Ghost Wash by Colwell Shelor Landscape Architecture
Ghost Wash is a private residence located on a two and half acre site at the top of the bajada / alluvial fan of Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, Arizona.
The majestic mountain is a prominent landmark linking the Arizona cities of Phoenix, Paradise Valley and Scottsdale. The site with a cross slope of 37’ in the south- north direction is situated between two desert washes carrying storm water through the site into the valley below. The collaborative effort between the design team and client transformed the property into a legacy residence, deep appreciation for desert plant life, advocacy for desert conservation and sustainability. Removing a water intensive 1970s plant palette, 6,000 square feet of turf, a 20’ tall hedge of Oleander around the perimeter of the site opened up views to the adjacent mountains, and reconnected the site to its surroundings with cacti, wildflowers and grasses native to Camelback Mountain.
The firm’s experiential approach to design, procurement and placement culminated in a judicious balance of intervention and restoration, of reshaped space, redirected views and ultimately an abundant interplay between flora, light, and shadow. As a result, the site was transformed into a spectacular celebration of awe- inspiring desert plant life. Each garden gallery emanates a distinct landscape essence; every window looking out presents a new focal point. Individually, the diverse gardens encase a rich interplay of like or complimentary plant species from arid regions around the world; collectively, the gardens provide a year- round show of marvel cascading through the landscape.
In the desert it is important to capture all rainwater as a source of supplemental irrigation for the turf area and surrounding native landscape. Flanked by the residential wings, the center core known as the ‘Ghost Wash’, the third wash running through the site, is an infrastructure amenity of storm water collection.
Photography courtesy of Colwell Shelor Landscape Architecture