When asked by my classes about how many evergreen plants to use in Albuquerque, I said, “start with 2/3 evergreen”.
I expand on the importance of greenery in our climate and getting through our 2 dormant seasons with visual impact, which flower dependence can’t do without intensive irrigation: winter (or winter-light” or “drive-by-winter” in Las Cruces) and summer.
A few years later, I was designing this streetscape project in Las Cruces, where most areas are milder in winter and with more evergreens to choose from. Yet there was a direction from the developer to have evergreen for winter visitors plus native grasses, which go dormant and turn tan for 5 months.
In a small ponding area, I used native grass seed, plus some nearby Baccharis and Snakeweed blew in. Brown and tan.
But the median and parkway plantings used the following evergreens: Quercus fusiformis, Yucca rostrata, Rosmarinus officianalis ‘Tuscan Blue’, Nolina microcarpa, Chrysactinia mexicana, and Agave neomexicana.
The first winter of this planting, the low hit a record -15F here and as low as -22F in the basin to the north. Even this mild winter, the site seen 10 to 12F lows a few times.
The evergreen continues to come in handy, though only a bit over 50 percent.
2/7/18 weather: 64 / 41 / .00″