Sept in Oct, Sweep Away Summer

El Paso had March and April in May, June through July (hot), September in August, August in September, and now it’s September in October (heaven). As odd as that is, climate is what you expect and weather is what you get.

And the final part of a new project is going in. Photos from 10/2/2014 –

SP East-AltProg01-SML
most of the contractor’s layout of planting beds, basins and berms was fine; I just repainted a couple lawn / bed lines in need of more gentle “curvage”…

The weather everyone envies. Just don’t forget that scorpions, vinegaroons, diamondback rattlers, centipedes like it too!

The last part of the Sierra Providence East tower landscape is starting – the only lawn on the vast site, my alternate was approved.

hard work, but it’s not 109, or even 89 anymore…
all are cool and crisp in the morning, swept away overnight…monsoon season humidity gone…we finally scored rain-wise…at our 7.5″-to-date average

We can see El Paso stands out as much warmer than even its neighbors. #UrbanHeatIsland…..nobody in the region measures anything remotely like that, except Phoenix and Las Vegas!

physician parking (they get shade canopies),…maybe someone will see the difference from overly-pruned and non-pruned grasses…I will certainly relate that…Giant Sacaton / Sporobulus wrightii

Perhaps this winter, I will see full, dormant grasses at least until spring, and shrubs left alone. Perhaps…

tight spaces = small, resilient ‘Hachita’ Blue Grama / Bouteloua gracilis…
and other plants, with more room…including Chinese Pistache / Pistacia chinensis for shade…someday…
did another landscape architect sneak into the physician spaces…and even a daredevil doc?…my guess 6 docs – 1 outlander…

Meanwhile at the medical office building…

new (small) shrubs in front, 4 year old plants in back…all doing well…
Sporobulus wrightii here mysteriously small, but the rest looks OK…flowering plants are mostly gone except a few Salvia greggii…those Ocotillo / Fouquieria splendens…splendid, radiant…and seed-grown :-)
Prosopis glandulosa in the shallow basin, Sophora secundiflora x ‘Silver Peso’, and more are all happy…but Sporobulus there way too small………..
sweeps are so swell…Deergrass / Muhlenbergia rigens softens large gravel areas and spikiness…

Older parts of the campus, designed years ago, are filling in. I was able to make contact with the owner’s architect, to initiate the process of improving their maintenance and plant health, while reducing unnecessary and counterproductive maintenance. I will take the maintenance plan I developed for the tower and ER expansion, and use that as a starting point.

spiky and stately at each section between the glazing = Giant or Coahuilan Hesperaloe / Hesperaloe funifera…and that soft sweep…
SP East-Hosp01-SML
the first plantings out in front of the hospital

At least the Torrey Yucca / Yucca torreyi and the Fouquieria are standing tall and happy, even some Echinocereus and Sporobulus are left. Yep, I need to make inroads on the maintenance. Can I?


4 Replies to “Sept in Oct, Sweep Away Summer”

  1. I envy your ability to name the plants. What’s the best reference that you can recommend a newbie like me that wants to be able to do the same?

    Thanks, it’s taken 25+ years and knowing people more than I! Some good references:
    You can also take the occasional SunSCAPE class at UTEP (2x a year), and sometimes the Native Plant Society of New Mexico chapters (El Paso’s chapter is part of NM, not TX) have some good field trips…in fact, El Paso, Las Cruces, Alamogordo and Silver City seem to have the best, most applicable field trips.


  2. I like those ocotillo!!!!!!

    Grass….shmass….I’m so grass sad this fall ;)

    They are maturing in interesting fashion – I don’t think there’s any way to know what form an ocotillo will grow into.

    Grasses…I know, these giant sacatons should be 5-8′ tall by now, and part is over-maintenance.


  3. Re: physician parking photo #3.
    Many thanks for explaining what I should be seeing.
    Trimming of these grasses is not the best of ideas it would appear.

    You bet. Best to prune to nearly flush with ground, only when they need rejuvenation…and only right before spring growth resumes.


  4. I love: “climate is what you expect and weather is what you get”. So funny and oh so true.

    Wondering now, how did it become conventional wisdom to trim down grass clumps for overwintering? It takes away some of the protective advantage they’d otherwise offer various small creatures and it seems to actually hamper the grass from bouncing back as quickly when the weather warms again. Was that specifically an aesthetic decision to limit the appearance of sere plants that has folks trimming everything down to nubs? One of those practices “everybody” adapted without question? (except you of course…)

    I saw that quote on the Tucson weather website, and they said it from sci-fi author, Robert Heinlein! I think once people started using grasses, that became a standard by wanting neat and removing dead, by the untrained copying other untrained. Just like you say, spring is when one removes it, unless they want uglier stubs for 4+ months… Many designers and contractors get it, but not sure we can use even $ to convince the owners!


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