For a needed break each month, I became a volunteer at the UTEP Chihuahuan Desert Gardens – blocks from home. Plus, it gave me a discount on attending a public gardens conference in a few weeks :-)
Photos from yesterday’s 40F and biting east winds, 2/27/2014 –
It includes 600+ plant species native to our Chihuahuan Desert and adjacent ecoregions, so there’s much variety to do here, short of starting over! After a 15 minute walking survey, the dwarf trees were my target.
Not even my plan, until I looked closely.
Subtle, eh? I was only 3/4 finished, but my work filled that trash can.
Pruning is about health, then aesthetics. About 1 year after planting (or establishment), with basic care, pruning a smaller tree is simple: 1) remove dead stems and branches 2) remove crossing live stems and branches
Only additional, minor pruning for form may be needed now – most of that was addressed in the first 2 steps. Limit pruning to under 30% of live growth each year, and what’s appropriate for the plant and climate.
That’s it, until the plant becomes larger than one’s skills and equipment – time for an arborist, qualifed in deed and mindset – not just by testing.
Notice the Mountain Mahogany now, with the grasses and wall? Health and form. Lateral growth to grow into the walkway? Gone – function.
Are you daunted by pruning a dwarf tree or other plant? Don’t be.
Many hear someone appreciative of the natural world, yet unknowing of a need for healthy plants, in a time frame in line with typical property ownership – gardens aren’t for geologic time.
Health and beauty, wildness and order, function and form – all together, now.
The El Paso version of “snowy” weather over, with decent cold for over a month, I finally made it to the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. I think of it as plant therapy, to help me through an unusual amount of work stress since about May.
Scenes from a dull, brisk day at UTEP, 1/10-12/2015:
Bugs Bunny was a little off; most turns from there are not wrong :-) This landscape looks to have been designed for the growing season, not winter. Tsk tsk… But with that a 250 day growing season, not bad.
And what would it be without some trendy gabion structures? Biology students could have a blast on summer nights, armed with flashlights to see scorpions, vinegaroons and the like, creeping in and out of the gabions.
I agreed to do some minor volunteer work at these gardens, more garden therapy for me. Caveat – this is a plant collection, not a designed garden. We’ll see how it goes.
That Weeping Juniper / Juniperus flaccida is really a rare one to see growing in gardens, native to the tiny Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend. Birds love the berries, but no berries on this one.
There must be alot of untapped genetic diversity in this acacia, given its highly variable hardiness in close distances. Worth selecting for, since the live ones are left and look great.
Wish I could buy that one.
A healthy budget to pay for all the corten steel bridges over her “arroyas”. It really looks good and hopefully the edges aren’t a tripping hazard. The use of ‘Regal Mist’ Grass / Muhlenbergia capillaris low where water collects, and Giant Hesperaloe / H. funifera high where it’s drier, is good, but so is the mix of rock sizes from local work.
Trust me, LA’s don’t often get projects like this, where free-reign, commitment to salvage and reuse / discard of the inappropriate, and budget all meet. Bravo.
I’m curious how the natural cracking in concrete will occur, or be controlled, over time. Though these are beefy and perhaps less susceptible with TELA’s top-secret layout of rebar in the concrete?
Those of you from outside the southwest, did you know durable but blah concrete can become an appealing amenity? Yes, via some finishes and thoughtful layout. I didn’t have a clue until I moved to San Diego out of college. I’ve been happily designing it in different ways since, though we’re talking about relatively mild, dry winter climates, without the freeze-thaw of points N-E.
So, what was your favorite mid-winter plant or hardscape feature?
We had more than a few days of near record warmth lately, almost 80F highs, and it looks to be a mild winter with decent moisture, and now an early spring. No (twisted) feelings of guilt for that at my end!
But it’s nothing like the post-monsoon season warmth and growth seen in fall. Photos from the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at UTEP, 10/25/2015: