BEST PLACE TO PRETEND YOU'RE NOT IN THE DESERT (2005)

Encanto-Palmcroft neighborhood

You'll have trouble spotting a single saguaro in Encanto-Palmcroft, a lushly landscaped district of upscale, period revival homes in central Phoenix. The neighborhood was developed between the 1920s and the 1940s, when the desert was a wasteland to be conquered, not an ecosystem to be celebrated. So Encanto-Palmcroft is full of homes mimicking the architecture of Italy, England, Spain and France sitting on lawns so green they could have been airlifted from Ohio. These yards, with their roses and hostas and spongy Bermuda grass, scream "$300-a-month water bills." Throw in the attractive middle-aged women walking tiny, yappy dogs on the sidewalks, and you would never know you were in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Which is precisely the point.

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