Like it Was Always There

When I put this on paper a decade ago, or at least into AutoCAD, I had an idea of what it would look like stopping at this intersection.


Maybe it’s the cool morning light and shadow patterns? This worked out better than I realized with the Hueco Mountain boulders, low wall, and such common plants, Dasylirion wheeleri / Blue Sotol and Agave neomexicana / Mescal Agave.

The plantings almost look like there were always there, when in reality, one has to hike up Picacho over 2 miles away to find either species. They are native on steeper hills than these, though they thrive anywhere in Las Cruces.

See anything else?

If you click to zoom, there are low-growing, annual groundcovers in the gravel mulch between what was planted.

Those Pectis angustifolia / Limoncillo and Bouteloua barbata / Sixweeks Grama were left and cost nothing to keep. Before this year’s healthy monsoon season ended a month early, they were green or flowering.

The last 2 species were not only free and commonly native most anywhere locally, but they are not larger and rank versus the stalky agaves or the up-reaching pincushions of sotoles. They did not overgrow them to look weedy – not all volunteers, even natives do that, so therefore should be thoughtfully kept or removed. Those low plants help make the planted accents blend in, which gravel mulch doesn’t do so well by itself.

Across the intersection, the Chihuahuan Desert hills plus my Yucca faxoniana and ponding area plantings, provide an understated backdrop.

Nighttime Recon in the Duke City

My trip back lengthened with a winery and slow-lunch stop, before catching up with a friend at Starbucks and my last 3 hours driving to Las Cruces.

Dueling Dasylirion at CNM Workforce Training Center, and their excellent copper patina barrel roof.

CNM WTC-N01a_2017-09-17-SML

Provisions run and errands complete, it was time for more landscape photos.

All because I exited the freeway to meet an Albuquerque friend, where I spotted parking lot trees maturing on an older design of mine. If you’re going to be late, then enjoy the journey. Plus, temperatures cooled perfectly after a surprise, muggy storm at sundown.


Drainage swales at a valley housing project, literally “the projects”. Prosopis pubescens / Screwbean Mesquite now dwarfs the sotols and saltbushes. A bit eerie with my phone’s flash…like a desert “midnight in the garden of good and evil.”



A last stop at the southern edge of town, and a needed slice of pizza. Native and adapted plants, water harvesting, and 1-2 field adjustments apparent.


The relaxed mounds of Muhlenbergia rigens in parking lot planter swales are what the doctor ordered, unless they were changed to M. capillaris. Then…

My eyes could be fooling me that late. More on the above and others later.

9/24/17 weather: 84 / 55 / 0.00

Care for What Can’t be Bought

When wild land is developed, plants once native to that site often recolonize the construction scars alongside new landscaping.

Can you see where that occurred below?


In arid desert (my examples) or even semi-arid steppes, conditions are especially harsh for that regrowth.

Some plants rapidly heal such scars, while others take decades, if at all. The concern here is plants native to the site, not invasives.

Purple Threeawn / Aristida purpurea var. longiseta is the golden-green carpet barely forming the reddish fringes and seed heads. A few Sunflower / Helianthus spp. are in there, plus some invasive annuals (kochia?). Areas of gold-flowering, mat-like Pectis angustifolia / Limoncillo are present, too.

This side of the road was mown or herbicided to eradicate the above natives, which control erosion better than gravel while providing other functions, habitat value, and aesthetics.


The Soaptree or Palmilla / Yucca elata were installed per plan, while natives alongside installed plants including the creosote bush stand were somehow not removed during road construction.


Often such recolonizing plants are considered attractive, but they aren’t for sale. People often ask me, “ooh, what’s that?” in admiration.

Those attributes demonstrate what such plants are: priceless.

Therefore, they should not be removed in the first place; if they are removed allow them to stay, but selectively weed out invasives.


On the opposite side of the street, the tan grass clumps are the same Purple Three Awn, but these don’t get eradicated and not a carpet.

What a difference and for the better, on the far side of the street.


While protecting areas from unnecessary disturbance is usually more economically-sound and better, site development disconnected to the land is where maintenance skill and client savvy really must meet.

9/6/17 weather: 89 / 64 / 0.00