Ordinary and Good

As my design process matured in decades of weather extremes, a new appreciation for landscape techniques grew. Plants re-took center stage – lower water-use species, hardy in desert winters and summers with little care.

India Hawthorn / Rhaphiolepis indica, found at most strip malls and gas stations, along with junipers or trailing rosemaries.


Since we can’t grow azaleas, Raphs have to do.

Raphs have always reminded me of those elusive foothills manzanitas, so picky that few here bother. And there are many different forms of tough Raphs out there in the high desert towns I’ve been or worked, all happy.

Red Tip Photinia / Photinia x fraseri can be scorched and anemic, wanting richer soils and more water than desert soil torture. But who doesn’t enjoy the new foliage?


Is that another gas station plant hiding between Photinias – Silver King Euonymus?

Good design is a key, like with even exotic plants.

Boxleaf Euonymus / Euonymus japonicus ‘Microphyllus’ always looks green.


No I haven’t lost my mind; it is green. And that genus’ powdery mildew or scale is rarely a problem in our rarified desert air.

Those can be issues if overwatering and irrigating overhead, but why would a person feel a need to do that?


My point, as often, is fashion over fad. Classic over trendy.

Are there plants that thrive with little water and care where you are, which are not in vogue like they should be?

4/15/17 weather: 86 / 49 / .0


4 Replies to “Ordinary and Good”

  1. David — Good to be seeing your posts! The above plants remind me so much of D-FW area! Even in that humidity there they look gorgeous. Thanks for posting. The “Raphs” are the go-to plants for upscale restaurants, yes!

    Thanks, good to hear from you, too. Yes, I saw them so often in ABQ, that I was surprised there were so few in El Paso, at least the photinias. But here both are common…the Euonymus rarer.


  2. My neighbour was admiring the bush we grow outside the palisade fence to screen our bay window. A bietou, a seedling volunteer that the garden gave me. Seen growing along the dunes. Such a beautiful and rewarding plant. Shrubby daisy bush. Lots of yellow flowers. Followed by edible black berries for the birds and us. What’s not to love?

    Well but, it’s not a commonorgarden exotic!

    So many free plants like that here, too. From all the photos I see of your area, I would think I ended up in San Diego by the flora. Yet drive through our towns, and it’s a rare place that you see wild plants used in different ways in gardens, streetscapes, etc.

    I looked up bietou, it’s very attractive! A larger and greener version of our Viguiera stenoloba.


  3. There are so many natives that should be in Vogue that are way too hard to find and shouldn’t be! Dalea greggii for one! Evergreen….Low water….And so much more!

    And if I were picky, assuming our growers cared and didn’t give all the excuses and worse options, I could list a load of those. Yes, Dalea greggii!


  4. Although I lust for the exotic species that I could grow in California, in this climate I have new appreciation for the reliable. I’ve learned of the subtlety of for various forms of juniper, which in California is sneered at. I also have new appreciation for rosemary, Oregon grape holly, and here in Albuquerque, the ubiquitous Russian Sage, salvia nemerosa cultivars and red yucca, the native plants mountain mahoganies, apache plume, desert olive, bear grass. Some of these I previously viewed as “groaners” (I.e. you groan when you see them), but when out-of-towners remark on how beautiful these plants are, I saw them with new eyes.

    “If only the nurseries in NM grew great natives for each place in NM, in quantity and sizes…” – me, for 15 years. You’re right, eyes are opened by visitors, like your’s CA-NM or mine CA-CO-NM. The CO context helped me get all those you mention, which are not common or won’t grow in Denver.


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