Almost 20: A Park

Westbluff Park is a small city park I designed 20 years ago, while an employee of COPA; construction completed 1996-ish.

After I moved to the far end of town from near the park, I rarely drove by – a handfull of times, either mid-winter or on a mid-summer’s day. But on a recent trip through the Duke City, I stopped with a residential client by my side looking at a few projects I worked on, it was tolerable after sunset.

Westbluff Park on the Albuquerque West Mesa, 7/18/2014 –

Prosopis torreyana my idea, but the Dasylirion wheeleri grouping was the CABQ project manager’s…good call

My idea was sculpture-less (can you believe that?). My Gutierrezia sarothrae / Snakeweed long gone, but not her sotols!

walking to the end, sandy desert left to revegetate either side…

The Quercus fusiformis virginiana / Escarpment Southern Live Oak R was my idea. Not sure why, as they belong in lawns and not mesa sand scrub, but it’s doing well, in need of some structural pruning out.

That oak, 1 of 4, I had to fight for, with facts and figures that it was “hard-yyy”.

the view rewards you at the end…

The Sandia Mountains are part of the Mexican Highlands, which are part of the Basin and Range or Intermountain area.

the Rio Grande, now slow, warmer and muddy…

Not Missoula. Nor is the lazy river anymore a rushing mountain river, like it is near Taos.

Another hot summer evening, the way it’s supposed to be; that day’s storms forming far away, only the cloud tops visible.

the shade ramada of Bill Perkins’ design, all steel and steel beams overhead…a cover added later to be more tolerable mid-day?

My client’s first time here…no wonder the hard-to-reach street this park is on is named “Vista Grande”.

For orientation, my last house is 12 miles distant, where the Sandia Mountains end, lined up at about the railing’s middle upright. And my first house is 1/2 mile to your back.

the broad I-40 bridge over the Rio Grande…
looking back to the west, Berlandiera lyrata clumps in the weedy lawn…

My design’s Bouteloua gracilis is still there, but not maintained optimally to blend better with the surrounding desert. You cannot cure lawn worship, as it’s a sign of larger issues, but you have to try.

mine is the white car…the desert sunset beyond

5 Replies to “Almost 20: A Park”

  1. Good design and plant choice endure.

    I wondered on my last ABQ visit why the parks had so much grass.

    About TorC eats, the only place I loved was the Passion Pie Cafe. Simple but delicious food, NM-roasted coffee, local art and off-beat vibe.

    They do last – part of that is like here in El Paso, as most new homes have no lawn anymore, even in back – so only parks that have it. The steak and Mexican places are OK, but much better to be had in Abq, Socorro and Las Cruces. The cafe sounds promising! (but great breakfast burritos at the Shell I-25/Williamsburg exit


  2. Haven’t been around on these boards for a long time. Just now saw a post on “Recyclery”, but it comes up a dead link, so popped over here. There is or was a huge Quercus virginiana I saw many years ago in the late 1990s between Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms on someone’s acreage below the Copper Mountain Community College. It struck me so, that I went to the owner and asked what the beautiful tree was. Amazing how much heat this particular tree can tolerate effortlessly as long as it gets the necessary moisture.

    Just got back from two months in California and the drought there is devastating, not only to 75% of the landscapes where people are letting everything go, but things are failing and going terribly wrong in the wild. People are going to have to dump more of the lawns and go to a more smaller tree or large Chaparral tree like setting, especially on these much smaller lots modern homes are built on. I’m replacing my mother’s lawn with California Fan Palm & Mexican Fan Palm Oasis with Mesquite, Baja Fairyduster and Pride of Barbados. I’ve become more interested in the infrastructure of the native Palm roots which I had always considered a localized concentrated fibrous grass-like system, until I ventured exploring Oasis more closely near Ocotillo and other Borrego locations and found roots to be as far as 20+ feet away from the tree where ever water can be sniffed out.

    Originally I wanted only California Fan Palms as their trunks are more stout and larger and slower growing, but it’s tough to find many in the nurseries out there. People always want faster, greener instant landscape and the Mexican Fan Palms when young will give them this. What I dislike is the get to tall and maintenance is riskier. I can understand why tree trimming companies charge incredibly high rates for them

    That was for an upcoming post, which should be ready Tuesday – I accidentally clicked “publish” instead of “preview”…easy to do that!

    Yes, I can only imagine the drought is really showing now, that it’s summer. People there were so set on the fast-growing palms, fast-growing eucs, and 12 month-green-fescue lawns, so if they cannot have those, then it becomes fake lawns. Hopefully there not as much all rock “lawns” like in the desert, though there were a number of those in parts of San Diego when I lived there 20+ years ago and on recent trips. Will they learn? From my aunt’s house above San Clemente Canyon in SD, anywhere there are houses, it’s a Eucalyptus forest – so artificial, in a place with such a native species diversity, or more suitable exotics.

    Live Oak trees are simply amazing once established, though more mesic when young. I’ve seen where new, seed-grown oaks grow at a good rate (even California-native oaks). I think the idea the former LA mayor had, was to replace dying palms with So Cal-native oaks. Your mother is in El Cajon? I recall a couple Prosopis torreyana near SD Old Town on a vacant lot or two, but that was 10+ years ago. And Jojoba / Simondsia chinensis is native in the hills E of Chula Vista…lots of Sonoran influences for good reason there…not many influences from / similarities to Tahiti, Virginia, Brazil, Hong Kong or Florida from what I recall!!

    Also interesting is how you looked closely at how those desert palms grow and root. Maybe not as phreatophytic as cottonwoods and willows, but still.


  3. A little lawn can be a good thing. If we all lived within walking distance of a well designed park (such as this one) with some lawn to play on then individual homeowners might be an easier sell to put native plant multi-cultures around their homes. Water restrictions and the ongoing movement to eliminate visually barren lawnscapes are slowly but surely making a difference here in Central Texas.

    I love your sense of humor David. “Mine is the white car.” Ha!

    I think the front lawn and then the narrow swath in back do the trick. But imagine it left softer and less watered… White cars don’t fade out here, but not so easy to find your ride in a parking lot!!


  4. Love that term “lawn worship”. When will we learn? The view must have helped to inspire you: that park is really nice, and it’s aging beautifully. We should all be so lucky…

    That view was a motivator – 20 years later, the lawn or rocks landscapes are now rocks! Thanks – maintenance consultation must be part of my services…


  5. Wanting to do it so well it doesn’t look ‘done’. Not a great career move.

    But we both do it, anyway.

    Garden & Be Well, XOT

    Or maybe it’s a brilliant move? Yes we do…I kept telling my client that seeing these old projects keeps me going.


Comments are closed.