Green and Yellow

Our incredible September-like weather just goes on…chilly mornings, then lukewarm afternoons in the shade…though the burning sun is a negative. But this may be one of my last early morning bike rides before work, as it’s a bit chilly and not light until 7.

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nothing here for you, so just move along?

Of course not! Though I’m moving, it’s on my mountain bike, to get back into my needed work-outs and get restored in a manner that only comes from being in natural areas.

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yellow flowers and cactus again?

Why yes!

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Thymophylla pentachaeta (bottom), Bahia absinthifolia (top), Opuntia macrocentra x camanchica (right)

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approaching something else?

Too bad I missed the stunning light on my bike rides since a month ago, as what I saw without a camera starting in late August is now gone. Next year…

Ocotillos are rarely in leaf long in April or May, when the lighting is similar. But thanks to the monsoon season – some rain and humidity, less heat – they often stay in leaf longer then.

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the rain really helped…ocotillos and other plants still so green…

The rain was so hard at times, it eroded hillsides and trail sections beyond my technical skills, too.

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a forest of Fouquieria?

Yes, an Ocotillo Forest. I always enjoy where this kind of forest grows, and I’m hoping to design a couple into a current project, with slopes and room for this effect.

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the best part is riding through this…plenty of elbow room is good, too…

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downhill is even better, but today I went the opposite way…

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groups of groups…ocotillos, desert bahias…one cactus clump…

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someone else lost a reflector, maybe blown away at such a huge flower like me…just a young Datura wrightii…

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maybe it’s too dry to get the sweet floral scent?

Ocotillos, creosote bushes, and even daturas are common. Yet, there’s almost always something rare, hiding on the trail.

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a Chihuahuan Desert native, Hibiscus denudatus

Do you ever note what grows and where, when on a hike or bike ride? Do you ever wish some of those plants were actually sold, instead of the same-old?

Sept in Oct, Sweep Away Summer

El Paso had March and April in May, June through July (hot), September in August, August in September, and now it’s September in October (heaven). As odd as that is, climate is what you expect and weather is what you get.

And the final part of a new project is going in. Photos from 10/2/2014 -

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most of the contractor’s layout of planting beds, basins and berms was fine; I just repainted a couple lawn / bed lines in need of more gentle “curvage”…

The weather everyone envies. Just don’t forget that scorpions, vinegaroons, diamondback rattlers, centipedes like it too!

The last part of the Sierra Providence East tower landscape is starting – the only lawn on the vast site, my alternate was approved.

hard work, but it’s not 109, or even 89 anymore…

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all are cool and crisp in the morning, swept away overnight…monsoon season humidity gone…we finally scored rain-wise…at our 7.5″-to-date average

We can see El Paso stands out as much warmer than even its neighbors. #UrbanHeatIsland…..nobody in the region measures anything remotely like that, except Phoenix and Las Vegas!

physician parking (they get shade canopies),…maybe someone will see the difference from overly-pruned and non-pruned grasses…I will certainly relate that…Giant Sacaton / Sporobulus wrightii

Perhaps this winter, I will see full, dormant grasses at least until spring, and shrubs left alone. Perhaps…

tight spaces = small, resilient ‘Hachita’ Blue Grama / Bouteloua gracilis…

and other plants, with more room…including Chinese Pistache / Pistacia chinensis for shade…someday…

did another landscape architect sneak into the physician spaces…and even a daredevil doc?…my guess 6 docs – 1 outlander…

Meanwhile at the medical office building…

new (small) shrubs in front, 4 year old plants in back…all doing well…

Sporobulus wrightii here mysteriously small, but the rest looks OK…flowering plants are mostly gone except a few Salvia greggii…those Ocotillo / Fouquieria splendens…splendid, radiant…and seed-grown :-)

Prosopis glandulosa in the shallow basin, Sophora secundiflora x ‘Silver Peso’, and more are all happy…but Sporobulus there way too small………..

sweeps are so swell…Deergrass / Muhlenbergia rigens softens large gravel areas and spikiness…

Older parts of the campus, designed years ago, are filling in. I was able to make contact with the owner’s architect, to initiate the process of improving their maintenance and plant health, while reducing unnecessary and counterproductive maintenance. I will take the maintenance plan I developed for the tower and ER expansion, and use that as a starting point.

spiky and stately at each section between the glazing = Giant or Coahuilan Hesperaloe / Hesperaloe funifera…and that soft sweep…

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the first plantings out in front of the hospital

At least the Torrey Yucca / Yucca torreyi and the Fouquieria are standing tall and happy, even some Echinocereus and Sporobulus are left. Yep, I need to make inroads on the maintenance. Can I?

Big: Not Just the Trucks

West Texas and it’s neighbors of New Mexico and Arizona have much in common: geography, culture and even some cuisine.

Many of those similarities must be insanely different from many coastal and international visitors’ realms. It’s fairly easy to see why people from even Austin or Houston visit! Photos from 9/27/2014 -

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Xeric Pinus edulis and Yucca faxoniana…

Happy together on nearby mountains, these two common plants don’t seem to mind being together at a relatively low 4,000′ elevation, either. The drip irrigation needs to be buried, to not be so unsightly, and some underplanting of compatible natives would really help.

always scalloped block and Italian Cypress somewhere………

While I like breaking down perceptions and elevating reality, there is a reason for some stereotypes. And that’s fine.

And I bet restaurants serve grits here, but not green chile – it might be 2 hours west for that.

any questions where we are…these are small trucks for here, though…

Now to something more typical, and more grand, stately Y. faxoniana; some on this hotel’s property look to reach nearly 20′ in height. When planted with live roots, they grow to a similar size in Albuquerque, where it’s often called Palm Yucca.

The coolest place I’ve seen this species still look good is Santa Fe, just smaller. I’m not sure how they mature in the hotter, low desert areas such as Palm Springs or Tucson.

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a more typical truck for here…it’s huge…but the yuccas dwarf it

Can you imagine those yuccas instead of palms in a prominent garden location?

Films Out Here

Returning to a favorite place of mine, still well within the Chihuahuan Desert, for a mini weekend to decompress – the Desert Dust Cinema in Lobo, and a stay in Van Horn.

Photos last night and this morning -

dusk and the waxing crescent moon, Sierra Blanca picnic area…

granite boulders and hills like this, with desert plants, will always delight…

the Lobo former-gas station / now-theatre and porch, to view an array of interesting short films

I’ll try to share more of the crowd and films if I stay.

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even local native, Boyd Elder taking a smoke…

I’m one of the few people here who doesn’t smoke. Boyd lives in the nearby metropolis of Valentine, a character who designed one or more album covers for the Eagles, ages ago.

our regional landmark, Palmilla / Yucca elata…lit path to the distant outhouse…

I just read the latest population for Frankfurt is 2.5 million in the city limits, and 5.6 million in the metro area. The 2nd largest city in Germany, it is quite the global banking and commerce center, with impressive skyscrapers that are like nothing I recall from being a kid travelling from nearby Belgium. Perhaps this might offer clues on what they like a remote, quiet place like Lobo!

inside, many people here…I only came in for a beer and to take a look…

Lobo – well, locals here chuckle, wondering what the German friends and colleagues who bought it will do. After talking with them, and most seem to be from Franfurt, they like the peace and having no plan. Though they are into some more upkeep, even for their limited time there.

the next, damp and cool morning…

water is still a pleasure to hear…nice tile details…

so glad a peaceful breakfast is included here…

you always know where you are…not so much in El Paso…

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some high desert locals, healthy Piñon / Pinus edulis and Faxon Yucca / Yucca faxoniana…

Mild, but unusually humid with all the rain…El Paso is noticeably drier and warmer. Their soft sky and clouds are telling of what it is like for my trip.

I may go to tonight’s films (left), or drive home (straight)…that a’way

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far…

…from the Ocotillo!

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my late father, on some rare “time off” from flying…

Across the street from “Old Mexico”. Check!

Dad was stationed in Douglas, Arizona briefly, training as a pilot for “the war”. It’s Chihuahuan Desert Grassland, a few hours west of where I now live, which is Chihuahuan Desert Scrub. Of course I never had to be a prisoner of war, nor did I help raise 1 child let alone 6, nor was I an immigrant, and so on.

Was it destiny that I like the desert?

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me in 1991…a favorite place in the San Diego County desert…

I wasn’t dancing, but it’s hard to see my foot rested on a rock. And naturally, I had my eyes closed for the pic.

Not far from the same age as my father in his picture, I had moved from San Diego only months earlier. 23 years later, I now live in the land of huge ocotillos!

El Paso, along Rim Road…last month

Litter Over Oregon

Before heading to my *air conditioned* office on yet another Sunday, I caught a glimpse of my favorite litter – flower blossoms, this time.

Then back to the office, to attack my piles of work – mostly other’s litter. “My bad, David, but we need this project yesterday…” -

not my kind of landscape, but…

a brief bout of milder, wet weather made some Leucophyllum erupt in song…

Hopefully in a song more Mariachi than Selena…

glad the homeowners hadn’t gotten to this yet…

With some work challenges that arose, more than what I already cannot handle, I’m so glad I wasn’t able to schedule in or make the Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland this July. At least at some level. Too many things on my plate I had to accept, that would have dampened my enjoyment.

Yet, I enjoyed a small piece of Portlandia on a mid-July evening.

and we now know Oregon means agaves…plus salmon & cycling…

for a long dinner and one Oregon beer, following Tillamook cheese and another Oregon beer, I was there, looking at towering fir trees, cactus, madrones, and many plants I cannot even spell…

And thankful I wasn’t in El Paso, where it was over 91F…at 10 pm…when our July’s supposed to be cooler, with a couple rains each week.

But only for a short time. I was in El Paso, but it was OK too.

Out Of My Hands

I work for every penny I’m contracted for in the “Construction Observation” phase of my design work, but there’s rarely enough money left to complete that phase. Sometimes I do that work anyway.

Plus, things are out of my hands ultimately, no matter how clear I make my designs and plans. So much falls through the cracks, yet I survive.

All comments are based on my plans, notes in plain, modern (brief) English, graphics per industry standards -

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1) pots were all in line, for a stronger effect…not installed that way; 2) winter annual plants never changed from project close-out in January, but it’s bordering on infernal in mid-July, winter annuals never changed

Not northern 88F heat, or eastern humid heat with 30″+ of rain / year…but it’s also not 4 months of Phoenix hyper-summer. Blessed!

There’s a balance between paying one’s mortgage (for 21 years), or rent that’s now 25% higher for less (with 1 and not 2 incomes), then not selling out.

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boulders not buried 1/4 into grade, just set on top of mulch…or even with mulch fudged up to boulders……….

This installation was during an unusually cold period in the coldest month (December) of a mostly mild winter, with more than one day;s high at 32F. And a few nights near 0F…yes, they used pick axes in some areas to do work, to meet the big restaurant opening.

boulders installed after they were specified – during finish grade and before planting…

see anything other than far-off storms during the monsoon or “rainy” season?

anything? Buhler?? Buhler-rrr??? (#80’s)

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Greek Germander was sneaked into the middle of specified Trailing Germander…the clay loam soils will have the final say…

Some excuse such things as, “well, David, …”, but that’s lame. I wonder how many of them do the same? Would their client$ excuse it with their real money expenditures? Many of us know how / the amounts of money and time are divided among any project team.

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1) the development entry monument is still not constructed, hense the sparse look; 2) weeds…could be worse, but…

no water harvesting basin…summer downpours will run off more…

I’m just happy when the contractor on one of my projects gets 80% a project right; with all my work over 8 states, it hasn’t always been that great. So, 80% is like awarding them with an A+ to me. But that’s my 25 years in the field, and I know others who have it easier.

Luck does not come from working harder. It just is, or is not.

Client – “David, you forget that it rained and was humid all week”…

mold…why the Zephyranthes were not establishing – 3x / week irrigation

Me – “you don’t realize that monsoon season humidity and rain means no irrigation”. Maintenance guidelines were swiftly sent a 2nd time…no response. My fault to be sure – not!

Am I blessed? I sure am, at some level.
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Even though an unusual amount of humid weather lingers and for so long, it actually turned into real rain…3.5″ last week, doubling our 2014 rainfall.

And the Sooners won a football game they might normally choke at in WV. It could be worse!