Sage + BBQ

When it comes to shrubs, it’s often refreshing to see native or adapted plants in a landscape with little to no maintenance. Such is the case of a planting near my office.

Caution: such neglect doesn’t work with trees; thoughtful pruning and training when young, less with age, helps reveal their benefits.

Scenes from 10/2014 and 1/2015 –

Leucophyllum frutescens in fall, ample room to grow unpruned

While some flowering shrubs can erupt after over-pruning during a milder, wet period during the monsoon season, that’s the exception – don’t count on it.

one of many blooms

This is the most basic Texas Sage – AKA Cenizo or Texas Ranger – one of many in that genus used to cover larger areas and with little irigation, even in most desert climates. It’s native mostly to the South Texas ecoregion with an odd mix of oppressive summer humidity and borderline aridity. So, it takes insane levels of heat, but a decent amount of cold; even Albuquerque and Roswell winters are not too cool for this Leucophyllum.

this gray-leaved species and varieties are a bit dull and thin in winter

But in this post, I’m concerned more with the advantages gained by planning and planting a shrub, to reach maturity without over-pruning, needless shaping or shearing. We have a long way to go there.

No one has covered this most-important topic of productive vs. counter-productive shrub pruning, so enjoy AZ Plant Lady’s posts – here.

no blooms and the foliage more sparse

Being chilly after seeing some winter-dormant, silvery sages, I had to get something warm to eat before returning to work. Off to Tony’s The Pit BBQ, for one of our few different types of barbecue sold in El Paso.

And for a reader in Boise, who sounds like he’s missing out –

I ordered the shredded brisket

Sliced is their usual way to serve up a brisket sandwich, but this is new to their menu. So, I had to try it…

I asked for some burnt ends, for extra flavor
after some sauce, they add a touch of medium green chile

This might not go over well with many folks, since Texas brisket is supposed to be served with sauce optional in some circles. And certainly not green chile.

But, not in El Paso, where many happily add anything spicy to food…this is where jalapenos and chiles meet. Possibly the most concentrated chile-growing region in North America begins under 10 miles from downtown El Paso. And everyone here wants you to make sure and eat their salsa.

This was more juicy, messy, and bolder in flavor than their sliced original.

stepping back in time here
two vaqueros, and what do you know?

They’re pictured riding through Yucca elata and Agave lechuguilla…can it get any more local?

I’ll close with an excerpt from Mean as Hell, a spoken-word by Johnny Cash –

The red pepper grows upon the banks of the brook
The Mexican use it in all that he cook
Just dine it with one of ’em and you’re bound to shout
I’ve Hell on the inside as well as the out…”

Sound like a familiar place? Make sure to read the legendary Man in Black’s entire piece, though. With brisket, or whatever good BBQ you can find.

Perfect, as you ponder not taking the wild out of the west, or it’s shrubs.


2 Replies to “Sage + BBQ”

  1. Oh Johnny… Green chiles over pulled brisket sounds perfecto!

    I hate to admit it but after over two decades of blatant repetitive plant descriptor ignoring, I finally understand how much less work I make for myself when I put a plant in a space it can happily fill without me wrangling it in any way to make it fit. (“Wrangling” meaning pruning in this case).

    You’d think that would be Garden Common Sense Lesson Number Two. Somehow I just didn’t get it through my thick skull for years (and years!!!) how much better it is to shop for a plant to fit an opening I already have rather than simply going to the nursery and picking up whatever looks good that day.

    So many dead and/or mutilated plants to atone for. Oh the plantage….

    I would have never guessed, but you’re right. And I’ve not seen this anywhere in NM, which practically breathes “green or red”.

    Wrangling is a great term, especially since we’re talking Texas Sage and BBQ.

    For me, it’s easier to eliminate on paper or computer. But I’ve done my share of fitting in, then pulling out. One thing I taught all 3 semesters of a community college class on plant selection – some students got it – know the area, then find mature plants that will fit. Not easy when you like plants, though!


  2. Somehow you’ve deftly woven together Leucophyllum, briskets AND Johnny Cash. I’m calling this your best post yet.

    Ha ha! Well, I needed to make sure a reader was happy, even if through my own selfish appetite…


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