Native Structure

I enjoy seeing the use of native plants to an area when designed to abstract patterns in nature. Those patterns come out of the common processes of land most anywhere, plus each space’s architecture.

Many areas of Texas use plants well with a space’s architecture, native or not.

Photos from Austin TX and nearby, 3/18 to 21/2015 –

look to your left, down the small woodland path
a potted Sabal mexicana…can’t do this with only soft, loose plants or crazy color quilts…even if you pay me loads of money and ask kindly :-)

Looking out onto the semi-arid sub-humid (southern) prairie.

a mass of local Yucca rupicola and the view

Sidebar: in a similar pattern of temperatures and atmosphere, for Austin to be something else, it’s long-term average might read like this –
semi-arid = 12″ – 24″ of precipitation (Ozona)
arid = under 12″… (Van Horn…but a different atmosphere)
humid = over 36″… (Houston)
Austin’s average and more years than not receive 30″, mas o menos. Smack dab in the middle of sub-humid.

Juniperus virginiana, Liquidambar styraciflua, etc all native but formalized

Not that I like their change of this space to ground glass, but it does help people visualize before going overboard on a passing fad. (at least most ground glass installs, which are poorly-done)

some would not have allowed such a thing, but perhaps since Lady Bird was behind the whole place… (as opposed to little me)
I just appreciate how all the hardscape and planting design works…Yucca rupicola and Melampodium leucanthum included
clipped Ilex vomitoria helps the cut-back, early spring perennials…without those and the axial layout, it would be lame and lifeless all winter

A return home via Fredericksburg netted something stunning – not exactly native, but adapted – from the ecoregions adjacent to the central Texas prairies, wetter and drier sides. Mas or menos

a rhythm of Agave parryi var. truncata among subshrubs, and a linear grove of Prunus caroliniana

Do you wonder why native plantings or xeriscapes can look visually unappealing, even if filled with good native or adapted plants?

I wondered, so I now strive to design with more thought.

Great gardens aren’t only about massing, but they can involve other design principles such as repetition, or just making that which thrives and is native as the majority – not the freak.

4 Replies to “Native Structure”

  1. Sounds like a quick trip.

    I love that brick path. Won’t happen here. But, a girl can dream.

    We came through your neck of the woods, going and coming from CA, the last few weeks. I kept looking at plantings along the highway, wondering if you’d shown us those…lol

    As a passenger the whole trip, I got more pics…may do 1 last post. Now I’m paying for that trip, deadlines to catch up on! The brick path or that side garden are such a good idea.

    I bet I’ve blogged on a few! The AZ welcome rest area on the NM border, Lordsburg’s more “rustic” NM welcome rest area, and some dusty-rose desert willows in El Paso for sure. But I still haven’t captured what they do to ocotillos here…maybe that goes with a post on their treatment of live oaks and yaupons?


  2. Love, love, love Agave parryi ‘truncata’ and blackfoot daisy! I really need to get myself down to Austin.

    **On another note, I almost hesitated mentioning my lack of enthusiasm for yuccas on my recent blog post, knowing that you’d probably read it. I have no excuse and should probably expand my knowledge outward the five species of yucca I’m familiar with :-)

    That makes sense what’s growing with the agaves…a great combo. Just tell Pam, and she’ll have a welcoming committee. Hint: while looking on forums for ideas where to move, ex-Phoenix people commented how Austin is not as uncomfortable in the summer. Yuccas – ha ha! Though your area has plenty of other spiky plants to compensate!


  3. That last photo is especially stunning. It amuses me that I’m drawn to that super linear arrangement because every time I’ve had the chance to do something similar here I’ve chosen a looser, slightly more staggered arrangement.

    I am seeing a few examples of folks using glass mulches around Austin but nothing en masse as you’ve shown. To my eye the mixed color mulch at ground level is less attractive and effective visually than instances I’ve seen where all blue or all green glass is used to mulch containers. But I’m not a fan of the colored lava mulch look either…

    Thanks, it was a good “come back for longer next time” scene. Most linear arrangements can be sterile, but adding in random softness and “mess” really makes it pop. I need to do that more.

    Glass mulches – it was made available where I used to live, then everyone wanted it without any thought. Someone at the City in response to my pirated medians w/ no irrigation plantings did a mile of medians: ground glass streambed and gravel, some boulders and not one plant…looked horrible in the burning desert sun between asphalt lanes. Your mention of containers seems best, or small and defined planters.

    I still have nightmares of an ex-neighbor’s red lava rock front yard, rounding the corner to my old house!


  4. Did you just come to Austin without stopping by Tecolote Hill? We could have sat on the back deck and watched the owls. Nice pictures though. I’m especially smitten by that unusual row of A. parryi backed by Prunus caroliniana — way cool!

    Time flew by and no car, so I even missed out on BBQ and my ATX rituals. But with no beer & animal crackers on the Penick deck, gazing at your resident tecolote and evolving landscape, it guarantees a proper ATX visit next time.

    Hint – if the Pam Cam is in Fredericksburg, that planting is on the W side of town, south of 290…on a N-S street, E side…


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