jewel.