Minimal With Warmth

The title sums up when I create a garden space, in the way many larger clients like Tenet require more for less, here at the new Transmountain hospital.

Sometimes less is more.

You pick. Minimal with impact? Or just subtle impact?


Yucca rostrata and Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’, companions in the Chihuahuan Desert below the Big Bend, are united here.

Not naturalistically, but rather, with the architecture of the space, visibilities, and negative space.

To think, this success involves “a yucca and rock”, but with shrubby companions to add warmth to the scene. Those into minimalism or modernism only need to warm up and humanize their spare scenes.

Some can do it, others can’t.


I rarely find that less is less, or more is more. It’s really about how one does either. But I’m not a hobbyist or collector!


Desert skies and mountain vistas don’t hurt, either.


11/20/17 weather: 67 / 30 / 0.00

Marfa After Dark

While attending Chinati Weekend last month, walked around town. Marfa was dead when I arrived at 6 pm.


Yet within minutes of getting my bags into the room and freshening up, I drove to find the exhibit at the Locker Plant. Everyone was out. I parked my car back at the fine Airbnb where I was staying, a few blocks away from most things that night.

On the way to a few open galleries and exhibitions, I recognized the usual locals and they me. Plus loads of others who must live for these Marfa art parties.


I stayed about 30 minutes, as Big Bend Brewing Co’s Tejas Negra Lager and my conversation with the bartender helped. He’s also looking for something better and asked about Las Cruces.

By 8 or 9 pm, after more visits, it became peaceful again for resuming my walk about town with some dusk-botanizing, including this fine Bur Oak / Quercus macrocarpa in silhouette.


I’m told the Marfa Plateau has some good, deep topsoil, explaining so many amazingly healthy, xeric trees in town.


Donald Judd’s “Ranch Office” was next. I believe the ADC brand means Ayalas de Chinati, the name for his collection of remote properties in the region.


Some of Judd’s art pieces and assorted ranch parts are set in a spare but appealing building room.



Of course, I’m not alone in taking pictures of everything.  Photos of another photographer.


As she snapped away, I sat on the step near her boyfriend, we both connected but kept to ourselves in the solace.


At the local public radio station, Jackson is spinning yet another great selection of tunes on vinyl.


If I had a get-together, I would happily hire Jackson to spin disks and cook all bloody day and night. Plus he’s as friendly and intelligent as his knowledge of music and things culinary is immense.


Of course, there’s someone running short films, somewhere.

This time it’s inside a gritty auto shop, a very independent, touched-up film about who-knows-what, running in the background of some people chatting. And no surprise how they are very much in the know of the other, even way out here!



11/17/17 weather: 81 / 40 / 0.00

Place to Rest

With a little extra budget and thought, any landscape can become a garden to pause within.

That’s part of why various state transportation departments landscape their freeways. When there’s congestion, drivers have ample opportunity to stop – all 8 lanes – and experience a garden.

So do hospital visitors – photos from 10/9/17.


As the mesquite tree and plantings mature, they will provide quite the pleasant spot seated on either concrete seat wall, to pause and take in the grand view from mountains to valley.


On the other side of the building, seat walls provide architectural definition to the blue site tables and planters with New Mexico Olive trees.


This was a challenging project from a time standpoint, and I hope those driving the schedule can re-evaluate this, instead of figure out how to construct something of this scale as fast or faster next time!

I’m always in awe of watching a general contractor and subs of this quality put it all together with normal time frames. Two highly-seasoned superintendents told me they have never been involved with or even heard of such a project scale going in nearly this fast.

Thanks, Robins & Morton, and notably on my work, Joe Aguilar and Accent Landscape Contractors.

Their efficiency and support are why small details became reality, such as site furnishings and hardscape accents. Those features benefit each space, though not required by the city.


Back to the front of the hospital, these seat walls are located at a future Sun Metro bus stop, or a place to sit while waiting on your ride.


Or to just take photos for your blog or portfolio.

This being a windy area of town, the Bull Muhly grasses usually sway back and forth. No matter the hardscape and site furnishings, appropriate plantings are a must.


11/12/17 weather: 76 / 45 / 0.00