Bev Tall - June 2015

If you look closely, Bev Tall’s home says almost everything about her.  She has a flair for the modern and a modern woman she is.  Windows open on to the desert with views of Red Mountain, Four Peaks and a wash, awash in color, literally bringing the outdoor in.  The multi-level home reflects many aspects of her life and interests.

The stairs from the main living area descend to the lowest level and her enclosed glass-roof green house, itself is built on three levels with an array of shelves, steps and ledges covered in plants. In order to keep the humidity high and thirsty plants watered, a network of misters run overhead and throughout the green house. This fairly automated system also provides some freedom from daily watering to accommodate her lifestyle of traveling.  “I was able to travel to Australia for a month, probably the longest I’ve been away at one time, and all was well,” she reports.  At one end water falls over rocks into a small pool that provides not only additional humidity, but also, a home for two large orange and gold goldfish. Here visitors will find a myriad of orchids, her passion, from all parts of the world.  

How did she become involved with these beautiful and exotic plants? “I started small over twenty years ago. I bought one plant, then three, then ten. It became an addiction,” she laughingly admits.  But what people will see about me is that when I am interested, I am all in or not at all.”  Believe me she is all in. A friend of hers in California suggested they become Orchid judges… no small undertaking. A seven-year commitment involving classes, talks, papers, exams was comparable to getting a graduate degree she explains. “So much to learn. Think about it. There are 25,000 varieties of orchids and then 100,000 registered hybrids.” She explains that orchids are different than other flowers because they have a variety of shapes. For example lilies may be different colors, but they are all the same shape. “Different pollinators dictate the shape of the flower. For example, in one variety petals grow to the ground to accommodate ants who are the pollinators for that particular species.”  She has served as President of Desert Valley Orchid Society in Scottsdale and is a member of the American Orchid Society where she serves on several of the national committees.

Her role as a world-class judge has taken her all over the world…Tokyo, Singapore, Taiwan, Rio, Columbia, France, Scotland, Mexico, and the list goes on.  She is drawn, not only by the flowers, but by the interesting people who grow orchids.  Her travel experience has also been enhanced by culture exchange trips to Vietnam, China, Scotland, East Africa and Tibet. Throughout her marriage, she and her husband shared a passion for travel and their home reflects many objects of art they picked up on their trips.  Their interest in birding took them to Central and South America.

Always busy with gardening and flowers, she decided to study Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. The main difference between western arrangements and Ikebana is that western-style arrangement are a large mass while Japanese use only a few stems in order for the viewer to appreciate each flower,” she explains. “I wanted to pursue this floral art but I had difficulty finding a class. There was no internet then, but one day there I was in this little Asian grocery, House of Rice, and a sign had been posted by someone giving lessons and that was my start.”  So came another beginning, but what do we know about Bev? Yes, in for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.  She subsequently traveled to Kyoto, Japan, to study at their famous 550 year-old school. Now even with her level of expertise, she continues study here in the Valley under the tutelage of a Japanese professor who visits and conducts classes once a year.  You can check out her artful arrangements in the Fountain Hills Library.

Her real career centered around math and computers. She attended Miami University for Math and earned her advanced degree in Computer Science at Purdue. She taught at Ohio State, Purdue and, after moving to the valley in 1978, worked for IBM and other computer companies.   Owning rental properties led to her forming a property management company that she operated for 15 years before she sold it.

She is adamant about her love of music and theater which began at an early age, influenced no doubt by her parents. Besides attending a myriad of plays, concerts and music fests, she is involved on a local level by serving on the Board of Directors for the In-Home Concert Series and the Fountain Hills Theater.

Bev admits to being a foodie. And food certainly influenced the path of her life.  “I met my husband when we were in graduate school and we went out a few times.  I was sort of so-so about him, he seemed a bit introverted, and me, quite the opposite, but I accepted his invitation to cook dinner for me. I expected something like steak and a baked potato. To my surprise, he served a wonderful duck with peach sauce and a chocolate soufflé. I decided to take another look at this guy.” And she did more than look and she liked what she found. In the design of their home in Fountain Hills, they included a large kitchen to optimize their culinary interests as they often cooked together. Additionally for the past 12 years Bev has belonged to a gourmet Club that she founded that meets once a month. Believe me, if you want a recommendation for great place to dine, she could be your go-to-person.  Her foodie talents have benefited Friends-In-The-Hills. She has been and is the luncheon coordinator, overseeing the menus for the monthly luncheons. “It’s an easy job when things go well, but when they don’t, well that is another story,” she adds.

For Bev, developing a relationship with her granddaughter has been a priority. The past few years they have participated in the Intergenerational Program sponsored by Road Scholar.  One year they did a cooking class in Newport, Oregon.  Another year found them behind the scenes at Sea World and the San Diego Zoo.  “It is a fabulous program. Participating in interesting venues with your grandchildren, without their parents, helps build wonderful relationships. The kids have fun together and the adults there with their grandchildren are all interesting doers.”

When Bev and her family originally moved from the Midwest to the Valley, she was drawn to Fountain Hills, but at that time the lack of schools was a major deterrent to buying a home. However, once the kids were on their way, her dream came true. They bought a lot, planned their house and her dream was realized.  The natural surroundings, views, wild life, a major draw for choosing this area, were at her fingertips.  “And to be practical, view lots in Scottsdale are expensive compared to Fountain Hills,” she adds.  Now Bev watches birds, bobcats and those pesky javelina, that seem to love her garden, from her very own windows.