Wide Shot – 3/2014

I was in Hobbs, New Mexico a week ago, to give a presentation for the Lea County Master Gardeners. Preparing for that, work, and driving 4+ hours one-way, I got far behind on posting for Heather’s Wide Shot meme – here !

My event was held at the Western Heritage Museum / Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, on the campus of New Mexico Junior College. After speaking, I visited another campus project, the Ben Alexander Student Center. I designed its outdoor spaces while at Dekker Perich Sabatini, with Ken Romig back in 2004.

Screwbean Mesquite or Tornillo / Prosopis pubescens is the bare, courtyard tree, Red Yucca / Hesperaloe parviflora lines the building, the green shrubs are pruned Dwarf Yaupon / Ilex vomitoria, but I forget which grass species were used out front.

To see the grasses and red yuccas barely growing after all this time was sad; by now, I hoped it would be a spray of pink flower stalks dancing in front of the light walls, held over mature, broad clumps of green – dare I say – “strappy foliage”. The grasses should be full and lush.

I know this is late winter, a rough one there with several ice storms and below freezing days, but these plants can take it. On the southern plains, it is said only some barbed wire fences separate them from the north pole and tropics!

David Hooten, in charge of maintenance at NMJC, told me there’s a 12 foot thick caliche layer or caprock, providing some possible reasons for poor growth; possibly irrigation is partly the culprit? He refers to their weather changes as “mood swings”!

I’m left wondering what I could have done. Maybe a follow-up visit is in order, later in spring, hoping the issues are solved?

Meanwhile, I’ll soon post some smaller areas of the design that did work.


7 Replies to “Wide Shot – 3/2014”

  1. It’s a good planting for the client and I like the idea of pink blooms dancing against the light wall. My hesperaloe haven’t bloomed yet and they are a bit colder in Hobbs so that could be it. Those do look a bit small for ten years growth. Mine have only been watered in drought maybe a couple of times in 20 years and they have grown huge.

    True, here they are starting to send up stalks, but we don’t get <32F every few days and ice! I agree, on drip irrigation, my red yuccas in Abq and here tend to get to 3' clumps in 3-4 years.


  2. I think the garden still looks great even it it hasn’t filled in as much as you’d planned.

    Thanks, and I’ll definitely post the areas that worked!


  3. I grew up, hearing about that barbed wire fence. My Daddy said the only thing to stop the wind was that barbed wire fence….and, it had blown over.

    Maybe, later in the season these plants will perk up. Being in the ground that long, does make you wonder what’s going on.

    I’m way behind on the Wide Shot, too. Glad late is ok.

    That’s right, you’re from the DFW area. I hope you’re right, but at least I’m in touch with the owner, now!


  4. What a bummer to see the plants doing poorly. Maybe it’s just too early in the season, and they will take off later. I’m glad to hear that some parts of the design are doing well.

    I think that’s part of it this time of year, too. Yes, I’ll finish that project on a good note ASAP!


  5. Beds over caprock are tricky and I’ve got a few, so I’ll be reading with interest to see what methods you come up with to address that situation.

    I’m hoping to join the wide shot meme soon but it will have to wait for all the construction across the street to be completed. I’m afraid my side of the street is a pretty consistent parking strip for the workers there. I’m trying to keep the guys from walking on my flowers at curbside so yeah, I’ve become one of those old fussy garden ladies yelling at people to keep off her plants!

    I may be proposing on a nearby design, and we’re discussing a mix of raised beds and fracturing some deeper pockets for planting areas within more sparseness. Hmmm… I like the “fussy garden lady” part with staying off your plants!


  6. Thanks for posting, D! :) That is a nice little nook for a garden. So….is that considered slow growth rate for the tree too? Are you traveling a lot this year?

    Glad late is still OK! Yes, and that view looks better than the front one! The tree is actually at it’s usual rate – yet the same irrigation!/em>


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