Keep the Lonely Places

A month ago, I paused work I was at a good place on to make the trek to Marfa, Texas. I last visited briefly in April, but it was over 2 years ago I spent more time there. I looked forward to seeing parts of Chinati I hadn’t yet seen. Photos from 6/24/2022.

After quick stops for gas and lunch, my next stop was Lobo.

Native grasses have been recolonizing the land in Lobo, but they’re mostly dormant instead of a more typical, pale green. That’s due to an ongoing, severe drought in much of the southwest into the southern prairies and California. (except Arizona)

Arizona Cottontop / Digitaria californica is trying to green up from spotty rains, 180 miles southeast of my home and over a few low mountain ranges.

The German friends who bought this ghost town and put on a biannual short-film festival in the past may not be regrouping. They still get their area.

Nice line drawing, fully agreed

The weight on my shoulders is gone by now, though it starts to lift off my shoulders at the 80 mph speed limit sign at the El Paso / Hudspeth counties line on I-10.

Chihuahuan Desert grassland here is dissected by an arroyo, lined with an open gallery of Little Walnut / Juglans microcarpa. The Davis Mountains peek through the distant hills.

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Almost 4 hours after leaving home, I’m safe at my serene abode for a few days. Marfa is a small, peaceful island of people, surrounded by lonely yet awe- and idea- inspiring expanses. There are a number of places worth experiencing apart from the vibe-seeker-influencers, not to mention the interesting people I’ve met during many visits.

Though with such a hot, early summer, there was no sitting on the pleasant porch this visit, except at sunrise or after dark.

Marfa this June was as hot as it typically is in hotter Las Cruces or El Paso.

Another stay at this pleasant house is in order, but probably not in the now-unreliable-for-comfort May to September time frame.

Between some personal and invoicing fires, I was able to walk around town, except for the drive to take in the 7 hour full tour at Chinati. Not to mention I was able to relax and write some, though not on this neglected blog.

Confirming my experiences, the sayings ring true to, “write only what you know” and “write the (book) you wish you had.”

Finding a serene place to rest, even if you already live in serenity, can help, too.

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A simple streetscape of decorative brick wall, with a planting of escarpment live oaks and yuccas is another Tim Crowley & Compadres project.

Years ago I was told these special bricks were spotted at a sales yard beyond San Antonio by Crowley or a designer he works with, and using some design savvy, they make quite a show along this street.

Next post and on others to come, we’ll enjoy some more garden related sights from my locale and beyond.

How have you been in the time I last posted? Let’s continue our past conversations or start something new in the comments.

Front Garden in Rim

After my drive-by hospital visit, I made another drive-by visit through the attractive Rim Area neighborhood near the University of Texas at El Paso (which I didn’t visit). It’s great to return to warmer times.

Photos are from 9/20/2020.

Of the several plant forms that make up well-designed gardens or natural areas of the desert, this front garden by Jon Gore uses at least four.

Seasonally-deciduous plants (Prosopis glandulosa, Artemisia x ‘Powis Castle’), CAM plants (bluish Yucca rigida, green Yucca aloifolia), and groundcover that’s also a CAM plant (Maleophora lutea).

The Powis Castle Sage smells minty, from oils on the feathery foliage. Though in dry weather one must rub the leaves, as the scent just doesn’t carry in the air. The other plants provide short flowering for moths and butterflies with their ever-present, bold forms.

The hummingbird magnet Hesperaloe parviflora grows in the distance by the lawn, which is secondary to the other plants as it should be.

The repeated clumps and groupings of Nasella tenuissima / Mexican Feathergrass unify that entire front area. That single Prosopis glandulosa / Texas Honey Mesquite with other groupings of yuccas, shrubs, and groundcovers add punctuation.

Somehow, in all my years visiting and even living nearby, I’ve never been down this street. Perhaps it was planted after I moved away in 2016?

Zooming in, Maleophora lutea / Rocky Point Iceplant (or Pink Iceplant) softens the spiky form of tough Yucca rigida / Sonoran Blue Yucca.

Yet another win for good design of an appealing place!

It’s also a win for gentle maintenance to retain and remove some of those Nasella clumps, which usually get out of hand.

Sierra: Walls and Weeds, Spikes and Grasses

A quick fall visit to one of the hospital renovation projects I provided landscape architect services on, from a few years ago.

And what did I see?

I’m unsure why the grasses (gulf grasses – Muhlenbergia capillaris / ‘Regal Mist’ Grass) didn’t put on their pink flower show. They are staying smaller than I feared they might grow, though they somehow weren’t sheared either and they have drip irrigation, so they should be pink.

The hotter summer wouldn’t faze the Regal Mist Grass, given this muhley also thrives in low desert landscapes such as Tucson and Phoenix, plus this drip irrigation system looked to be functioning.

Got me…

The spiky forms of natives Dasylirion wheeleri and Yucca elata just truck along, elegant and shimmering in their eternally breezy or windy town. Their short-lived flowers earlier in the summer attract bees and small moths.

Can you see why I designed in the low garden walls here?

They stagger out from the boxy, actual structure, still parallel. I originally envisioned them a foot taller, but was glad they were adjusted down in height during field layout. The creamy color really helps the greens of the different plantings.

The native shrub behind the low wall closest to the building is Ericameria laricifolia / Turpentine Bush. Each was needlessly sheared, though it probably flowered the next month, in October. There’s a gold tinge to them when looking closely, and the waxy, needle-like foliage does smell like a clean take on turpentine.

When in bloom, it attracts various butterflies, and some bees, of course.

Hopefully this fall, I can visit when the different plants are in bloom, as well as in the morning, to better capture the different lighting at that time and the elevated, exposed terrain at the southern edge of the Franklin Mountains.

And hopefully, late summer 2021 brings us a solid monsoon season!

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