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Growdown! The Great Tucson Garden Design Challenge

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 22

Tucson Botanical Gardens 2150 N. Alvernon Way


By this point, there's probably been a competition-style reality show for pretty much everything. You've got your iron chefs and your biggest losers, even your grocery baggers and storage unit hoarders. But has there ever been a gardening competition, with landscape artists battling it out for who could put together the best and most beautiful plot of land without in a limited amount of time? There probably is, but it likely won't be as fun to watch on TV as in person. Lucky for you, Tucson Botanical Gardens has put together Growdown!, a competition between three groups of local landscapers to turn a 15-by-20-foot section of open land into a full-fledged garden. "We have a big, empty space in the back of the gardens that will eventually be our new entrance," Tucson Botanical Gardens marketing director Melissa D'Auria said. "We work with a lot of landscape architects, and this idea just came to fruition: How cool would it be to have a challenge where we turn this into a great, sustainable garden. A small-scale version of this competition was held last year, as part of a vendor fair. This time around, the design challenge is its own animal, with the participants selected from about 15 applicants. The participants are Allen Denomy and Micaela Machado of Solana Outdoor Living, Iylea Olson of LJ Design & Consulting and Maria Voris of Petrichor Landscape Design. The rules are simple: Each group had 24 hours' worth of time to work on their plot. Supplies were delivered this past Tuesday, with work allowed between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. And while there were no specifics as to what each garden should contain, the theme of "small gardens, big ideas" was meant to encourage a sustainable concept that could thrive in the desert at a home with limited yard space. The Saturday viewing is open to the public and including with admission to the gardens, while a lunch is available for $10. Judging will begin around 10 a.m., with awards given out at 1 p.m. The winning garden's builders will get a trophy and a spread in Tucson Lifestyle's Home and Garden issue. –B.P.

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