Take A Walk

Two weeks ago, I needed rosemary for the olive oil I was to dip my bread into.

Except I no longer have one rosemary, nor are there any planted around my new, downsized abode! So, I took a foraging walk. I also saw some interesting plants and landscapes within my several block excursion. This time, I returned to take a walk and see more interest within a short walk of my apartment.

Plants and gardens, even architecture, are always game. Some images from my walks Wednesday and last week:

My apartment building (built in 1903), and a Mexican Fan Palm / Washingtonia robusta that survived the 2/2011 uber-freeze…and gravel on plastic…sigh.

One of a few fire stations in my area with regional architecture
Though I’m not into dates (and what kind of Mediterranean person are you, Daveeed?), I do like Date Palm / Phoenix dactylifera – even with a touch of freeze damage from last winter. My apartment building is on the distant left.
My new neighborhood isn’t lacking for great architecture among neglect or disrepair. Imagine Saturday morning rituals of breakfast tacos and good coffee under that deep porch? (AKA veranda in the SE)
One of several pocket parks in Sunset Heights, this one looks over the Rio Grande Valley into the largest town on either side of the US-Mexican border.
More desert mountains lie just beyond Ciudad Juarez, but in town, look closely. Mexico displays some good taste by painting bold colors on a number of building walls…even one that’s purple, like the front wall at my old house! The buildings with red and bluish or turquoise walls work for me, too.

Warming a full USDA zone over that other place, plus equal or more horticultural brain-power, neighborhood streetscapes contain a variety of trees and other plants, some similar and a number of different.

This area’s streets have western states and cities crossing each other. Even a young Jelly Palm / Butia capitata on the left
Not so LA-looking on this Mexican Fan Palm – the uber freeze taught a few that El Paso is not LA, even though I-10, just blocks away, takes one there. I actually live at the end of Nevada Avenue, ironic, since I was *surely* moving there.
Nope…not LA…nor Phoenix…not growing back…3 growing seasons later
Hardier and stately – Desert or California Fan Palm / Washingtonia filifera
A duo of Canary Island Date Palm / Phoenix canariensis, underplanted with Red Bird of Paradise / Caesalpinia pulchirrima
Honeylocust trees here aren’t doing badly, considering higher water needs and an inadequate area for the roots to develop. So far. As a midwestern and Mississippi Valley native, desert-native mesquites would be far more suitable here to provide shade, and all the other benefit buzzwords some now use to defend water-hog for trees.
A South American mesquite of an unknown-species-to-me survived the uber freeze; random ones around town also did. It’s easier to plant native, hardier mesquites, but this is one of the drier parts of El Paso and the warmest – they lucked out. This tree is now providing some shade.
I’m seeing many different apartments in my new area, but this one’s growing food. I looked for melons, but no dice…
A nice corner garden with two weedy, but happy and feathery Retama / Parkinsonia aculatea (R), a Bradford Pear (gag), Chinese Pistache, Red Bird of Paradise (L), and a Red Yucca *still* in bloom in front of loads of golden Lantana

Back to some interesting archtecture

This house always captivates me…for sale, but I won’t be in a position to buy for a while. If I ever revert to a SW style house again, this is nice and a perfect color for well-placed Blue Sotol / Dasylirion wheeleri.
This is quite the well-designed house. But that landscape… The gumdrops are Trailing Rosemary plants, which I discretely collected my sprig from, for that aforementioned dinner! These are not permitted to trail; odd, since that’s why I thought one planted *trailing* rosemary.
They did use the gulf coast / south Atlantic coast native yucca, Spanish Bayonet / Yucca aloifolia, with a Russian Sage. This clump is healthier than most other Spanish Bayonet I’ve seen in the desert, including Albuquerque.
Another view of this house and landscape, the latter just begging to be brought up to the level of the architecture
I’m still not that far from Albuquerque…putting that front yard to use……..

Like Albuquerque, some tough plants really volunteer in waste, unmaintained spaces…invasives and natives alike. Too bad few care, and others actually prefer to argue this instead of look at the obvious differences – what invasives displace, water, fauna, visual sense of place, and of course, other flora.

Silverleaf Nightshade, which can defy drought
In contrast, the native Desert Bahia / Bahia absinthifolia
And about my favorite native in all the southwest, Creosote Bush / Larrea tridentata, growing on a vacant lot and out of an Andesite outcropping
A mural at a water pumping station…the artist even getting the summer clouds perfectly
I recognize all of those plants…keeping it mostly local!
Yet another interesting house apartment – Sunset Heights just doesn’t quit! This one to me has more of a colonial, tropical motif, especially with the cannas near the house and the railing style. Just needs removal of – drum roll – all the weeds and purple nightshade. Then, keep the Mexican Fan Palm and cannas, replace the invasives with some massed native landscaping with some structure and palm and yucca / rosette succulence, add more bold floral color at the palms, and voila – lower patios or balconies to share great drinks with friends.
One more view of my apartment building, after sunset and before a storm with wicked lightning rolled in…with barely enough rain to wet the paving.

I hope you enjoyed this walking tour of my new neighborhood’s existing and potential gardens. Let’s all have a good weekend!


11 Replies to “Take A Walk”

  1. I quite like those old houses. Thanks for the tour. I had no idea what El Paso looked like.

    Yes; I was surprised my first times here, 15+ years ago…still am!


  2. I love that house with the curvy porch…and that FLW-ish house…you can just move that up here for me, please :-)

    Yes, I could manage the curvy porch, but to have all that slope at the FLW house…they don’t get what they have!


  3. Thanks for the tour, David — glad you are settling in to your new neighborhood! I loved the Frank Loyd Wright inspired house and here’s hoping they’ll let YOU do a new design to give it more “place and presence”!

    You’re welcome. Yes, I think my new mission will be to renovate the gardens on those cool buildings…then buy some and really go for it:-)


  4. I loved the walking tour of your new town and your comments about the landscaping. As a native Los Angeleno, I loved the street signs. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to visit someday.


    Thanks, it’s been great to explore more streets each week. More landscape finds coming up!


  5. Some nifty old houses there, all one-of-a-kind. My favorite type of neighborhood.. And nothing warms the heart more than a dead Washingtonia.

    At least 1/2 the W. robusta here froze! Great variety, w/ more to explore:-)


  6. Very nice walk and a view of El Paso with different types of architecture and quite unlike that bland place you moved from.

    And there’s more! Flat roofs, tan stucco in a subdivision only go so far.


  7. Welcome to the Lone Star State! I am looking forward to reading about your adventures in El Paso. You already gave me a new perspective on the city.

    Thanks, I can’t wait to share all the surprises from visiting – and now living here!


  8. Nice looking neighborhood David. Nice looking apartment building, too. I didn’t realize so many different kinds of palm trees grew in El Paso. Guess I need to get out there some day to see more. Closest I’ve been is to the Davis Mountains (which I absolutely love).

    Thanks – a fun place, so much more character than my 2000-ish subdivision! Yes, quite a few palms, at least desert climate ones. I agree, incredible part of TX!


  9. I love older neighborhoods. This one looks like it’s been taken care of.

    Most seem to be the same period as your apartment building. Only, your place is more the architecture I’d expect in El Paso, instead of the Prairie Style houses. But, they are of the period.

    Glad you found some rosemary. Does seem silly to plant a trailing plant, then trim it into a glob.

    By the way…thanks for dropping by my travel blog. Maybe that will inspire me to post some things that have been put off too long.

    Stay cool….

    Yes, some great treasures there and much pride / workmanship back then…or cheap but skilled labor? It’s very eclectic here, and modern subdivisions could learn much, especially adding regional architecture for typically-priced housing…seems regional is much more popular for all incomes over the line in NM. Yes, more counter-productive maintenance. Your travel blog was hiding, but when I found it…perfect!


  10. Oh I do love a good neighborhood walkabout, thank you!

    Those homes are HUGE! And I really enjoyed seeing the Caesalpinia pulchirrima and the way it softening things up a bit. I recently planted the yellow variety. We’ll see if mine ever flowers (or if it even lives…)

    I hope to walk a state or city-named street as a regular feature…Oregon is 2 blocks E. Yes, they built large homes then, but there are smaller ones, like that one with the deep porch. Yellow Bird-of-P should do fine for you; they come back most years in Denver.


  11. Wow, I want to move there too. I shared that beautiful corner lot photo on my Facebook Page and maybe I’ll post it over on G+. Love that yard.

    I also prefer the Washingtonia filifera over robusta for many applications, mostly because The Mexican grows so outrageously tall [okay I know that’s way down the road, but] and I find it maybe better for narrow placement and where somebody wants instant landscape. I like the California because I prefer the strong bulkiness , the slower growth and the fact that, unlike the Mexican which constantly sheds it’s fronds and seed stalks, the California keeps it’s stalks in tact all through life, though in the landscape, you will need to trim. For me the Mexicans were a constant source of mess and there was nothing I could do about it since the trees were 70+ feet high and we always had to hire professionals which on these trees specifically are expense because of the danger involved.

    On another Palm note, those Canaries are beautiful, but wicked spikes which I may have mentioned before. You should see them growing in their wild habitat on steep volcanic slopes in the Canary Islands

    There looks to be a lot of Frank Lloyd Wright lines in some of those homes. He’s one of my most favourite.

    I somehow knew you were going to say you liked those purples, lavenders and Turquoise colours on those homes, well before I read what you wrote. Almost uncanny isn’t it ?

    All in all, beautiful post, thanks

    Thanks so much; the uppity (willing ignorance + rudeness) may never know the treasures S of that other place:-) I agree on the more stocky Calif. Fan Palm – it seems a rare case of the hardier relative looking more gracious than the less hardy one, though South Pasadena CA uses the thin, feather duster palms well with Jacaranda underneath on some streets. Perhaps it’s FLW + UTEP’s Bhutanese look? Yes – uncanny on my color likes!


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