Skyline Accents and Trees

Those who have never picked up their free pair of desert eyes often miss the basics that make desert landscapes what they can be celebrated for. The skies, and what points to them or softens them.

Even the tallest of the dismissive can stand under what they term as “shrubs”.

El Paso Community College northwest campus, 12/6/14 –

so common and thriving here…Desert Willow / Chilopsis linearis, Palm or Faxon Yucca / Yucca faxoniana…

Our slight scare how winter was beginning has thawed into the mildest December I may have seen in this region. We’ve not even hit freezing for 2-3 weeks, after a few more frosts and a few hard freezes.

Pointing skyward!

the bare winter form of one, the bold green of the other…

While we don’t count Sonoran saguaros as our skyline accents, we compensate with yuccas like Y. faxoniana.

I’ll check this out in May when the Chilopsis is in leaf and flower…

Do you have any locally native skyline accents to employ in the garden? Or any exotic ones adapted to your area? I’d be intersted in hearing about them!


3 Replies to “Skyline Accents and Trees”

  1. Yes – skylines important! here in Palm Springs we are never far from the mountains and there are always some fan palms to add interest. I’m a runner and whenever I go out I always gaze up at the mountains, the palms and the sunshine and remind myself how lucky I am! The other morning there was even an old bi-plane from the local air museum to liven up the sky!

    Good to see you again. Your fan palms do provide winter cheer, and I do something similar with the date palms down my street driving by, not to mention the yuccas on the trails where I hike and ride…those jagged mountains as the backdrop!


  2. I’m north of Shirley but have the same situation with native live oaks “cluttering” the skyline views. I suppose that is one reason I struggle with using negative space in my landscaping design choices. I’ve grown up looking at rolling hills covered with an evergreen tree canopy. My view options have more typically reflected a layering in as opposed to the use of opened spaces or skyline accents.

    You and Shirley remind me of something I lose track of…not everyone has our wide-open desert skies. I wouldn’t complain if I had a grove of live oaks to compensate! When I see or design something like those desert willows / yuccas together, maybe it’s to create layers where we don’t have that effect much?


  3. Our live oak trees get in the way of viewing our native yuccas that way. I think the Sabal Palm is native to the region but not so much San Antonio.

    Some of those yuccas are cleaned up. Looking around town I prefer a bit of a skirt on them.

    I noticed the selective skirt clean-up…both seem to work together in that scene. I found some interesting (time-wasting, too) articles on Sabal texana / mexicana native up to near you at one time, and far up the coast from Corpus Christi. Lots of speculation if those were planted or were there on their own…


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