Desert Doorways

The way we can travel from one area to another on many properties can be quite interesting.

Views from some trips this past year –

12/13 – you might recognize some of my favorite colors on each door and window, on one Corrales NM adobe…


Yet, the gloomy, non-native landscape scene misses the bold colors, which make the house stand out and almost festive.

1/14 – a cowboy scene in the hometown of cowboy Rex Allen, welcoming travellers like me to the high prairie Chihuahuan Desert grassland around Willcox AZ…

Here, someone put it all together.

1/14 – a shady, low-key entry in the low desert town of Borrego Springs CA…

Their summer heat requires shading glass and doors, more crucial to welcome guests than elsewhere in the southwest. On a warm January afternoon, the Chuparosa / Justicia californica planting adds a subtle red.

And they got the whole picture, with a mid-century-modern grocery store-to-gallery renovation. Including many other locally-native plants in their front landscape.

recalling a past quote, how “small gestures get lost here”…

That pilaster-latilla fence seems odd in this powerful setting, unlike the sunny, voluminous creosote bushes and the mass of a shady mountainside. I’m also comparing the steepness of those mountains to what I’ve hiked in the last 10-15 years!

a modern but rustic doorway in a Borrego Springs neighborhood, playing light and shadow with desert native plants and those skies…

That put all the elements of a doorway into one place – their place. No mistaking it for a misplaced adobe in Iowa or Siberia! The happy meeting of regional architecture and flora, hardscape and powerful geography.

1/14 – returning home after my San Diego trip…I wonder where?
a rest area with shaded portales, this table serving to take some work calls, though even a warm day turned chilly fast…

Specifically near a place named Lordsburg, on more vast Chihuahuan Desert grassland!

of course…2-1/2 hours to go, a classic NMDOT rest area

How do you utilize light, shadow, and your brand of local interest to define a doorway?

2 Replies to “Desert Doorways”

  1. I’m working on a small scale here (suburban) so I don’t have many chances to work with gates or doorways, and certainly no bridges! I do try to provide shaded entrance spaces, seating when possible, and visual prompts to draw the eye towards entries and exits.

    One idea I use repeatedly is to provide small delights that are only viewed by stopping and paying attention – they are details so small as to be lost if only rushing through or past. A reward for those who stop and stay, if you will.

    I think that your tucking away something small where a person pauses, is a good technique…maybe in larger spaces where one actually can move around in it. I think the courtyard wall in your area is mostly a low fence, but same idea…what we call a shade ramada = your arbor or pergola! All work to frame.

    Bridges – I could do posts on those, some great ones in California, Colorado and NM positioned to frame a stunning view.


  2. I had not thought of door ways quite that way! Living in a city of large trees and hot afternoon sun I will have to consider this more. I don’t know if this is the same trip to Borrego and SD that you have posted other photos from. It makes me home sick. I think because I grew up in SD and spent loads of time camping and hiking in Borrego I am always drawn to dessert photos!

    Maybe I’m telling myself that *I* need to use light-shadow more purposefully? I also like the change from one place to another, gates to even bridges. It is the same trip – glad to help make you homesick!


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