Planting Shadows

Is the use of desert accent plants and the way light plays on their forms a happy accident, intentional, or some combination? For me, it’s the last.

First stop: my recent work at Sierra Providence East Medical Center

young Texas Red Oak in new spring growth, grabbing all that light…

When I moved to my first desert southwest town of Albuquerque, I was disillusioned with the HOG’s messy cottage gardens posing as xeriscape, which left out native plants and bolder accents. Weak.

After a few months there, I was driving many miles through town doing bids, and I began to spot old, neglected landscapes – many with those accents, happily growing, and they looked like they belonged, even if not found in natural areas directly nearby.

Now, we’re onto something. I knew this was one crucial puzzle to more enlightened, more dramatic gardens up to the par of surrounding natural drama of light, form, and sky.

the right Yucca torreyi on the left, the wrong Yucca elata on the right, coarse vs. fine shadows…

Aware of their forms and the way they interact with our skies and views, I never fully realize all I am playing with by including them in designs.

Until they are installed, that is.

almost like an illicit lower-back tattoo or illegal substance graphic on my car…nope, just a Yucca torreyi shadow

Keeping existing specimens of such skyline accent plants in a new design shows far more sophistication than replacing them with matching Stepford wife trees on 30′ centers, too.

Not bragging, as it wasn’t just I who wanted a certain yucca to stay – just sayin’.

On to my work at Crazy Cat Cyclery

isn’t the tropicalesque sky with a desert yucca / shadow great?
so glad we could keep this Yucca torreyi, and the subcontractors could work with it – the yucca is probably much older than me

And it’s been boldly playing in the desert sun for even longer than I.