Cram-it: El Paso Edition

Last fall, I returned from a rattled mountain bike ride to zip by a home landscape I’d only seen once before. Lo and behold, it’s the home of a local architect, but so different than her office – architecture or garden.

Then again, can’t office and home be related, yet complimentary?

Martina sketched this out about a decade ago, with plants installed over time and edited since – edits are part her ideas / part weather extremes. Her goal was to create a Mediterranean cottage garden, and much is layered and crammed in here – in a good way. She has to do all her maintenance due to the usual lack of horticultural expertise – though no shortage of lame excuses by those who should know better – but she enjoys the mellow, restorative work involved!

Photos from 3/20/2014 – the vernal equinox –

great bones from mature palms and great architecture…

young Blue Yucca / Yucca rigida will develop trunks in a few more years…
California Poppy / Eschscholzia californica is easier to find than native E. mexicana…
and she’s going with the Mediterranean theme on a Mission Revival house…

FYI – miles of freeways and roadsides were seeded in E. californica in Albuquerque during the 1990’s, and those all died from 2 drought periods to never come back. It’s a slightly more hospitable environment up there for such a plant, so…

no lawn…plenty of Indian Fig Iceplant instead…plenty of interest…

Lawn or token turf in front of Mission Revival homes in the southwest may be a sign of incurable aridiphobia and midwesternophilia…just sayin’.

our only truly-hardy spineless cactus…Cacanapa Prickly Pear / Opuntia ellisiana, plus the rippled look of a recovering Opuntia ‘Old Mexico’…
Blackspine Prickly Pear / Opuntia macrocentra and Purple Prickly Pear / O. santa-rita…Desert Marigold left in front…rosemaries or turpentine bushes rear…
ever-tough, prone-to-reseed, Chaste Tree / Vitex agnus-castus,…for under the palms…
Desert Marigold allowed to mingle and reseed into a few purple Rock Verbena / Glandularia pulchella…spiky variegated Agave and recovering Olive closer to the house…serious layering and cramming…and there’s still some room…

a path to access the front door indirectly…Gopher Plant / Euphorbia rigida tucked in with prickly pears…yes, a Desert Cassia / Senna nemophila near the window, rubbing it in that she’s probably in USDA z 8b / Sunset z 10[b]…
Plants (natives in bold):

I enjoy when flagstone is cut slightly, to enhance the angles and fit closely, without mortar visible (or even present).

These survived the windy, Feb. 2011 uber-freeze (0F, but all-time record is about -8F) – single-trunk Olea europaea (unsure of cultivar), Washingtonia filifera, Vitex agnus-castus, Yucca rigida, Thuja orientalis (about to be removed), Leucophyllum spp., Ericameria laricifolia, Chamaerops humilis, Opuntia ellisiana, Opuntia basilaris, Dalea frutescens ‘Sierra Nigra’, Euphorbia rigida, Eschscholzia californica, Baileya multiradiata

These died in the same freeze, or came back from the roots – multi-trunk Olea europaea (unsure of cultivar, came back), Senna artemisoides (came back), Opuntia x ‘Old Mexico’ (came back), Cycas revoluta (died), Carpobrotus edulis (died but replaced)

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Martina tells me part of her back garden space is inspired by Morocco, and also she mentioned something about a greenhouse. Uh oh…


5 Replies to “Cram-it: El Paso Edition”

  1. Love, love this landscape! You cannot beat a well-designed southwestern landscape in spring. Everything is in bloom and the weather is nice enough to be outside and enjoy the beauty.

    **I may have to borrow you newest term “aridiphobia” – I love it!


    Very true, this landscape is as good as in the fall, maybe better? Yes, feel free to borrow that term – it really fits some.


  2. Nice one! Love the sprinkles of flowers… but this I love the most — “Lawn or token turf in front of Mission Revival homes in the southwest may be a sign of incurable aridiphobia and midwesternophilia”. HAHA.

    Her office you might like more…modern theme. I couldn’t resist on the midwestern tendencies when some see Med. architecture, as lawns are rare in Med. basin!


  3. I love that front corner shot with the two yuccas. It’s so dramatic. And then the poppies just completely soften it. Amazing how that can happen with just one more element.

    The poppies really do that, and it seems something else softens when it gets hot, but I forget.


  4. Really interesting layering effects. Seeing all her gopher plants in amongst the opuntia I’m especially eager for mine to get established (and thinking of buying more.). Thanks for sharing not only the plant list but what survived and what thrived. Very helpful even for zones slightly south!

    Yes, and wait until I show Jeff Anderson’s house in Las Cruces – the king of layering! I’m in the process of seeing what takes more cold or heat, comparing same plants in cloudier or more humid places to sunnier or drier places…


  5. Beautiful…wow! Those Yucca rigida with leaves all the way down to the ground are amazing. The only bit that had me wondering a bit about is the massive evergreen (juniper?) hugging the corner of the house. What is it?

    Soon, they will be trees, but interesting while young. The evergreen is Oriental Arborvitae, common in desert and southern plains gardens pre-1960’s!


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