The Power of Green

My land is one of brown to olive shades and accented by blue-greens, under big blue skies and sun. It can be stark. Yet gardens can tap into the beautiful power of place by emphasizing that.

I learned to run when a prospective client gets that in nature, then switches into a belief that gardens need many flowers.

Hesperaloe funifera, with Agave bracteosa and A. parryi var. truncata L…Yucca pallida and Zephyranthes candida R

Even a few attractive flowers, but it took some “wetter” weather periods to grow those. Don’t fixate on the flowers.

Green, earth-toned stucco, and indirect light = a desert trio.

Mid-winter frames the building entry to our local state park. In a bosque ecology being restored along the Rio Grande, there were and are no bold plants native.

Nolina greenei in both containers

To bring interest, gray and brown forbs or dormant grasses won’t work. Nor would beds of winter pansies or summer lantanas be authentic to compliment the pueblo revival architecture.

The designer borrowed from where similar grassy forms, but evergreen, tend to dominate – mountain edges, also fairly hot and dry. Containers elevate more to eye-level, and provide drainage that can lack along the river’s floodplain soils.

It works and no flowers.

5/5/17 weather: 90 / 57 / .00

7 Replies to “The Power of Green”

  1. I love your example with the building and minimal green plants. It’s just so ‘southwest’ and beautiful. I love flowers too but this is just as beautiful.

    Your other fair town of Tucson has really inspired me on the simplicity and fiscal smarts of designing like that…then spots of flower for “accent”


  2. I like foliage, but for me flowers are for pollinators, I occasionlly chose a plant because I like the flowers,
    what I like about the drier climate is with a sparser planting you can see plants as individuals, in wet areas they can end up blending into a green mass, a couple of weeks ago I was in Inverness with a spare few hours so I went to the Botanical gardens, there are 2 small hot houses, one tropical which was a mass of green dotted with other colours, the other was a dersert house and it was so much nicer you could see the individule plants, quite a few of the cacti had a crown of little brightly coloured flowers,

    Great point, as I often forget to mention when I am emphasizing aesthetics. Pollinators do need flowers, not only the layering of shade, foliage, and branching to rest.
    The way plants don’t blend into a dense mass in the desert is good, though the smaller wildflowers, grasses, and especially weeds sure try! My containers do try to fill in, since I water them in weekly or more. In fact, I better clean up some of those “weeds”, as my landlord has proven they’re not savvy on some things except issuing fines!


  3. Well, angiosperms all flower–the foliage not the flowers may just be the stars of the show, right? But pansies on either side of that entrance…yiiikes!

    True and true, but had to look up “angiosperm”…been 30+ years since college biology! Yes, yiiikes!!


  4. Even if I do choose a particular plant for its flowers – most of the year it is the leaves I see. So the leaves are my first choice. Always rewarding, except for the Japanese maple, Prunus nigra and fiddlewood (which are my only deciduous plants)

    That makes sense, and many forget that one looks at a garden year-round, even where winters get plenty of snow. No structure is no interest…fall leaf color or flowering should be in perspective.


  5. Great shot of the entrance. I literally just finished planting Nolina lindheimeri in a pot near the garage. Nolina flower stalks are quite striking especially for a plant that needs almost no attention.

    Great minds… I was going to pull out the plant ID tags for the shot, but always someone…and you know cameras hide, somewhere! You’re correct on their low-care impact.


  6. I’m a flower addict. I know that focusing on flowers is considered a sign of a juvenile gardener, but I haven’t been able to break myself of that. Although I do choose plants based on the flower, when I decide where I plant them and how to juxtapose them, it is based equally on foliage color, texture and seasonality.

    I am to a point, though I think yours’ has a balance. This isn’t only an ornamental space, but has ecological relevance. It’s quite the evolution, as I’m gleaning designs from Martino and Topher Delaney to finish a pesky residence in El Paso that is so hard in 2 areas…neither of the above massed foliage like I think the owner wants, yet Martino my example.


  7. I’m with you, even in my nearly Mediterranean climate it is the foliage that is the focus of all my design decisions. Even right now when there are probably the most flowers there are in any season; it is the foliage that is the heart of the garden.

    That makes sense how foliage is the heart of your garden, similar to garden design starting with an attractive place and a great spot to view it all!


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