Desert Rose

Many southwesterners grow roses. Even this native-plant-pusher sees the dimension they add when used well: carefully placed, or designed as part of a small, special desert oasis. And some having beefy thorns is, of course, a plus :-)

Our low humidity rarely exposes roses to such issues as powdery mildew, and the high desert has numerous days in the 60-80F sweet-spot for roses and many plants, between mostly mild winters and hot summers. Roses often require less irrigation than lawns. Roses are one plant even the poorest of neighborhoods embrace; more than one place is known for their roses – Pasadena CA, Portland OR, Tyler TX included.

But roses are also incredible in the Rio Grande valley. Photos were taken over the last 10 days at the El Paso Municipal Rose Garden.

3/27/2014 –

roses about to open are my favorite way to see them…is it hope?

In fact, I visited here for the first time exactly a year ago, the day my old house sold – and one of the largest changes in my life was to happen – only to relocate to El Paso.

Enter…these skies…
checking this place out, I met Doc Stalker on the look-out for weeds…
groupings of Italian Cypress added to the effect…
many areas of this garden use pecan shell mulch, which smells great and helps counter the uber-alkaline soils and water…a little
always those mountains to lift up one’s spirit…
near the entry, matching arbors with White Lady Banks’ Rose and (4) Italian Cypress…
stunning with the rock wall…the scent!
Rosacae family relatives, too…Vauquelinia californica / Arizona Rosewood…
with miniature hips from last year’s blooms
another rose relative, found in local arroyos and on mountain slopes…Fallugia paradoxa / Apache Plume…
another week, another sand storm…I cracked my car windows earlier at my office as it was 80-ish, but that was a mistake…

4/4/2014 –

a new day dawned, brighter though chilly…and I detoured back to see this layering…Doc Stalker was right, just wait a week…
and this time, a few vans from a local adult daycare center filled the rose garden up….
older women talking about older men (ala the Randy Travis song, “Forever and Ever, Amen”)…the color…the Spanglish being uttered!
floods of roses…even a look-alike of New Mexico’s Governor, Susana Martinez…she is from El Paso after all…
this group finished, some checking out their favorite Tejano / Rancheras / Norteño music video on a smartphone….
‘Shreveport’ rose, the orange and red color almost like a pinata…
this one was rich and subtle…
this one deeply delicate…
I think there’s a song in this rose, especially with our blue skies…
another week, and Apache Plume has more blooms and now those pink seedheads…hence the name…
why the species name is “paradoxa”…blooms and seedheads at the same time…or that’s at least one version I’ve been told…
such fullness and that color combo…
the deeper yellows always awe…
but this deeper yellow impressed me the most…
as I said!

By the way, I designed some of the bones plantings at a rose garden in Albuquerque, including a number of dryland natives also in the rose family. It was with a few co-workers, while an employee of a landscape architecture firm. I posted on that – here and here.


11 Replies to “Desert Rose”

  1. PS My Apache plumes have never done more than survive here–I’ve lost two from under-watering and the other one just hasn’t grown much. I’m thinking they need more soil than our 1″ clay over rock.

    Interesting – they are from higher elevations (here over 4,000′), and do grow on rocky soil.


  2. Thanks for this post! I didn’t know about the El Paso rose garden. I should have talked to you before I did the Gardens Around TX article. I would have liked to have had more West TX gardens and bet you have other suggestions.

    Thanks. I was surprised to read there was a water lily garden in San Angelo. Nothing in Lubbock or Amarillo?

    In Midland, there’s the Commemorative Air Force Museum Garden.

    There’s the nature trail at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, betrween Alpine and Fort Davis. In EP, there’s the trial gardens at the Texas A&M center near I-10 / Loop 375.

    And the El Paso Desert Botanical Garden –
    and the UTEP Chihuahuan Desert Garden on campus –


  3. I love roses integrated into the larger garden, but I still can’t love a rose ghetto. And Italian cypresses that aren’t on a bucolic Italian hillside? Uh-uh, those neither. However, I’m all over that apache plume. Gotta love those mountain views too.

    I’m tracking w/ you, but someday we may hear “[cactus, agave, etc.] ghetto”! Cypress such a tough symbol here…at least grouped well? Apache Plume a great dry streambed accent in full sun…


  4. Thanks for giving me an excuse to plant more roses! :-)
    I think that roses have as much heritage here in the southwest as fruit trees.

    Yes, and now I seem to remember you wanting to use some white ones in the front courtyard? You are right, and they seem to do better without all those pesky issues with humidity. Worth the extra care, unlike aspen groves or bluegrass:-)

    For some reason, I thought I commented on your blog’s post on redbuds, but I’ve had problems until this weekend leaving comments on blogger blogs…maybe it never made it?


  5. Beautiful garden. I don’t think of rose gardens in El Paso. But, it should be a great place for them.
    I’d never seen Apache Plume, until we went to Grand Canyon. I really like them.
    Thanks for the tour.

    Many front yards have a few roses; sometimes they are the only plant…a strong Mexican influence? You bet!


  6. Wonderful photos! I don’t think I’d ever heard of Apache plume previously – I’ll sure enough look into that one to see if it would do well here in Central Texas. What a beauty it is. I’m a sucker for roses – always visit the ones in the Zilker Park gardens once the oak pollen lets up a bit. I tried them here but have so few spots with enough sunshine where there isn’t also deer damage potential. It is the white roses that get to me for some reason..probably because I don’t have any. That white Banks rose arbor is a stunner!

    Thanks; Shirley SW of you on limestone is trying it, and I thought I saw the WF Center trying it, but hazy on that. Trouble with deer (one of them) is even elevating into large containers won’t work. Roses really do a great job during milder parts of the year. The white Lady Banks’ is amazing…I just was told there are some pink and lavender Lady Banks’ varieties…new to me.


  7. The roses look fabulous! It really can be a plus to grow roses in hot climates where so many of the rose diseases can’t thrive. And what a beautiful garden. I love the pecan shell mulch, and those Italian Cypresses. Oh, I need a few of those in my garden! They look perfect there pointing upward to that beautiful blue sky. I don’t know the Apache Plume – but what an interesting flower!

    I was impressed though it took me 5+ years to finally go to those gardens…Tyler is next, now that I’m a Texan! Pecan shells great for leafy plants, and the scent…ahh. It. Cypress such a great touch in a cluster, as opposed to the usual (here) line. Apache Plume reminds me of an old wild rose…unsure of it’s tolerance?


  8. Have the same quirk. Adore the bud more than the flower. Later, adore the flower when it has as many petals on the ground as on the plant.

    Yes, roses. Much needed in garden designs.

    XO T

    I never seem to use roses in my designs, and when I finally just did, the project stopped! And I plan on trying camellias in pots in some sheltered spaces, so soil can stay amended / acidified more easily and they are out of these ridiculous dry winds.


  9. Gorgeous! I tend to go with Mike Shoup’s style of mixing roses in the garden but sometimes a garden full of roses is most impressive.

    Interesting the Apache Plume is blooming there but not in SA yet or I need to take a walk soon to see.

    I really like that style of mix…after all, they are a plant, and look great with compatible plants, even some agaves, etc. Things started early here, but I can’t wait to see how your’s does.


  10. Rosetastic! How stunningly beautiful!

    …and I figured it out, D! I finally figured it out (for myself! If you want to add a richness, and an expensive feel, plant a rose! I know why they are not my style now. ;) – maybe if I ever make more money they will be – ha!

    That garden is well-maintained, and I think you’re right. Palms also evoke wealth, at least the species that like the climate they’re put in! That wrong palms, and they create an armageddon effect…


    1. I am pretty into med. fan palms and agree – MOOLA!!!! So many palms around here (the super tall kinds) turned NASTY shades of brown this winter. Med. fans still look pristine. I think those super tall skinny palms need a tall house of building to balance things out? What do you think?

      Exactly – the regular or Canary Island date palms really imply money, so stately and symmetrical. Agreed on the tall fan palms – like an urban canyon.


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