An Adobe Cottage

Not ye olde cottage garden, but the Chihuahuan Desert version.

In this case, fitting for late-June heat, high-noon sun, and with Johnny Cash speaking his iconic “Mean As Hell.” Glad I spotted this gem.



Had the mesquite on the right been planted about 7 or 8 feet directly in front of the window, that awning could be removed in a few years.


While not my design style, the owner is truly a spiky plant aficionado. Or more likely, obsessed with anything having spines. I don’t think I saw one plant without spines in this front landscape. Not one!

An Ocotillo, chollas, a rainbow, etc, etc, etc.


The low light is bringing out the blue on Opuntia subarmata, a more lush contrast to all the chollas. My guess is that prickly pear is a cutting from the Old Town church’s once-fine and large specimen.



Xeric, tough native trees more in scale will hopefully line the sidewalks in the future, replacing the depressing Siberian elm canopy, which is dying through miles of their town’s streets.

Did I mention Ulmus pumila is invasive, short-lived, insect bait, and weak-wooded, but it makes decent mulch for native plants?

There, we needed that. It’s time to do history better horticultural justice!




A Yucca rigida growing out of the base of a Prosopis torreyana? Or is it the mesquite that volunteered out of the root zone of the yucca? All sharp.

The single Echinocereus dasyacanthus catches the late sun.


You might remember the number of those Texas Rainbow Cactus I had at my former Albuquerque home. That locale was probably not as cold at night as downtown is on a regular basis, but it was far more exposed to bitter east winds at times.

Come to think of it, many of the mountain slopes in El Paso and Las Cruces where rainbows grow naturally, are very exposed.


I must find out the ID on the mystery Cholla out front, with the narrow joints and profuse, golden spines. The Cylindropuntia kleiniae nearby I know and like, but the spikier relative is as good as the silver C. echinocarpa in visual impact.

Well, probably physical impact, too.



There’s also an interesting history of this cul-de-sac and it’s adobe houses, envisioned and designed by Ohio-expatriate architect Anna Gotshall in 1925: here & here & here.


12/28/17 weather: 68 / 26/ .00″


Dissecting Retail: Three Years After

At El Paso’s Kern Place Crazy Cat Cyclery store, the architect and I created some small but distinct spaces using our ubiquitous rock walls with grade changes.

It won an AIA El Paso award a couple years ago.


That enclosed, communal space with a single Quercus fusiformis and some Yucca pallida is good. It’s mostly being maintained well, too.



The far side that once contained a rather “seasoned” Yucca torreyi specimen, then it fell, and finally the yucca’s replacement, is not so good.



The small spaces on the side will fill in more, as the sotols grow and damianitas hopefully reseed around.


I still regret not insisting on what should have been done on the south street’s uphill climb.

Because mountain biking and good headlamps are important, so is good plantsmanship.


12/25/17 weather: 7331 / .00″

Across from Trader Joe’s

My semi-annual provisions runs just get better. I feel like I’m shopping in my ecoregion. Weird? Not.



I’m glad someone other than me up there used the fine Quercus muhlenbergii.


The cacti, containers with Hesperaloe funifera, and in-ground Vauquelinia californica require only minor maintenance in accordance with the plant type, at a similar frequency as my visits.

The satisfaction of simple pruning and care gives more than it takes.


Could it be worse? Yes.

But I’m not into apathy and excuses, so my bar is higher, yet it requires barely more effort and intellect.

And leave the cochineal on the Opuntia ellisiana, it’s not just for the deep red dye it makes!