One Small Voice
by Laura McGaffey
Articles originally published in "The Voice in the Desert"

The Pergola That Rob Built
July 2004

Click for larger view

Old Bisbee is the official "artists colony" of Cochise County but we have a number of highly skilled, creative artisans up here in the Sulphur Springs Valley too. Some of their creations can be found at the Shadow Mountain Country Club, Margie's Cafe, Old Pearce Pottery, Udder Delight, and the Cochise Leather Company.

Rob is a local carpenter and welder who has a gift for designing and building beautiful and functional garden structures from the recycled materials he and his parents find abandoned in the desert.

His mother, Carolyn, and stepfather have lived in the Sulphur Springs Valley for eight years. Their gardens are fantastic displays of the family's creativity and of their interest in the history of the area.

It all started when they built a fence around a storage area using old planks. The result was "the stockade". Nearby they built a wooden shack using timber and metal roof components from three abandoned buildings. Their yard is laid out into several "garden rooms" connected by neat, winding dirt paths.

Several years back Carolyn co-founded the local Sulphur Springs Valley Garden Club. She has numerous healthy indigenous plants placed to offer maximum visual impact within the overall historical theme of the yard. A great example of Carolyn's whimsically creative approach is in the use of an old utility pole as a trellis for an Arizona Honeysuckle (lonicera arizonica) vine. It's placed to conceal the modern electrical power box on the outside of the house. [For more information about the Sulphur Springs Valley Garden Club, contact current president, Lucy Stevens, at 826-1456.]

The piece de resistance is the pergola Rob built along the eastern side of the house. It took two years to find all the materials and build it. It is a fantastic, beautiful, one of a kind structure. I could never hope to describe it adquately so I've included plenty of photos for your visual pleasure. Each element has a story and I'll leave it to Rob to share them with you himself when you run into him driving between his multiple construction jobs in his white, diesel truck with Otis, his friendly, gentle dog riding shotgun.