Phoenix unveiled a new $400,000 desert-inspired artistic fence this week at the city-owned Ponderosa Stables at South Mountain Park.

The fence replaces a non-native oleander hedge that used to border the stables, situated at the north side of South Mountain on South Central Avenue, said manager Katherine Lloyd.

"The city wanted to bring the park back to pristine levels, so the oleander had to go," she said.

The project's centerpiece consists of a rust-colored metal sculptural gate evocative of local desert plants, attached to two 12-foot-tall metal and stone columns that resemble saguaro cacti. The project also features 23 cast-concrete hay bale benches integrated into an amphitheater staging area adjacent to a horse corral and a 300-foot-long metal "horseshoe nail" fence supporting a series of Ocotillo cactus plantings attached to a twisted steel rope.

The project was crafted by artist Kevin Berry of South Mountain Studios and landscape architect Jason Harrington, in collaboration with the city's Office of Cultural Affairs and the Parks and Recreation Department.

Marcie Colpas, a city spokeswoman, said the city's Water Services Department paid for the project through an earmark aimed at funding public art.

Lloyd said the stables are owned by the city but has been operated by a private company since 1985. Ponderosa Stables provides trail rides, cookouts and riding lessons. It's popular with visitors from Ahwatukee Foothills, she said.

"We get a lot of families that visit out here," Lloyd said.

City parks officials had a dedication for the project on Monday. For more information about the stables, visit www.arizona-horses.com.

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