Alpine Break

I needed a break from the “Jonestown of Minimalism”, a term from a humorous print on Marfa tourism.


Though Alpine is lower than Marfa’s lofty 4700 feet, it is still a few feet higher than my place in Las Cruces…last weekend was over 10F cooler than my home’s 105. And compared to 119 in Phoenix or 123 in Laughlin it was downright…alpine.


This general store sells plants some days, and I was telling the woman with them how her’s are the only Penstemon baccharifolius my area has had success with – those with prickly leaf margins from seed collected nearby in Brewster County.

Those are from arid areas, while the smooth-leafed ones appear to be from the humid lands of the southern Hill Country all we can buy now.


My former home was a testament to the prickly-leafed selection’s toughness – those planted in 1998 were still flowering 15 years later when I moved on, though they were starting to wear out. Concurrently, I lost 2 rounds of at least 5 of the smooth-leafed selection each time.


Since I was 30 minutes west of their Jonestown enjoying some excellent brisket, but instead of Kool-aid I washed it all down with a cold Big Bend #22 Porter!

Before returning to Marfa, it was time to look at some streetscape plantings under better light than I’ve had other visits.

Containers of Hesperaloe funifera with Dichondra argentea, and other containers with annuals and an Agave americana.


Right where people get out of their cars. “The children!” <snark>

This is an effective planting, grounded in a local and ecoregional sense-of-place. I know where I am here.

Opuntia ellisiana in street side planters…


…even Fallugia paradoxa in other rock planters.


Other storefront planters filled with Opuntia microdasys, Nasella tenuissima, and Yucca thompsoniana.


No gestures to elsewhere, so perhaps people like the Alpine region, even if it is a 200 mile radius.


More murals of cacti and scenes of romance and toughness.


That might be Andres serenading Laurita, after her tending their garden somewhere in the shadow of Mount Hood near the Mexican border. Hopefully he’s about to bring out some chilled white wine or margaritas.


Pine, horses, and steer: it doesn’t get more western than this.


But wide-open scenery with agaves and cattle, or margaritas and steak: it doesn’t get much better than that!