Edit Sans Sod

This is the mid-century modern renovation and plant edit I hinted at. A day later, my grill is ready for making my Labor Day dinner; the charcoal scent is divine.

Las Cruces, 9/6/2015 –

NM plant icons preserved, pinons and yuccas

I’m glad the sizeable Piñon / Pinus edulis were protected and retained; they’re the state tree. Hopefully, some other plantings are added at the root zones without damaging any shallow roots, that can help shelter those upland pines’ roots and add some moisture via their drip irrigation.

Piñons typically occur only above 5500′ elevation this far south – this house is 4100′, over 5F warmer.

jewels were kept in the tangle of overplanting, cactus hording, etc.

I think this property was one I saw on drive-bys with fellow spiky plant fan E. Hodoba, from Valencia County. We were both in Las Cruces for a Native Plant Society annual meeting, and I recall a number of homes in this part of town loaded with great cacti and other plants – some not hardy the next zone colder in central New Mexico. Including a number of saguaro cacti, some with arms…those may have been there since the last big freezes in late 1976, I’ve been told.

I’m unsure how saguaros made it without help most winters, given the usual couple lows most winters in the low teens.

The neighbors I was visiting assured me a number of cacti and agaves on their block, and in this landscape, froze in the 2/2011 uber-freeze, never to grow back, even given months. They got to -5F or so, with nearby areas -11F.

Cow’s Tongue / Opuntia linguiformis

Some plants like that are almost perfect in appearance, including a few creosote bushes. Other plants like some sotols and Spanish brooms look stressed.

I wonder what the exterior shell of the house will turn out like. I also wonder if a more intensive planting, in diversity and density, might be added once the house exterior is finished, along the walkway and especially near the front door. Possibly a subtle water feature, and some flowering, though that’s not essential. That’s the direction I might go, given my decades in the high desert.

Then again, I also like privacy from solicitors, and I would have a low garden wall up front with a locked gate…

Not sure about a few simple, bold containers by the front breezeway…

making the house numbers a design feature

Sorry for accidentally cropping out the Fishhook Barrel Cactus / Ferocactus wislizenii in the last photo; I also meant to take some close-ups of it, as it had a bloom.

I hope you were able to relax this weekend, even if you had to work some like me.

Back to my cold SanTan Hop Shock IPA:-)


5 Replies to “Edit Sans Sod”

  1. I like this garden, and agree that more intensive planting as you describe, maybe a subtle water feature, and a few native wildflowers would make it even better. Like Hoov B, I love how right the garden looks.

    The Cow’s Tongue opuntia reminds me that there is a nice one growing on a wild roadside near me. I’m thinking of liberating a paddle…

    Hello again! All it’s missing out front seems to be massing and softening. The high desert and foothills mix so popular in parts of New Mexico is quite compatible visually and culturally, but can really rock with native wildflowers and grasses below. Cows Tongue – do it!


  2. That’s pretty weird about the plants growing there. Cold things growing in warm areas and hot things growing in cold places. Hope the piñon will survive. It is already borderline. Makes me kind of wonder if the saguaros did survive previous winters. Maybe they have been recently planted or there could be some crazy microclimate thing going on. I want to learn more about saguaros. I recently saw a documentary that showed them in bloom. wow

    Las Cruces has a large palette. Piñons do take on a different look in the hotter or sandy areas, than above 6000′, but they seem to do well. I wonder on the saguaros, and given those houses’ ages, none were there in the warmest 1950’s, but were in the warm 1990-2005 period…not sure on the protection during the cold ’65-’80 period. That area is a thermal belt, and there might be a microclimate issue being between arroyos that carry cold air around it.

    A few Sonoran Desert-centric plants are also native to my area: Ferocactus wislizenii (hardy in many areas of ABQ), Eschscholzia mexicana. Even a happy Jojoba / Simmondsia chinensis planted at a church in Las Cruces. All the Parkinsonia florida in El Paso’s warmest areas killed, roots and all, after 0F in 2011…the all-time record here is -2 to -8F, depending on locale.


  3. I’m guessing you’re right and there will be smaller more vulnerable to foot traffic/construction debris plantings installed once the exterior of the home is finished. Or so I’d hope, if only to take fullest advantage of the drip line watering those trees might require. To my eye, the modern lines of that home will be even more visually striking with a bit of softening up for contrast provided in the beds surrounding. (I’m sorry about the fishhook crop too – those flowers are stunning!).

    And are those stripes of colored rock mulch I see a hint of next door? For whatever reason that tendency, to “paint” areas with rocks of differing colors, really puts me off. I suppose it could be well done, but I’ve never seen it pulled off in any way that appealed.

    I like their gravel patterns along the sidewalk, somehow, but I prefer understated on the ground plane…to me the hardscape and plantings rule. Architecture needs to stand without landscape, landscape without arch…but both together. So yes, stick with brown / tan rock most everywhere. I hope they give proper attention to the tree understories, the front, even unifying the yuccas / sotols. People here can get to into sculpture w/o the proper base…


  4. I tried to comment on the previous post–something was going wrong, so I hope this second attempt is not going to be repetitive–sorry if it is.

    Very cool house, and most appropriate garden for it (and for the climate). Great they saved the pines…wondering though, about the small tree smooshed up against the house to the left of the doorway…too close.

    Thanks for the mention in the previous post! Enjoy the IPA.

    Your past post’s comment made it! I get some errors leaving comments in Blogger blogs…some like my wordpress sign-in, others don’t, and they make me do 2-3 steps to take my G+ login! Arrrgh, glad you tried. The IPA was needed! Now…coffee…..


  5. The gravel patterns and types remind me of landscapes on the front range of Colorado.

    Did you disappear? Good point on that, but I’ll look my next trip this spring.


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